How Tel Aviv Became the Capital of Vegans

On the Jewish holiday of Sukkot – a commemoration of the 40-year wandering of the Israelites in the wilderness – many residents of the Promised Land go to travel around the country. Vacationers occupy coastal areas and city parks to have a picnic and barbecue. But in Leumi Park, which is a huge green area on the outskirts of Tel Aviv, a new tradition has developed. Thousands of ethicists and just curious people gathered for the Vegan Festival, in contrast to the wafting smell of charred meat.

The Vegan Festival was first held in 2014 and brought together about 15000 participants. Every year more and more people who want to switch to a plant-based diet join this event. Festival co-organizer Omri Paz claims that in . With a population of about 8 million people, 5 percent consider themselves vegetarians. And this trend is growing mainly due to propaganda through social media.

“In our country, the media pays a lot of attention to stories about what happens in poultry farms, what people eat, and what the consequences of eating eggs and dairy products are,” says Paz.

Vegetarianism was not always popular among Israelis, but the situation began to change when a report was shown on a local channel about. Then the Minister of Agriculture of Israel ordered to equip all slaughterhouses with surveillance cameras to prevent attempts to abuse animals. The report inspired local celebrities and public figures to adopt a non-violent diet and lifestyle.

Vegetarianism is also on the rise in the Israeli Army, which is a duty for both boys and girls. , and the menus in military canteens have been adjusted to provide options without meat and milk. The Israeli Army recently announced that special vegan rations consisting of dried fruits, roasted chickpeas, peanuts and beans will be created for soldiers with limited access to freshly prepared food. For vegan soldiers, shoes and berets are provided, sewn without natural leather.

For many centuries, plant-based cuisine has dominated the Mediterranean countries. Small eateries in Israel have always offered hummus, tahini and falafel to diners. There is even a Hebrew word that means “to scoop up hummus pita.” Today, walking the streets of Tel Aviv, you can see the sign “Vegan Friendly” on hundreds of local cafes. The restaurant chain Domino’s Pizza – one of the sponsors of the Vegan Festival – became the author. This product has become so popular that a patent has been bought for it in many countries, including India.

Interest in vegetarian food has grown so much that tours have been organized for locals and visitors, which tell how tasty and healthy plant foods are. One of such popular tours is Delicious Israel. The founder, American expatriate Indal Baum, takes tourists to vegan eateries to introduce famous local dishes – fresh tapas-style salad, raw beetroot tapenade with mint and olive oil, spiced Moroccan beans and shredded cabbage. Hummus is a must on the must-see list, where gourmets indulge in a thick layer of velvety hummus and fresh tahini as the base of every dish. Garnish options include fresh onions with lemon juice and olive oil, warm chickpeas, finely chopped parsley, or a generous helping of spicy pepper paste.

“Everything in this country is fresh and suitable for vegans. There can be 30 types of salads on the table and there is no desire to order meat. There are no problems here with products straight from the farmlands … the situation is even better than in the United States,” Baum said.

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