Walk Like a Vegan
As part of our series of guest blog posts highlighting travel as vegan diners, Adam Spawton-Rice shares with my readers how simple it is as a vegan to travel to Egypt and enjoy the local cuisine!
During my time spent in Egypt I found Egyptian food to be delicious, healthy and capable of keeping whole table happy like few other places can. Whatever your dietary choice, in Egypt you, like me, can dine out on vegetables alone and be happiest of all!
All-inclusive Egypt holidays can sometimes be a one size fits all affair, but lucky for us, vegetable based dishes can be found in an astonishing variety. As meat is traditionally more expensive, plenty of commonly known Egyptian dishes are based around delicious fresh breads, grains, beans, pastries and cereals.
So what’s on the menu?
North African, Middle Eastern, and Southern Mediterranean dishes have contributed a great deal to the Egyptian staple diet and vice versa. Flavors tend not to be not as spicy as in their Moroccan or Lebanese counterparts, but the basic principles are the same, built around fresh seasonal produce, just as in Greece and Turkey.
When you’re enjoying a meal in Egypt, you’ll find that you start off with a selection of main-meal sized mezze (appetizers) like dips and smaller dishes that are best shared with a few people. You will inevitably come across tasty veggie-friendly treats like hummus, baba ganoush (a delicious creamy aubergine dip), and tahini.
As a main course, there’s a range of great dishes for even the pickiest of eaters (I’ve met a few!) Make sure you check ingredients first – you should find the following to be safe vegan choices:
Tabouleh: This Middle-Eastern staple salad is exactly the kind of dish you want on a really hot day. It’s made with freshly chopped parsley, tomatoes, cucumber and bulgur wheat, tossed with garlic and lemon juice. Tabouleh can be light or heavy depending on how much bulgur wheat it contains.
Tamaya: The Egyptian equivalent of falafel made from fried chickpeas. This is a great dish to squish into your aish baladi – Egypt’s answer to the pita bread – with either hummus or baba ganoush.
Ful Medammes / Bosara: This is delicious dish made up of broad or fava means smashed together with some cumin, olive oil and some lemon. Really easy to reproduce, great stuffed into a warm pita and is served for breakfast. Bosara is often served cold so it’s best on a hot day!
Fatayer: While a fatayer can be whatever you want it to be, it is traditionally a pasty filled with spinach and pine nuts. (Be careful not to order the version stuffed with cheese!)
Kosheri : One of the least well known of Egypt’s traditional dishes, kosheri is a mixture of pasta, chickpeas, bulgur wheat and lentils with a generous helping of spicy tomato sauce. Often sold in roadside stands, it’s cheap, filling, and just what every traveller needs!
Next time you’re looking for a vegan vacation destination, don’t discount countries like Egypt. As you can see, there are many excellent local options for travelers who want to enjoy Egypt’s history and culture without sacrificing the commitment to ethical eating!
About the author: Adam Spawton-Rice is associated with EasyJet Holidays and has visited Egypt on a number of occasions over the past few years. His experience has been predominantly positive, and it should be said that Egyptians are among the friendliest people he’s ever had the pleasure of sitting down to eat with.
Photo courtesy of Stonesoup via Flickr (while not a vegan blog, many of the dishes found on this site are easily made vegan).