Travel, Vegan

A Vegan in Crete

On my 21st birthday (Wednesday 5th June), I hopped on a very early morning flight to Crete. No, not with my boyfriend, or my family, but with 30 of my course mates. If any of you are a geography, environmental science or ecology student, you will be very aware of the second year field class. Mine happened to fall on my birthday hmmmph, but luckily we had some amazing celebrations before I went so I wasn’t too grumpy about it.

As Crete wasn’t a typical holiday, there wasn’t a lot of point doing a travel post about it. We stayed in the coastal town of Rethymno and didn’t travel far away, except for the day trip to Santorini. Our time there was filled with a lot of hard work in the sun, filling out field notebooks, laughter, alcohol, food, and of course DRAMA.

This is a beach in Rethymno, trust me when I say my field notebook sketches looked nothing like it

Crete is an absolutely beautiful place and I would love to go back for a relaxing holiday to see more of the island…and of course eat lots more Greek food. I made sure to study up on local food before going so I knew what I was in for when it came to eating. None of my friends who I would be spending my free time with are veggie/vegan, so I knew I’d have to eat in cheap restaurants that cater to all. Luckily, I was very pleasantly surprised by the choices and food I had. One thing I learnt is that the Cretan’s are extremely accommodating and the servers at (almost) every restaurant went out of their way to make sure I had an amazing meal.

Interior of a pretty open top restuarant we visited

There is a magical Greek word for us plant eaters, nistisimo (nee-tee-see-mo), which basically means you are on a fast. Greek Orthodox fasting includes staying away from animal products and the strict Greeks fast a LOT. So, there is a lot vegan friendly food and a lot of traditional greek mezze dishes can be made to be vegan WOOHOO!

So this was my breakfast on the first morning in our 3 star hotel with a buffet breakfast. It wasn’t the nicest of places, but what you would expect for a student trip. It wasn’t the most amazing of breakfasts, but it was enough to fill me up and I was able to keep it pretty healthy every morning. It differed by day but was always pretty much the same. I’ve got some dried cracker bread here with cucumber, mushrooms, tomato and some canned fruit. Always good to get some fruit and veg in your first meal of the day!

Now these little babies right here are your Greek best friend. Spinach pies are so so so good and I had quite a lot…doesn’t matter how many. Just always double check you’re getting ones that only have spinach in because traditional ones often also include feta.

These right here are gigantes beans and ooooh boy they’re a tasty way to get some protein. They are like smokey, posh, giant baked beans in tomato sauce and I absolutely love them.

Fava is one of my new favourite foods and I’m desperate to get my hands on some back here in England. It’s like a dip that you eat with a spoon, but if you do manage to put it on some bread ooooh boy that’s good. It’s actually made from mushed yellow split peas rather than fava beans, and different restaurants will add different toppings. This one had onion, spring onion, tomato, olive oil and oregano.

This meal definitely wasn’t my favourite and not very Greek, but it was a night my friends wanted to go to a random restaurant by the beach (the main goal was cocktails). I thought it was important to put this here though because the owner made sure I had something plentiful to eat and went through the menu with me telling me anything he could make vegan. I went with a simple mushroom risotto and my very own garlic bread he made for me without butter. So although it wasn’t the best, I was filled up with something other than chips (the usual go to when there’s no vegan friendly food) AND had incredible cocktails 😉

Friendly reminder to never underestimate a bruschetta because a good one with a load of fresh garlic and tomato can chase all your sadness away.

Now THIS is the BEST greek food I had on the whole trip (there’s also a plate fava outside the picture), even if it was wayyy too much for me. This was also my birthday dinner so I was super happy to find somewhere nice. Here we have stuffed vine leaves (without the yoghurt dressing), drowned eggplant (without the cheese), and fried mushrooms. Since being in Greece I have a new found love for aubergine and I seriously can’t get enough…ok now keep your head out of the gutter, don’t let an emoji ruin your perception of this glorious vegetable.

You can also find lots of sorbet in ice cream parlours for some after dinner sweetness .

So there you have it, my favourite food from Crete. Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed, here is a picture of some goats on a rock I saw and found very funny, I hope you do too.

Have you ever been to Greece? What’s your favourite type of Greek food? Or have you been on some other crazy field class?

Lon x

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