Milk & Dairy Food Allergy in Turkey

Last Updated on April 3, 2024

Turkey has gained popularity among travelers from all over the world, mainly because of its unique and delicious cuisine. However, some travelers may have concerns about finding meals and drinks that fit their dietary restrictions or allergies, particularly those who have a milk allergy.

When visiting Turkey, if you are lactose intolerant or are avoiding milk for any other reason, there are several options you can choose for eating the local cuisine and finding suitable food and milk alternatives.

Dairy Products in Turkey

In Turkey, dairy products are widely consumed and are an essential part of the cuisine. Milk (süt) and milk products (sütürünleri, such as peynir cheese) play an important part in the Turkish diet, but they are not used in most foods. You will see milk mostly in the form of yogurt, white sheep's milk cheese (beyaz peynir in Turkish), and kaskaval (kaşar peyniri).

Traditional Turkish bread is a sourdough loaf and does not contain milk or milk products. Instead, the dough is usually made using a combination of flour, water, and salt. 

Traveling in Turkey with Lactose Intolerance

If you have milk and dairy allergies and plan to travel to Turkey, you may wonder about your dietary options. Still, you don't need to worry because Turkish supermarkets offer a variety of non-dairy milk alternatives such as almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk, hazelnut milk, and oat milk. It is even more common than before. Besides milk, you can also find vegan cheese, yogurt, and mayonnaise at supermarkets. However, it might get tricky to find milk-free foods and drinks if you don't prefer or don't have the opportunity to cook when traveling in Turkey. 

Milk-free Options in Turkish Cuisine

There are some typical and easily findable Turkish cuisines for people who are lactose intolerant. For example, meze (appetizer) usually doesn't contain any milk product. Kebab is also one of the most lactose-free cuisines that is utterly popular in Turkey. Moreover, you can eat more local cuisine like sarma and dolma. If you are a seafood lover, you can discover the rich taste of the Aegean part of Turkey.

Discovering local desserts would be interesting in your journey, but you might not know some of the ingredients they contain. For example, popular desserts such as baklava, sutlac, kazandibi, and irmik helvası contain a high amount of milk. 

Don't forget to take lactase tablets with you in case of any misunderstanding.

Milk-free and Vegan Friendly Restaurants in Turkey

There are now vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Turkey. They serve variable delicious meals. They mostly sell foods such as hamburgers, kebabs, doner, and toast. Instead of meat, the meal contains soy protein or chickpea. Some of the cafes and restaurants offer desserts such as fruit bowls.

In major Turkish cities, such as Antalya, Izmir, and Istanbul, you can easily find cafes and restaurants that serve alternatives to milk-based drinks and meals. However, this number only goes down as you travel further into the smaller cities across the country, as it has yet to be the standard.

Thus, you should always inform the restaurant or cafe staff of any dietary restrictions before ordering. If you are traveling to chain brands, cafes, and restaurants offer lactose-free options, so don't hesitate to ask the staff for recommendations. However, it is important to state that not all cafes have plant milk. You can also find gelatos that don't contain any milk at some cafes and street vendors. 

Useful Phrases When Ordering At Restaurants/ Cafes

Learning some phrases you can use when ordering milk-free food in Turkey might be helpful, especially if your waitress doesn't understand English well:

İçinde süt ürünleri var mı? Is there milk in it?

İçinde peynir var mı?  Is there cheese in it?

Süt, yoğurt, veya peynir yiyemem. I cannot eat milk, yogurt, or cheese.

Süt ürünlerine alerjim var. I am allergic to dairy products.

Laktoz alerjim var. I am lactose intolerant. 


-by Tom Brosnahan, updated by Duru Nemutlu

Read More:

Food Allergy Awareness & Medical Assistance in Turkey

All Food Allergies

Vegetarian Food in Turkey

All About Turkish Cuisine

Turkish Kebaps

Turkish Meze

Turkish Cheeses 

Travel Details FAQ

Top 10 Turkish Travel Mistakes

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