Musement takes a look at how Tel Aviv became a world vegan capital, and where you should go to experience the culinary delights on offer.
When Tel Aviv food blogger Ori Shavit turned vegan seven years ago after a life-changing date, she shocked many of her colleagues. They wondered how she would continue to write about food whilst keeping to a strict vegan diet.
But after encouraging playful experiments with veganism through her food writing contacts, for example when one of Tel Aviv’s top restaurants went completely vegan for one night, she has seen the city grow into a vegan capital.
“We already had a good start as a vegan capital,” Ori says. “Much of the cuisine is fresh vegetables, hummus, falafel. And with many Israeli’s eating kosher, people are used to thinking about the story behind their food.”
Now Tel Aviv also pioneers the fake meat industry, with more fake meat companies than anywhere else in the world, and plenty of investment from the big global meat brands.
“We have a quarter million dollars worth of meat on pre-order from customers around the world already. Meat companies have also invested in us, as they see the tide changing,” says Shir, a spokesperson from Supermeat.
In this vegan guide to Tel Aviv, we present the top ten places for vegans to go and eat in the city. Not all of them might be strictly vegan, but vegans will eat well at all of them. And with over 400 vegan and veggie restaurants in the city, there are plenty to choose from. From Ethiopian to Jordanian cuisine, who knew vegan food could be so varied.
1. Meshek Barzilay
Meshek Barzilay is an organic and vegetarian restaurant located on Ahad Ha’Am street. The restaurant originated from the owner’s organic farm fifteen years ago and has plenty of vegan options, with all of the ingredients sourced from the local area.
2. Cafe Kaymak
Cafe Kaymak on Levinski street has a vegan menu that changes each day of the week. The resourceful chefs, who always have their fridges stocked with Israel’s best produce, consistently keep things fresh for the customers.
3. Anastasia Cafe
Anastasia Cafe specializes in vegan desserts and breakfasts. The service here is laid back, suitable for those of you who are not in a rush to get on with their day.
4. Cafe Xoho
The kosher requirements of some of Israel’s locals have meant that people have grown accustomed to thinking about what’s in their food, and how it has been prepared. Nowhere is this truer than at Cafe Xoho where a great deal of attention goes into the preparation and presentation of excellent vegan dishes.
5. The Green Cat
The Green Cat is a great vegan pizzeria that prides itself on its cashew cheese and various other vegan cheese alternatives.
Zakaim was founded by a group of siblings and has family cooking and homemade recipes at its heart. A favorite among locals, Zakaim also caters to backpackers and budget travelers with its reasonable prices.
Tenat is an Ethiopian restaurant, of the style, often found in London. There are plenty of little authentic details here, such as how the napkins are folded, and of course, the rich and varied vegan menu on offer.
8. Rainbow Burger
Some people have misgivings about the vegan junk food craze as they feel that it misrepresents healthy eating and turns it into something else. To these critics, Rainbow Burger in Tel Aviv offers cauliflower and jackfruit as healthy meat substitutes, covered in melted vegan cheese.
9. Shuffle Bar
Located in the bright and vibrant Florentin neighborhood, Shuffle Bar is famous for its sweet potato and chestnut burger.
10. Dosa Bar
Dosa Bar offers south Indian street food at a reasonable price and is much loved by the locals. Who knew that Tel Aviv’s vegan hotspots would be so varied, taking inspiration from India, Ethiopia, Jordan, Georgia, and elsewhere?
Of course, for those don’t fancy vegan meat substitutes like cauliflower and jackfruit burgers, there are plenty of fake meat companies selling their own burgers. But with this industry in its infancy, they will likely set one back a bit. Perhaps it’s best to stick to the many tried and tested recipes on offer in these ten delightful vegan and vegetarian spots.