Vegan Food in Greece
I’ve got great news: Greece is full of delicious vegan food! You will find a huge selection of naturally vegan dishes in traditional Greek cuisine.
This can be partly attributed to the nature of Mediterranean cuisine in general, which generally emphasizes fresh fruits and vegetables and uses meat only sparingly.
In the case of Greece, though, 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.
A few non-vegan foods are still allowed, such as certain kinds of aquatic animals, but as long as you determine that a dish is nistisimo (fasting food) and doesn’t contain any seafood or honey, then you should be all set.
The same fasting traditions are also followed in Cyprus, where the local cuisine includes many of the same dishes found in Greece. Check out this article on being vegan in Cyprus for more info.
Below, you’ll find a non-exhaustive list of dishes to look out for. And be sure to check out my many articles about destinations in Greece, where you will find more specific restaurant recommendations and travel tips:
- The Power of a Magic Word
- The Joys of Vegan Travel in Greece
- 10 Vegan Dishes Not to Miss in Greece
- Why Everyone Should Go to Mykonos
- Sweet Treats in Lamia and Cryptic Prophecies in Delphi
- Hiking Through Nature’s Wonders in the Vikos Gorge
- Sky-High Monks in Meteora
- Living Like the Pasha in Ioannina
- Thessaloniki: Authentic Greece and a Mix of Old and New
- Vegan Eats and Volcanic Views on Santorini
- Hiking Through Samariá Gorge on Plant Power
- Vegan Dining in an Old Venetian Ruin in Chania
- The Lazy Rhythm of Rethymno
- Rescued Donkeys Find Sanctuary on Crete
- Crete — Heraklion and Around
- Medieval Rhodes — Part I
- Medieval Rhodes — Part II
- Athens and the Allure of Avocado
Vegan Greece Soups and Salads
Tomato Salad, Potato Salad, Lettuce Salad, Arugula Salad, etc.: these come in many different forms. While there is often just one vegetable listed in the name, they usually include one or two other ingredients as well.
Vegan Main Dishes in Greek Cuisine
Briám: an oven-baked dish similar to ratatouille in Southern France. The vegetables used can vary but always include potatoes and zucchini.
Imam baildi: A whole braised eggplant stuffed with onion, garlic and tomatoes and simmered in olive oil until soft enough to melt in your mouth. The name means “the imam fainted”, and when I tasted this dish at a restaurant in Mykonos, I understood why!
Vegan Mezedhes in Greece
Don’t overlook these! Plenty of these small dishes or appetizers are vegan, and it’s quite common in Greece to combine a few of them to make a meal
Vegan Greek Street Food, Sweets and Snacks
Halva: you can find the type made from tahini or, less commonly, the softer version made from semolina. The one pictured here, however, was a different form altogether. The term “halva” seems to be quite versatile.
Falafel or Gyro: if you’re on the run and a kebab shop is the only quick option, you can have a falafel sandwich (make sure the falafel doesn’t contain eggs) or even a gyro without the meat, pictured here.
So as you can see, vegans are in no danger of going hungry in Greece. And if you’re not vegan, I still encourage you to branch out from the ubiquitous moussaka and souvlaki and try some of these delicious local specialties that most visitors never discover. You won’t regret it! Have you tried any vegan Greek foods not listed here? Share them in the comments below!