Mrs Tasos Kokkinidis from Greekreporter.com published “Greece is Heaven for Vegetarians” where he wrote: “Vegetarianism as a practice, the idea of nonviolence to animals, has its roots in ancient Greece as well as ancient Indian civilizations. Ancient Greek historian Plutarch could be considered the first outspoken vegetarian in the West, as he believed that it was “immoral” to eat animal flesh.
In his book “Morals”, Plutarch has a chapter on meat-eating in which he writes that since man has access to so many fresh fruits, vegetables, and nuts, the fact that he is forcing himself to eat bloody animal flesh while “trying to cover the taste of blood with thousands of spices” is inconceivable”. (source)
Is Greece a heaven for vegetarians?
Yes! Absolutely! A vegetarian in Greece has really many dishes to choose from. Greece’s access to fresh fruits and vegetables is something that is used everyday and at the tavern you can order goodies like wind olives with rice and herbs, cooked vegetables, grilled vegetables, stuffed vegetables, bean soup, lentil soup and more. Even people who are meat-eaters use to love greek salad (choriátiki), cabbage and carrot salad (lachanosaláta med karóto), tomatokeftedes (tomato fritters), kolokithikeftedes (zucchini fritters) and a lot of other famous Greek vegetarian dishes.
The Greek couisine is based on fresh seasonal vegetables, fruit and green. If you stay in the same area over more than one season you will discover the change of the dishes at the local tavernas. One example from our tavern in December, when our visitors wanted to order Greek salad. The waiter recommended them to chose the cabbage salad instead of Greek salad because it was from their own fresh cabbage garden, instead of the tomatoes and cucumbers from a whole saler close to Athens.
One of the first modern vegetarians came from …
Greece! Yep, you’re not really surprised, right? The first known vegetarian was Pythagoras, a Greek philosopher and mathematician who lived around 530 BC. The main reason that he refrained from eating or plaguing non-human beings was his belief in the immortality of the soul. Then it was called Pythagorian or Pythogoré. (source).
Greeks don’t always call themselves “vegetarians”, even though they eat a lot of greens. Especially the older generation. But the younger, more environmentally conscious generation is growing up and the story from the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” no longer matches reality. Do you remember? “What do you mean he don’t eat no meat? Oh, that’s okay. I make lamb”.
Although I can still remember one of Elias’ aunts cooking for my younger son, after she was told he is a vegetarian, spaghetti with minced meat sauce. “It’s just a sauce, not real meat.” I should have been smarter to tell her he loves Greek gemysta, haha.