Lentil soup Lentil soup Lentils make for a hearty vegan meal. (Photo: Wiktory/Shutterstock)

8 delicious vegan-friendly foods of Israel

You don't have to be vegan to enjoy these healthy dishes.

Veganism is taking off in Israel, and it's no surprise: the country places emphasis on affordable fresh produce as well as animal rights.

With native fruits and veggies including figs, dates, pomegranates, grapes, prickly pears, mangoes, kiwis, bananas, apples, cherries, cucumbers, melons, peppers and zucchini, vegetarians and vegans enjoy plenty of fresh options.

Since its inception in Israel in 2012, about 300,000 Israelis have adopted the Meatless Monday initiative. That’s about 20 percent, the same proportion of Americans that have taken part in Meatless Monday. In both countries, thousands have taken the extra step to remove all meat and animal products from their diets.  Eating a plant-based diet is easy where there are already lots of foods from nearby regions that use vegan-friendly ingredients - even fast food in Israel has gone vegan with the very first vegan Domino's pizza. Here are some vegan foods that can be found in Israel - and can easily make their way into your own kitchen!

Hummus

Hummus Photo: vsl/Shutterstock

Popular throughout the Middle East, hummus is easy to come by and easy to make. All you really need is a can of chickpeas to start, and the rest is up to you. For a quick, 5-minute recipe, the FatFree Vegan Kitchen's got you covered.


Sambusak

SambusakPhoto: iskh/Shutterstock

An Israeli take on the Indian favorite of samosas, these egg-free pastries are filled with chickpeas and spices for a savory snack. For a sambusak recipe that also happens to be vegan (with the use of a vegan spread instead of butter, of course), check out this Israeli Kitchen post.


Lentils

Lentil SoupPhoto: Wiktory/Shutterstock

Lentils are a popular staple in Israel and can be prepared in a variety of ways — with potatoes in a warm salad (try this one from Smitten Kitchen), or as the star of the winter comfort food, lentil soup.


Pita bread

Pita breadPhoto: Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Egg-less and delicious, pita bread is a go-to vegan staple around the world. Fill it with veggies and call it a day. It's relatively simple to make at home, too, as The Kitchn shows in this handy post.


Sabich

SabichPhoto: eatingeast/Flickr

When your pita bread is fresh out of the oven, look to the sabich for sandwich inspiration.  Though this Israeli sandwich is usually served with eggs, it's easy as pie to make it without, and totally worth it - with fried eggplant, hummus, tahini, Israeli salad, potatoes and parsley, it's an entire meal wrapped up in a warm pita. Check out this great vegan recipe from Vegan Seks.


Baked falafel

Baked falafelPhoto: Eva Guendemann/Shutterstock

A healthy alternative to the crispy, fried falafel, baked falafel adds just enough substance to make a meal out of a salad. C+K has a fantastic recipe featuring a baked falafel that doesn't sacrifice its crunchiness: Just add it to a bed of spring mix with some cucumbers, grape tomatoes and onions and enjoy.


Stuffed vine leaves

Stuffed grape leaves Photo: Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH/Shutterstock

Forget the regular lettuce or tortilla wraps and go for grape vine leaves. Also known as "dolma," its fillings vary across the Mediterranean. For a classic Greek appetizer, try Stuffed Grape Leaves with Rice and Herbs. For an Israeli twist, add lentils.


Basbousa

BasbousaPhoto: Garrett Ziegler/Flickr

And for dessert: basbousa (also known as ravani), an Eastern Mediterranean treat commonly found in Israeli bakeries, comprised of semolina soaked in a simple syrup. Some recipes include butter, but Ba-Li Cravings has a great vegan recipe for this sweet cake.

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8 delicious vegan-friendly foods of Israel
Veggie-lovers and health nuts rejoice! Check out some vegan foods common in Israel to get some inspiration for your personal cookbook.