Sunday, 31 July 2016

Eating Vegan in Greece

I have been vegan now for about 3 months, so I am still pretty new to it all. I was sceptical at first when going on holiday as to whether I would be able to eat normally or live the 10 days on cliff bars and fruit. When me and my family go on holiday we usually eat out at a restaurant every night, and I was unsure about the communication between myself and the waiting staff when I told them I was vegan. I went to Crete and specifically Elounda which was a beautiful traditionally little Greek town, they had no 100% vegan/vegetarian restaurants within Elounda so I had to order of main menu's in Taverns. However if you go to places such as Chania I believe they have a few vegetarian restaurants.

The first tip that I can give to vegans who are travelling is to research, research like crazy the country you are going to be visiting. Research their traditional dishes and restaurants that can cater to vegans. I was fortunate to be visiting Greece as a lot of their traditional Greek dishes are vegan or can be easily adapted by just leaving out the cheese. When researching I came across a number of helpful sites with restaurant options and also dishes I could order off the menu and them to be guaranteed vegan. I recommend using Happy Cow if you are in a popular area as you can select the type of restaurant you want and the area you are in and there is your dinner sorted.

For breakfasts and lunches we made our own food so it was pretty easy to make them vegan for myself. I also found that supermarkets were reasonably good at stocking several vegan products such as Alpro yogurts, non dairy milks and even vegan cheese. The majority of bread is also vegan in Greece however it is best to check the label or if you are ordering from a bakery ask what bread is nistisimo (a vegetarian diet excluding dairy but not fish eggs, clams, cephalopods or honey). I tended to have porridge for breakfast with almond milk and fruit. The fruit over their is so affordable and in an abundance, a watermelon was 35 cents! I can't get one in the UK for under £2! For lunch I usually had an avocado and humous sandwich with salad, because you cannot come to Greece and not have some humous.

In Greece the traditional restaurants are called taverns. They make the traditional Greek dishes such as Gyros, Souvlaki and Mousakka, but also a lot of vegan options. When listening to a lot of videos on eating vegan in Greece I was told they may understand the word vegan, however in my case they didn't seem to. I only had one occasion when they did and the waitress was English. Just make sure to specify you are vegetarian but cannot eat milk or egg and they should be able to point you in the right direction. I also had two occasions where I asked for dishes without cheese and they were very accommodating for that. If I couldn't see any main dishes on the menu I could have then I usually had a selection of starters for my main, which in Greece is known as a Meze. I often had stuffed vine leaves, grilled vegetables and gigantes plaki. My favourite restaurant we visited in Elounda was Porto Rino which is an Italian restaurant offering traditional Greek food also. They were very accommodating so we went back 4 times! I had the vegetarian pizza without cheese, a gluten free version of the vegetarian pasta and the vegetarian risotto. Also at the end of the meal they usually brought out yogurt however changed it to fruit without us even having to ask and they remembered each night we went. Marilena is also good for traditional Greek Meze's. For desserts the Taverns will provide fruit usually after a meal or you can ask for it. When staying in Elounda I also found vegan ice cream called I love Plako, and although they didn't have that many flavours it was ice cream! It was made using olive oil instead or milk so it was true Greek ice cream.

Dishes you can most likely eat in Greece as a vegan

Bread (just check there is no milk/egg)
Stuffed Vine Leaves
Courgette Flowers - I would highly recommend these!
Grilled/Fried Vegetables
Gigantes Plaki (beans in tomato sauce)
Greek Salad (no feta)
Most vegetable risotto's (make sure there is no egg in pasta/milk used)
Pizza without cheese (check that no milk/egg is used in the dough)
Stuffed vegetables with rice (check there is no meat/milk etc)
Certain Pasta's (make sure there is no egg in the pasta as lots of homemade pasta's do have egg, I had a gluten free pasta which was fine)

It was pretty easy for me eating vegan in Greece because I love Greek food, but if you don't like eating oil it may not be the right place for you to eat. Overall though I would say that Greece is one of the most accommodating countries for vegan food for ordering off the main menu without asking for too many alterations. Not only that Greece is a beautiful country and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking to visit.


  1. Must be hard at times to find places for vegans! I've recently got back from a family holiday in Tenerife and we stayed in the hotel mostly. My sisters got specific dietary stuff but she's basically vegan now! And she pretty much just ate salad. Oops. I however ate all the pastries under the sun every morning. I miss it!! xxx


    1. It can be, you just need to do your research and happy cow really is a great site to use! I'm the type of person who asks if they can adapt a meal, my parents sometimes find it embarrassing but I don't want to live off salad! I hope you and your sister had a good time regardless!

      Georgia x