Greek cuisine may be famous for its lamb and fresh fish, but it’s also well-known for its vegetable and legume-based small plates, also known as meze. We often passed on ordering a main course and instead made an entire meal of meze plates. It was the perfect way to eat a light meal while also trying a little bit of everything. Greek cuisine is recognized for using the freshest, locally grown ingredients. If you’re traveling to Greece in the warmer months, you will be swimming in an array of incredibly fresh vegetables and fruits. Cherry tomatoes are like candy and the watermelon will be some of the best you have ever tasted.
We had no trouble finding exceptional vegan food while traveling in Greece, even in the small fishing port of Pollonia on the island of Milos.
Our daily breakfast in Milos consisted of barley “rusk” topped with grated tomato, fresh capers, oregano, a touch of sea salt and a drizzle of EVOO.
This beautifully presented vegetable platter was our go-to salad at Armenaki in Pollonia.
I have always liked chickpeas, but I might now be obsessed with the simple legume thanks to this salad from Enalion in Milos. The salad contains a few simple ingredients: warm chickpeas, fresh mint, sun-dried tomatoes, and red onion tossed with a little EVOO and fresh lemon juice.
You can find “fava” just about everywhere in Greece. It’s a bean dip that has a similar consistency to that of hummus, but it happens to be made with yellow lentils instead of chickpeas. I originally thought it was made from fava beans, but a quick search corrected my assumption. It’s usually topped with a light drizzle of EVOO (the one below had more than usual), lemon juice, capers, olives, red onion, and fresh herbs. I could eat this stuff by the spoonful!
The ubiquitous “Greek salad” can be found in every corner of Greece, as you might expect. It usually comes with a massive hunk of feta cheese, so just ask for it without the cheese if you’re going for the vegan version. I have never been a huge fan of capers, but I found myself digging through my salad just to find the capers. They’re plump and flavorful — a nice change from the small, shriveled, sour-tasting capers you tend to find in the US.
After peeling back the blackened skin on this chargrilled eggplant, a gorgeous eggplant mashed emerged. It was lightly seasoned and topped with a drizzle of EVOO. I have always loved baba ghanoush, but this version that was literally “right off the grill” far exceeded even the most delicious baba ghanoush I have tasted in the past.
These photos cover just a smattering of the incredible, mouth-watering meze throughout Greece. Depending on your whereabouts, be sure to ask about local specialities, such as the artichokes on the island of Crete or the local potato-based dishes on the island of Naxos. Dairy-based meze might be tough to vegan-ize, but you shouldn’t have any trouble asking for a dish sans fromage. Grab a friend or two, bring your appetite, and get ready for your table to be completely covered in a smattering of small plates. It’s the perfect way to try a nibble of everything!