Eating Vegan In Greece: 9 Delicious Dishes To Try
Greek cuisine is one of my all time favorites. Fresh vegetables, flavorful herbs and oils, small plates shared family style; all home grown and locally harvested in small batches. Yes please!
It’s true that the term “vegan” is not very common or well understood in most parts of the country. Thanks to its Mediterranean climate and the fasting rules of the traditional Orthodox Church, though, the Greek diet has many vegan friendly staples that are delicious, filling and easy to find.
Look for these 10 traditional dishes and make eating vegan in Greece a breeze!
Greek Salad. We’ll start with the obvious, but don’t you dare overlook a traditional Greek salad. Assembled with a combination of sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, green pepper, red onion, olives, oregano, and feta cheese, I find the freshness of the ingredients to be super filling, which is not usually the case for me when it comes to raw foods! Ask for it without feta cheese to keep it vegan.
Dolmades (stuffed vine leaves) - One of my favorites, and so very Greek! Every recipe is a little different, but in general the grape leaf is stuffed with herb-seasoned rice, red cabbage, parsley, fennel and nuts. Some recipes add meat, so just be aware that this dish is not always served animal-free anymore, but most restaurants have a traditional vegan version.
Pita bread & all the dips - In Greece, I basically live off of creamy hummus, eggplant (aubergine) salad dip, and fava bean dip. You can find all of these as appetizers in most restaurants, and they are just blended together with olive oil, lemon, and seasoning. If dips for dinner is wrong, I don’t want to be right.
Risotto - Risotto became my go to when super hungry and in need of a full on meal. Most sit down restaurants will offer a vegetable risotto on the menu, and unless they add cheese, it should be prepared completely free of animal products.
Grilled vegetables - I may have had enough grilled squash, zucchini, tomatoes and peppers to last a lifetime, but I sure was happy to find this simple staple on menus almost everywhere.
Falafel - Chickpeas are super popular in Mediterranean cuisine, and they’re protein packed, which makes them a great entree choice!
Spanakopita - A savory baked pie filled with spinach. Insert drool emoji. I didn’t get my lips on one until the last day of my trip when the host at my AirBNB left me a piece of homemade spanakopita to thank me for staying at her home. I have no idea if I overlooked it on every menu or what, but it was truly delicious. I looked it up, and it is indeed super common, so keep your eyes peeled for this and don’t miss out like I did for the majority of my time!
Gemista (stuffed pepper - sometimes stuffed tomato) - A hidden gem(ista)! Make sure the chef doesn’t add minced meat to the traditionally vegan recipe.
Beetroot salad - Big fan of beets right here! I love how bright they are on the plate, and the earthy taste instantly makes me feel grounded into my body. If you are with other veggie lovers, it can be nice to share beetroot salad and Greek salad for a little variety!
Baklava - Baklava tastes absolutely sinful and I want it at almost every meal. When in Greece, right? Baklava is sometimes made with honey and is almost always served with it drizzled on top, so if you are strictly not consuming any animal products, make sure you know what you are getting!
Cheese, especially feta, is extremely common on Greek dishes, and the main thing to watch out for when following a vegan diet. More often than not, you can make a vegetarian meal vegan by simply asking for no cheese. Same goes with honey.
Ask for a “fasting” menu. It is not as common anymore, but the Greek Orthodox church honors 180 fasting days per year where all animal products are strictly avoided.
Many waiters were eager to learn about veganism and chefs are eager to make guests happy in the restaurants. As long as you are friendly in your communication, it could be a great opportunity to share the benefits of vegan living!