A falafel a day keeps the doctor away…

Eat­ing Vegan in Israel was not as chal­leng­ing as I might have thought. Blog­ging while lead­ing a Birthright trip was what proved to be impossible!

Apolo­gies for the multi-week hia­tus but I was incred­i­bly busy bus­ing around Israel, rid­ing camels, sleep­ing 3 hours a night, and eat­ing my fair share of hummus.

Shirel and I on a camel in the Negev. Photo cour­tesy of Jaclyn Adler

What a trip! Eat­ing vegan in Israel is totally doable. In the morn­ings, I usu­ally ate veg­gies and toast. For lunch, I usu­ally ate falafel. If you want the best falafel ever, you have to come to Israel! The falafel is always fresh and well sea­soned. The top­pings are also fresh and flavour­ful and the pita is light and fluffy. Best of all, it’s totally vegan. Falafel is a way of life in the holy land. Peo­ple eat it all the time, so there are places that only sell falafel.

Falafel in Zichron Ya’akov

On occa­sion, for lunch, I would spring for pasta with veg­gies or pizza with­out cheese. They’ll make it for you at Big Apple Pizza in Jerusalem if you order at least 2 slices. Din­ners usu­ally con­sisted of salad and some sort of veg­e­tar­ian main. Because I was with my birthright trip we always ate kosher. So when it was kosher meat — I didn’t have to worry about dairy in the veg dish. (Kosher law pro­hibits the mix­ing of meat and dairy.)

A few nights I had cous­cous with a veg­gie stew on top. The veg­eta­bles in Israel are super fresh and flavour­ful so it was a real treat. The only thing to watch for is egg because even though Kosher Parve excludes dairy, egg doesn’t fall under the dairy category.

What is Parve you might ask?

Def­i­n­i­tion: Parve is a Hebrew term (pareve is the Yid­dish term) that describes food with­out any meat or dairy ingre­di­ents. Jew­ish dietary laws con­sid­ers pareve food to be neu­tral; Pareve food can be eaten with both meat and milk dishes. Fish, eggs, fruits and veg­eta­bles are parve. Source

The good news is, you can find a lot of tasty ice cream and desserts that are parve! One of my favourites were the water­melon popsicles.

Eat­ing Parve Ice Cream in Tzfat

Eat­ing a water­melon pop­si­cle in the old city, Jerusalem

Luck­ily, after those beau­ti­ful 10 days of birthright fun, I was able to hang out in Israel for a few more days on my own. Dur­ing that time,  I vis­ited a few of the country’s veg­gie estab­lish­ments. One notable one was Vil­lage Green Veg­e­tar­ian Restau­rant in Jerusalem on Jaffa Road.

I came here with an old friend who I vol­un­teered with in Eilat in 2007 to grab some veg food and catch up on the past 5 years of our lives.

The food was great. They had a huge selec­tion of sal­ads, both hot and cold, which you could mix and match and pay for accord­ing to the weight of your plate.

They had a fab­u­lous baked tofu salad that was delight­ful as well as home­made sei­tan that was seri­ously tasty.

I really loaded up my plate with sal­ads at Vil­lage Green. Pic­tured here is brown rice with peanut gin­ger sauce, baked tofu, sei­tan salad, cucum­bers, roasted pota­toes, pasta, lentil salad, and more!

I was also excited to find out that there is a whole plethora of veg­gie restau­rants in Israel. Espe­cially in Tel Aviv. Unfor­tu­nately, the days I had to myself in Israel fell over Shab­bat and Shavu­out, so most places were closed. But I am def­i­nitely going to explore these restau­rants and vegan cul­ture when I return.

I had my eye on Bud­dha Burg­ers and Taam Hachaim in Tel Aviv. I actu­ally went to Bud­dha Burg­ers one day and they were closed because of Shavuot.

So, all in all, Israel is vegan friendly. You just have to know how to ask about your food. I look for­ward to try­ing out more of Israel’s vegan and veg­gie restau­rants when I return. Until then, I’m going to work on per­fect­ing my own home­made falafel. Wish me luck!

Next year in Jerusalem!

Oy Vegan!

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