Vegan in Israel - the most vegan-friendly country in the world
If you are wondering what the most vegan-friendly country in the word is then the answer is very simple: Israel! With a vegan population of over 5% and a huge amount of dishes that are naturally vegan this is a herbivore paradise!
Last November I spent a week in Israel on a vegan food tour (yes, it was in autumn, yet we had incredible weather with highs of 32C/90F). Everything was organised by Vibe Israel, a non-profit organisation and these girls (an all women's organisation) took me on the most incredible journey. Speaking of girls, I was joined by fellow superstars vegan bloggers Candice Hutchings (Edgyveg), Lucy from Lucy and Lentils, Alexa Soto from alexafuelednaturally, and Izzy from Itsahealthylifestyle.
From vegan street food to high-end restaurant experiences I saw (and ate) it all. For me this has been a trip of a life time. Not only was the food incredible, but I also met the most fabulous and warm-hearted people there.
This video is an overview of the amazing time I had there (my second time already). From Tel Aviv, to Jerusalem, Nazareth, Kibbutzim, sharing a traditional Friday night dinner with an Israeli family and feeling so welcome everywhere.
Check out my top 10 favourite places and things to do while in Israel!
TOP 10 BEST VEGAN PLACES IN ISRAEL
Ok, so bear in mind, this is my own personal and biased list! This was my second time in Israel and I will definitely be back! So if there are other places you think I should see please let me know below in the comment! By the way, almost all photos were taken by our fantastic tour photographer Amir Menahem.
Ok, so this one isn't actually one place per se, but still my most favourite experience of the whole trip. If you want to get to know the real Israel and instantly make new friends over dinner then this is the way to do it! Betzavta means "together" in Hebrew and it's the name of an organisation whose mission is to bring travelers and locals together. They are like an airbnb for diners. Their hosts open their homes and invite you for a casual Israeli dinner - a great opportunity to get to know each other, find out more about Israel and share about your own home. It's not purely vegan but Israeli food is naturally super vegan-friendly and you can message your host about your dietary preferences and restrictions in advance. I loved it because we didn't just get unpretentious home-cooked food that was absolutely delicious, but we also got to connect with the hosts and find out more about their story. A super interesting and humbling experience and we felt so welcome!
Where: All over Israel
We had a mix of traditional Israeli dishes and some more European dishes.
When you are in Israel you need to try malabi - rosewater milk pudding (they have lots of vegan versions).
This is us with our host family of the evening. The mum her son, Izzy, Alexa, Candice, Niv (one of the founders of Betzavta), Bar (our amazing tour guide), Lizzy, our host's other daughter, me and the dad of the family. It was such a pleasure meeting them and being invited to their home.
Opa is one of the most high end vegan restaurants in Tel Aviv (yes, they even have vegan gourmet temples there!). The amount of ingenuity and innovation that goes into their dishes is astounding. I didn't even know that you could that with and to vegetables haha - in a good way. The flavours were beautiful, surprising and incredible. This is a restaurant where the vegetables are the true heros - how it should be. If you are looking for a burger read on (I will get to that later), but if you want a true gourmet experience you will be right at home here. I am still a bit lost for words and it's hard to discribe what I ate. Luckily the dishes are not just full of flavour, but also look the part so I hope they will make your mouth water as much as they make mine water as I write this. If you are looking for the future of vegan cuisine then this is it!
This dish is made with plums! Can you believe it?
This is the menu - sound so simple, yet when you see the dishes...
This dish is made from oyster mushrooms! It tasted like the meat of the future. Just wow!
A fig sorbet! But not just any sorbet. Speechless! Try it for yourself, that's all I can say - maybe you find words for it!
03. vegan pastry workshop
This was so much fun! If you want to learn how to make vegan pastries then Daniel from sweet petite vegan (in Hebrew - you need google translate) can teach you the ropes. This was my first ever pastry/cooking workshop ever and I had no idea how much fun it would be. Plus we made vegan macaroons and I would've never made them on my own - yet they are so easy to make once you know how. Daniel has it all figured out and is very knowledgeable. The workshop was in her lofty studio full of light (and an air con, phew) and she made us feel very comfortable and at home. And don't forget you can eat all your creations - such a sweet deal!
Where: Sweet Petite Vegan
Vegan Baking Workshop Studio
Tushia Street, Tel Aviv
Sometimes you just need someone to show you how it's done.
This wasn't just a delicious but also fun task (luckily Lucy helped me to concentrate on the task at hand).
Aren't these vegan chocolate macaroons beautiful!
The vegan chocolate macaroons on the right with tahini pastries on the left (yes, with from tahini, crazy!)
04. Luna arabic bistro
Our tour also took us to culturally important places like Nazareth. We started off visiting the Al Arz tahini factory on the outskirts (the best tahini hands down) and then drove into Nazareth, a city with biblical history. We were a bit on a schedule and didn't have enough time to do a lot of sight-seeing, but luckily we had enough time to eat! Nazareth is also know as the Arab capital of Israel so visiting an arabic bistro was a must! So we visited Luna, and with a 5 star rating on trip advisor for food and service you can't go wrong. Sitting on top of a shopping centre with great views of the city, the interior is modern and clean interior, the atmosphere is friendly and the food is incredible! You get all the typical dishes you are expecting in the middle East and so much more. There is a lot of emphasis on local and quality ingredients, so I think we were curious and tried almost all dishes on the menu. We left in a food coma, so forgive me if I don't remember the names of the dishes, but they were all superb! Trust trip adviror, trust me, when you are in Nazareth you MUST east at Luna. Not all dishes are vegan, but most are naturally vegan, so there is a lot to choose from for you.
Where: Big Fashion Nazareth, Nazareth 14847 Israel
If you think you had falafel, think again. These are the real ones, so tasty and fresh! And the tahini, mhmmm!
Look at the variety of dishes! And all of them so full of flavour. Heaven.
Cheers to digestion all this food haha! We had a toast with arak, which is similar to ouzo, an aniseed based drink.
This is Kanafe! My absolute favourite dessert of the whole trip! I can't describe it really, it's crispy, gooey, a a syrup-soaked phyllo dessert topped with almonds. I think the original one is dairy-based, best to ask for the vegan one. It was absolutely incredible. Luckily this was the last dish because otherwise I would've filled my belly up with this dessert alone!
05. 416 restaurant
Before I even heard of it one of my followers already messaged me that I absolutely needed to check out 416 on the edge of Yafo in Tel Aviv! Lush atmosphere with plants hanging from the ceiling, a young and cool vibe and delicious vegan fast and healthy food to give you enough energy to dance through the night (or cure the hangover the day after)! Here you find everything from vegan burgers, innovative and crazy vegan pizzas and the most real-looking and tasting vegan steak I have ever seen and tasted! And pair that with funky cocktails you have the ideal recipe for a great night out! Whenever you are visiting Tel Aviv 416 should be on your map! The first time I came to Israel it was closed, but this time I made it and I am so happy I did!
Where: HaArba'a St 16, Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel
The most incredibly real looking steak I have ever seen - and tasted like the real thing - almost scary.
Those burger were the best! You can't beat vegan comfort food especially when it's prepared at 416.
Vegan calories don't count, right? ;-)
What I loved about the cocktails was that they also use the freshest ingredients. Sometimes you almost feel like you are drinking real fruit or veggie juice with a bit of alcohol - a healthy way of getting drunk (at least that's what I told myselfm, shush, haha).
06. Salad sandwich at Eats Sheinkin
So this café isn't purely vegan but they make my favourite breakfast ever - the salad sandwich. I know that sounds like vegans only eat salads (so I admittedly dissed it the first time I went) BUT this sandwich is different! It's toasted bread with a tahini spread and fresh veggies on top! So simple, yet so amazing! If you never had a tahini spread (I hadn't either until I came to Eats) then you must try it, it's the best, a revelation. Better than hummus! I tride to recreate the recipe for you to try yourself here if you can't get to Tel Aviv.
Eats at Sheinkin belongs to Sam and Blondi, a boutique hotel right in the centre in Tel Aviv where we stayed. And it's also very close to the famous carmel market, so it's a great way to start your day.
Where: Seinkin St 20, Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel
Candice and I loved it so much we both recreated the recipe and put them on our blog!
And it's also very instragrammable as well hehe.
07. Eath with: The Vegan Italian Chef
Eat with is a platform where you can find people to eat with - they will host you in their homes, organise parties or even show you how to cook. Nadia is a very popular host on Eatwith and has hosted many many times. Originally Italian she moved to Israel years ago. Love brougth her to Tel Aviv, the people, the food and the country made her stay. A university lecturer by day she is also a passionate vegan chef. Coming into Nadia's home and having the priviledge of tasting her amazing creations and having a cooking work shop with her was also one of my personal highlights. I always love to meet locals when travelling to have authentic experiences and Nadia is such a warm-hearted person and pleasure to be around with. You need to book via the eatwith.com website, see link below.
Where: Tel Aviv
Her doggy was so cute! Made us all feel at home.
Nadia's passion for vegan cooking shines through in everything she does.
I love how colourful her set up was. Super vibrant and friendly. And the food was incredible!
Her selection of desserts was to die for.
When you are in a rush, make sure you grab a sabich sandwich! Not vegan (has an egg), but it can easily be veganised by not adding the egg. Perfect for when you are in a rush. And all the veggies in Israel are so fresh, so this sandwich, which is basically a veggie sandwich, is a favourite with many locals. The best ones are often found in holes in a wall. Perfect way to line your stomach before going out in Tel Aviv, which is such a fun party city. Sorry, I only have this photo shot on my iphone (we were in a rush to get to the next place on my top 10 - see below).
Vegan products are clearly marked with a big vegan-friendly symbol on the packaging so buying food is super easy without having to read labels (which, unless you speak Hebrew would be a challenge anyway). Vegan-friendly isn't just a name but an organisation. We met their founder Omri, who also happened to have organised the biggest animal rights march in Israel's history (you might've even seen it in the news a few years ago). He and the work his his organisation are doing is one of the reasons why Israel has a whopping 5.2% vegan population and growing! So check out the supermarkets in Israel. Deffo don't buy at the airport, the prices are crazy! Also buy some of my friend Tal's nut butters - Rusty's nuts - they are super delicious and I love their cute and cheeky packaging!
Where: in supermarkets
You will see the vegan-friendly label on may products in the supermarkets. Look out for it.
You'll even find clearly vegan-labelled wines (priorities!).
And finally the last but not least best place on my list:
10. Citizen Garden
If you are into health and superfoods, then Citizen Garden is the place to go. You won't just find the best health-conscious dishes there but also and instragrammable presentation. This was actually the last place we visited on our tour. And what great timing is was to eat superfoods after our night out before haha! I don't think it undid all the damage, but one can only try! And we tried with pleasure ;-) Again, no photographer available anymore, so I just impatiently (so hungry!!) shot a photo before devouring the food.
Where: Montefiore St 15, Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel
All in all Israel was an incredible experience. We saw to much and had such a great time! Too much to write down on here - I would have to write a book haha!
But see it for yourself and let me know in the comments what you thought! And if you have any questions and need more recommendations let me know below as well!
We also had the pleasure of meeting the biggest vegan blogger of Israel the charming Shikma from Tivoneat (check out here amazing instagram here).
Good bye Israel we will be back (photo taken on the roof top of the bazaar in Jerusalem)!