Veganism is hot in Israel–tivoni (vegan) dishes are popping up on menus throughout the country from fine dining to the local coffee shop.
“Restaurants are putting vegan dishes on the menu and marking those dishes so they’re easy to find, so as a customer I will feel welcomed and normal,” vegan advocate and food writer Ori Shavit said in a recent interview.
The trend started approximately three years ago when controversial vegan spokesperson Gary Yourofsky’s vegan lectures first appeared in Hebrew and quickly went viral among Israeli celebrities and young people.
“That started the momentum,” Shavit explained. “The vegans were on the fringe of Israeli society until then.” After watching the Yourofsky video, though, “People like me suddenly became vegan.”
With more and more Israelis embracing the vegan trend, vegan eating has became more mainstream and restaurants, hoping to lure vegan diners, have quickly followed suit.
Cafe Greg, which has 86 outlets in Israel, said that their new vegan menu offerings were in direct response to customer demand. “Our priority is that everyone can come here and find something to eat,” spokesperson Anat Davis said.
Today, vegans in Israel can find a chickpea omelet at the popular coffee shop Aroma and even a faux-cheese pizza, the first of its kind for the chain, at Domino’s, in addition to taking advantage of the hummus, lentils and rice dishes that have always been a staple in Israeli cuisine.
The availability and ease of vegan dining in Israel is also driving a new kind of tourist to Israel. “Israel today is a destination for vegan tourists,” Shavit pointed out.
Israel’s willingness to embrace veganism has made the country a trendsetter in vegan fare.
“What is going on here is really remarkable,” Shavit said.“I don’t think this took hold so quickly and intensely in any other place of the world.”