Finding vegan food while dining out can seem like an uphill struggle. Luckily, there are plenty of Greek vegan food options, from tomato keftedes to melitzanosalata.
Veganism has taken off worldwide as people have become increasingly conscious of the environment and the food they consume, but it’s actually connected to Greek food on a very deep level. After all, meat wasn’t always readily available in Greece, meaning there have always been plenty of vegetarian and vegan options for healthy Greek food.
What’s more, the Greek Orthodox Church has the Lenten fasting period, which means countless Greeks abstain from eating meat, meat by-products, eggs, dairy products, poultry, fish, and anything else from animals with blood.
Essentially, Greek Orthodox members become vegan every year during Lent and other fasting days (there are over 180 fasting days total on the Greek Orthodox Church’s calendar!), so traditional Greek cuisine often features vegan-friendly food. If not, many recipes can be easily adapted for vegans.
So, if you’re trying to decide whether to become a vegan or continue eating Mediterranean food, don’t worry! Veganism’s deep roots in traditional Greek food mean you won’t have to give up Greek food to become a vegan.
Greek Vegan Food You Need to Try
As part of Mediterranean cuisine, which has always been heavily based on fruit, vegetables, and whole grains due to a lack of meat availability and an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, Greek food is particularly well suited for vegans.
So, while dining out as a vegan isn’t always easy in New York City, you’ll be able to find something at your local Greek restaurant, whether you’re craving an appetizer, side dish, main course, or dessert!
Some popular vegan Greek dishes you should be on the lookout for include:
Appetizers, Sauces, And Side Dishes
This delicious round flatbread’s two main ingredients are flour and yeast, making it perfect for vegans. Pita bread is a staple of Mediterranean food, and it’s often served alongside dips or sauces or used as a pocket. However, it can also be cut and baked to make crispy pita chips or even grilled!
Melitzanosalata, or roasted eggplant dip, is a flavorful dip often served as part of Meze or alongside pita bread or vegetables. Though this Greek vegan food traditionally only contains roasted eggplant, lemon juice, garlic cloves, oil, salt, and pepper, melitzanosalata still has plenty of flavor.
While there are countless dolmades variants across the Middle East and Mediterranean regions, it’s especially prevalent in Greece. Comprising grapevine leaves stuffed with rice and flavorful herbs, dolmades are tasty and can be found in countless Greek homes and restaurants worldwide, making them the perfect vegan-friendly food for a meal out.
Traditional dolmades included corn kernels whenever rice was hard to come by and left out meat, but there are plenty of options today. Some include toasted pine nuts, while others incorporate golden raisins. Dried red currants, onions, artichoke hearts, paprika, and celery are also popular ingredients in dolmades. Just make sure to ask if there’s any yogurt, meat, or feta cheese when dining out.
Tomato keftedes (a.k.a. fritters) are a Mediterranean food that make the perfect vegan snack or light meal. Not only are they delicious, but they’ll also transport you to Santorini with just one bite. Tomato keftedes contain diced tomato, onion, and grated zucchini and are seasoned and fried in olive oil, but don’t worry if you aren’t in the mood for tomatoes! You can also order melitzano keftedes. They’re just like tomato keftedes; only the recipe calls for eggplant instead of tomato.
Gigantes, or γίγαντες, literally translates to giant — and giant certainly is an accurate descriptor of these big white beans. They’re typically cooked in tomato sauce and herbs, such as oregano, parsley, dill, thyme, or mint. Every recipe is slightly different, but no matter what’s in your gigantes, you’ll leave feeling filled after eating this healthy Greek food.
Lettuce salad is about as simple as you can get, but just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it isn’t good. Lettuce salad is a great Greek vegan food for those on a tight budget. After all, it usually contains just lettuce, olive oil, vinegar, and spring onions, so it can please your taste buds without breaking the bank.
Another simple and inexpensive yet delicious and vegan-friendly food is rice pilaf. Traditionally, the rice was boiled in lamb or goat broth, but it can also be simmered in vegetable bouillon broth for those looking for a vegan option. The result is soft, golden, fluffy rice that’s fragrant and flavorful.
Revithia Sto Fourno
Revithia Sto Fourno, sometimes shortened to Revithada, is a popular, rustic, and healthy Greek food that’s perfect for vegans and packed with protein, fiber, and flavor. It typically includes chickpeas baked in tomato sauce or vegetable stock and olive oil and is flavored with red onions, lemons, and herbs.
What’s more Greek than gemista (a.k.a. yemista)? As flavorful as it is colorful, gemista is a vegan crowd-pleaser. Most recipes involve stuffing tomatoes with rice and herb mixtures, drizzling them with olive oil, and baking them until the tomatoes are soft, hot, and juicy, but bell peppers and eggplants can also be used. Just remember that some restaurants may include minced meat or feta cheese in their dishes, so make sure to ask if their recipe is vegan-friendly in advance.
Another classic healthy Greek food is the falafel — and it’s often vegan! After all, the main ingredients in traditional falafel are dried chickpeas or fava beans. Though some restaurants deep fry falafel in lard or other animal fat or include a dollop of yogurt on top, a few simple modifications can make falafel a vegan-friendly food.
When it comes to dessert, there are plenty of Mediterranean food options, including lalagia (Λαλάγγια). Light and crunchy, these Peloponnese donuts make the perfect post-dinner treat. Plus, they’re incredibly versatile and can be served with powdered sugar, cinnamon, olives, or dips. So, whether you’re in a sweet or savory mood, lalagia can hit the spot!
Tsoureki is a bread that goes by many names. Traditional Greek Easter Bread. Choreg. Kozuna. Paskalya çöreği. Regardless of what you call it, one thing remains constant: tsoureki is tasty, and while traditional tsoureki bread isn’t vegan, vegan variants exist. The good news is that these vegan-friendly versions are just as good as their non-vegan counterparts. For example, it’s possible to make tsoureki with pumpkin or vegan butter and non-dairy milk.
Get Your Vegan Greek Food in Astoria, Queens
If you’re looking for Greek vegan food in Astoria, Queens, look no further than Souvlaki Bar! We have plenty of vegan-friendly food items on our menu, including falafel and vegan sticks of grilled vegetables (including eggplants, zucchinis, yellow squashes, mushrooms, onions, and mixed peppers) marinated in a balsamic vinaigrette for additional flavor.
Stop by our Astoria Boulevard or Steinway Street location today to try our delicious Greek vegan food for yourself!