Africa’s most vegan-friendly capital

Ethiopia is an unusual land with breathtaking scenery, which is known even without the help of Bob Geldof, who organized a charity fundraiser in 1984 to help the starving children of this country. Abyssinian history spanning over 3000 years, stories of the Queen of Sheba, and deeply rooted religious beliefs have had an enormous and lasting impact on Ethiopia’s cultural richness, tradition, and history.

The capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, famous for the greatest water reserves in Africa, also known as the “Water Tower of Africa”, is one of the highest capitals in the world, as it is located at an altitude of 2300 meters above sea level. A cosmopolitan metropolis reaping the benefits of foreign investment and the growth of local businesses, Addis Ababa is home to a vibrant restaurant industry that features the flavors of the world, including the finest vegetarian cuisine featuring the freshest organic produce.

The culinary traditions of Ethiopia, strongly influenced by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, have transformed a diet characterized by a high abundance of spices into one that is most friendly to vegetarians. According to the 2007 national census, almost 60% of the Ethiopian population are Orthodox Christians, obligatory fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the year, as well as observing Great Lent and other obligatory fasts. Even on non-fast days, most restaurants can offer you delicious vegetarian options, and some even offer as many as 15 different vegetarian options!

Ethiopian vegetarian dishes are usually prepared with very little oil and are either WOTS (sauces) or Atkilts (vegetables). Some of the sauces, such as Misir, which is made from mashed red lentils, reminiscent of Berbère sauce, can be quite spicy, but milder varieties are always available. In the cooking process, such culinary techniques as blanching, stewing and sauteing are used. The unique blend of Ethiopian spices turns what would normally be a boring vegetable into a delightful feast!

Trying Ethiopian cuisine for the first time? Order, for example, Bayenetu, which is a set of meatless dishes served on a large round plate covered with Ethiopian national Injera pancakes, which are made from sour dough made from the traditional African teff cereal, rich in micronutrients.

Dishes vary slightly from one restaurant to another, but all Bayenetu will have some delicious and flavorful Shiro sauce poured in the center of the ingera and steamed hot. If you are a vegetarian or a fan of Ethiopian cuisine, or if you are just a healthy food person, then visit the nearest Ethiopian restaurant, or better yet, Addis Ababa and dine in Africa’s vegetarian haven.

Here are some of the most popular Ethiopian vegetarian dishes: Aterkik Alitcha – Peas cooked with a light sauce Atkilt WOT – Cabbage, Carrots, Potatoes simmered in Atkilt Sauce Salad – Boiled Potatoes, Jalapeno Peppers mixed in Salad Dressing Buticha – Chopped Chickpeas Mixed with Lemon Juice Inguday Tibs – Mushrooms, sautéed with onions Fasolia – beans and carrots sautéed in caramelized onions Gomen – leafy greens cooked with spices Misir Wot – mashed red lentils simmered with Berbère sauce Misir Alitcha – mashed red lentils simmered in gentle Shimbra sauce Asa – chickpeas, flour dumplings cooked in sauce Shiro Alitcha – soft chopped peas cooked over low heat Shiro Wot – chopped peas cooked over low heat Salata – Ethiopian salad dressed with lemon, jalapeno and spices Timatim Selata – tomato salad, onion, jalapeno and lemon juice


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