A Survival Manual for Vegetarians Traveling within Iran

It is not easy to find vegetarian food while traveling in Iran. Probably you have heard Iranian dishes often include meat ingredients like beef, lamb and poultry. As a vegan, you may ask how I can enjoy my visit to Iran. I am a vegetarian; don’t eat any kind of meat!

Falafel Sandwich

Falafel Sandwich

Despite many delicious vegetarian dishes that Iranian cuisine has to offer and given that the homemade options are not usually available, I give you very simple tips that help you survive by the time you learn ways to discover how and where to find your favorite vegetarian foods during your travel within Iran.

The following tips are useful for every vegan. Here are the tips that help you easily live on as a vegan in Iran and even enjoy your trip!


1) Iranian Bakeries

There are many types of bread in Iran from very traditional bread such as Flatbread to Yeast bread, White bread, Toasted bread, Sweet bread and Leavened which are considered common bread all over the world.

A Sangak Bakery

A Sangak Bakery

To find fresh bread you just have to walk along the main streets. Bakeries are usually located on the main streets and you can always have fresh Iranian bread like Lavash, Taftoon, Sangak and Barbari. This is one of the easiest ways to grab a vegetarian food in Iran.

Bread in Iran is called Nan or Noon and it is very cheap (at most, 10000 Rials or 25 cents per a piece).

Sangak Bread (Noon Sangak)

Sangak Bread (Noon-e Sangak)

 

2) Cooked White Rice

You can find white rice almost in every restaurant in Iran, the rice is one of the main dishes that Iranian people eat and serve. Iranian rice is soft and one of the best quality rice in the world. It is similar to Basmati rice, but it has a nice smell. That is usually served with barberry and saffron which makes it very delicious.

In Iran people usually don’t eat rice per se! I mean it is served with other dishes such as Ghorme Sabzi, Fesenjun and Gheimeh. But, don’t worry, you can order rice alone and enjoy it.

Rice on a Plate

Cooked Rice

3) Dairy products
if you are not a strict vegetarian, you could have many types of dairy products such as butter, yoghurt, Labneh cheese, Peynir cheese and other types of cheese. Feta or Greek cheese is highly consumed in Iran, particularly for breakfast with Noon-e Barbari. You can find dairy food in all grocery stores. It is really easy to find one; you just need to look around. The price of dairy products is insignificant too.

 

4) Fresh fruit and salads
Fresh fruits abound too. Because of Iranian diverse climate, you can find variety of fruits such as apple, banana, cherry, strawberry, orange and so on. Fresh cucumber, tomato, lettuce, onion are main ingredients of Iranian salads. Some people sometimes adds lemon juice and olive oil as flavors that make it so tasty. It is almost served as a side food or as an appetizer and is an all-time favorite addition to most meals. So, you may ask for it in every restaurant.

 

5) Ash
You can find “ash” in some restaurants and street stalls. In restaurants, even if it is not on the menu, you can check with the waiter, most probably they have some extra plate for you. Ash is a kind of thick soup and it is made of wheat/barley and some vegetables like parsley and spinach.

Ash Reshte

Ash Reshte

Note ash is not just a dish but there are many types of ash cooked in different parts of Iran. Remember, some types of ash are cooked with meat such as Ash-e Shole Ghalam Kar!

 

6) Falafel
The other option is Falafel. Falafel is a vegetarian food and mostly served as a sandwich in fast foods. Falafel is a great source of protein for people who have cut meat out of their diet. Its ingredients mainly include dry chickpeas/garbanzo beans, onion, parsley and garlic. You may find them almost in most fast foods. So, this is another nice choice for you.

Fried Falafel

Falafel

Vegetarian travelers need not fear Persian cuisine while traveling to Iran. As a matter of fact, if you know where to look and what to look for, you will likely find vegetarian dishes in Iran and they can be just as plentiful and delicious as meat dishes.

Please comment below and share your insights with us.

Vahid Ghasemi
Vahid Ghasemi is a PhD candidate in the department of Economics and Business at the University of Cagliari in Italy.
6 replies
  1. Sahel says:

    kashke bademjan, mirza ghasemi, baghala ghatogh, torshe tareh, and different types of kuku (like potato kuku, vegetable kuku, egg plant kuku,) are so delicious vegetarian food.

    Reply
  2. R. Heydari says:

    As I found, now, iranian beverage and food in hospitality education needs to more attention as a industry especially in academic disciplines like universities.
    Unfortunately Iranian people have not accepted that food and beverage is a established , well known, in world of tourism. Therefore we need a new approache to development a kind of tourism based on mass tourism.

    Reply
  3. Kourosh says:

    Persian dishes are mistakenly perceived as a meat food. This is mostly because of the popularity of Kebab amongst Iranians and foreigners. Roughly speaking, Persian dishes are mostly a mixture of meat and vegetable ingredients. Yet there are a variety of Persian food which are totally vegetarian. For me, Kashke Bademjon is one of my favourite food.

    Reply

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