All Vegan and Vegetarian Dishes You Can Eat In Istanbul!

Turkey has one of the best and most diverse cuisines in the world. Even though Turkey is more known for its kebabs and other meaty dishes, there are options for vegan or vegetarian people as well. In fact, more than you can imagine. Let’s see what are these vegan and vegetarian dishes you should eat during your Istanbul trip.

Table of Contents

Vegetarian Foods To Eat During Your Istanbul Trip

Here are all the vegetarian foods you should try before leaving Istanbul:

  • Pide
  • Kır Pidesi
  • Börek
  • Mücver (Fritters)
  • Pilaf (Turkish Rice)
  • Bulgur Pilaf
  • Kumpir
  • Menemen
  • Mıhlama
  • Baklava
  • Halka Dessert (Sweet Churros)


Pide is a pastry that can be filled with various ingredients. Generally, the ingredients are on top of the dough and spread all over it, but you ask for it to be “closed”.The most eaten type of pide is the ones filled with chicken or normal meat. However, you can always order a veggie pide that’s garnished with tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers and so much more.

Kır Pidesi

Kır pidesi is another type of pastry and it’s the small version of a typical pide. The ingredients are between the thin dough. There are spinach, cheese, and potato-filled kır pidesi options for vegetarian people.


Börek is either a layered or rolled pastry that can be filled with various ingredients. You can find any type of börek in Istanbul. Though the most popular ones are with pastrami or minced meat, there are always other choices such as veggie or cheese-filled börek. The reason why most böreks are not vegan is because egg yolk is spread on top of the börek before putting it in the oven.

Mücver (Fritters)

Mücver is a combination of squash, potatoes, flour, and other herbs. When the mixture is done, it is fried in hot oil and gets crunchy. Finding a restaurant in Istanbul that sells mücver can be somewhat challenging which is surprising. However, if you go to a place that focuses on serving vegetarian dishes, you should find it on the menu.

Pilaf (Turkish Rice)

Turkish rice is plain rice cooked in olive oil and voila, that’s all it takes for a Turkish rice. However, if you see a restaurant selling Turkish rice with or without orzo, ask if they have used butter or any animal products while making it. Because before cooking, both orzo and rice can be fried in butter. Also for extra flavors, some restaurants may use animal broth for rice to drain. For this reason, Turkish rice may not always be a vegan option.

Bulgur Pilaf

Bulgur pilaf is one level above Turkish rice if you are looking for a richer option. In Turkey, bulgur is generally made with tomato paste, that’s why it has a reddish color in most places. Also, bulgur pilaf is generally garnished with veggies such as peppers, carrots, and such. That bulgur pilaf is originally called “Meyhave pilaf” in Turkish but you don’t need to say it especially.


Kumpir is the number one snack among foreigners. It is a snack prepared with a really big fried potato that’s split open from the middle and filled with numerous ingredients. You can add olives, pickles, sauces, bulgur, and veggies. Though the ingredients and base of kumpir seem vegan, it’s not. Before putting ingredients, you mix cheese and butter with the insides of the potato. If it’s not done, the texture of the potato won’t be ideal.


Menemen is a mixture of tomatoes and eggs especially eaten for breakfast in Turkey. It is especially tastier if you use bread instead of a fork to grab the pieces.


Mıhlama is a traditional breakfast addition made with cheese, cornstarch, and butter. The main attraction of mıhlama is its delicious cheese with a long stretch. However, You may not mıhlama everywhere in Istanbul unless the place is focusing on serving breakfast for its customers. 


Baklava is a traditional, multi-layered sweet Turkish pastry dessert. It is filled with pistachios, walnuts, and sometimes hazelnuts. The reason why it is not a vegan dessert is because to make pastry layers stick properly, a butter mixture is spread as glue between the layers. However, you can still find places in Istanbul that make vegan baklava.

Halka Dessert (Sweet Churros)

Halka is a deep-fried tulumba pastry that undergoes a luxurious soak in syrup. This delectable treat is widely cherished by locals. Eggs are used while preparing the dough of tulumba that’s why it shouldn’t be eaten by vegans.

Vegan Foods To Eat During Your Istanbul Trip

Here are all the vegan foods you should try before leaving Istanbul:

  • Veggie Soups
  • Lokum
  • Simit
  • Salads
  • Hummus
  • Kısır
  • Çiğ Köfte
  • Mercimek Köftesi (Lentil Balls)
  • Shakshuka
  • Turşu
  • Yaprak Sarma
  • Falafel
  • Stuffed Courgettes
  • Fried Veggies
  • Pişi
  • Imam Bayıldı


Lokum is originally made from sugar, starch, water, and the flavor one wants. As long as it is made with these ingredients, lokum is a traditional vegan Turkish dessert. However, now that dessert spots want to attract more customers, there are so many types of lokum. Some may contain butter or other animal products. So, before buying don’t hesitate to ask the seller if it has such ingredients.


Simit is another Turkish vegan snack option for people who can’t animal products. Even though it seems like eggs are used in the recipe, simit is made from water, yeast, sugar, salt, and flour! Molasses is used to stick the sesame seeds on top of the simit. 


Salads are the most known option for vegan people whether they are in Turkey or not. As long as they don’t contain any kind of animal meat or product, salads are the safest dishes for vegans. 


Hummus is not a traditional Turkish dish yet it is quite a common dish in Turkey. It is a paste of chickpea paste served with soaked in olive oil. There are numerous restaurants that practice lebanon or Middle Eastern cuisines in Istanbul. In such places, you can find delicious hummus with other vegan options.


Falafel is another traditional Middle Eastern snack that’s also consumed in Turkey generally. Falafel is a combination of chickpea and other ingredients (no animal products) which is deep fried in oil. It is crunchy, keeps you full longer, and of course, delicious. 


Kısır is made with bulgur and it is a traditional Turkish snack that can be eaten any time of day. After bulgur is boiled, it is combined with tomato paste, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, olive oil, green onions, parsley, fresh mint, and salt. As you can see, it is a bomb of health.

Çiğ Köfte

Yet another traditional Turkish dish made with bulgur! You can eat çiğ köfte as a meal or appetizer. It is prepared with boiled bulger that’s combined with tomato paste, pomegranate sour, lemon juice, salt, parsley, mint, and a choice of spices. To make all ingredients stick firmly, the combination is kneaded for a while. It’s either eaten by putting a piece of it in a lettuce leaf or spread on lavash bread to make a wrap.

Mercimek Köftesi (Lentil Balls)

Mercimek Köftesi is traditionally made from red lentils, bulgur wheat, tomato paste, and a blend of herbs and spices for seasoning. With this classic recipe, Mercimek Köftesi is a cherished vegan option in Turkish cuisine. It’s important to note that it’s vegan as long as it’s prepared using these ingredients. Locals eat it by putting a piece in a lettuce leaf.


Shakshuka is a type of appetizer prepared by roasting seasonal vegetables such as peppers, tomatoes, and zucchini and pouring sauce over them. As one of the indispensable appetizers of the tables, it has been known as one of the most popular tastes for years.


In Turkey, there are shops that sell pickles only. You can find pepper, cabbage, cucumber, garlic, carrot and so much more types of pickles in these shops. They also sell pickle juice which is both refreshing and healthy.

Yaprak Sarma

Sarma is a traditional Turkish dish that comes from Ottoman cuisine. Yaprak means leaf and sarma means “roll”. The dish is prepared with leaves of vine, white cabbage, black cabbage, mulberry leaves, or cherry leaves. To roll these leaves, a filling made from rice, bulgur, tomato paste, parsley, and other spices is prepared. Then, a tablespoon of that mixture is wrapped inside the leaves.

Reminder: Not all yaprak sarma is vegan. Sometimes the filling may contain minced meat. Before buying or eating, ask if it has meat or not!

Stuffed Veggies

Turkish cuisine is famous for filling big vegetables such as bell pepper, eggplant, and squash and serving them as a dish. Even though most known ways of making stuffed veggies are done with minced meat, they can be done with just rice mixtures and consumed as an olive oil dish. So, don’t forget to ask if the filled mixture inside the veggie has any animal product before getting it!

Fried Veggies

In Turkey, any kind of fried veggies are popular. Circular-cut veggies such as eggplants or squashes are fried in oil until they get golden brown. It is a fast and delicious dish if you are in a rush.


Pişi is basically fried dough that can be substituted for bread in Turkish breakfasts. Pişi is crunch outside yet soft inside, a perfect combination. As the dough is made with water, flour, and salt, it is completely vegan-friendly.

Imam Bayıldı

Imam Bayıldı is a classic vegan Turkish dish that consists of whole roasted or braised eggplants (aubergines) stuffed with a mixture of onions, tomatoes, garlic, and various herbs and spices. The name “Imam Bayıldı” means “The Imam Fainted” in English, and it’s said to have originated from a legend in which an Imam supposedly fainted from the deliciousness of this dish when he tasted it. You can find this dish almost everywhere in Istanbul.


Turkish cuisine has lots of soups, some contain meat or animal products while some don’t. Here are all the vegan soups you can drink in Turkey:

  • Red Lentil Soup
  • Tomato Soup
  • Green Lentil Soup
  • Tarhana Soup
  • Broccoli Soup
  • Courgette Soup
  • Mahluta
  • Cabbage Soup
  • Ezogelin Soup