The number of vegans in Turkey is not yet well known, though it is a growing movement among the younger generation.
If you go to supermarkets for vegan food, you will find some vegan milks and little else (see LOCAL BRANDS page). Health food stores will carry what you are looking for, mostly foreign products at a high cost.
People on the streets or in restaurants may not speak a lot of English in Turkey, so explaining what you do not eat or how to veganize a dish may prove tricky. (Use our VEGAN WORDS page). Don’t despair, you probably will get along just fine as there are so many vegan options on most menus. So you will never go hungry and love every minute of it. Between the many mezzes – the mini-courses of salads that come before or with a main dish- and the zeytinyağlılar (pronounced Zeintinyalular) – the vegetable side-dishes sprinkled with olive oil, no vegan ever went hungry or bored in Turkey. The variety is such that you will always find something delicious to please your palate in traditional Turkish restaurants.
Make sure to not miss the small family-run restaurants. Many times you will notice the formica tables out on the sidewalk, or a small cafeteria at the petrol station. This is where you may have your best vegan culinary experiences. The families usually pride themselves on their fresh homemade food. More often than not using vegetables organically grown in their backyard. Enjoy the cheap prices as much as the food and why not indulge in dessert like Baklava or Turkish delights, that are commonly vegan, but best double check no butter or gelatin has been used.
A great location for Vegans in Turkey is Didim in the Aydin province. Their municipality boasts to be one of the most vegan cities in the world. It encourages vegan Mondays and offers vegan menus in almost all restaurants. It organises a vegan festival usually towards the end of April.
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