Let’s face it: veganism is in. Maybe you’re interested in a plant-based diet for personal health reasons (about 70% of the population is actually lactose intolerant!), environmental impacts, or simply because you don’t like eating animals. In any case, there are many reasons to give veganism a go. Some of us at Cairo 360 have been vegan for a while and we always hearing people saying “I’d really love to try veganism, but it’s impossible in Egypt”.
Indeed, there tends to be this idea that veganism is a new trend and is exclusive to the Western world. However, plant-based foods, and veganism as a lifestyle, have been around for thousands of years and have been present in many Eastern cultures and religions. So many traditional Egyptian foods are coincidentally vegan! These foods are also cheap and extremely accessible. At any given time or place in Egypt, you’ll probably be able to find at least one of these somewhere.
Breakfast of champions. Not only is this fava bean dish versatile (everyone has their own special way they like to eat their ful), it’s also nutritious and filled with protein!
If you’re visiting or new to Egypt, you may know this as “falafel”. Unlike other countries in the Middle East which usually use chickpeas, taamia is made with fava beans. It’s delicious, fried, and always vegan! Have it by itself or in a sandwich.
Could there possibly be a more satisfying meal than this? Just think: pasta, rice, lentils, chickpeas, tomato sauce, AND fried onions. Vegan paradise, enough said.
Every time I’ve asked a zalabia vendor if they use any dairy or eggs, they’ve said no. I mean, it’s pretty much just fried dough. This is a delicious and indulgent treat that will immediately make any Egyptian nostalgic for those long sahel summers. If you also avoid honey, as many vegans do, you may want to make sure they use powdered sugar as a topping instead. However, sometimes they use a sugar syrup instead of honey, so make sure to ask!
If you’ve been in Egypt for any time at all, you’ll be fully aware of the plethora of fruit vendors. Everywhere. Not only is fruit easy to find here, it’s GOOD. As someone who recently lived abroad, trust me, nothing compares to the fruit in Egypt. Take a minute to research what fruits are in season to ensure you’re getting the best possible quality.
Much like fruit vendors (and sometimes even one in the same) finding juice is incredibly easy while living in Cairo. If you’re ever out for a stroll with friends, grabbing some freshly squeezed guava, mango, or sugarcane juice is a lovely refreshment.
Bread and dips
Hummus, baba ghanoush, besara, pickled eggplants and tomatoes, tahina, as well as many others are fully vegan and easy to find at most Egyptian or Middle Eastern themed restaurants. Balady bread is also safe to eat. My family is always surprised when I jump at the chance to go to Fish Market with them; “But, what can you eat there?” The bread. The soft, warm, floury, addictive bread. Their dips and salads are amazing, too!
Us Cairenes love us some french fries, so much so in fact that ordering a french fry sandwich is a completely acceptable and easy option in Egypt.
Moska3a without Meat
This mixture of eggplant and tomato sauce is an ideal breakfast, lunch, and dinner meal. You will likely find this dish at any of Egypt’s oriental cuisine restaurants.
BONUS TRICK: When in doubt ask if the dish you are about to indulge in is “Seyamy”.