What's the best city in the world to be a vegetarian?
Every day is Meatless Monday in this Mediterranean metropolis.
In the latest nod to the culinary excellence of Tel Aviv, Israel, Conde Nast Traveler this week praised the city as a vegetarian food capital, citing its "impressive wave of vegetable-centric restaurants" and wide availability of vegan- and vegetarian-friendly menus at even the most carnivorous of dining establishments.
Conde Nast's praise is far from the first evidence of Tel Aviv's success in cornering the veg market. Last spring, the Daily Meal named Tel Aviv the top vegan destination in the world, besting cities like New York, Portland and Berlin.
"It’s easy to see why the under-30 majority, with their modern, Western ideas of eating well, are attracted to vegetarian and vegan fare – whether for idealistic or economic reasons," said Miriam Kresh, a food blogger and founder of Israeli Kitchen. "Young chefs returning from travels abroad are also influencing the way Israelis see food, with more and more emphasis on vegetarian options. It really is a big celebration of our gorgeous fruits, vegetables, cheeses and grains."
It's easier than ever to embrace vegetarianism in Tel Aviv, with spots like Nanuchka, a Georgian-themed vegan spot known for delicious handmade dumplings; Anastasia, with its macadamia nut crepes and tahini turmeric spread; and the North African-themed Chiripom, famous for a back-home favorite snack served in a party hat.
And that's just the restaurants. No description of Tel Aviv's food would be complete without mention of the open-air markets around town, bursting with color, inspiration and character.
Shoppers at the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv, a popular fruit and vegetable marketplace in Israel. (Photo: ChameleonsEye/Shutterstock)
So what's the secret (vegetarian) sauce in Tel Aviv's recipe for plant-based success? According to Kobi Obayon, chef of the Herbert Samuel Restaurant in the Ritz-Carlton Herzliya, it's all about retaining the purity of the food you're cooking, rather than using extra ingredients to enhance or alter it.
"When you learn to cook without butter or cream, you learn to work with the flavor of the raw vegetables themselves," he told Conde Nast Traveler.
Eggs Florentine, a vegetarian-friendly classic, is served on toast at the Hotel Montefiore in Tel Aviv. (Photo: Or Hiltch/Flickr)
Walking through the city's main drag, it's clear Tel Aviv has opened its arms to the veg crowd, but that's not where the story ends. In this artistic city, even the most vehement meat lovers will rejoice in the fact that Tel Aviv doesn't seem to run out of ideas to make vegetarian food not only appealing to the masses, but amazing to behold.
Whether you're thinking of giving vegetarianism a try, or just looking to expand your existing veggie repertoire, let our Israeli Kitchen channel lead the way.
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