Updated: Apr 30
“Veganism is not a sacrifice. It is a joy.” -Gary L. Francion
I will never forget the scene in the movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding", when Toula (Nia Vardalos) tells her aunt that her fiancé, Ian, is vegetarian, followed by her aunts complete and utter shock and final epic quote “He don't eat no meat? Thats ok, I make lamb”.
The mediterranean cuisine is sometimes thought to be heavily meat dominated, which in my view is actually more a perception than a reality. It actually has many vegetarian and also vegan dishes that are an integral part of the cuisine.
Although I personally do not identify as vegan, many people think I am, as there are many things I avoid or have removed from my diet due to ethical or tolerance reasons, i.e. I make a conscious effort to not eat dairy or meat. So in essence, most vegan dishes will actually keep me and my body very happy and satisfied!
So, if you are vegan or maybe someone similar to me, to make it easy for you, I have created a cheat sheet with these vegetarian/vegan dishes in the Greek cuisine. Click on the link below to download my mobile friendly MGI Vegan Guide which includes vegan and vegetarian dishes, but also dishes to be careful with, as some regions in Greece may make them with dairy or sometimes even meat.
Vegan in Athens
Many businesses in Greece are becoming more and more vegan friendly, with some even appearing with the identity of Vegan/Vegetarian only. In Athens especially, more and more places keep popping up. Some examples of MGI verified business in Athens that are particularly inclusive towards veganism are:
Avocado - Food for life (Vegan/Vegetarian)
Veganaki (Vegan only)
Falafellas (Only falafel)
Loukoumades (Vegan versions available)
Vegan Island hop
But what about the islands? Other than typical Greek vegan dishes, how vegan friendly they? My Greek Island to the rescue!
In October 2021, I travelled to the most iconic Greek island to test how vegan friendly it is. Santorini is one of Greece's most visited island but has it adapted to accommodate veganism? Read on below to see what I discovered.
Although more and more hotels are becoming more conscious towards veganism, one new kid on the block that is becoming a pioneer in its industry is MOD Santorini, the first Vegan Boutique hotel in Santorini. This hotel started to work with a few rooms in the summer of 2021 and will continue to build on its vision over the next few years. The idea brought to life is the result of a lot of thought, effort, love and passion by two very sweet people, Christina and Anargyros.
The couple met in 2018 when Christina, a Greek Australian was travelling to Santorini. There Christina met Anargyros and after going back and forth between Australia and Santorini for a few months, she took the leap of faith and moved permanently to Santorini.
At the time, Anargyros, passionate about nutrition, fitness and sustainability, had started renovating his family hotel, originally built in the late 70's. Christina, passionate about nature and eco friendly low waste lifestyles, had worked in construction and interior design before. So it was only a natural evolution that together they took on the challenge of combining their passions and strengths to create MOD.
Christina became vegan shortly after moving to Greece and, being an avid independent traveller, knew the challenges of being vegan and travelling. After researching the idea, they jointly reached the conclusion to make the hotel fully vegan, offering a mix of traditional Cycladic design with a touch of modern eco friendly / sustainable vibes.
The couple have thought of everything from the bed linen, construction materials to the fully vegan kitchen. The materials selected are vegan, cruelty-free and sustainable. MOD offers complimentary breakfast to all guests but also offers an additional menu with vegan options for lunch and dinner.
"As a vegan when you travel, and I’ve traveled all around the world, it is so disappointing paying for a nice hotel, but having no options at breakfast." Christina Boutrou - MOD Santorini
During my visit I stayed in the Delta Suite - Village Balcony View. The room is of a very generous size and is just perfect for all seasons. It has a separate living space, beauty station and a balcony. The room and bathroom has the cave style feature often found in santorini. The bed is super comfy, the lighting just perfect and the mini bar beyond expectations; it includes every yummy snack you can imagine and also locally produced vegan wines.
I was lucky to try the majority of the complimentary breakfasts on the menu with my favourite being the yogurt with granola and the chickpea omelette. I also loved the shower products - which too were vegan!
If you know me or follow me, it doesn't take long to realise that I love food! So I tried to visit as many vegan friendly restaurants on the island. Below are some MGI verified vegan friendly places to eat in Santorini.
5 Senses Santorini is truly a place that should not be missed on the island whether vegan or not! Located in Fira, it offers only vegan and vegetarian options with a beautiful presentation. The plus about 5 senses is that it is open all year, something that is not the case for all restaurants in Santorini. I particularly loved the homemade tzatziki, the crimson ravioli, the kebab and all of the desserts!
For the best falafel on the Island head to Falafeland. I ate here twice and had the Original Falafel, as the falafel was just so fresh and tasty, but also because their banana bread was amazing. I would enjoy my banana bread with a nice cup of tea upon returning to the Delta suite at MOD.
In the area of Akrotiri, Akrithiri - Bistro Cafe and Cocktail bar Santorini, although not a vegan/vegetarian bistro, offered some wonderful options on the menu especially for brunch. Their superfood options were absolutely fabulous. I tried the Super bowl Acai and loved it.
Another great option for food but also to take a cooking class in Santorini is Faros Products. Maria will show you how to make the famous tomato fritters of the island, which are also vegan! This is however not the case in all locations in Greece as many places make them with cheese. Santorini however makes them without cheese making them vegan.
On my first visit to Santorini in June 2021, I enjoyed a trek with Santorini by Foot and we ended the trek at Faros Products to enjoy a well deserved lunch. Faros Products also sells many local goodies that you can purchase to take back with you.
For those of you thinking "What?, surely wine is vegan", read this article to understand why some are not. Other than iconic views, Santorini is also known for its wine production, with the most well known being Assyrtiko.
A winery I particularly love in Santorini is Hatzidakis Winery, a small family run winery close to the village of Pyrgos Kallisti, offering both organic and vegan wines. The Winery was founded in 1997 by Haridimos Hatzidakis and Konstantina Chryssou.
Konstantina with origins from Santorini, inherited some vineyards from her family which had not been cultivated since 1956 making it the perfect opportunity for organic cultivation which with a lot of love and passion turned into the winery we see today.
The winery is a particularly special one and is located in a cave on the provincial road of Pyrgos - Emporio. It is open all year and welcomes guests to enjoy a guided tour of the winery and enjoy their wines.
Did you enjoy this article? Leave a comment below. Feel free to also share your vegan discoveries in Greece and spread the love in the MGI community.
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