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What I ate in Turkey: A vegetarian’s food guide in the land of Shawarma


Turkey, as we all know is one of the most visited countries by the tourists as it is well known for its scenic landscapes, rich and ancient culture, a history spanning over centuries and warm, welcoming locals. But then there is more to all these for anyone who visits Turkey, that is their succulent cuisine. But, the vegetarians like me need not be disappointed as there are a plethora of options in this country to relish on where shawarma and kebabs are well known. I had a lengthy list of name of the foods that were “must-try” in Turkey and I was lucky enough to sample most of the items from this list. So, read along and know what I loved the most about Turkish cuisine.

Related post: Why Turkey has to be in your travel list

Let’s talk about the first meal of the day, that is breakfast or as the locals call it “kahvaltı tabağı” which means the breakfast plate. Turks really enjoy every meal they have but the breakfast according to me is the most lavish one which includes varieties of cheese, olives, bread, honey, jams, fruits and vegetables, börek, omelets, salads, menemen, tahini paste, gözleme, acma. I am a kind of person who loves to start the day with some good food and while in Turkey I loved the breakfast I had every day so much that I was looking forward to it every night when I got into bed.

Vegetarian food in TurkeyVegetarian food in Turkey

Turkish Börek
Börek: flaky pastry with several thin layers usually with cheese, spinach filling
Turkish Gözleme
Gözleme: Savoury crepe like a dish usually filled with cheese or spinach

Turkish food guide

Turkish Acma
Acma: Turkish styled soft bagel

Your day might get too hectic and busy with running around from one sightseeing place to the other and you may not have enough time to grab a bite. Worry not while you are in Turkey, especially Istanbul as it is filled with tons of options for street food. You will spot loads of büfes, that is a snack shop or carts all over the city selling freshly roasted hazelnut, corns, börek, simit and so on.

Turkish food cart
Street food cart
Turkish Simit
Simit: ring-shaped crispy savory covered with sesame

Turkish Simit

Turkish food guide
Freshly roasted hazelnut

Turkish food guide

Turkish food guide
Corn cob

Now let’s talk about the main course and desserts. I loved how the simple bean salad and piping hot lentil Corba (soup) tasted that I ordered these every time I found it on the menu of the restaurant I went. While in Turkey if you are craving for some pizza then try the local Pide which is a boat-shaped flatbread with varieties toppings like the vegetable, tomatoes, spinach or just cheese. Also, try the sourly tasting Dolma which is stuffed with a variety of vegetables and wrapped with grape leaves. The famous Pilav rice is another item you can not miss in Turkey.

Turkish Bean salad
Bean salad
Turkish lentil soup
Lentil soup
Pide: Turkish style pizza
Pide: Turkish style pizza
Turkish Dolma
Dolma: grape leaves stuffed with vegetables

Turkish food guide

No visit to Turkey is complete without relishing on their delicious desserts. My first stop in Istanbul before we went sightseeing was a shop selling world-famous Baklavas. The pyramid-like tower of sweet, rich and scrumptious baklavas looked too good to ignore. Lokum or Turkish Delight is yet another world-famous dessert from Turkey which is often made in different flavors mixed with dry fruits and topped with finely powdered sugar.

Turkish food guide

Turkish food guide
Turkish baklavas

Turkish food guide
Turkish food guide

Turkish food guide

The Turkish rice pudding is as delicious and creamy as it looks which is a simple preparation made of rice, sugar, milk or water and served in small earthen pots.

Turkish food guide
Turkish rice pudding

Turkish food guide

With all the delicious food on our plate, we can’t skip on the drinks which are accomplished with these. It’s needless to say that Turkish tea and Turkish coffee are the two beverages you cannot miss there as there are served every place you visit. Enjoy your meal with a glass of frothy Ayran which is super refreshing and healthy yogurt drink.

Turkish tea

Turkish tea


Turkish coffee
Turkish coffee
Turkish Ayran
Ayran: Turkish yogurt drink
Turkish food guide
Fresh fruit juice is sold on the streets all over Turkey!
Turkish food guide
Sahlep: a smooth, frothy drink made of milk, sugar, flavored with rosewater or orange blossom water usually sold by the street vendors in Turkey
Turkish food guide
Turkish beer

Hope you guys enjoyed reading this! Do let us know if you have tried any of this food in Turkey and also let us know about the other vegetarian food to try while in Turkey in the comments below..






39 thoughts on “What I ate in Turkey: A vegetarian’s food guide in the land of Shawarma

  1. I’m not a veggie, but I have tried, and love all the delicacies you mentioned, especially borek. I’m not keen however on baklava, it’s too sweet for me. That beer at the end looks so refreshing, I definitely wouldn’t say no to one!

  2. Wow, you certainly tried a lot of the local food! And whilst keeping it all vegetarian too. I’m heading to Turkey this winter and although I eat meat, a lot of these dishes look delicious. Of course I must try the Turkish coffee and tea as well!

  3. I am vegetarian and reading this post delights me as there are lots of veggie options in Turkey. I have sipped Turkish coffee, ate Turkish sweets in Dubai. But i haven’t tried Borek and Bean Salad which looks delicious. Even here also there are many Turkish cafes and I would now go there and hunt for these things. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I love you sweethearts!!! Being a veggie, its not really easy to find tasty food everywhere! More often I end up eating fruits & biscuits. Italy is perhaps the only place where I found so much of variety in veggie food. I’m so glad to see so many options in Turkey as well…

  5. Both my husband and daughter are vegetarians- they will be so relieved to read about your delicious meals in Turkey. It’s always a bit stressful finding food that works for them but everyone (regardless of country) has always been extremely accommodating. Happy veggie travels!

  6. I am a true-blue dessert lover. Hence, you had me at baklava. I am also thrilled to see that Turkish food had plenty of dessert options. The Turkish rice pudding looks so delectable!

  7. Such am amazing post. I have been to Turkey and to be honest it was something having a nice juicy doner, but lifestyles are changing and a lot of people are choosing a vegetarian life. The articles is a great guide for them and I like how you have taken into consideration the street food and of course included Turkish Tea which is a must have.

  8. OMG! Every food picture made me drool like crazy! I so wanted to just reach into the computer and grab it all! I am a veggie, I like nonveg, too, but prefer veg food, and the pictures you shared of the Turkey cuisine had me floored!

  9. OMG! All these food look so good and yummy! Börek is just soooo delicious, and the rice pudding as well. I also wanna try Pide. Turkish style pizza must taste delicious.

  10. So glad to read this post before our trip to Turkey. We are vegetarians and always don’t find many options to eat. But this post has given us so many options to be a hogger there 😀 . thanks for sharing .

  11. I am also a vegetarian, and it can be hard to find delicious food while traveling. I will admit that I would have expected Turkey to be full of kebab restaurants, which don’t always have great vegetarian options. But those pictures are seriously making my mouth water–looks so good!

    1. Thanks Bethany, yea, being a vegetarian and travelling can be quite difficult but little research on the local cuisine can result in enjoying succulent dishes like theses 🙂

  12. I lived in Turkey for nine months and this post brought me back to this place filled with so many different wonderful recipes and flavours. You are absolutely right in saying that there are plenty of great tasting options for vegetarians, I absolutely loved the pide, the corba and the delicious Borek. AAhh Turkey! I just wish I was there right now filling up my belly with all of these delicacies.

  13. I love Turkish food. Dolmas and baklavas… Don’t even let me start on borek! My favorite is with cheese. 😛 Oh, and yes, I forgot about the rice pudding, yummy!
    You are right, the cuisine is full of meat, but there – you’ve found few delicious vegetarian dishes, right!
    By the way, your photos made me hungry! 😀

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