Jun 26, 2012

Posted by in Blog, Featured, Postcards | 12 Comments

Israel: The Vegetarian Holy Land

Israel is a well-known country. For its size, it takes up a lot of news space.

Whatever your political opnions may be, most agree that the people are beautiful, that there are a freaky number of Israeli Nobel Prize laureates, and blah blah.. what nobody talks about is the FOOD.

Israeli falafel sandwich

Being that food is one of my favorite subjects, howevs, I am here to rectify that. And share foodgasmic photos of it. And tell you, food lovers — especially vegetarians — get your butts to Israel.

You can thank me later.

Israeli selling strawberries at a market

Why is the food so good in Israel?

Well, despite the fact that less than 4% of its workers are in agriculture and that only 20% of its land is arable, Israel produces 95% of its own food. That’s cray-cray.

That also means that the food is insanely FRESH.

Melons in Israel

Israeli melons.. no, not those kind, you sicko!

In addition to the freshness factor, another key component to Israeli food is its many influences. Israeli cuisine combines Middle Eastern roots with the varied flavors of the Jewish diaspora.

Yemenite food stand in Israel

Yemenite food stand... to die for.

Are you picking up what I’m putting down? These are the building blocks to killer food.

As for vegetarians…

I’m not technically a vegetarian, though I do limit my meat consumption and generally avoid factory farmed shiz. But, when I’m traveling, I usually cheat quite a bit, as I never want to miss out on local specialties.

In Israel (and the Middle East in general), though, it was super easy to avoid meat.

Israeli market vendors

I have heard of India as being a great country for vegetarians, and I’d like to add Israel to the list.

At every meal, you can feel full, satisfied, and not left out. To be honest, I never felt sad about not eating meat. Every shwarma stand also has falafel, making it easy to eat out with friends and stuff your face silly.

Fig vendor in Israel

If I can't convince you, this guy probably can.

Not yet convinced to visit the vegetarian holy land? Check out some of my fave eats from my time in Israel, and you just might be…

Fruits & vegetables

Abundant, and fresh. Not much more I can, or need to, say.

Oranges growing in Israel

Hummus

This creamy chickpea dressing is available at every meal – to accompany pitas, salads… or your finger.

I thought I liked hummus before going to Israel. Now, I realize that what I felt before about hummus was just a silly schoolgirl crush, whereas now it is a raging, very adult and very explicit, love affair.

Wall of hummus in Israeli grocery store

OMG. Look at it all!

Hummus by the bucketful? Think that only existed in your dreams? I have news for you, friend: go to a magical land called Israel, and you shall find it… atop a unicorn wearing a yarmulka. Er, I made that last part up, but the hummus bucketfuls are real.

Baba ghanoush

Like hummus, but with eggplant added. That’s like giving Rogue’s people powers to Wolverine. In other words, unstoppable.

Baba ganoush in Israel

Nuts

There’s not much better travel food than a good trail mix. I don’t know what is up with Israeli nuts, but they are phenomenal. And, like all good things in Israel, they also come by the binful.

Dried fruits and nuts in Israel

Trail mix heaven. Don't forget the dried fruits!

Falafel

My good friend, the chickpea, makes a second appearance here. Ground up with some spices and FRIED (yes!), these tasty little fritters will become your new reason for living. Served in a pita with veggies and tahini sauce, you’re never going to want to go home!

Eating a falafel in Israel

YES, FALAFEL.

Shakshouka

Meaning “mixed-up” in Hebrew, shakshouka is a pan fried dish made of poached eggs, tomatoes, onions, and spices. It is served with bread and is simple, hot, and ohsogood.

Shakshouka in Israel

Now do you believe me?

Israel is one of the best countries for vegetarians, with fresh food and an ample selection of tasty dishes. For anybody looking for some veggie haute cuisine, what are you waiting for?

(I do realize that most of these foods can be found in other Middle Eastern countries. I found, and mowed, them in both Egypt and Jordan. I thought, however, that food was the best and most vegetarian-friendly in Israel, which is why I focused this post solely there.)

What other countries do you recommend for vegetarians?

This was a postcard from Israel, which quickly became one of my new favorite countries. If you like it, then follow me on Twitter. That way you’ll always know when I have ridiculously funny things to say. Which is always. 

  1. Ooh the Shakshouka looks amazing. I wonder if I can get that in Toronto.

    • I bet! I think it’s pretty easy to make, too. I haven’t tried it yet, but am definitely planning on it in the near future.

  2. So much food porn. You’ve definitely convinced me to make a trip over there.

  3. A unicorn wearing a yarmulka…haha. Wouldn’t its horn get in the way?! :)

  4. This made me hungry …. and miss you!

    … not necessarily in that order :)

    • Awww, I miss YOU, Miss Anna! Thanks for stopping by! And btw, it should be in that order. Food first, girl. Always.

  5. I love love love Israel and shakshouka!!! One of my favorite travel destinations and the reason why I love falafel more now than I ever did before! Thank God NYC has more than enough Israeli restaurants to fulfill my cravings!

    • Mmmmm, falafel. I am jealous of the variety you have in NYC; it’s not quite the same in Alaska! Haha. But I did just try making falafel for the first time the other day. Shockingly easy! Next on the list: shakshouka!

  6. Hi Susan, very nice post, I have been to Israel before and I’m going to visit it again in September, it’s a beautiful country. And food is really great out there, especially I love their water-melons :-)

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