The mega city Istanbul is not one to be discovered in 24 hours, but if that’s all you have, or you just want to get a glimpse of how to go vegan for one day in Istanbul, then it might be fun to take this little tour I’ve put together. Since the city is huge and traffic can be horrendous, I’ve limited this 24-hour vegan journey to the Beyoglu district.
10.00 am / Breakfast
Bi Nevi Deli: A plant based, gluten free start of your day.
Turks have a strong and extensive breakfast culture. Traditionally you will find anything from olives, tomatoes, cucumber, fresh herbs, different kinds of cheese, eggs (different ways), local salamis and hams, honey and homemade jams and even different kinds of böreks (pastries), especially if it’s the weekend. So this offers a lot of vegan AND non-vegan options for people with a big appetite in the morning. Simit, the Turkish sesame bagel (go ahead they’re vegan) and a small but strong glass of black tea are the indispensable basics of the breakfast table. If you want to dive in this Turkish breakfast culture, almost every café or restaurant in Istanbul offers a breakfast or brunch buffet. But if you prefer to keep it 100% plant based, gluten free and/or raw you should definitely pay a visit to Bi Nevi Deli’s plant based kitchen in revitalized ‘hipsterville’ Karaköy, one of the neighborhoods of the Beyoglu districts. On Sundays Bi Nevi Deli offers an unlimited brunch buffet with both raw and warm dishes like chia parfait, raw vegan nut cheeses, tofu scramble, guacamole, veggies, gluten free bread and more. On the a la carte menu you will find dishes like spring rolls, gluten free sandwiches, soups, salads, burgers and raw vegan Pad Thai and courgettini.
1 pm / Lunch
Dandin Bakery: Turkish cuisine inspired lunch in a vintage-design inspired setting.
Karaköy, one of the oldest waterfront neighborhoods of Istanbul was for years a rough, not so pleasant area with shabby hardware shops. After the opening of Istanbul Modern (Museum of Modern Art) in 2004, things took a turn and the neighborhood underwent a serious revitalization with unique coffee shops, boutiques concept stores and the establishment of the cultural institution SALT Galata. SALT Galata hosts exhibitions and events and has a library and archive for public use. It is located in the historic Ottoman Bank, which alone makes it worth a visit. With all these attractive places in the area, you have plenty of time to kill between lunch and breakfast. Pay a visit to Istanbul Modern or SALT Galata, or shop your heart out at charming boutiques (don’t skip the French passage). Stroll around and sip on a hipster latte or a traditional Turkish coffee. Then around lunchtime take your seat at the cute, vintage inspired Dandin Bakery, which is (obviously) owned by a designer duo, and treat yourself to a delicious healthy lunch. The menu, which is strongly inspired on the Turkish cuisine, changes weekly and has vegan options, (or vegetarian dishes, that can be ‘veganized’ upon request). Pair it with a homemade lemonade or a green smoothies to refuel after shopping. Ugh, life is hard don’t you think…?
4 pm / Snack
Streetfood: Fresh Juice & Roasted Chestnuts.
After Karaköy make your way up hill to the artsy neighborhood Galata. Although Galata is Karaköy’s neighbor area, you’ll experience a clear shift from hipster to alternative, with ateliers and shops of Turkish fashion designers, vintage shops, record and music shops, cafes, bars, of course the Galata Tower and… oldschool juice bars! ‘Oldschool’ because they’ve been here before the juice craze hit North America and Europe. So don’t expect the California style hip juice bars, with the advanced slowjuicers, hipster baristas, fancy bottles, funky ingredients and superfood supplements. Nope, none of that. Instead expect a fruit and veggie kiosk with a conventional juicer, plastic cups and fair prices, a perfect afternoon pick me up if you ask me. Also, depending on the season you’re visiting Istanbul, you will find roasted chestnut or cooked and roasted corn as a typical streetfood on almost every corner of the street. I recommend you make your way to the famous carfree Istiklal Street in the Taksim area and enjoy some roasted chestnuts as you walk by the nostalgic tram and do some shopping and exploring while walking all the way to the Taksim Square and Taksim Gezi Park.
7 pm / Dinner
Journey Istanbul: Sit back, relax and indulge in Journey’s health foods.
The neighborhood Cihangir in the Beyoglu district is a 5 minute walk from Taksim square. Cihangir is a bohemian neighborhood where artists and intellectuals live, a place that still has that authentic Istanbul feel (you might associate it with Paris). Restaurant Journey in this neighborhood is one of those places that is laidback, yet well designed. Hip, yet never hipster. There is wifi but also a bookcase with works of different international authors. Journey has a professional staff and an extensive, fresh, seasonal and not overpriced menu. The menu is not exclusively vegetarian/vegan, but there are many wonderful options that are both original and healthy, with plenty of vegan side dishes and even (raw) vegan desserts, not to mention you can have cocktails, as well as green smoothies. The best part is that Journey is open for breakfast lunch and dinner, but since I suggested it as a dinner destination, below I share only the vegan options on their dinner menu.
Journey Istanbul’s Vegan dishes on the dinner menu:
Salads & Mains
• baby lettuce salad
crispy baby lettuce, radish, jerusalem artichoke, celery stick, chive and dressing of your choice.
• warm potato salad
Sprouted lentils, parsley, coriander, arugula, potatoes, dressing to your choice.
• root vegetable salad
Grated, carrot, radish, cabbage, jerusalem artichoke, parsley, dressing to your choice.
• mediterranean platter
Humus, beetroot sesame paste, tomato pesto, quince , crispy flat bread.
• veg pasta
Durum wheat or whole wheat penne with fresh basil and arugula pesto.
• fresh green vegetables with pine nut and quinoa
Green bean, broccoli, brussel sprouts, spinach and quinoa in coconut oil.
• Oven baked baby potatoes
• Homemade French fries
• Green leaf salad
• Spinach, green beans, broccoli, Brussel sprouts
• Quinoa cooked with coconut oil
• Potato puree with mustard seeds
• Vegan dark chocolate beetroot cake
• Raw vegan gluten free chocolate muss
• Raw vegan gluten free chocolate cake
• Raw vegan cheesecake
1 am / Late night snack
Cigköfte and Kumpir: Starchbased, low fat, vegan fast food!
After dinner you might want to experience a bit of Istanbul’s nightlife. In the Beyoglu district alone there is plenty to discover, whether you like jazz or pop, electronic or some traditional Turkish entertainment. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Saturday or Tuesday night, Istanbul doesn’t sleep and neither should you. And I bet after all the dancing, laughing and enjoying you will be hungry. Again. What about Kumpir, a traditional fast food snack of baked potato with yummy toppings like olives, pickles, tabouleh etc. (make sure you ask them not to mash the potato with cheese and butter and be aware that they also offer non-vegan toppings). Another wonderful option is Cigköfte (pronounced chi-kofta), originally (fully raw) meatballs with raw bulgur and raw meat, but because of health regulations the meat is replaced by mashed potato. You can have them straight up or wrapped in a tortilla. Both the Kumpir and Cigköfte are satisfying, starch-based and vegan. Yummy!
With Love From the Happy Earth Kitchen