Since going vegan in 2017 I had the privilege to live in some awesome, vegan friendly places. Let’s talk about three of them: Tel Aviv, Beirut, and Manly. If you get the chance to travel to one of these places or even live there, enjoy!
1. Tel Aviv, Israel
Yes, Tel Aviv really is the vegan paradise. If I could, I would try a different restaurant each day. There are definitely enough to chose from. I won’t talk about all of them here because that would take forever, so I will write another piece on vegan travel in Israel itself later. Let me just tell you about my five favorite vegan friendly places and options in Tel Aviv.
My goal is to try every item on this restaurant’s menu. They have a cheese platter that is to die for, their soy-based shakshuka is unreal, and don’t even get me started on their desserts menu. My family once ordered every dessert in the restaurant. Tiramisu, frozen cookie, pistachio cake, warm chocolate cake with ice cream… but nothing, and I repeat nothing, comes close to their cheesecake. You HAVE to try it. It’s so delicious!
2. Literally any Hummus and/or Falafel place
Not a lot to say here. I am pretty sure I have hummus running through my veins by now. A nice bowl of creamy deliciousness drizzled with olive oil, with fresh vegetables and warm pita, and my life is complete. You will also never go wrong with a falafel shop (but keep an eye open for the prices, near Carmel market you can get Falafel for 6-10 shekels, while you pay at least 15-17 shekels at other places).
3. Jeff’s Ice Cream Place
Located in beautiful Jaffa, this place serves some of the best ice cream in town. Half of their flavors are vegan, including dark chocolate and Rocher (my two favorites) and they have a whole array of toppings, too. Grab a scoop and then go enjoy the view in Jaffa.
4. Green Butcher
Looking for amazing vegan burgers, shawarmas, or hotdogs. The Green Butcher serves you Beyond Meat with some really tasty dips and vegan cheddar. The fully vegan place also serves hotdogs, shawarma and Ara’ais at its two locations in Givatayim and Ben Yehuda.
5. Donut places during Hannukkah (or any other time)
If you are in Israel over Hanukkah you must try all the amazing Donuts! Some Israelis I know follow the rule that on each day of the eight-day festivities you eat one more donut per day. Start with one, finish with eight! Sugar coma guaranteed. You can get vegan donuts throughout the rest of the year, too, but the ones during Hanukkah just go one step further.
2. Beirut, Lebanon
Another city in the Middle East is on my list. There is something about me and that hummus life… I just can’t get enough of it. The Middle East generally seems to be a very vegan-friendly place because a lot of the food is accidentally vegan.
As in Tel Aviv, you pretty much can never go wrong with hummus or falafel here. One of my favorite spots for a falafel wrap is Falafel Sayhoun. (Interesting fact: One of the oldest falafel places in Beirut, Falafel Sayhoun split in half due to a conflict between the two brother-owners. Now, two shops are located right next to each other and each brother has his own loyal customer base). Go ahead and try both, then decide which one is better.
Cafe Em Nazih at Saifi Urban Gardens is a cozy place with a great atmosphere that serves great Lebanese food and even has live music on Friday and Saturday. Go with some friends and share the plates of Tabbouleh, Fattoush, Mutabbal (Baba Ganoush), Hummus (and its variation of Hummus Beiruty, which has a lot of garlic added to it), and their super yummy spicy potatoes.
Added bonus: You can take as much Pita bread as you want, and the prices are really cheap. If you want more international food just go upstairs to the rooftop bar where they serve salads and sandwiches as well.
I highly recommend trying some Zataar Manousheh, or the wild Zaatar version. A simple breakfast dish that consists of zaatar (a thyme-sesame-sumac-oil-mix) spread on flatbread and eaten warm. If you want an alternative to a falafel wrap, eat a carnabit sandwich (fried cauliflower).
Em Ali is a small shop in the Gemmayzeh district. Gluten-free and vegan, this place serves some out-of-the-world good saj. For six months, this was my (almost) every day lunch. Pick and mix your fillings and enjoy!
Finally, one of my favorite places in all of Beirut is Luna’s Kitchen. This fully vegan restaurant serves English breakfast, hot dogs, pizza and pasta, as well as Lebanese food, including amazing vegan Labneh (cheese) sandwiches, and a variety of pastries and cakes. My sweet tooth was very delighted with their chocolate, carrot, and strawberry cakes as well as all the different kinds of tarts.
3. Manly, NSW, Australia
This little suburb north of Sydney is an absolute gem. Surrounded by some amazing beaches and just a 15-minute ferry ride away from Sydney, with breathtaking views of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, it’s an amazing place to stop by while traveling Australia. It’s also a great spot for some awesome vegan food. Simply stroll down “the Corso,” and you will pass some nice options.
My favorite breakfast place in Manly is Girdlers. Try their amazing buckwheat and coconut pancakes with fruits, coconut ice cream, chocolate sauce and maple syrup. What a way to start your day! They also serve delicious smoothie bowls, crepes, mud cakes, and for lunch some very nourishing bowls made with pumpkins, sweet potatoes, hummus, and loads of veggies.
Also a great breakfast place is Ground Zero. I love their Avocado Toast with caramelized onions and hash-browns. Add a fresh juice or smoothie and you are ready to start the day.
If you are craving some fast food, the Hotdog Man at the Corso has some awesome vegan options, and each item on The Hold’s menu has a vegan alternative. I had to double check if their burger was really vegan. It tasted unbelievable!
Right next to Manly Beach is a Ben & Jerry’s shop with a bunch of vegan options. Nothing better than having a cookie dough chocolate chunk ice cream on a hot day at the beach.
Now, if you go to Manly and you don’t try an açai bowl from Bare Naked Bowl you are missing out. Before moving there I had no idea what açai was… now I can’t live without it. Don’t go there during lunch time though. The entire street will be packed with people waiting for their bowl.
There are many more amazing vegan options in all three cities. I could go on forever talking about them, and especially in Tel Aviv you will find vegan food in pretty much every restaurant. Whatever food you are craving, there will be an option somewhere.
Related: Middle Eastern Lentil Falafel Salad
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Photo: Michael Coresh via Instagram @ Coresh_photos; Rebecca Willems