top of page
  • Writer's pictureBurhan

Is Istanbul Vegetarian-Friendly? A Guide to the Best Vegan Restaurants & Survival Tips

Are you a vegetarian or veggie planning to visit Istanbul, but wondering if you'll be able to find food options that suit your dietary preferences? You're not alone. Istanbul is a city renowned for its rich culinary heritage, but it's also known for its love of meat-based dishes. However, that doesn't mean vegetarians can't enjoy the city's cuisine. With the increasing popularity of veganism, there are now many vegan restaurants in Istanbul offering delicious vegan tasting menus. And don't forget to try the traditional Turkish breakfast, which often includes a variety of veggie options.

Istanbul is a vibrant city located in the European side of Turkey and offers an array of food options for vegetarians and vegans. While it may require some research and effort to find them, there are plenty of vegetarian-friendly restaurants and cafes scattered throughout the city. One such location worth exploring is Cihangir, which has emerged as a hub for health-conscious eateries and turkish breakfast options. Additionally, there are many veggie kebab shops around the city that offer delicious plant-based alternatives.

If you're worried about finding veggie or vegan food in Istanbul that doesn't compromise on taste, fret not. Tomatoes are widely used in Turkish cuisine and form an integral part of many vegetarian and vegan dishes. From traditional meze plates to hearty stews and soups, tomatoes lend their unique flavor to a variety of dishes in Turkey.


So, is Istanbul vegetarian-friendly? The answer is yes! With some research and exploration, you'll be able to discover numerous restaurants and cafes serving delicious meat-free Turkish food. Whether you're looking for vegan food or a traditional Turkish breakfast, there are plenty of options to choose from. And if you're feeling adventurous, some places even offer a vegan tasting menu.

But why is Istanbul so popular? The city boasts a rich history dating back centuries and offers visitors stunning architecture, bustling markets, scenic views of the Bosphorus Strait, and warm hospitality from locals. In addition, Turkey is known for its delicious Turkish food, especially the traditional Turkish breakfast with pilav. It's no wonder that tourists from around the world flock to this beautiful destination to indulge in the country's culinary delights.

Best Vegetarian and Vegan-Friendly Restaurants in Istanbul

Istanbul has long been known for its rich culinary culture, but until recently, vegetarian and vegan options were limited. However, the city is now experiencing a surge in plant-based cuisine, with more and more restaurants catering to those following a meat-free diet, including vegans. Additionally, Istanbul is famous for its traditional Turkish breakfast, which can be enjoyed at many vegetarian-friendly restaurants. Turkey also has a popular rice dish called pilav, which can be found in vegetarian and vegan variations at some of the city's top restaurants. In this article, we'll explore some of the best vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants in Istanbul that offer not only plant-based options but also traditional Turkish breakfast and pilav dishes.

Zencefil: A Vegan Haven

Zencefil is a popular vegetarian restaurant and cafe in Istanbul, located in the heart of Beyoglu. The restaurant offers a wide range of vegetarian food dishes that are not only delicious but also healthy, perfect for vegans. From lentil soup to quinoa salad to vegan burgers, Zencefil has something for everyone. Don't forget to try their flavorful pilav too!

One of the best vegetarian restaurants in town offers a standout dish for vegans: the "Vegan Plate," which includes grilled tofu with tahini sauce, bulgur pilaf with vegetables, hummus, beetroot salad, and pickles. This restaurant also serves delicious soup and rice dishes that are not only visually appealing but also packed with flavor and nutrition.

If you're one of the vegans out there, Zencefil is one of the best vegetarian restaurants you can try. Their menu offers a variety of dishes, including their must-try "Raw Vegan Lasagna" made with zucchini noodles layered with cashew cream cheese and tomato sauce. If you're looking for something more filling, their rice dishes are also worth a try. And if you want something warm and comforting, their soup is perfect for a rainy day.

Lokma: A Vegetarian Oasis

Located in Kadikoy on the Asian side of Istanbul, Lokma is a vegetarian restaurant that offers an extensive menu featuring Turkish classics such as stuffed grape leaves (dolma) and eggplant kebab (imam bayildi). They also have international options like falafel wraps and mushroom risotto. For the best vegan food, try their flavorful pilav dishes made with rice.

One dish that stands out at Lokma is their "Vegetarian Kofte," made from bulgur wheat seasoned with herbs and spices, perfect for those looking for vegan food in Istanbul. Served with vegan yogurt sauce on top of crispy pita bread, it's a satisfying meal that will leave you feeling full without weighing you down. For those who want more options, try their pilav dishes without meat.

If you're looking for vegetarian restaurants, this is the place for you. Their "Vegan Chocolate Cake" made with almond flour and sweetened with maple syrup is a guilt-free indulgence that will satisfy your sweet tooth. Plus, if you're staying at the hotel, don't miss out on their delicious breakfast options. You won't even miss the meat!

Yeni Lokanta: A Fine Dining Experience

If you're looking for the best upscale places to dine, Yeni Lokanta is the place to go. While not strictly vegetarian or vegan, they offer several plant-based options and meat dishes that are worth trying. Unfortunately, they do not serve breakfast.

Their "Roasted Cauliflower" dish is the best vegan option in Istanbul, served with lentil puree and pomegranate molasses. The combination of flavors and textures makes for a unique and delicious meat-free meal that's perfect for breakfast or any time of day.

One of the best vegan places to try in Istanbul is Yeni Lokanta, and a must-try dish is their "Mushroom Mantarli," made with wild mushrooms, bulgur wheat, and tomato sauce. It's a hearty vegan option that's perfect for colder months.


Under-the-Radar Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurants in Istanbul

If you're a vegetarian or vegan, finding suitable food options while traveling can be a challenge. But fear not, as Istanbul is slowly but surely catching up with the rising demand for plant-based options. In this article, we'll take a look at some of the best under-the-radar places for vegetarian and vegan food in Istanbul that are worth checking out.

Vegan Community Kitchen: A Hidden Gem for Plant-Based Eaters in Istanbul

The Vegan Community Kitchen is one of the best places to enjoy delicious vegan food near Taksim Square. They use fresh and locally sourced ingredients to prepare their daily changing menu, which includes lentil soup, stuffed peppers, and seitan kebab. In addition, the restaurant offers free Wi-Fi for customers to use while enjoying their meals. The prices are very reasonable, and the staff is friendly and knowledgeable about veganism.

Kebab Shops Turned Vegetarian: Some Kebab Shops in Istanbul Have Started Offering Vegetarian and Vegan Options

Kebabs are a staple of Turkish cuisine, and the best places in Istanbul usually make them with meat. However, some kebab shops have started offering vegetarian and vegan options to cater to the growing number of plant-based eaters. For example, Durumzade in Beyoglu is one of the best places to try a delicious falafel wrap that's perfect for a quick lunch on the go.

Restaurants with Veggie Menus: Many Restaurants in Istanbul Now Have Dedicated Vegetarian and Vegan Menus

Gone are the days when vegetarians had to settle for salads or side dishes when dining out. Many places in Istanbul now have dedicated vegetarian and vegan menus that offer the best of tasty options. For example, Ciya Sofrasi in Kadikoy has an extensive vegetarian menu that includes the best dishes like lentil balls, stuffed eggplant, and spinach pie.

Cafes with Plant-Based Options: Istanbul's Cafe Scene Is Catching Up with the Rising Demand for Plant-Based Options

If you're looking for the best cozy place to relax with a cup of coffee and some vegan snacks, Istanbul's cafe scene has got you covered. Many cafes now offer the best plant-based options like soy milk for coffee, vegan cakes, and sandwiches. One such best cafe is Mandabatmaz in Beyoglu, which serves the best delicious vegan banana bread and brownies.

Cafe Culture for Vegans: A Growing Number of Cafes in Istanbul Are Now Catering to the Vegan Community

Cafes are not just places to grab a quick bite anymore – they're also social hubs where people gather to chat, work or study. And the good news is that a growing number of cafes in Istanbul are now catering to the vegan community. For example, Falafel House in Kadikoy offers some of the best vegan-friendly wraps and salads that are perfect for a light lunch or snack.

Exploring the Wide Range of Food: View All Vegan Options in Istanbul

Istanbul offers a wide range of vegan options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Istanbul is the best city that caters to all kinds of foodies. The city has been home to many cultures throughout history, which is why its cuisine is the best and most diverse. Istanbul has the best vegan options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner all over the city.

One of the best vegan dishes in Istanbul is menemen. Menemen is a Turkish-style scrambled egg dish made with tomatoes, onions, peppers, and spices. However, you can easily make this dish vegan by replacing the eggs with tofu or chickpeas. There are also many cafes that serve the best vegan breakfast plates with hummus, avocado toast, and fresh fruit.

For the best lunch and dinner options, there are many restaurants that offer the best vegan tasting menus. These menus usually feature various meze dishes like the best stuffed grape leaves (dolma), the best roasted eggplant salad (patlıcan salatası), and the best beetroot dip (pancar ezmesi). Falafel wraps and pita bread sandwiches are popular street foods that can be found all over Istanbul.

The vegan community in Istanbul is growing, making it easier to find vegan choices.

The best number of vegans in Istanbul has been increasing steadily over the past few years. This growth has led to an increase in demand for the best plant-based food options across the city. As a result, more of the best restaurants and cafes have started offering dedicated vegetarian/vegan menus or at least some plant-based alternatives on their regular menu.

Taksim Square is one of the best areas where you can find several best vegetarian/vegan restaurants within walking distance from each other. One such best restaurant is Zencefil Vegetarian & Vegan Restaurant which serves best delicious plant-based meals made with fresh ingredients sourced from local farmers' markets. Another popular best spot is Yemekhane, which offers best vegan Turkish dishes like lentil soup and stuffed vegetables.

Street markets offer a variety of fresh fruits, salads, and health food options.

Istanbul's street markets are the best place to find fresh produce and healthy snacks. The city has several of the best street markets that sell fruits, vegetables, nuts, and dried fruits. One of the best markets is the Kadikoy Market on the Asian side of Istanbul. Here you can find the best everything from fresh figs to pomegranates to walnuts.

In addition to fresh produce, many street vendors in vegan Istanbul also sell salads and health food options like roasted chickpeas and roasted corn on the cob, making them some of the best snacks while exploring the city or taking a break from sightseeing.

Falafel and bread are popular vegan foods in Istanbul's kitchen.

Falafel is the best popular Middle Eastern dish that has become a staple in Istanbul's cuisine as well. It is made with the best ground chickpeas or fava beans mixed with the best spices like cumin and coriander. The mixture is then shaped into small balls or patties and deep-fried until crispy on the outside.

Bread is one of the best and most important components of Turkish cuisine. In Istanbul, you can find the best types of bread like simit (a sesame-covered bread ring) or pide (a flatbread similar to pizza). Both are the best vegan-friendly options that can be enjoyed on their own or as the best accompaniment to dips like hummus or baba ganoush.

Visit Taksim Square for some of the best vegan cuisine in Istanbul

Taksim Square is one of the best and most vibrant areas in Istanbul with plenty of restaurants serving up the best delicious vegan options. One of the best restaurants worth checking out is Vegan Dükkan which serves the best plant-based versions of classic Turkish dishes like the best manti (Turkish dumplings) and kofte (meatballs).

Another best spot is the vegan restaurant, Lokma, which offers the best variety of vegan meze dishes like stuffed grape leaves and roasted eggplant dip. For dessert, try their best vegan baklava which is made with walnuts and pistachios.

vegetarian food

Turkish Delight: Mouth-Watering Turkish Breakfast and Phrases to Learn

What is Turkish Breakfast?

Turkish breakfast, also known as kahvaltı, is the best traditional breakfast meal in Turkey that consists of a variety of dishes. It's the best hearty and delicious way to start your day in Istanbul. The meal includes the best bread, cheese, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggs cooked in various ways, jams or honey, and the best tea.

One of the best vegan dishes for breakfast in Istanbul is menemen. Menemen is a dish made with scrambled eggs mixed with tomatoes and green peppers, but for the vegan version, it's made without the eggs. It's often served with bread or simit (a circular sesame-covered bread) on the side.

Meze Dishes for Lunch

If you're looking for the best vegan Istanbul options and want to enjoy some traditional Turkish food, meze dishes are perfect. Meze dishes are small plates that are meant to be shared among friends or family.

Börek is one of the most popular meze dishes in Istanbul. It's a pastry made with thin layers of dough filled with cheese or spinach. For vegan Istanbul visitors, the best option is to try gözleme which is a savory flatbread filled with potatoes or spinach.

Lahmacun is one of the best must-try dishes when visiting Istanbul. Lahmacun, sometimes referred to as "Turkish pizza," is the best thin dough topped with the best minced meat (usually lamb), vegetables such as onions and tomatoes, herbs like parsley and mint, and seasoned with garlic and spices.

Don't Miss Out on Trying Turkish Delight

No trip to Istanbul would be complete without trying some of the best sweet treats like baklava or lokum (Turkish delight). Lokum comes in many different flavors such as rosewater, lemon or pistachio but the best classic flavor is sugar syrup flavored gelatin cubes dusted in powdered sugar.

To fully immerse yourself in the Turkish culture while exploring vegan Istanbul, it's also helpful to learn some common phrases.

Finding Vegetarian-Friendly Menus: The Best Istanbul Food Tours

If you're a vegetarian, finding food options in a new city can be daunting. But fear not, Istanbul has plenty of vegetarian-friendly menus to choose from. One of the best ways to discover these hidden gems is by going on a food tour. Here are some of the best Istanbul food tours for vegetarian-friendly menus.

Best Istanbul Food Tours for Vegetarian-Friendly Menus

It's important to have an expert guide who knows where to look, especially if you're a vegan in Istanbul. Luckily, there are many food tours that cater specifically to vegans in Istanbul. These tours take you through different neighborhoods and show you where to find the highest rated vegan meals.

Guides to Help You Find the Highest Rated Vegetarian Meals

The guides on these food tours are knowledgeable about local cuisine and can recommend the best dishes at each restaurant. They also know which restaurants have vegetarian and vegan options on their menu, making it easy for vegan Istanbul visitors to enjoy the tour. They can help you navigate any language barriers as well.

Screens TV Menus to Ensure Vegetarian Options Are Available

Before entering a restaurant, your guide will often screen its menu or check with staff to ensure that there are vegetarian options available. This saves time and eliminates any frustration that might arise from discovering limited or no options once inside.

Go on a Food Tour for the Best Vegetarian-Friendly Menus

Going on a food tour is not only a great way to discover new foods but also allows you to meet other like-minded travelers who share your passion for good food. It's also an opportunity to learn about Turkish culture and history as well as interact with locals.

Note on Cost: Vegan and Vegetarian Restaurants and Dishes May Be Expensive

If you're a vegetarian or vegan visiting Istanbul, you'll be happy to know that there are plenty of options available. However, it's important to note that these options may come at a higher cost than traditional Turkish dishes.

In our previous sections, we've highlighted some of the best vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants in Istanbul, as well as some under-the-radar spots worth checking out. We've also explored the wide range of food options available for vegetarians and vegans in Istanbul and provided tips on finding vegetarian-friendly menus through food tours.

But before you set out to explore these options, it's important to keep in mind that many vegetarian and vegan dishes may be more expensive due to the use of specialized ingredients. This is especially true for restaurants that cater specifically to plant-based diets.

That being said, don't let cost deter you from trying out the delicious vegetarian and vegan cuisine in Istanbul. It's worth it! And if you're looking for ways to save money while still enjoying great food, consider exploring local markets and cooking your own meals using fresh produce.

Overall, whether you're a seasoned vegetarian or just looking to try something new, Istanbul has plenty of options for those following plant-based diets. So go ahead and indulge in some Turkish delight – your taste buds will thank you!


Next time you visit Istanbul, don't hesitate to try out some of the amazing vegetarian and vegan dishes available. Just keep in mind that they may come at a higher cost than traditional Turkish cuisine. But trust us – it's worth every penny!

0 views0 comments
bottom of page