Given that I went on holiday at the beginning of summer and autumn is now fast approaching, this post has been an incredibly long time coming. But it’s finally here; a quick guide to eating vegan in Greece. Having never been to Greece before, I had no assumptions as to how easy (or difficult) it would be to find vegan food on holiday, all I knew was that I was excited for some sunshine! And thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed, by either the food or the weather!
We stayed on the island of Zakynthos (Zante), venturing out to Kefalonia, as well as mainland Greece. I can now confirm what the entire world already knows – that Greece is absolutely beautiful. Rich in history, with stunning beaches, clear, bright blue water and blazing hot sunshine; it is the perfect holiday destination. And to top it all off – delicious food!
So, how best to eat vegan in a land full of tzatziki and gyros? Ok, when in doubt, pizza is your friend. Yes, I know – not authentically Greek (in any way), but who doesn’t love a pizza? When you’re tired from travelling and don’t yet know the restaurants in the local area, a pizza menu offers the hungry vegan some salvation.
Fresh pizza bases, as a rule, are made of flour, water and oil, and therefore are completely free of animal products. Simply leaving you the task of explaining that you’d like the veggie pizza sans cheese.
Asking for meals without cheese was pretty much the most complicated part of getting vegan food in Greece (i.e. not very complicated at all). The Greek love (read: LOVE) their olive oil, and use it in basically all of their dishes. Whilst I appreciate this isn’t ideal for the HCLF vegans among us, it does mean that they rarely cook with dairy products such as butter. At the hotel, I simply had to ask for my light lunches to be served without the feta and voila, a tasty poolside meal.
There are a variety of staple greek dishes which are deliciously vegan without any amendments. You will find dishes such as rice stuffed veggies, vine leaves and giant beans on virtually all Greek menus (please bear in mind that it is always worth checking they aren’t served with any cheese – you don’t want a nasty surprise!). We also feasted on hummus, grilled courgettes, Greek salads without feta and a creamy, lemony, split pea dish called Fava. We certainly didn’t struggle to sample the local cuisine!
And finally, saving the best ’til last – gyros. My absolute favourite restaurant find of the trip was this amazing looking place in Argassi named Ethnic. Whilst the menu is predominantly meaty, there are some veggie treats to be had. Behold – the vegan gyros.
By asking for the veggie pitta without any mayo or tzatziki, I was able to enjoy this famous greek delight. A soft, grilled flatbread, crammed full of veggies, salad and crispy seasoned chips, washed down with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice – this was just the perfect holiday meal. I only ate gyros at this one specific restaurant – but I imagine anywhere serving them would be able to accommodate with something similar!
Lastly, it’s also worth mentioning that many of the small shops and supermarkets we popped into had several vegan goodies, including vegan cheeses, plant-based milks, Oreos, hummus and a massive abundance of fresh fruits! So no matter what, you’ll never be stuck for food in this gorgeous part of the world. What are you waiting for?! Book that holiday…