Wednesday, August 14, 2019

10 reasons why it is easy to be a vegan in Israel

Israel has been known as the Vegan Nation for quite a while now and has apparently the highest number of vegans per capita. Even McDonalds Israel have started to serve vegan burgers. 

So when a recent vegan Instagram acquaintance visited Israel and posted how easy life in Israel is for vegans, I did some looking around. 

My conclusion is yes, it is definitely easy to be a vegan in Israel and here are ten reasons why:

Red meat is too expensive here in Israel, so we eat red fruits instead..:)
  1. Red meat is very expensive here. Israel is a small country and real estate prices are high. We really do not have enough SPACE for livestock. We hardly have enough space for humans! Most of the meat are imported from countries such as Poland and Argentina. We do get fresh meat from local farms, usually from the northern and less urban part of Israel but you are going to pay dearly for it!
  2. Strict slaughter kosher laws. All animals, chickens included, are slaughtered according to strict religious requirements. The extra cost for this type of slaughter is passed along to the consumer - making meat products even more expensive.Recently some rabbis also decided to become vegan. They think it is humanly impossible to enforce the proper slaughter rules for the huge amount of animals that are slaughtered.
  3. A looooong tradition of separating milk and meat products. Many Israeli's, not just religious Jews, keep some type of kosher kitchen. Meat and milk products are usually not mixed which means that just about all packaged food products are clearly labeled as either milky, meaty or parve (neither milk or meat).This makes it really easy to find food that do not contain animal products.
  4. Israelis are nuts about nuts. Peanuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, pistachios and many more are serious staples. You cannot watch sports (live or on TV) without snacking on nuts or seeds.There are special 'snack' shops here is Israel that specializes in selling a wide range of anything nutty. These shops are usually packed on Fridays because Israelis just have to stock up on these healthy snacks for the weekend.

  5. Nuts are a popular snack for Israelis
  6. A love of produce. Fruit and vegetables are an important part of the Israeli diet. We even eat salad for breakfast! Just about every meal has some type of vegetable - even if it is just a few pieces of sliced tomato and cucumber and a few olives.

    As a matter of fact, the Lancet recently concluded that the Israel has the lowest rate of diet-related deaths worldwide. And it not because we don't eat meat or other junk food but because we ALSO eat lots of fruit and vegetables.
  7. Just another juice shop because Israelis need their smoothies and juices and fruit salads.
  8. A fusion of the Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern diets. Chickpeas, eggplants in any variation, cauliflower, lentils,mezze, bulghur (cracked wheat)  tehina and hummus are just some of our traditional plant-based dishes packed with protein. Israelis are also fond of Far East cuisine and are no strangers to tofu and soya products.


  9. Hummus is a SERIOUS staple food in Israel

  10. Meatless street food such as felafel, sabiach,  borekas, shaksuka and hummus is very popular and often eaten a few times a week. Shaksuka and sabiach are made with eggs and so are not actually vegan. And cheese borekas have are made with cheese. But still, these meatless dishes are big staples in the regular Israeli diet.
  11. A strong anti-cruelty lobby. One of the Jewish mitzvot (good deeds) state that you should not harm animals. I think the ancient example is that one should first  unpack and feed your ox before you go and rest yourself. Both vegan lobbyists such as 269 Life and the rabbis who think that it is not possible to keep proper kosher laws in today's massive slaughterhouses often remind the rest of us of this ancient creed.
  12. Israel has innovative chefs who are not afraid of fusion and to try new things. I find it a bit strange that a race of people with so many ingrained and ancient traditions insists on constantly innovating and trying new things. Cherry tomatoes, a whole roasted cauliflower and shwarma made from mushrooms are a few examples.

  13. Cherry tomatoes were developed in Israel in 1973 - photo credit Monika Stawowy

  14. A huge potential market. Veganism is becoming a huge market internationally and growing every day. Here in Israel we are constantly experimented on exposed to a  large range of meatless products that I am pretty sure will also be seen in overseas supermarkets in the near future.

    Just think of how everyone is eating pita bread, hummus and shakshuka all over the world now. As soon as Israeli innovators will figure out how to market, shelve and sell more vegan products internationally, the more money is to be made.
We are spoiled for choice regarding meatless products.

And that is my ten reasons why Israel is a mecca for vegans and other health nuts.
Maybe a new slogan for tourists should be:

Come and visit us here in Israel- see the sights and stuff yourself with tasty vegan food!

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