Turkey produces lots of wonderful vegetables,
lamb or mutton (kebap) is
a basis of Turkish cuisine.
Most Turkish dishes
contain more vegetables than meat,
but in the many stews and pilavs, small
amounts of meat may be used as a
flavoring, so vegetarians
need to choose carefully.
common hazır yemek ("ready
food") steam table restaurants,
ask Et var mı? (eht
VAHR muh, "Is there meat?")
while pointing to a stew, but be
aware that the cook may think this
excludes soup bones, etc. Better
to announce Hiç et yemem (HEECH
eht yeh-MEHM, "I eat no meat
at all") and allow the cook
to choose dishes on that basis.
There's lots of variety in
Turkish cuisine. You won't starve. Rather the
opposite: especially if you don't mind
eating milk or cheese, you'll find
plenty of savory meze to
make a fine meal.
Stuffed grapevine leaves (yaprak
dolması), for example, come
either zeytinyağlı ("with
olive oil") to be served cold,
or etli ("with
meat") to be served hot. The
cold version is vegetarian, the hot
version is not. Many other stuffed
vegetables will contain mostly rice,
but there may be some meat.
In places with substantial numbers
of foreign tourists, many restaurants
will have a few vegetarian dishes,
and most personnel will understand
the word vejeteryen (veh-zheh-tehr-YEHN)
(from the French).
The vegan concept—using
no animal products whatever—is
not widely understood in Turkey. If
you're a vegan, prepare for the usual
By the way, the Neyzade Restaurant in the Sirkeci Mansion Hotel in Istanbul is sensitive to food allergies, and always has gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan choices available. More...
—by Tom Brosnahan