Have you already booked your vacation in Greece but then came to realise that there are not many vegan restaurants? Do you fear that you are going to be left only with a greek salad and bread? Fear not!
The Greeks may not be familiar with the definition of the word, but Greek cuisine is in fact, vegan friendly.
This can be partly attributed to the nature of Mediterranean cuisine. Mediterranean cuisine emphasises in vegetables and legumes. Also, they use meat and fish sparingly, creating this way a balanced nutrition.
In the case of Greece, there is an additional reason for all the veggie-friendly dishes: religion. The calendar of the Greek Orthodox Church contains more than 180 fasting days, including every Wednesday and Friday as well as longer periods lasting several weeks, like the weeks leading up to Christmas and Easter. And the diet followed on fasting days is, as it turns out, not far from a vegan diet.
Greece is full of delicious vegan food!
Because you are vegan, it does not mean that you cannot eat all this tasteful delicacies and dishes that Greece has to offer.
Below you will find a selection of vegan dishes of traditional Greek cuisine, that can be found in a Greek restaurant or tavern.
The famous greek salad, of course, which contains tomatoes, green bell peppers, onions, cucumbers, olives and feta cheese. Just do not add the feta on top.
You can always try other salads that are considered appetizers such as potato salad, eggplant salad,beetroot salad and more, that go well with bread.
This can be either roasted tomatoes or bell peppers (or both) stuffed with a mixture of rice and herbs. Usually served with thick French fries or with potatoes in the oven. This dish occasionally contains minced meat, so be sure to ask.
An oven-baked dish of mixed vegetables similar to the ratatouille found in southern France. The vegetables used can vary, but they always include potatoes and zucchini, and you’ll usually find tomatoes and eggplant in there too.
As their name suggests, gigantes are giant white beans cooked in a very Mediterranean sauce of tomatoes and herbs.
Famous in Middle Eastern and other cuisines, these stuffed vine leaves, also known as dolmadakia, are filled with a rice and herb mixture similar to the one used in gemista, sprinkled with lemon juice and served cold. Just delicious!
This is a speciality of Santorini but you may also find this appetizer on other Greek isles. Note: this creamy dip is not made from fava beans! It’s actually puréed yellow split peas – a crop that grows particularly well in the fertile, volcanic soil of Santorini.
SPANAKOPITA AKA SPINACH PIE
Savoury pies are sold on every street corner in Greece and is one of the most common Greek fast food. You can easily eat it, as breakfast, in lunch or dinner. You will find it everywhere, sold in two versions, one that contains feta cheese and one that is filled only with spinach.
NOTE: You might also find xortopita which is stuffed with herbs and a mixture of seasonal leafs. Remember to try it out! It is absolutely delicious and a bit sweeter than spinach pie!
There are plenty more appetizers, main dishes and sweets that you will easily find in bakeries, pastry shops and tavernas, that meet the vegan criteria.
Lefkada & vegan specialties
Ladopita is a traditional Lefkadian recipe. This is the traditional sweet of Lefkada island that local people offer in joyous occasions, such as weddings, baptisms, celebration of name days or birthdays. It is a pie that the basic ingredients are oil, honey and cinnamon. Try it out!
Mostly you will find this dish served in “mageiria” which are taverns with already cooked traditional recipes.
Nevertheless, do not be discouraged. In many restaurants of Lefkada, you will find the alternative version of this recipe, which is salad with lentins.
You have to try this healthy and sweet Ionian recipe. Pasteli is made with honey, sesame and almonds and is delicious. It is also very nutricious as it is Rich in vitamins. Try this some times sticky or crunchy recipe and be amazed.
Last but not least try out, is Soumada. This is is a Greek traditional drink made from orgeat syrup, the sweet syrup made from almonds. Soumada is usually called as the drink of happiness because traditionally is served at happy occasions such as weddings and engagements because of its distinctive white color. In Lefkada we serve it with special rusks.
Summing up, this was just a glimpse in the gastronomy of Greece. Visit Lefkada and Greece and taste yourself the greek cuisine! A taste that will stay indelible in mind!