How Vegan Friendly is Greece?

Hello fellow earthlings,

The grey cloud over Dublin today has given me reason to consume copious cups of teas and hide away under my duvet. Summer is definitely over here in Ireland and the only thing left are the holiday photos and the hint of a summer tan hidden under our jumpers. Today is my Mum’s birthday (yaay Mum) and I finally got to gift her the earrings I bought her in Santorini when I was there in July. It got me thinking back on the holiday and inspired me to write this post.

When me and Rob decided to travel around Greece we set about researching the different Islands, what they offer yada yada. In the end we took three planes, four ferries and a hitched lift around four Greek Islands. We had little knowledge of the cuisine before embarking on our travels but we were pleasantly surprised at how vegan-friendly Greece is. I wanted to share my experience so that anyone thinking of travelling to Greece on a vegan diet can be assured that you will be catered for.

The Islands we chose to visit were Ikaria, Milos and Santorini with a stop over in Naxos for a connecting ferry. Each Island had such an abundance of fruit and vegetables that I fell in love with Greece instantly. Rob decided to challenge himself and spend the two weeks on a vegetarian diet which proved to be no challenge at all and was actually vegan for the most part. I was fascinated by the Greek diet so I decided to study its origins once we got home.

What I discovered was that Greece has a history of vegetarianism, most notably during classical antiquity. Some of the great figures during this period in Greece are known to have abstained from eating meat. Pythagoras, famous for his contributions to mathematics, believed that the slaughtering of animals brutalized the human soul.

“As long as Man continues to be the ruthless destroyer of lower living beings, he will never know health or peace. For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.”   – Pythagoras

Other famous Greek philosophers who came after Pythagoras also maintained vegetarian diets including Theophrastus, Socrates and Plato. It is these men who shaped the basis of our Western culture. Who knows the impact these great influencers could have had on their community and thus on Western civilization today had they been more outspoken about the vegetarian lifestyle. Unfortunately the interlocking of civilizations squashed the chances of vegetarianism being accepted by the majority. The Romans were using animals to fight Gladiators in the bloody pits for sport and persecuted those who protested against it. For this reason, vegetarians kept their ideologies to themselves out of fear.

I found it comforting that Socrates lived to be 70 years old maintaining a vegetarian diet (dying by execution in 399 BC) in a time before chia seeds and soy protein. However after staying on four different Islands in Greece, it is clear to see the consistencies that made up their healthy diet. Their history definitely explains why it was so easy to eat and live there as a vegan today. The Greek cuisine is based around seasonal vegetables which are bought from local markets. Aubergines and courgettes make up many of the summer dishes found on restaurant menus. Due to Greek’s poor economy, they grow their own food and many make their own wine. It is this way of living that I believe contributes to the vitality of life on the Greek Islands in particular. With the abundance of vegetables and large, high carb portions, I never found myself reaching for snacks and I was always feeling energized. I can write a post on the science behind why this is a sustainable way to eat after this one. Let me know if that would be of interest.

The dishes in Greece were not difficult to make which also contributes to overall health as more simplistic meals are easier to digest (google mono meal eating for more info). There is a high amount of oil used in the cooking which I am sure you can ask for them to leave out but I was too shy to as I know it is a huge part of their cuisine. Other than me being me, it was very easy to get by as there was so much choice on the menus.

I hope this was informative for a vegan travelling to Greece and any feedback would be great. Still new to this so be kind!

I have put a few photos below of our favourite things we ate while we were there. Enjoy!

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On Ikaria we had peaches every morning followed by bread with jam and then some grilled veggies!

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For lunch we would have bananas or other fruit and bring them to the beach. It keeps you really hydrated as well which on holidays is even more important than usual. Some days we would stop in a cafe for lunch and get some soup or in Naxos we loved the veggie and fries pittas. We were on our holidays after all!

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For dinner I would usually have imam (baked aubergines) and Rob loved the briam (baked mixed vegetables). Everywhere we went they served it differently so don’t be scared to order the same thing over and over. We always shared and were plenty full after each meal but if you are used to a high carb intake, you can just order yourself some extra potatoes!

Thank you so much for reading, have a great day and eat for peace!

xxx

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