Kimia Raghebi

Being exposed to the brilliant Iranian tradition, historical monuments, and artistic artifacts throughout my life has always thrilled me. Traces of such joyful fascination have become more tangible in me ever since I chose literature and creative writing as my profession... So here I am; traveling, experiencing, enjoying, and jotting down every bit of them all for you to sense its magical wonder through my lens!
Kimia Raghebi

A Vegetarians’ Guide in Iran

Dolma felfel

History

Vegetarianism can find its roots in historical records, spiritual beliefs, and ethical practices of people from different parts of the world. However, many recognize it mainly with India as the home of religions and spiritual beliefs in which killing animals and using them as a source of food and living is condemned. Interestingly enough, vegetarianism has been followed in the Mediterianians almost at the same time as in India.

With Buddhism in the east and the Neoplatonic beliefs growing in the west, the idea of avoiding animal products of any sort found its way in many more countries, though it met some changes from one place to another.

Until today, this lifestyle and mindset has kept on growing, and regional additions and changes have come with its growth. In some places, people use milk products, and in others, people eat eggs; however, some people do not eat all these and prefer not to use animal products of any type. 

Vegans avoid using leather and animal products other than food as well. The core belief, from the beginning till now, is to respect ourselves and the universe, be true to our own nature, increase the overall health of our own body and soul and live in harmony with the universe.

Vegetarianism in Iran

Keshmesh Polo (Raisin rice)

When it comes to vegetarianism, Iran may not be one of the first countries that comes to mind; lots of people consider Persian food and Iranian food recipes to include meat or animal products in some way or the other. 

That actually is not the case with Iranian food culture, and there are lots of vegetarian Persian food and Persian vegetarian recipes that are a part of every Iranian life. However, with the growth of the worldwide interest in vegetarianism, Iran has not been an exception, and the enthusiasm for following this lifestyle has grown in the past couple of years.

There are many people who are eagerly following this lifestyle, and there are many restaurants and cafes that present only vegetarian food and beverages. Vegetarianism has been accepted to the extent that it has become a choice in almost all restaurants, and one who wishes not to eat animal products won’t face a problem in Iran. Vegans and vegetarians can enjoy a trip to Iran just like anyone else. In this blog, we are going to introduce Persian vegetarian recipes, as well as Persian Vegetarian restaurants that welcome Vegans and Vegetarians.

Iranian Vegetarian Recipes

Zereshk polo (Barberry Rice)

Iran is a vast country with lots of sub-cultures within itself; it is only normal that in every part of this beautiful and vast land that one travels, they face not only different landscapes and historical monuments but also diverse cuisine and food cultures.

There are lots of Iranian vegetarian food recipes as well as cuisines that can easily be made without meat and still have that uniqueness of taste that is typical to Persian food.

Here are just some of the examples of vegetarian Persian recipes that can easily be found in different restaurants as well as households. Since Iranians are known to be among the most hospitable people in the world, the chance of being invited to their home and eating with them is very high.

Join us in a one-day tour built around Iranian cusine, its wonderful colors, and its memorable tastes.

Ash

Ash, especially Ash-e-reshteh, is one of the oldest and most popular Iranian vegetarian foods.

It is typically a type of noodle soup that is made with fresh vegetables and beans. However, the term Ash can be applied to any type of soup with fresh vegetables in it, and based on the season and what fresh fruits and vegetables can be found in that period of time, different types of Ash can be made.

Persian mixed rice

Shirin Polo

Rice is one of the mostly used items in many Persian food recipes, thus used in different forms.

Some of the most famous Persian vegetarian recipes are those in which rice, or Polo as it is called in Persian, is mixed with different vegetables and beans. Among them, we can name Zereshk-Polo, Adas-Polo, Dampokhtak, and Shirin-Polo. It is true that with some of these dishes, meat is also mixed but can easily be removed as it is not one of the main parts of the recipes.

Polo gojeh is one of the Iranian vegetarian cuisines that is regularly made in many households and consists of rice, tomato, onion, and potato.

Kashk-e-Bademjan

This tasty Persian Vegetarian food is made with eggplants, onions, and garlic, served in different restaurants as the main dish and a starter.

Kashk-e-Bademjan is eaten with bread and other side dishes like onions or fresh vegetables.

If you want to learn about the best dishes or the most famous meals in Iran, do not forget to read our blog about the Top Local Persian Foods.

Mirza Ghassemi

Mirza Ghasemi

If, as a vegetarian, one still eats eggs, then Mirza Ghassemi is another Persian cuisine that is made with eggplant, garlic, tomato, and egg. This food is also eaten both as the main dish and the starter and with bread.

Persian Stews

One of the most recognizable Persian food recipes is Persian stew. Persian stews mainly contain meat but can also be made without them since meat is not their main part.

Among the many Persian stews made in different cities, we can name Khoresh Karafs (Celery Stew), Khoresh Bademjan (Eggplant Stew), and Khoresh Ghormeh Sabzi (Vegetable Stew). Persian stews can be eaten with either rice or bread.

The Vegetarian Mindset

For lots of vegetarians, vegetarianism is a mindset that shapes the core of their lifestyles. The idea of living in harmony with the environment around us and everyday, taking a step further to lead a healthier and thus happier life has become a driving spirit for many people not only to pursue a different lifestyle, but to grow a different mindset that changes the way they perceive the world.

With the growing worldwide interest in vegetarianism, Iran too has not been an exception; there are lots of people that follow this pattern.

However, the difference is that Iranian food culture in itself has a lot of vegetarian food and dishes that people commonly use. It makes following and thus accepting a guest who doesn’t eat meat or meat products easy for them. 

Iranian Vegetarian food

Talking with an Iranian entrepreneur who is a vegetarian and has been following this mindset for quite some time now, Amirhossein Farzaneh shared his experiences with us about how he has been enjoying this lifestyle so far; as the diversity of the vegetarian Persian food made it an easy and enjoyable process for him.

According to him, in different parts of Iran, there are lots of options for a vegetarian as well as a vegan in the vegetarian Persian recipes. There are also lots of side dishes that are usually made from the fresh vegetables and fruits of the season that are not only delicious but also good for your overall health.

Last words

As a vegetarian, you can indeed survive on your trip to Iran; more than that, you can enjoy the diversity and freshness of a vast food culture that has been cultivated for many years.

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