Luckily for us, there’s plenty of vegan Middle Eastern food around to tickle our taste buds! Whatever your dietary needs, Middle Eastern vegetarian food is fresh, flavorful and flexible. Take yourself on a culinary Levantine journey and we promise you won’t look back!

What is Middle Eastern Food & What Makes it Unique? 

Middle Eastern food encompasses the culinary traditions of lots of countries straddling the boundary between Europe, Asia and North Africa, including Persian, Arab, Cypriot, Armenian and Kurdish cuisines

Unique to this varied and delicious cuisine is the vast variety of influences, the rich and flavorful local ingredients and the plentiful use of spices and herbs. 

So what do they actually eat in the Middle East? 

Meals are typically served in a mezze style, with salads, dips and flatbreads to accompany kebabs, stuffed veggies, and rice dishes.

  • You’ll usually find huge, herby, chopped salads jeweled with pomegranate seeds, velvety hummus swirled with olive oil and rich tahini, and tender grilled eggplant glazed with pomegranate molasses. 
  • Aromatic herbs and spices are used in abundance, particularly sharp, lemony sumac, a thyme and sesame seed blend are known as za’atar, earthy cumin, and sweet cardamom and cinnamon. 
  • Middle Eastern desserts usually involve paper-thin filo pastry drenched in syrup, with dates, pistachios or sesame seeds and flavored with rose or orange blossom water.

Food is central to Middle Eastern culture, and if you visit, you can expect to spend hours enjoying never-ending feasts bursting with flavor and color. With some help from PlantX, you can start feasting on vegan Middle Eastern food a little closer to home!

Can Middle Eastern Food be Vegan? 

While grilled meats, yogurt and mild cheeses feature in traditional Middle Eastern food, it’s really the vegetables that steal the show. This means it couldn’t be easier to enjoy vegan Middle Eastern food without feeling like you’re missing out. Put grains, fruits, veggies and pulses at the heart of your cooking and you’ll be enjoying authentic, naturally vegan Middle Eastern food in no time! 

Some of our favorite vegan Middle Eastern food dishes are traditional hummus, chickpea or portobello mushroom shawarma, tabouleh (a fresh, herby couscous salad), marinated tofu kebabs, baba ganoush (creamy eggplant and tahini dip), and nourishing mujadara (a lentil and rice dish topped with crispy onions). 

Top 3 Nutritional Benefits of Vegan Middle Eastern Food

  • Whole Grain Goodness

Vegan Middle Eastern food is packed with nourishing whole grains like bulgur wheat, freekeh, barley, and wholewheat couscous. These are a great source of essential nutrients, including fiber, protein, and minerals such as iron, zinc, copper, and magnesium. Whole grains help to promote healthy digestion and keep us feeling fuller for longer. 

  • Vibrant Veggies

Middle Eastern vegetarian food is all about the veggies. Fresh veggies are an essential part of a balanced vegan diet. In fact, nutritionists suggest that your plate should be half-full of veggies. With vegan Middle Eastern food, this is easy! Veggies are low in fat and calories and bursting with essential nutrients. 

  • Healthy Oils

Olive oil, the primary oil used in Middle Eastern cooking, is one of the healthiest oils on the planet. Olive oil is a great source of healthy fats, vitamins, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory compounds. 

How do I Make Vegan Middle Eastern Food at Home? 

Follow these simple guidelines to make delicious Middle Eastern vegetarian food in the comfort of your own home. All you need is patience, fresh seasonal ingredients, and a little help from PlantX! 

  • Herbs are life! 

Middle Eastern vegetarian food is arguably one of the most aesthetically pleasing (as well as palate-pleasing) cuisines out there. Why? Because everything is scattered with fresh, green herbs! Stock up regularly on big bunches of herbs and be generous with them! Herbs in vegan Middle Eastern food are not just a garnish but an ingredient in their own right. The most commonly used fresh herbs are flat-leaf parsley, mint, coriander, and dill. With these up your sleeve, you can’t go wrong! 

  • Invest in some high-quality olive oil. 

Middle Eastern vegetarian food, like Mediterranean food, is drenched in olive oil and the quality really makes a difference. We recommend this cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil for all your drizzling, sauteing, and marinating needs. 

  • Build up a Middle Eastern store cupboard. 

There are some essential shelf-stable ingredients that you’ll find popping up in recipes again and again. Reduce costs and increase convenience by investing in a vegan Middle Eastern food pantry you can return to. Here are a few of our Middle Eastern vegetarian food top picks…

Easy Middle Eastern Vegetarian Food Recipes

Here at PlantX, we’ve got a fantastic array of Middle Eastern vegetarian food recipes to help you get started on your Levantine culinary journey. 

Middle Eastern food is one of the most vegan-friendly cuisines on the planet. With fresh veggies, pulses, herbs, olive oil, tahini, and flatbreads, you’ve got the makings of a vegan Middle Eastern food feast. We hope you enjoy getting to know our amazing range of essential Middle Eastern ingredients - the foundation for your next culinary adventure! Happy cooking, Habibi! 

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can Vegan Middle Eastern Food be Gluten-Free? 

Middle Eastern food originated in the Fertile Crescent, an ancient region known as the birthplace of wheat, so it’s no surprise that bread is central to the cuisine, eaten in some form at almost every meal! 

However, making gluten-free vegan Middle Eastern food is not so difficult! Simply swap out pita or flatbreads for rice, lentils, or your preferred gluten-free alternative, and voila! Your Middle Eastern vegetarian food is celiac-safe! Why not have a go at making your flatbread with our amazing range of gluten-free flour? 

If you’re keen to cut the carbs all together, load up on fresh salads, meat-free kebabs, tahini dips, and grilled veggies and enjoy delicious vegan Middle Eastern food that is keto-friendly and carefree! 

Is Vegan Middle Eastern Food Spicy? 

Vegan Middle Eastern food can be spicy if you want it to be. Rather than being heavy on the chilis in the actual dishes, Middle Eastern vegetarian food is usually served alongside spicy dips which can be added according to preference. 

Zhug (a Yemenite herb & chili paste), Shatta (a Palestinian fermented chili sauce), and Amba (an Iraqi pickled mango & chili sauce) are some typical vegan Middle Eastern spicy condiments. 

Is Shawarma Healthy? 

Shawarma - that classic Middle Eastern street food is neither vegan, nor healthy. Packed with sodium, fat, and cholesterol, a shawarma wrap doesn’t offer much in the way of nutrition! 

However vegan shawarma is a different story. You can make vegan shawarma with tofu (as in this recipe), mushrooms, seitan, or soy curls. Stock up on our Shawarma Spice Blend and make delicious vegan Middle Eastern food in the comfort of your own kitchen! Vegan shawarma is low in fat, high in protein, and just as satisfying! 

Is Middle Eastern Food Vegan-Friendly? 

As we have seen, Middle Eastern food is super vegan-friendly. Salads, dips, stews, warm grains, flatbreads, and more - all of these traditional Middle Eastern foods are 100% vegan and 100% delicious. In fact, the rest of the world could learn a lot about how Middle Eastern cooking really celebrates plant-based ingredients and places them center-stage! 

Because of this abundance of legumes, grains, fresh veggies, and herbs that form the backbone of Middle Eastern cuisine, it couldn’t be easier to enjoy delicious vegan Middle Eastern food. 

A great way to get to know vegan Middle Eastern food is to make it yourself. Check out our recipe suggestions and top tips above to get started!