Thursday 20 July 2023

Vegan in Iran: Fruit and Veg Native to Iran, Vegan Restaurants in Tehran

vegan persian recipes

I admit it, Iran is not that much of a vegan-friendly country. Here, kebabs are kings and for most Iranians, eating vegetables and mushrooms for life may not be such an appealing lifestyle, if not impossible. Once you are in Iran, you may be shocked when you check out the restaurant menus - almost nothing is vegan! Feeling daunted enough? Don't be! This post was written to help you. (The author is our dear friend Zahra Kazemi. Zari is a Persian travel/food writer. Though she'd like to travel to every country in the world, she has a soft spot for Iran and her goal is to show the real Iran to people around the world.)


Iranian Vegan Food: An Abundance of Exoctic Fruit & Veg!


Despite all I said, there is no need for you to be daunted. In Iran, like anywhere else in the world, you can keep your vegan diet as long as you know where to seek plant- and fungi-based food, where to buy vegan essentials like soy milk or coconut milk, the fruit & veggies and what local dishes to try! In brief, you need a guide to answer all your questions and to show you the best options to take! And that is why this blog post will come in handy when you travel to Iran. In this blog, I will save you from the headache of learning it all by yourself and I will walk you through a complete guide that will help you spend a pleasant vegan time in Iran.
persian vegan
Veganism in Iran has never been as popular as it is now. Today more than ever, vegans are spreading the word on the need for animal-friendly living. Before I get into details about the restaurants and vegan shops and their locations, I'd like to let you know why Iran can be a good country to visit for vegans. Here are three reasons why Iran is a great destination for vegan tourists:

  • It is inexpensive: this is the top reason, and it is true. Unfortunately, Iran has the least valuable currency in the world, so traveling here from Global North countries will be dirt cheap. You will realize it yourself when you see a vegan lunch in a luxury vegan restaurant costing you only two to three dollars.
  • Its delicious vegan dishes: although Iranian cuisine is mostly meat-based, it still offers a wide variety of vegan dishes. This will include not only filling lunches like polo (rice), ash (thick soup), and sambousé (vegetable turnover) but also delicious desserts like faloodeh (a cold granita-like dessert made with rice noodles), halva (a sweet confection made with flour and nuts), shole zard (saffron rice pudding), and so much more! I wonder if you can enjoy these delicious dishes anywhere else in the world (perhaps halva, which is quite popular in the UK). Because of these delicious and unique vegan dishes, Iran is definitely worth adding to your bucket list.
  • It is a treasure trove of native fruits, herbs, and spices: in Iran, you can find things that you did not even know existed - native fruits like sebri, which is a green-colored fruit with the smell of a quince, the wateriness of a pear, and the taste of an apple! It can be only found in my birth town Kkhomeini Shahr, which is the suburb of Isfahan province.

You can find a wide variety of vegetables here that you cannot find in other parts of the world like kangar or bon sorkh. Another advantage of travelling to Iran is that you can buy saffron, pistachio, rose petal water and similar products in their country of origin. Plus, almost all the fruits, even the tropical ones, and vegetables that you often use in your own country can be found here too (and since they aren't imported they are less expensive!) Now that you have probably decided that you want to travel to Iran (why not? You have enough reasons to pack ;), there are a couple of questions you might want to know the answer to:


When is the best time for traveling to Iran for vegans?


The best time for traveling to Iran is spring but I believe summer will be a better time for vegan tourists as you can access a wider range of fresh fruits and vegetables. Some fresh herbs like kang and shang are only found in this season (specifically in the west of Iran) and some fruits, especially those that are cultivated in Iran like black cherry, cherry, aluche and other are only available during summer.


Which fruits or nuts are native to Iran?


  • pistachios, 
  • persian walnuts (or English walnuts), 
  • sebri, 
  • alooche or goje sabz (a green sour plum), 
  • garmak (similar to cantaloupe), 
  • narenj (bitter orange), 
  • pomegranates, 
  • apricots, 
  • cherries, 
  • dates, 
  • grapes


Which vegetables, herbs, and spices are native to Iran?


Iran is home to 8000 native herbs and spices and the most famous one is undoubtedly saffron. This spice, which is known for red gold and is the king of all spices in the world, is a spice native to Iran. You can buy the best quality saffron at the cheapest price in its country of origin.
persian vegan food
In Iran, you can also buy rose petal water in Kashan city, Isfahan. They produce the best rose petal water in the country and without a doubt the world (just smell it and you will realize why it is the best!) This rose petal water can be used as a vegan environmentally-friendly toner (you can spray it on your skin, it also helps control acne). It can also be added to numerous drinks to make them taste and smell better.
persian vegan recipes
Other vegetables and herbs include kangar (which is also known as acanthus), a plant with thick spiny leaves and stalks similar to celery, bon sorkh (similar to chives), andash (again similar to chives but with a very sharper taste), persian shallots and basil - these are also all native to Iran.
vegan persian food
These herbs and vegetables are often used dried instead of fresh. You can buy any kind of dried vegetable at attaris,which are some kind of herbal shop.  These stores sell medical plants, different spices, and dried herbs you can use for cooking, as a spice or as a medicine for a sore throat. These shops themselves can be another good reason for you to travel to Iran. Tehran's Attari Bazar that I have pinned below is a cluster of these stores selling medical and culinary plants and herbs.


Which vegan Iranian dishes and desserts I should try?


  • Sambousé: turnover with vegetable filling... Zari wrote a great recipe for vegan sambousé!
  • Polo Adas Keshmesh: lentil rice with raisins;
  • Havij Polo: fried carrot rice;
  • Shilé Adas: soup made with lentils, rice, tomatoes, etc;
  • Polo Khoresh Bademjan: rice with eggplant stew;
  • Hamis Toolé: it is a stew made with malva leaves and pomegranate;
  • Kal Kebab: stew made with sea holly plant, eggplant, and pomegranate;
  • Adasi: lentil soup;
  • Salad Shirazi: A salad made with cucumbers, tomatoes, onion, and vinegar;
  • Sholé Zard: saffron rice pudding;
  • Halva: sweet confection made with flour and nuts;
  • Faloodeh: a cold granita-like dessert made with rice noodles.


Which organisations deal with animal rights in Iran?


Here is the list of three non-governmental organizations that help animals in Tehran:



Which Farsi phrases should vegans learn?


Learning a few practical Farsi phrases will make your trip a lot easier in Iran. Here are some sentences that are worth learning:

  • Man giah Kharam = I am vegetarian. (Unfortunately, we don't know the phrase for 'vegan'.)
  • Man goosht nemikhoram = I don’t eat meat.
  • Bedoone goosht va panir bashe lotfan = Please don’t add meat and cheese.
  • In ghaza goosht dare? = Is there meat in this food?


Vegan Restaurants in Tehran


Now let's get to the main point: the best vegan restaurants in Iran. Here I have listed five vegan restaurants in Tehran (being vegan in Tehran in easy!) and an additional five vegan restaurants in other important provinces of Iran, like Isfahan, Shiraz, and Yazd. I listed these last five restaurants because they are located in touristy provinces. These provinces are major parts of almost all Iran tours.


#1. Zamin vegan restaurant:


Zamin (Gmaps link) has an eclectic menu of both Iranian and non-Iranian dishes, plus you can find all kinds of desserts, sweets, and cakes there as well. You can find both vegan fast foods like different kinds of pizzas and also kebabs made with vegan meat. They also have an online vegan shop. The ambiance is very welcoming and charming, the dishes are delicious and I defintely recommend it to everyone!


#2. Vegshim restaurant:


This one is second to none! The food at Vegshim (Gmaps link) is absolutely excellent. They serve all kinds of vegan pizzas and burgers. They also have a breakfast menu. The atmosphere is cool and the staff is friendly. Do yourself a favor and try their delicious food. You can check out their Instagram to see what dishes they serve.


#3. Ananda Restaurant and Café:


The best thing about this restaurant is its beautiful, lovely green ambiance. At Ananda (Gmaps link) you can enjoy your cup of coffee and a slice of delicious chocolate cake in a delightful small garden where the walls are lush with plants.
iran vegan
This restaurant has an eclectic menu. Their Iranian dishes menu is wider than most other vegan restaurants in the country. They serve the vegan version of most Iranian dishes, like Tahchin, Kufteh, Kebabs, etc. They also serve non-Iranian dishes like pizza, pasta, lasagna, etc. The food is delicious, and the service is great. You need to try it.


#4. Pure Vegetarian Cuisine and Café:


Like most other Iranian vegan restaurants, it only serves pizzas and sandwiches. You will not only like the food at Pure (Gmaps link) but also the lovely pinkish ambiance.


#5. The D Project Café:


This one is both a restaurant and a café. They have a big menu and they serve everything a vegan can wish for! You can check out their Instagram (Gmaps link) here to see how wonderful their place is!


Other Vegan Restaurants in Iran


Here is the list of five other vegan restaurants in other touristy provinces of Iran. The first three are located in Isfahan, the fourth in Yazd, and the fifth in Shiraz:



Where to shop for vegetables and fruits in Tehran?


In Iran, you can easily enjoy an animal-friendly meal in the restaurants mentioned above but if you want to cook your own food you need to know where to buy fresh ingredients like vegetables and fruits. In this section, you can find the list of five great shops that sell all kinds of vegetables, fruits, juice, and almost anything else. The good thing about these shops is that everything is packaged up, trimmed, and cleaned. They are ready to be served. All the five following shops belongs to the same brand, Bamika. They have five shops in the capital so you can easily access them:


There are also other places you can buy fresh vegetables and fruits: you can find them on almost every street. However, I recommend Bamika as it offers a more extensive list of products. This place is a one-stop shop for all things vegan, ready to use.


Are there any vegan stores in Tehran? Where can I find them?


Absolutely yes! There are many of them across the country and many more in the capital. All these vegan stores that I have pinned below are vegans' havens! Don’t forget to stop by them on your way:


These shops offer bountiful vegan options such as all kinds of plant-based milk and butter, tofu, seeds, pulses and grains, granola, vegan cheese and meat, vegan snacks and sweets, etc.


Wrap Up: How to Be Vegan in Iran


So here it is, our post about being vegan in Iran, written by our wonderful friend Zari! Also, please don't forget to watch our favourite Iranian feature-length animation, Persepolis! And of course, as usual, here's a video about being vegan in Iran to go with this post, too:


P.S.: If you're interested in an app designed for vegans & wanna support the vegan movement and us, veganvstravel as well, use this link plz to download Abillion. When registering, please use our referral code: TRAVELLINGWEASELS. If you wanna know why we think this is a great app, read here.

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