Georgia is a stunning country to travel to and the vegan food is abundant, fresh and delicious. When you find your way around the meat and cheese, you discover a whole world of beans, veggies, bread, potatoes and mushrooms.
One of the reasons Georgian food is so vegan-friendly is because of the Orthodox fasting periods, that many adopt, where they can’t have any food from land animals. You will find that many restaurants have a ‘fasting menu’.
Many local Georgian dishes just happen to be vegan, making our life easier while travelling. In Tbilisi, you have some choices of restaurants and cafes serving specifically vegan food, but outside the capital, the reality is different.
I assure you will not have any problems to eat vegan even when visiting small villages.
Here is a list of some of my favourite vegan dishes that you can get from a regular place in Georgia serving local food.
Vegan-friendly Georgian food
Pkhali – different coloured balls of vegetables minced with walnuts and seasonings, normally with garlic, onion, herbs. The most common are spinach, aubergine and beetroot.
Eggplant with walnuts (Nigvziani Badrijani) – Slices of eggplant that filled with walnuts, coriander and garlic, served cold topped with pomegranates.
Red pepper stuffed with walnuts – as the name says is a red pepper filled with hearty walnut paste.
Beans and bread
Lobio – It’s a bean stew served in a clay pot, made with red beans, onion, garlic, herbs, and local seasonings. Mchadi – cornbread that is usually eaten with Lobio. Comes in fried and non-fried varieties.
Acharuli, Stew boats – a boat-shaped bread from Georgia, is the most popular filling melted salty cheese and egg. Although I found other options, from aubergine stew, wild mushrooms, spinach and other greens and even with tomato and cucumber salad.
Georgian Pastries: Lobiani – Is a mashed bean-filled bread easily found everywhere. Similar to lobiani is the Mkhvlovani- made with a mixture of different kinds of herbs. I did find other pastries that were vegan but couldn’t memorise the names.
Georgian traditional dumplings
Khinkali – The easiest vegan ones to find are the ones with potato and mushroom fillings, but I also found some with beans and spinach.
There are several dishes with mushrooms served in clay pots.
They also have wild stewed mushrooms, fried mushrooms, grilled mushrooms, etc.. If you are a mushroom lover like me Georgia is heaven on earth.
Ojakhuri with mushrooms – instead of the traditional potatoes with pork, this one is with mushrooms.
Shilaplavi – Kind of a Georgian risotto with mushrooms.
Ajapsandali – is a vegetable stew made with onion, potato, aubergine, pepper, tomato, parsley and other seasonings, a little bit like a ratatouille.
The most common one is Cucumber and Tomato Salad with a creamy walnut and herb sauce, but there are various other kinds of salads too. The Georgian beetroot salad with tkemali (plum sauce) is also quite easy to find.
Mexican potatoes – Thickly cut potatoes with lots of seasoning. They can be fried or baked.
Pickles – you can order mixed pickles or plates of specific pickles.
Vegan Georgian Sweets
Churchkhela – also known as the Georgian Snickers is a traditional sweet made from nuts and fruit juice. It is extremely delicious, nutritious, healthy and energizing. To prepare it the string of nuts is repeatedly dipped in concentrated fresh fruit juice.
Tklapi – Thin fruit sheet.
Pelamushi – reminds a frozen pudding prepared with grape juice and walnuts.
Georgian Markets and Street food
There is no best place to explore Georgian food culture than visiting some of the markets. Here you can find the best deals to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, dried fruit and grains, coffee and tea, spices and much more.
Street food is not a strong concept in Georgia by any means, but you can occasionally find small stalls selling, fresh fruit, fresh cold-pressed juice and Turkish coffee.
Have you been to Georgia and tried any of these dishes? Do you know any other traditional Georgian dish that is accidentally vegan?
If you are looking for some great vegan restaurants in Tbilisi find them here!
photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha