I am hating this rain at the moment. I can’t believe it’s hotter in the UK than it is here… I just want to go to the beach… pleeeaaaseee 😦
Okay, I’m going to ignore this weather now and get on with this post…
With summer coming up and all the tourists arriving for their holidays, I think now is the best time to give you a few tips about finding food here in Greece, if you’re vegan. Greece is SO vegan friendly. Not all Greeks will understand the word vegan (especially older people), but they have a wide variety of food you will LOVE, so don’t worry.
Eating out – Taverns and restaurants
99% of Greeks that work in taverns will understand and speak good English, unless you end up in a tiny village, in the middle of nowhere, up in the mountains somewhere and there are only old people… in that case you will find a few basic Greek words at the end of this post.
* Whatever you are ordering, just double check and ask if it has any meat, cheese, milk, egg or honey.
In any tavern i always look at the appetizers on the menu, instead of the main meals. The main meals almost always consist of some kind of meat or seafood, so just order a few different dishes from (usually) the first page of the menu. Here are a few examples: (emphasis underlined)
Salad – Of course, the ”boring old choice”. Actually, I would highly recommend getting a salad, it’s a perfect, refreshing side dish for Greece’s hot weather, plus the produce is always fresh so it tastes 100 times better. Salads will vary depending on where you are, but you will always find a ”Greek Salad” or ”Χωριάτικη” (Horiatiki) – Just ask them to leave out the feta cheese and be prepared for a lot of olive oil, or you could ask for less or no oil at all.
”Φαβα” (fava) – This is a lovely spread/dip made from yellow split peas. It goes well with bread and basically any dish you order. * dip it into everything.
”Ντολμάδες / ντολμαδάδια” (dolmades or dolmadakia – These are vine leaves stuffed with rice and herbs. Sometimes, they might have ”lahanodolmαdes” instead which are the same but with cabbage leaves instead of vine leaves. These are usually served on a plate with ”tzatziki” or yoghurt, just tell them that you don’t want that. (also make sure they don’t have ground beef inside, 90% of the time they don’t, but just in case…ask!)
”Κολοκυθοκεφτέδες” (kolokithokeftedes) – My favorite! These are courgette/zucchini croquettes, and always the first thing i look for on a menu. Sometimes they have cheese inside (ask) and, like the dolmades, they are served with tzatziki or yoghurt. I’ve never asked if the mixture is made with egg because like I’ve said before, I don’t fuss too much when I eat out, but feel free to ask and let me know, too.
Talking about courgettes – you will most likely find fried courgette/zucchini on the menu as well. Again, tell them you don’t want any tzatziki or yoghurt and ask if they sprinkle cheese on top as well.
Grilled vegetables – The vegetables are normally courgette, peppers, aubergine, onion, mushrooms and tomatoes, topped with balsamic vinegar (all restaurants-taverns are different though). Even if this isn’t on the menu, you could ask and they wouldn’t mind making it for you.
”Μπριαμ” (Briam) – This, most likely will be on the mains in the menu. I think it’s the same as the Italian ”Ratatouille”, basically a mix of roasted vegetables (potato, courgette, aubergine, tomato) cooked in olive oil and garlic. It can be eaten on its own or as a side dish.
”Γεμιστά” (Gemista). Oooh my gawd! You have to try these if you are visiting Greece. This is a very traditional Greek dish, that i think every Greek family grew up eating. ”Gemista” are bell peppers or tomatoes stuffed with rice and herbs. I think it is the best rice i have ever had, they cook it in kind of a tomato sauce with herbs and it’s just… perfection.
”Ντάκος” (Dakos). I can not believe i nearly forgot! I get this every single time i eat out and I think It’s is more of a Cretan dish. It’s this hard dried bread or barley rusk that is soaked and topped with chopped tomatoes, feta cheese, olive oil, oregano and sometimes olives. Obviously, there is no problem if you ask for it without the cheese.
– I can’t stress this enough: Don’t be afraid to ask. Greeks are very kind people and they won’t mind you asking more about their food and even changing their recipes to suit your preferences, they can be very flexible –
There are bakeries everywhere in Greece. All the bread is vegan and you can also find ”σπανακόπιτα” (spanakopita), which is spinach pie, a lot of the times though they contain feta cheese. ”Kριτσίνια” (Kritsinia), these are like bread sticks with sesame or sunflower seeds. Another thing you will always find in bakeries is a ”Κουλούρι” (koulouri), this is like a sesame pretzel bread ring thing, it’s a little bit sweeter than normal bread and quite low in calories. In bakeries you should always ask if they have anything else that is vegan or nistisimo, sometimes they make olive and tomato pies or potato pies, especially around Easter when a lot of people stay away from meat and dairy.
In big supermarkets you should be able to find vegan milks in the fridges and also if you go to the cheese counter you can ask if they have vegan or nistisimo cheese and they will cut it for you (brands: ”Viotros” or ”Εβλογημένο”). On 90% of the packaged products the ingredients will be in English as well and dairy and egg are always in written in bold or CAPITALS except for gelatin i think. Fruit and vegetables are really cheap here and fresh, so if you don’t want to be eating out all the time stock up on those. If you can’t find vegan stuff in the supermarkets, try looking for organic or health shops.
I hope this helps you, and don’t forget to explore and have an amazing time in this beautiful place. Be SPONTANEOUS!
Νηστίσιμο (Nistisimo) = something that is allowed in the fasting period (around easter) *Seafood, eggs and honey can also be nistisima.
Δεν τρώω (Then troo) = I don’t eat *-th pronounced as ”that” and -oo pronounced as -o but twice
Χωρίς (Horis)= Without
Κρέας (Kreas) = Meat
Γάλα (Gala) = Milk
Αυγό (Avgo) = Egg
Ψάρι (Psari) = Fish
Θαλασσινά (Thalasina)= Sea food *-Th pronounced as Three
Μέλι (Meli) = Honey
*None of these pictures are mine*