Although Jordanian cooking tends to focus on meat and dairy-based dishes, both vegetarians and vegans in Jordan will find plenty of options. As well as meat, cheese, and crème, there are also many vegetable dishes and salads in Jordan. Even on street food stalls, visitors will find some vegetarian and vegan options. Though there are more vegetarian dishes in Jordan, vegans will also be able to comfortably eat here. Please see below for further information on popular vegetarian and vegan dishes in Jordan.
Vegetarian/Vegan Breakfast in Jordan
Conveniently, one of the most popular breakfast items in Jordan happens to be both vegetarian and vegan. Fuul is a hot breakfast dish that consists of beans, lemon juice, olive oil, and chili, which is all served together with a flatbread. This is a warm and filling item that is easy to find across Jordan and will give you the energy needed for a day of sightseeing.
Vegetarians will also have the option to eat a large number of pizza pastries which are freshly baked and filled with cheese and vegetables (just be sure not order a meat filled one). There is also the famous labneh, which is a rich thick yogurt paste that is usually spread onto freshly baked bread. It tastes similar to sour cream and it is also used as a side dip with savory dishes and salads. (Not suitable for vegans).
Depending on whether you wish to dine in a restaurant, or, find a quick snack, there are a number of vegetarian and vegan lunch options. Falafel is a wonderful vegan and vegetarian delicacy that is highly popular with the locals. At lunchtime, falafel is served at restaurants with a variety of meat-free salads, or, in a sandwich on a street food stall or cafe.
Most restaurants in Jordan will have some vegetarian dishes on the menu, however; for vegans, this may prove a little more difficult. Therefore, the best way to have a vegetarian and vegan dinner, and still eat like the locals, is through ordering a mezze. A mezze is a range of smaller sized plates that are shared between the tables. Diners can order as many or as little mezze dishes as they prefer. Many Jordanian mezze dishes include salads, bread, olives, tahini, and hummus, which are all vegan-friendly. Be sure to check which salads are free from cheese before ordering. Popular Jordanian salads include tabbouleh which is a flavorsome parsley salad, or, Fatoush which consists of crispy pita on a bed of salad.
Another Jordanian mezze item is stuffed vine leaves (yalanji dolma/warak enab). This delicious delicacy consists of a vine leaf that is stuffed with rice and herbs. Sometimes the vine leaves are also stuffed with meat so always check the menu carefully. Otherwise, this is a wonderful vegetarian and vegan snack or side dish.
Hummus and Tahini are often used as spreads for bread, making it vegan-friendly. Although most desserts in Jordan are vegetarian, it is difficult to find vegan sweet treats.
Vegetarian/Vegan Restaurants in Jordan
In Jordan it will be possible to find vegetarian and vegan options, especially from the mezze menu. In the larger cities like Amman, there are also a small number of cafes and restaurants that are dedicated to vegetarian cuisine, with plenty of vegan options too.
Hashem Restaurant is a famous place to eat in Amman and is entirely vegetarian. The restaurant specializes in falafel and is very popular with both locals and tourists. It is always very busy so expect to queue. A typical meal here consists of falafel, hummus, and a number of other traditional dips, salads, and pastes. The falafel is also vegan as is the hummus and some salads. Hashem also serves traditional mint and chai teas to wash it down with.
Sham El Balad Café, Amman
This charming vegetarian café boasts picturesque views of the Amman Citadel. The café is also home to art exhibitions which display work from local artists. It is a café and grocery store all in one and the produce here is fresh and organic. There are vegan options and there is also a juice bar.
Wild Jordan, Amman
The Wild Jordan Center is located on Rainbow Street and is made up of a number of restaurants, cafes and bars. Although the cafes here all have meat options, there are also vegan options available such as a quinoa burger, and a tofu brunch. The center is owned by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature and is dedicated to supporting the local community. Wild Jordan was set up to raise money to preserve eight reserves in Jordan which include Mujib Nature Reserve and Dana Biosphere, and the profits support local families from these areas.
Important Phrases when being Vegetarian/Vegan and traveling in Jordan
Although English is spoken throughout Jordan it is best to learn a few simple Arabic phrases to ensure that the waiters are aware of your requirements.
‘I’m vegetarian’ – Ana nabati (male) / Ana nabatiye (female)
As vegan is not a widely recognized concept, the phrase for vegan and vegetarian is the same but it is also possible to say ‘I do not eat the products of animals’ – ana mabakolsh el-montagaat el’ayawaaniyya.
Vegan visitors to Jordan should be aware that the Jordanian people have very little understanding of this term. Having said that, there are a number of dishes that are naturally vegan and so vegans will find something to eat in almost all restaurants and cafes in Jordan. Vegetarians will have slightly more options to choose from including cheese and other dairy-based dishes.