Welcome to my blog post on (not) eating vegan in Cyprus.
I recently came back from a week in Cyprus and was really, really surprised at just how difficult it was to eat out as a vegan. It’s a small mediterranean island so you’d think they’d be all about those fresh veggie dishes, pastas, etc., but Cypriot food is actually very meat heavy. And we’re not talking fish, we’re talking chicken, pork and lamb as the center of every meal.
Every time we went out to eat, when we told them we were vegetarian (forget saying vegan) they would look at us with a mix of pity and horror, and would then apologise profusely after bringing out our food which was usually salad, chips, pitas and tahini dip. I’m not joking. Every single place apologised because they felt we were probably starving without meat (even though portion sizes were very ample).
It is possible to eat vegan in Cyprus, but you may find it a bit repetitive if you eat at traditional tavernas. Most places will do the dishes mentioned above as a minimum. If you’re lucky, some tavernas will also do some type of cooked veggie dishes, like grilled portobello mushrooms, spinach with lemon or fried green beans.
Your best bet when eating out is to go to a non-Greek restaurant. We were near Paphos, and there were some Italian restaurants you could visit, as well as Indian and Japanese as well – all of which are a little more vegan friendly as a rule.
The other option is to go self catering, and cook for yourself. We did this for breakfast and lunch every day. I usually made a salad with dips and things for lunch, and one day made a big pasta salad which we ate for leftovers the next day.
The local markets are amazing, and the fresh produce in Cyprus is so much nicer than in the UK, especially the tomatoes. I even managed to find some soy and oat milk in one of the small shops!
So it’s not impossible to eat vegan in Cyprus, but it’s not easy. And if you’re happy with salads and chips like I am, then you are set! (And there’s always Keo 😉
Travel tip 1: if you need airport transfers or just to get around Paphos, we recommend Fytos from Paphos Taxis. He is incredibly friendly and so, so helpful. He even stopped and picked up a couple beers for us on the way back to the airport!
Travel tip 2: stay in a villa rather than a hotel. The hotels are all a bit hit or miss, and the one we booked into was so bad we left after 2 nights. You can get villas for cheaper and they are a much nicer experience.