Because meat is such an important element in the flavoring of traditional Oaxacan cuisine, most attempts at removing it from the region's dishes invariably come up short. For vegetarians — no matter how worthy their motivations, be it animal rights, environmental, health, or all of the above — this means that they have few opportunities for exposure to the full range of flavors in this unique cuisine, as well as the moments of authentic encounter that can happen when eating at restaurants and food stalls that cater to locals and cook their food in traditional ways. Nevertheless, one place in the city, Itanoní, seems to have pulled off this delicate balance, offering a handful of vegetarian renditions of authentic Oaxacan dishes.
But of course, eating is about more than just moments of authentic encounter — it is also about sustenance. Fortunately for vegetarians, there are a number of restaurants in the city, listed below, that are either vegetarian or accommodating to them. As for vegans, most have become adept, out of necessity, at substituting or avoiding meat and dairy when ordering from menus. Here again, most of the restaurants listed below understand and will try to accommodate those requests.