Delicious Vegetarian Food in Turkey

Turkey has earned itself a solid reputation when it comes to food however many people  assume the country to be a nation of  hard-core, meat-eating fanatics thanks to the international popularity of the donor kebab.

People, who find the thought of eating meat revolting, may think that delicious vegetarian food in Turkey is hard to come by but you could not be more wrong.  Turkish vegetarian food is cheap, plentiful and totally delicious! Here are a few suggestions of meat free food that will always be readily available.

Vegetarian Food in Turkey

Meat Free Mezes in Turkey are similar to those in Greece and are served cold. They will contain anything from eggplant, tomatoes, rice, beans or even a combination. A tempting choice is Sigara borek which is a cigar shaped, filo-pastry roll filled with white cheese and parsley. Mezes are tasty at any time of the day however they are normally served as a starter before the main course. Don’t be surprised to find more than 20 mezes on the menu at any Turkish restaurant.

turkish mezes

Kumpir is a good old fashioned jacket potato that is available on most street corners. It can be topped with a variety of vegetarian choices from sharp olives, cheese and onion or juicy sweet corn. It is very popular with locals and you’ll not look out of place grabbing a jumbo potato with vegetarian fillings for a lunch time snack.  Just remember to whack some mayo over the top for extra deliciousness!

Kumpir potato stand

Soup translates into corba in Turkish and it  is a favourite dish for many. Don’t be surprised after a night time partying with the Turks to end up in the local restaurant ordering crusty bread and a massive bowl of warm soup. The favourites of the Turks seems to be a  soup called  Mercimek (lentils) however vegetarians can also opt for Ezo Gelin (lentils and tomatoes) or domatoes soup which is simply tomato soup with the added option of sprinkling grated yellow cheese over the top to melt slowly.

Best soup in Antalya

Head to any local lokanta (restaurant) and you will find an assortment of Turkish pides to choose from. The best way to describe this dish is a  oblong pizza with a thin crust. Sumptuous Toppings will vary from plain cheese to peppers with egg. Look for the vegetarian option on the menu however don’t be afraid to order your toppings exactly how you like them.


Moving onto sweet vegetarian food in Turkey. Cezerye is confectionery made from, wait for it, carrots. But before you dismiss it as being rather bland, give it a try. You’ll find it very similar in texture to Turkish delight. Various nuts are usually added to it to give it a crunchier texture, so expect the heavy taste of pistachios, walnuts or hazelnuts and coconut to hit your palette

Fistikli Cezerye

Still hungry? Then tuck into some Baklava, which is pastry filled with chopped walnuts or pistachios and then sweetened with syrup or honey. Some people may find too rich however it is popular in Turkey and sold in most restaurants and supermarkets.


Contrary to popular belief, delicious vegetarian food in Turkey is easy to find and it won’t bust your budget either. If you are thinking of cheap holidays abroad  and are hampering after vegetarian food, fill your stomach by visiting a local restaurant or street stall for the tastiest  meals you could wish for.

(Pictures taken from  Flickr)

 Do you know of any other delicious vegetarian food to add to the list?

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Hi. My name is Natalie Sayin and I am the author of The Turkish Travel Blog. I am an Internet addict with a passion for history. Read my story here or leave a comment below to join the discussions.
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  1. says

    I’m not a vegetarian here but in Turkey I am……the food is so fresh and delicious….Love the Turkish pides and especially the ‘mezes’. I make a meal out of those mezes alone.

  2. Ayak says

    It’s easy to be vegetarian here because the vegetables are so fresh and tasty.

    Gozleme made with spinach and cheese, or potato, onions, red pepper are also delicious.

  3. phil + Di marina gateway says

    we love Turkish food and we have ate most of the above and we will be eating it all again

    i have to say as much as we love the food we dont like the coffee its much to stronge for us i know coffee drinkers will be saying noooooooooooo well im sorry guys but we like instant ……….

  4. says

    Natalie, good stuff, yummy! I was in the USA several years ago and we had a very difficult time to find vegetarian food anywhere in the so-called “heartland” of America. It was always meat, with a side order of meat, with meat gravy and a meat sandwich. Ugggh!
    By the way have you our your readers ever seen:
    The Meatrix? –
    I believe in a sustainable environment and that is one reason, among many, I do not eat our animal friends.

    • says

      Wow Hobbit. I am surprised to read that you had a difficult time in the USA however it is the land of the hamburger! :) Thanks for the recommendation of Meatrix. Nice to see they are also tackling the issues of additives etc.

    • says

      It does Alan because most of the vegetables are locally produced and fresh therefore the quality is much better. I have noticed that visitors to Turkey always remark on the tomatoes and how much juicy they are then in the uk
      Natalie wrote about..Mount Tahtali – To the Sky in a Cable Car

  5. says

    Many of my friends in England are veggies and when they visit, they are spoilt for choice. Turkey is a veggie’s paradise.
    Jack Scott wrote about..Blighted Blighty

  6. says

    I loved Turkish Delight! It appears in so many books, I was so happy to finally try it. How did I pide?! Wondered what cezerye was — I need a return trip.
    Abby wrote about..Costa Rica coffee yum

  7. says

    WOO to vegetarian food!! It’s nice to see a post like this, usually I very rarely see food I can eat on peoples blogs, and it’s a problem when visiting other countries, especially where you don’t know the language, to ask whether stuff contains meat. That pizza looks amazing!xx
    Jen wrote about..The Scarlett Guide To…The Best Festive Films

      • Tom says

        is all this good vegitarian food plentiful in the southeast and far east areas of Turkey?

        • Nat says

          Yes – it is everywhere. You won’t be stuck for choice at all although in the southeast, I did find the kebab shops to be more plentiful. They seem to be everywhere you go. Just search out the normal restaurants instead.

  8. says

    Why did I read this before I ate breakfast? I’m dying now, and Turkey’s SO FAR AWAY! Googling on the off chance of finding a good Turkish eatery close by…thankfully we’ll be in NYC in a few days! (I ramble when I’m hungry!) Thanks so much for the post! -Veronica
    The GypsyNesters wrote about..Fear Conquering & Roller Derby

      • Suzanne says

        There is a big difference. Turkish food outside Turkey can still be good (in Chicago where I am from there are some good choices) or like nothing I’ve ever seen on a menu anywhere in Turkey (where I live now, in Tbilisi, Georgia). That said, even when it’s good, there is nothing like getting a proper meal in Turkey. I’m looking forward to my food asylum this summer when I visit again :-)

    • says

      Look forward to reading your posts about Turkey Jess. I am sure you will both love it.

  9. Anji says

    The food seems delicious! What excites me more is the variety of vegetarian food! I have tried Baklavas freshly made and they’re an amazing experience for our tongues! Would love to taste the pizza! :)

    • says

      Anji – I really do not like Baklava. It is so sweet for my taste. I agree the turkish pide is yummy though

  10. cagla says

    Hi Natalie!

    My husband found your website some hours ago and I have been reading it for 2 hours. It is nice to draw a picture of Turkey from your perspective. I am turkish woman married with a german man and living in Vienna for now. Once I saw the headline, immediately I started to read it. It is because I sooo much miss the food of my birth country. It took me quite a long time before I got used to big vegetables here in Europe:) Such as big cucumbers, big peppers, big eggplants and zucchinis.

    However, I should not complain much because there are so many turkish markets in here. I just wanted to tell that the best vegetarian turkish food is DOLMA and SARMA .Especially If I or my mother or my aunts cook it :):):)

    Also the meal from green beans which is cooked with pure olive oil, is another delicious option!

    Have you ever mentioned about MENEMEN which is a perfect option for a lunch.

    I will continue reading your blog and as long as I have time, I will add my comments!


    P.S: Sorry If there are some grammatical errors in my comment :) I am on my way to improve it 😉

    • says

      Hi Cagla, I did write a post about menemen when I first started the blog as I love it. Especially if it is cooked in a nice traditional restaurant and served with fresh crusty bread.

  11. ashwin says

    Brilliant, I am a vegetarian,would be going to turkey in a couple of months. This should be really useful, bookmarking it.

  12. Robyn says

    One of my absolute favourites is fava – mashed broad beans – mm-m!

  13. Barbara says

    Visiting Turkey next week and worried about what to eat as I have given up meat & dairy. Made copy of above … if anyone has suggestion for a breakfast please share… thank you.

    • says

      Hi Barbara,

      For a breakfast, I would just take the normal Turkish breakfast and omit the above. Depending on what is served by your hotel that you should leave you with

      Tomatoes – cucumber – olives – fruit – bread – honey -jam

      It will all depend on what your hotel serves but if it is not much, there are plenty of pastry shops around.
      Natalie wrote about..Where To Stay in Cappadocia

  14. Barbara says

    Newly vegan – confused with the mayo (dairy) and eggs. But some very helpful tips.

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