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Best cheap vegan street food in Turkey

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    Best cheap vegan street food in Turkey

    Turkey offers a remarkably convenient landscape for vegans to explore, with an array of plant-based options stretching from light snacks to hearty meals scattered across the country.
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    Contrary to its international reputation for meat-centric dishes like kebabs, Turkey actually boasts a predominantly vegan and vegetarian diet among its populace, constituting a core component of the healthy Mediterranean culinary tradition. Consequently, Turkish vegan fare is not confined to upscale dining establishments; it has transformed into accessible street food available in towns and cities throughout the nation. These dishes not only qualify as fast food but also, in most instances, serve as the most budget-friendly dining options.

    Here's a compilation of ten popular vegan Turkish dishes and meals that can be savored almost everywhere across Turkey:
    1. Çiğ Köfte: Çiğ köfte, originally made from raw meat and spices, has evolved into a vegan delight by replacing meat with bulgur. These vibrant, spicy patties are now fully vegetarian, delectably spicy, and easily accessible in chain restaurants and market take-out packages. Traditionally, çiğ köfte can be savored either in a lavash wrap with tomatoes, pickles, pomegranate molasses, and a spicy sauce or wrapped in lettuce leaves.
    2. Ezogelin: Turkish soup-focused eateries not only offer cost-effective dine-in options but also operate 24/7, ensuring a consistent supply of vegan lentil soup. Whether it's ezogelin, a tomato-lentil soup seasoned with herbs and spices, or mercimek, a smooth, creamy-colored lentil soup with a dash of lemon, these soup establishments in Turkey cater to vegans round the clock.
    3. Beans, Grains, Rice: Following soup kitchens and çiğ köfte cafes, the next affordable dining destinations are eateries serving home-cooked dishes displayed in window showcases, featuring various stews, bean dishes, and rice or bulgur as side options. While many stews may include meat, most tomato-based bean dishes do not. It's advisable to inquire about the ingredients, but in most cases, the rice is prepared without meat broth, and bulgur is typically vegan.
    4. Dolma (Stuffed Dishes): Dolma, which means "stuffed," includes iconic grapevine leaves filled with spiced rice mixtures. While some versions contain meat, especially in home-cooked preparations, bulk-purchased dolma from markets or delis is generally vegan. Occasionally, delicatessens and traditional restaurants offer stuffed tomatoes and peppers with tomato-based rice fillings, providing delightful vegan choices.
    5. Meze: The majority of mezes, commonly found at seafood restaurants in Turkey, are inherently vegan. Ranging from smoked eggplant salad to bean dishes, wild greens, and pickles, mezes offer a diverse selection of plant-based options. This means even seafood-focused establishments have ample vegan choices to satisfy diners. While seafood restaurants aren't typically budget-friendly or considered street food, you can often find mezes in takeout containers at markets and delis.
    6. Piyaz: Most restaurants serving köfte (meatballs) also offer a side salad known as piyaz. This refreshing salad features white beans, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, and a vinegar dressing, serving as an ideal accompaniment to Turkey's classic meatball dishes and a fulfilling option for vegans.
    7. Lahmacun: Lahmacun, a spicy thin Turkish flatbread akin to pizza, has started offering vegan variations in cities and densely populated areas. This finely chopped tomato, onion, and spicy crispy circular pizza, Turkey's beloved take-out item, now offers vegan options with the same delicious flavors as the original.
    8. Pide: Flatbreads and Turkish-style "pizza" are typically prepared at pide salons. These eateries are not only affordable, with many offering delivery services, but they also operate round the clock. While their menus predominantly feature meat and cheese toppings, they almost always have an "otlu" option, indicating herb-filled flatbreads.
    9. Gözleme: Gözleme, a thin pastry resembling phyllo dough that is grilled on both sides, is generously portioned and available at farmer's markets, take-away stands, breakfast restaurants, and more. Look for women hand-rolling thin dough to fill with greens or potatoes for vegan variations, even though the majority contain cheese.
    10. Börek: "Börek" is a catch-all term for pastries in Turkey, available at pastry shops, bakeries, and markets. While many are stuffed with cheese or meat, there are almost always vegan versions stuffed with potatoes.
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