„But what are you going to eat in Greece as a vegan?“ is a question I’ve heard a lot before I started my one-way-ticket trip, and to be fair, it’s a valid question if someone has never been to Greece before. If you go to a Greek restaurant in Germany, you will find almost only meat dishes, which in reality represent only a small fraction of the traditional Greek cuisine. The truth is that the Greek cuisine is – even though unintentionally – pretty vegan-friendly! But how is that?
First of all, Greeks usually cook with olive oil instead of animal fat. Second of all, Greeks include lots of vegetables and legumes, such as chickpeas, lentils, and different sorts of beans in their dishes.
Traditional Greek vegan dishes
To be fair, the variety of vegan food options in Greek taverns is still limited, but as I like pretty much almost all of them, I didn’t mind eating the same few dishes for eight weeks straight. So here is a list of some of the most popular Greek and vegan-friendly dishes:
- Greek salad without feta cheese (sadly, this one’s not for me, since I like neither tomatoes nor olives)
- Grilled pita bread with olive oil (my favorite starter ever)
- Garlic bread (it usually comes without any cheese, but I would still recommend asking in advance)
- Fava (a paste, similar to Hummus, but made out of split peas instead of chickpeas)
- Dolmadakia (stuffed wine leaves – I didn’t like them in the beginning, but they started growing on me after a while)
- Giant beans (they are served in tomato sauce and are extremely delicious)
- Briam without feta (mixed roasted vegetables/the Greek version of Ratatouille)
- Yemista without cheese (stuffed peppers and tomatoes)
- Falafel (I know, they are not from Greece, but you will find them in many Greek restaurants)
- Spinach pasties (make sure, that there’s no cheese or milk in it)
Vegan (friendly) Restaurants in Greece
There aren’t that many restaurants in Greece that are intentionally focused on a plant-based diet, but I still want to share the few that I’ve visited on my trip.
- Avocado: Food for life (Athens)
This restaurant is heaven for any avocado lover. They offer a huge variety of both classic and creative dishes including macro bowls, burgers, pasta, pizza, lots of side dishes, salads, soups, desserts, fresh juices, and smoothies. Unfortunately, I only got the chance to go there once, but next time I’m in Athens, this is going to be my go-to restaurant. I’m pretty sure of that!
- Rifaki (Milos)
Rifaki is located directly at the small bay of Pollonia. Even though it is actually a seafood restaurant, they also have a separate vegan menu!
- Pulse vegan-vegetarian cafe (Chania)
What I like the most about this restaurant is the fact that it opens at 10 am already – that means delicious vegan food all day long! My favorites are the Blueberry cheesecake and the Mushroom special.
- To Stachi (Chania)
To Stachi offers vegetarian and vegan versions of traditional Greek dishes, such as Mousaka at relatively low prices. They also offer gluten-free meals!
- Umami Homemade Organic & Vegan Restaurant (Heraklion)
This restaurant is only a couple of minutes away from the Archeological Museum of Heraklion. The owner is super friendly and the food very fresh and organic. I can recommend the Mushroom gyros wrap!
- Crumb (Heraklion)
Also very close to the Archeological Museum you will find this cute little cafe. I haven’t seen a place like that anywhere else in Greece! The desserts are just like desserts should be – delicious and rich in calories. There are lots of vegan options and you will also find gluten-free and even sugar-free alternatives. I had the Dark chocolate peanut tart – 10/10 would recommend.
Vegan food in Greek grocery stores
When you shop at a grocery store in Greece, you will almost always find some flavors of Alpro milk and soy puddings as well as other plant-based kinds of milk from local companies. I even discovered a chocolate protein drink from Alpro that I’ve never seen in Germany to this day (and I live in Berlin, so this says a lot). Finding plain vegan yogurt is a lot harder, though – I only managed that a few times during my eight weeks in Greece.
However, if you are in a larger area, try to go grocery shopping at a big franchise such as Sklavenitis – there you will find everything the vegan heart desires, including vegan feta, pizza cheese, spread cheese, protein bars, and lots of other stuff.