Israel Recap Part I: Vegan Wonderland
I met my one true love in Israel, and its name is falafel. My love affair with Israeli falafel began at lunch in a Druze village on the first day, expanded substantially in Haifa the next night, and continued to grow over the course of a week and a half. I've had good falafel in the U.S., but there was something magical about the combination of falafel and various fixin's (including "chips," tehini, hummus, pickles, seasoned onions, and delicious salads) in a pita or laffa.
I got to have vegetarian schnitzel and hummus, as I'd talked about in my previous blog post. But I was most impressed by the amount of fresh veggies and the variety of salads, particularly when we ate at hotels. In particular, a Shabbat feast at the Regency in Jerusalem was quite possibly the best meal I've ever eaten! Fresh fruit (e.g., figs) and nuts (e.g., almonds) are pretty big in Israel. I ate quite a bit of potatoes, couscous, and other grains too.
While the falafel and chips were fried, just about all the other vegan food was as healthy as could be. I had a bag of potato chips toward the end of the trip and remember thinking that it was the first time I'd eaten junk food in a week. And I think my tempeh breakfast in the U.S. today was my first time eating soy since the schnitzel on Day 1 of the trip, which is a nice change of pace from American vegan diets that sometimes rely extensively on soy-based mock meats.
Two fascinating YNet articles were posted to the VeggieJews Yahoo group while I was off e-mail. Read more about the popularity of hummus in Israel (apparently, the average Israeli consumes 22 pounds of hummus a year!) and the 50-year anniversary of Amirim, a vegetarian community in Northern Israel.