Tour Guide and Writer @ Crete Urban Adventures. Avid traveller. Passionate photographer. Cultural adventurer. Experience seeker.
The Greek diet is one of the healthiest in the world and while the Greeks still love their animal products, it’s not difficult to maintain your vegan diet whilst holidaying in Greece, you just need to know where to look. Here, our amazing guide Stefanos gives us the lowdown on all things vegan in Athens.
Dolmadakia gialatzi: Boiled vine leaves (cabbage leaves can be used as an alternative) that are stuffed with rice, parsley and different spices. A yummy summer recipe! When you order them in a tavern, do not forget to add the word ‘gialatzi’, otherwise dolmadakia are additionally filled with minced meat!
Fava: It might look like a dip but it’s actually puréed yellow split peas. It is delicious, incredibly nutritious and almost always served with chopped onions and olive oil on top.
Gemista: In Greek, Gemista means ‘filled with’ is a traditional recipe all around Greece — vegetables (often peppers or tomatoes) are stuffed with a rice mixture and baked. One of our favourites is one you’ve probably never had: stuffed zucchini flowers! Yes, you read that right. The blossoms are stuffed with plump rice and aromatic herbs to make up a simply mouthwatering dish.
Broad beans with artichokes: Broad beans have been part of Greek culture since Pythagorus (who banned their consumption due to the belief at that time that these beans contained pieces of the soul). They can be enjoyed both fresh (raw or cooked) and dried, alone or in mixtures with other legumes and fruits. There are tonnes of great broad bean recipes out there but our pick goes to broad beans with artichokes and lemon sauce – perfection!
Horta or Cretan wild greens: There are more than 100 edible horta (wild greens) in Greece and it is a very popular dish among locals. Greens are seasonal, so most Greeks cook and consume whatever crops are being cultivated at the time. Greens can be eaten raw as a salad but most of the time they are boiled or cooked as part of various recipes. The most common types of greens you’ll see (and hopefully taste!) are black nightshade, nettle, mallow, sorrel, amaranth, chicory, purslane, vetch, golden thistle and avronies, which is a kind of wild asparagus.
Kolokithokeftedes: Greeks love ‘keftedes’, which are light and crispy fritters made from squash, shaped into balls and flavoured with other ingedients plus mouthwatering herbs and spices. One of the best vegan ‘keftedes’ is known as ‘kolokithokeftedes,’ which combines zucchini squash with onions, potatoes, carrot and other ingredients and spices, mixed-well and cooked in olive oil, following a cooking tradition of hundreds of years. Other tasty vegan keftedes include tomato instead of zucchini, known as ‘tomatokeftedes’ or eggplant (melitzanokeftedes).
Eating Out – Restaurant Recommendations
Avocado was one of the first vegetarian / vegan restaurants to open in the capital. This is the best place to experience unique Greek and oriental flavours such as, Indian soups, Greek salad, falafel, veggie paella and vegan burgers.
St. Nikis 30, Athina
Lime Bistrot is in the Gazi Neighborhood. Here you’ll find a 100% vegan space with a mix and match philosophy. We recommend the burger with Portobello mushrooms and cheese (made from nuts) and the strawberry cheesecake with vegan cheese.
St. Dekeleon 23, Athina
Mystic Vegan is an Italian restaurant in the Exarcheia Neighborhood that serves all-day dishes for lunch and dinner offering vegan pastas, pizzas and more.
St. Emmanuel Benaki 76, Athina
Eating In – Takeaway Recommendations
Mama Tierra was recently awarded the ‘Michelin Plate’ by foodie maestro’s Michelin and they offer quality vegan dishes like quinoa salad, moussaka made from coconut milk and guacamole with homemade nachos.
Akadimias 84, Athina
Healthy Bites is an organic and vegan bistro in the centre of Athens that serves vegan / vegetarian hot dogs made from bio soy-originated from fava beans or lentils. They also offer lots of vegan-friendly alternatives to classic Greek dishes such as souvlaki.
€4 – €9, Panepistimiou 25, Athina
Vegan Options at the Market
Every city in Greece has its own laiki street market, where farmers and vendors from villages across the countryside come into town to sell their products. Big cities usually have more than one laiki located in different neighborhoods and they’re usually held once a week. Here you will find a wide variety of raw seasonal vegetables, fresh fruits, organic honey and local spirits.
Everyday: Main city market. St. Athinas, Athens
Friday: Organic Market (morning). Sq. Dexameni, Kolonaki, Athens
Saturday: Ecxarcheia Laiki Market (morning). St. Kalidromiou, Exarcheia, Athens
-Four Season Bio Shop: Four Season Bio Shop is a health store where you can find vegan products such as meat and cheese vegan substitutes, organic wines and other organic and dry food. You should find a variety of organic cosmetics here too.
St. Nikis 30, Athens
-Bamboo Vegan: Bamboo Vegan is a grocery and health store in Exarcheia Neighborhood that where you can find vegetarian and vegan products such as, vegan cheese, superfoods and dry fruits as well, serves yummy vegan sandwiches, pies and cakes.
St. Solonos 102, Athens