Some may say it's hard being vegan in an Arab country as the love for meat butchers even the healthiest of us. But come to think of it, there are so many Arab dishes that are inherently vegan, making it pretty easy to resist the meat-stuffed meals altogether.
In honor of Veganuary, here are some delicious Arab dishes that are also vegan-friendly:
1. Falafel turned falafel burgers
Seriously, who can say no to falafel? These little bundles of chickpeas and fava beans have spread to become a worldwide treat. So much so that different variations of the meal have been born including a falafel burger ... because who needs lahme, right?
2. Hummus in all its (hipster) forms
Tahini is something the Arabs have blessed the world with. Hummus is the only mezze that cannot (and does not) have any haters. Over the years, the concept of "hummus making" has expanded to include beetroot hummus, chocolate hummus, and avocado hummus to name a few. Not that we're sure that's a good thing, but hey, it gives vegans more mezze options.
3. Fattoush vs. Tabbouleh is not really a competition in the field of veganism
"Are you #TeamFattoush or #TeamTabbouleh?" is a question that can break friendships, families, and relationships apart. But when it comes to veganism, they're both pretty much on the same team. They're both rich in flavor, healthy, and drowning in vegetables, so is it really worth an argument?
4. Potatoes, tomatoes, burghul, and whatnot
Whoever said comfort food can't be on the same page as veganism certainly hasn't had batata harra and burghul bi banadoura. If you're happy, sad, or just in the mood for something savory, these two dishes can really bring your cravings to a minimum.
5. Lentils in the form of yellow/brown soup, mdardra, or mjadara
Yes, it's sometimes seen as a home-cooked dish that your mother would traditionally make, but these lentil-based dishes are a great option for vegans. They're also easy to make if you're ever missing your mama's food.
You can opt to make either yellow or brown lentil soup to keep you warm on a winter night ... or you can make mjadara/mdardra when you're hungry and broke.
6. Speaking of bloating, can't forget fool mdammas
Although it's slightly different in each country and even by region, fool mdammas is a staple in many Arab countries. Whether prepared as a paste and put in a sandwich or served in a bowl with oil and chopped veggies, this protein-rich option provides a great addition to any Arab meal.
7. Carb overload with koushari
The national dish of Egypt is also vegetarian, containing rice, lentils, and macaroni noodles with spicy sauce on top. OK, you may suffer from a carb coma after eating it, but it's definitely worth it!
8. For the love of Mc...dous
If you love aubergines, walnuts, pepper, garlic, and olive oil ... then you're in for a treat with makdous. These oil-cured tangy eggplants make for the perfect vegan snack.
9. Zaatar or spinach pastries (aka manoushe and fatayer)
Though traditionally served for breakfast in the Levant region, the zaatar manoushe is known to transcend all-time limits. It can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even as a snack (who's judging?) and still keep you coming back for more. The same can be said about the spinach fatayer. Best part? They're both vegan for life.
10. Soaked in red with muhammara
Believed to have originated in Syria, this spicy dish – made of walnuts, spicy peppers, breadcrumbs, and olive oil – is popular in the Levant and Turkey. Just spread it on some traditional Arab bread and indulge in every bite; just make sure to keep a glass of water nearby in case the spices get to you.