Vegan Food In Turkey & Turkish Vegan Dishes & Restaurants

Chasing the Donkey may include affiliate links - if you decide to make a purchase through these links, we receive a commission without any additional cost to you. Disclaimer & privacy policy.
Post author Enes

Written by our local expert Enes

Originally from North Macedonia, Enes is a well-traveled enthusiast residing in Türkiye. He combines his extensive knowledge and avid wanderlust to bring you insightful narratives of his Turkish adventures.

Here is your guide to vegan food in Turkey. It includes 11 Turkish vegan dishes and vegan restaurants in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, and more, all written by locals who love this beautiful country – and eat vegan!

Turkey Travel Blog_Vegan Food In Turkey

Many vegan or vegetarian travelers know that finding suitable food options is not always easy. Many popular tourist destinations still do not offer the ample choice you might be used to at home.

For this reason, it can be challenging to maintain your dietary routine and fulfill your eating requirements.

If you’re visiting Türkiye, you’ll be pleased to know that this country offers many fantastic vegan alternatives for both vegan and vegetarian travelers – and no, we don’t mean fake meat!

Turkey’s culinary culture is one-of-a-kind. The country has been at a crossroads of many different cultures – from ancient Greeks and Romans to the civilizations of the Middle East and the nations of Europe. For this reason, it developed a rich and diverse cuisine with many options. You need to know what to look for!

Keep reading to learn more about what to do if you want to find the best vegan food in Türkiye!

Stick To The Larger Cities As Much As You Can

Romantic places in Istanbul - Dolmabahce Palace
Dolmabahce Palace on the banks of the Bosphorus in Istanbul.

In most cases, bigger urban areas have more food options, as they are busier and are accustomed to visitors and travelers with different dietary requirements. If you are a vegan, your chances of finding suitable meals in larger cities will be much better; in fact, being a vegan in Istanbul is easy as there are many vegan restaurants.

Over the past ten years, vegan diets have become more common across Türkiye, not just in Istanbul. It is now possible to find many restaurants with proper vegan options or visit the markets and grocery shops in town to buy some incredible plant-based ingredients. Turkish produce is among the best in the world, so you’d be delighted to experience some of the finest vegetables you’ll ever taste.

Make Sure You Know What You’re Getting

The definition of vegan and vegetarian meals is not set in stone in Türkiye. Some people might think that you are only trying to avoid red meat! Don’t be afraid to ask if you want to ensure you’re getting vegan meals served. A simple set of questions can give you some peace of mind.

How To Tell Your Waiter You’re A Vegan

Language barriers can come into play and cause some confusion. It can be slightly intimidating to tell your server that you’re a vegan, especially if you’re visiting a foreign country. This is especially true in countries that aren’t accustomed to alternative dietary lifestyles such as veganism. Thankfully, tourists and visitors are accustomed to Istanbul and other areas of Turkey. This means that most hospitality staff (such as hotel and restaurant workers) will understand English well enough to cater to your needs.

In most cases, they’ll also be familiar with vegan or vegetarian requirements. Still, you might also want to try your hand at the local language. A simple

  • “Ben veganım” means “I am vegan,” which should help you get by quickly.
  • If you’re feeling more ambitious, you can try: “Sadece bitki kaynaklı ürünler tüketiyorum,” which translates to “I only eat products of plant origin.”

An additional tip: make sure to specifically ask if there is any cheese, eggs, butter, or milk in your dish. Some people might struggle to understand what constitutes an “animal-derived” product!

Traditional Options Can Be Vegan-Friendly Too

Türkiye features many amazing food options that are traditionally vegan. These include dishes such as hummus and gözleme, both of which are very popular in their vegan versions, even among non-vegans, who love these meat-free variations of such beautiful dishes. While gözleme takes the cake as one of the most famous Turkish meals abroad, it is not the only option. You’ll be surprised to know just how many unique vegan-friendly dishes exist in the country!

Vegan Food In Turkey – What Traditional Turkish Food Is Vegan

So, what Turkish food is vegan-friendly? We’ve already mentioned gözleme and hummus, but here are a few other tasty vegan foods you can sink your teeth into in Türkiye.

Çiğ Köfte

What to eat in Turkey - Çiğ Kofte

The name of this dish translates to “raw meatball.” The great thing about this dish is that it has no meat at all! It’s mostly a mixture of pomegranate molasses and bulgur wheat. Oh, and it’s delicious! This popular street food is ubiquitous and relatively affordable.

Kuru Fasulye

This incredible stew often features legumes, tomatoes, rice, or bulgur. Some sellers offer variations featuring chicken or beef stock, so it’s better to double-check before diving in! However, many restaurants offer an all-vegan version as per tradition.

Stuffed Vine Leaves

Vegan Food In Turkey - Stuffed vine leaves

This fantastic dish is often found as an appetizer in Mediterranean-style restaurants worldwide. It is also a popular dish in Greek cuisine, which has developed its own take on this classic. In Türkiye, stuffed vine leaves are a delicacy almost always available as a vegan dish. While other neighboring countries have versions of this dish featuring goat cheese or ricotta, the Turkish version has a different twist. It features a traditional rice filling, currant, onions, and pine nuts. If you ask most Turkish people, chances are they remember this amazingly aromatic meal from their childhood, and it is connected to many happy memories and good times.

Misir

Vegan In Istanbul - Misir, corn cobs

If you like simple dishes with a rich flavor, this one’s for you. Misir is a popular street food item that makes for a fantastic snack on the go. Behind the exotic name (well, at least for non-Turkish speakers), this is quite simply a piece of corn, which comes roasted or boiled with added salt and olive oil.

Simit

Turkish simit bread with Ortakoy Mosque Istalbul - vegan in Istanbul

This is one of Turkey’s most popular baked goods. Some call it a bagel’s distant cousin, and the two foods aren’t too far off from one another. However, the Simit has a glazed, caramelized sesame flavor that takes it to a whole new level. They are ideal snacks to enjoy while exploring, and they pair well with other dishes as well. The original recipe is also animal-free, making for an excellent vegan option.

More Vegan Food In Türkiye

MORE TURKISH VEGAN FOOD TO TRY
  • Vegan Corba: this is a vegan soup, and you’ll find countless types on offer. The most common are ezogelin or mercimek. Both of these soup varieties are made from lentils, just different colored types. They’re also straightforward to find and served in most traditional restaurants
  • Lentil Kofte: you’ll probably know that regular kofte is made with beef or lamb, but lentil kofte is the vegan version. These are small patties of bulgur and red lentils with many different herbs to add plenty of flavor. You might also see lentil kofte containing tomatoes, aubergine, pine nuts, onions, and zucchini
  • Kisir: Kisir is usually served as a side dish, but it can also be enjoyed on its own. This dish is made from tomatoes, onions, plenty of olive oil, and tiny bulgur rice. You might also find it with greens added and served with lemon on the side. It’s absolutely delicious and surprisingly filling! 
  • Acili Ezme: Acili Ezme is served in every Turkish restaurant as a meze dish and is delicious! It is made of garlic, red bell pepper, parsley, and tomato, and you’ll find that most places add extra red chili flakes to make it spicy. Most people eat acili ezme simply with bread, but you can enjoy it with rice or bulgar, too
  • Imam Bayildi: not only is this dish totally vegan, but it’s also super flavourful and very healthy too. The dish contains onions, tomatoes, aubergines, and plenty of herbs and spices to add a punch. You’ll often see it served alongside either bulgur or rice, and it is very filling

Brands We Use And Trust

  

Don’t Overlook Turkish Restaurants

Balkan Flags_Turkey 1

Local fast-food chains are renowned places for people looking for vegan options. For instance, a local burger joint, “Happy Burger,” offers amazing vegan and vegetarian Turkish food at its Kurtulus location (Istanbul).

Top Vegan Restaurants In Türkiye

Still, you might want to try something with more of a local flair. If that’s the case, here are some local vegan restaurants in Turkey.

Top Vegan Restaurants In Istanbul

Vegan Masa

Turkey Travel Blog_Vegan Guide To Turkey_Vegan Masa
Photo Credit: Vegan Masa

Instagram | >Menu

Türkali, Mısırlı Bahçe Sk. No: 8/A, 34357 Beşiktaş/İstanbul

Located in a cozy neighborhood with vegan stores and restaurants around the corner, Vegan Masa offers its customers an extraordinary trip to Turkish cuisine with tasty vegan-made local dishes. They have a large selection of vegan pide and lahmacun – two different types of Turkish pizza. The place also makes a milk-based traditional dessert called sütlaç, which is definitely a must-try.

With its beautiful decoration, Vegan Masa offers its visitors tranquillity and comfort. Despite being furnished in a modern style, the restaurant resembles your typical Turkish bakery. If you’re in Istanbul, you should definitely try Vegan Masa and its famous lahmacun.

YUZU

Instagram 

Caferağa, Şair Latifi Sk. No:41, 34710 Kadıköy/İstanbul

When in Turkey, eat what the locals eat. However, if you’re looking for new culinary experiences, Istanbul offers fantastic vegan restaurants that provide delicious meals from different cuisines. And for vegans who enjoy Asian cuisine, YUZU is unquestionably the first stop. The place serves a vast selection of Asian foods, including vegan sushi and soups. Although most people come here for tasty avocado rolls, their noodles and Thai food are also delicious. 

The decor is contemporary with a traditional Asian flair. You may enjoy your amazing vegan sushi on the patio or stay inside and enjoy the friendly atmosphere. YUZU has a fantastic staff, so if you’re satisfied with the service, don’t forget to >tip.

Vegan Istanbul

Instagram | >Menu

Firuzağa, Türkgücü Cd. No:51, 34425 Beyoğlu/İstanbul

Yes, there are restaurants with Michelin stars and world-renowned chefs in Istanbul, but for Turks, the best food is always their mum’s. And Vegan Istanbul offers that to everyone: food made with love. 

Vegan Istanbul serves handmade vegan delicacies to its customers. Although they primarily have vegan-made Turkish dishes, international food, such as burritos and schnitzel, is also on the menu. It’s the perfect place for eating a full meal since their food is served in the style of your local lokanta or eating house. You pick multiple dishes from the menu for a reasonable price and eat. Their lahmacun and mantı -Turkish dumplings- are definitely some of the best you can find, and if you enjoy Turkish desserts, you shouldn’t leave without trying their baklava.

Bi Nevi Deli

Turkey Travel Blog_Vegan Guide To Turkey_Bi Nivi Deli
Photo Credit: Bi Nivi Deli

Instagram | >Menu

Etiler, Dilhayat Sk. No:10/1, 34337 Beşiktaş/İstanbul

Bi Nevi Deli, which translates as “Somewhat Crazy,” stands out for its unique atmosphere. The restaurant is a traditional fusion of a restaurant and a café, and the food is as “crazy” as their name suggests. They sell burgers, sandwiches, and bowls prepared from all-healthy ingredients. Their pumpkin curry burger and many types of spaghetti are among the best in Istanbul. However, what everyone should try is their delicious pomegranate sauce cheesecake. It is worth noting that their cashew yogurt with basil goes with practically every dish they serve. Plus, if you come early in the morning, you can have the best vegan Turkish breakfast in Istanbul.

Veganarsist

Instagram | >Website

Osmanağa, Canan Sk. 20/A, 34714 Kadıköy/İstanbul

Veganarsist is a small restaurant with a surprisingly rich menu. They serve some of the best vegan burgers in Istanbul – the restaurant’s owner even won a vegan food contest with their burger. But, in addition to mouth-watering burgers, the place serves vegan meatballs and delicious traditional Turkish dishes. Veganarsist is also famous for its savory vegan cakes, puddings, brownies, and biscuits. Plus, if you wish to buy vegan products, they sell vegan meat, ayran, and other stuff on their website.

MORE VEGAN RESTAURANTS IN ISTANBUL

Vegan Restaurant In Nevşehir – Cappadocia

Cappadocian Cuisine

Aydınlı, Uzundere Caddesi, Orta Mahalle No:17, 50180 Merkez/Nevşehir

Although it’s hard to find all-vegan places in Nevşehir due to the highly meat-based cuisine of Cappadocia and the Inner Anatolian Region, some sites offer vegan foods to their customers. And Cappadocian Cuisine is definitely one of the best places to eat in Cappadocia. The restaurant serves local Cappadocian delicacies, as the name implies. While most of their food is meat-based, they have some of the best vegan options in the area. Cappadocian Cuisine also serves alcoholic beverages for those who want to try local Turkish booze, like rakı.

Vegan Restaurant In İzmir

YayaRaw

Turkey Travel Blog_Vegan Guide To Turkey_Yaya Raw
Photo Credit: Yaya Raw

Instagram | >Web Site | >Menu

Kültür, 1383. Sk. 7/A, 35220 Konak/İzmir

Because of its predominantly plant-based cuisine, İzmir is a vegan’s paradise. And even though you won’t have a hard time finding vegan food in İzmir, if you’re looking for an all-vegan restaurant, YayaRaw is the place to go. They offer fresh foods, local meals, and international foods for individuals who want to try different dishes. YayaRaw’s pumpkin soup with coconut milk is a must-try for those open to discovering new flavors. They also have some of Türkiye’s best plant-based cheese and yogurt. 

YayaRaw is in one of the most famous and spectacular neighborhoods in İzmir, close to the most famous monuments, museums, and >tourist attractions. So, it might be the best place to recharge your batteries after a long and thrilling day of exploring İzmir.

Yasam Vegan Cafe

Alsancak, 1484. Sk. 8 A, 35220 Konak/İzmir

A true OG, this Yasam Vegan Cafe has been around before most other vegan restaurants in Izmir, and as such, it’s always busy. You’ll find vegan sausage recipes here to make your mouth water and veggie burgers and ravioli.

Vegan Restaurant In Bursa

Vegan Kantin

Instagram

İhsaniye Mahallesi Kanuni Cad. Görkem Sitesi No:35/C/A, 16130 Nilüfer

With its tranquil atmosphere, minimalist décor, and incredible food, Vegan Kantin is one of the best locations in Bursa to try vegan food. The place is well-known for its minimalist menus, allowing you to sample various foods in tiny portions while enjoying coffee or tea. They also serve scrumptious sandwiches and wraps that everyone should try. Plus, the vegan burgers they serve are among the best in Bursa.

Vegan Restaurant In Ankara

Tünel Vegan Pub

Instagram | >Menu

Meşrutiyet, Konur Sok. 59/4, 06420 Çankaya/Ankara

Tünel Vegan Pub is one of the oldest vegan pubs in Turkey. The place is well-known in Ankara for its vegan-friendly local cuisine and fantastic atmosphere. Their içli köfte and dürüm are rather popular, and they have pretty reasonable prices compared to most pubs in Ankara. Also, their delicious vegan dürüm is simply unrivaled, and their beverage selection is rich with different brands of whiskey, beer, wine, and other alcoholic beverages.

VegAnka

Kocatepe, Kızılırmak Sk. No:15/8, 06934 Çankaya/Ankara

This is a very popular restaurant in Ankara that is always busy. It’s a top spot for salads and veggie burgers, too, and you’ll find many people who aren’t vegan coming here simply for the delicious food!

EATING VEGAN IN TURKEY FAQs

When it comes to eating as a vegan in Türkiye, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

Is it hard to eat vegan in Turkey?

No – so many dishes in Türkiye already are naturally vegan or vegetarian. You will find so many delicious bites as a vegan in Turkey.

Where should I stay as a vegan traveling in Türkiye?

In terms of cities to visit, most big cities will offer lots of vegan options. 

We’d recommend staying at an Airbnb or an accommodation with a kitchen where you can have the flexibility of cooking a few of your own meals to balance out your eating. 

How do I let my server know I am vegan?

“Ben veganım” means “I am vegan,” which should help you get by in most restaurant situations.

Are there dedicated vegan restaurants in Turkey?

Yes – we recommend checking out some of the restaurants highlighted in this post, as many have vegan-only menus.

Can I find vegan foods at traditional restaurants?

Absolutely! Turkish dishes are often vegan or vegetarian to start with, so finding something at most restaurants will be quite easy if you know what to look for. Things to try include:

  • Imam Bayildi
  • Lentil Kofte
  • Kisir
  • Acili Ezme
  • Kuru Fasulye
  • Vegan Corba
  • Simit
  • Misir
  • Cig Kofte
  • Baklava
  • Stuffed Grape Leaves

What is the best way to find vegan restaurants while traveling in Türkiye?

Use the HappyCow app. It maps out vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants, cafes, and stores near you so you can find places to eat as you explore. It also highlights reviews from past travelers who have dined at the restaurants.

In conclusion, being a vegan in Türkiye is easy. You shouldn’t be afraid to visit just because they think they might be unable to eat what they want. Turkey is an amazingly varied country, and you will undoubtedly be able to enjoy a fantastic experience and taste delicious vegan food with no compromises in quality.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Move This Adventure To Your Inbox & Get An Instant Freebie

Subscribe To Unlock Your FREE Customizable Travel Packing List & All Our Best Tips!