Vegan Arabic language text - audio guide by the world vegan travel

Handy Arabic Language Text & Audio Guide For Vegan Travelers to The Middle East

The Middle East is probably one of the most underrated travel destinations in the world for vegans. It’s, breathing proof of an old maxim: you don’t know until you go. In recent years the Middle East has emerged as a popular travel destination, it is home to futuristic cities, historic grand architecture, desert landscapes, and marvelous shopping destinations. 

Despite this, the majority of vegan travelers may put the Middle East at the bottom of their bucket list. And it’s obvious why.  Meat-based dishes feature prominently in middle eastern cuisine. But is that enough of a reason NOT to go?

This may surprise you but, traditional Middle Eastern cuisine is packed with hearty, wholesome, mouth-watering vegan choices, many of which you probably have not tried before.

If you are planning to visit the Middle East all you need is a little bit of research and our handy Arabic language guide for vegan travelers to the Middle East.

Vegan falafel bowl with hummus and thin pita bread

What are we talking about when we talk about the Middle East?

The Middle East is an area that includes countries spanning North Africa through Asia.  Included are the countries of, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.  If you were to travel to each of these countries, you would see many similarities, with each place providing its own personal spin on the dishes that are commonplace in the region.  This variety is due to local tastes and the specific availability of local ingredients, especially herbs and spices.  Don’t be surprised if the tabouleh you taste in Israel looks different from what you’d find in Lebanon.

Rise of the vegan trend in the Middle East

Veganism is rapidly growing around the world with raising awareness of the environmental and health benefits of a vegan lifestyle, yes, even in the Middle East! Businesses across the Middle East are taking note of this trend. Gulf News has reported on the 250% increase in vegan supermarket options across the region. International businesses and bloggers are helping local businesses to rediscover their vegan heritage. UK-based vegan meat brand Vbites and UAE-based food brand Al Islami are kicking off the “Power of Plant” initiative to serve the rising demand for plant-based meat in the Middle East.

Expo 2020 Dubai launched the first-ever Vegan Food Festival in January 2022. The concept saw over 500,000 participants and has inspired restaurants across Dubai to come up with special menus, promotions, and dishes throughout the entirely meat-free month.

If you are traveling to major cities like Dubai, Cairo, Istanbul, Jeddah, Ankara, Riyadh, etc. you will certainly find vegan or vegan-friendly restaurants.

Traditional vegan (or nearly vegan) dishes in the Middle East

The Middle East does not fall short of awesome vegan cuisine. Some dishes are a natural go-to and easily available across the region. You might be surprised how many dishes can easily be made vegan by simply omitting or swapping a few ingredients. The chef may also be happy to make you a special meal. Don’t know how to ask? We’ve got that covered for you! Keep reading.

Bowl of dolmas
Bowl of spicy potato
Bowl of lava beans topped with spices
Bowl of cooked lentils and rice topped with roasted onions

Some of the special foods popular in the Middle East that happen to be usually accidentally vegan include:


Such as pita bread or shrak (flatbread), which are served with literally every meal. 

Creamy bread spreads

Hummus (chickpea) spread, Baba Ghanoush & Moutabel (eggplant) spread, Muhammara (red bell pepper) spread, are essential parts of every meal. 


Fattoush and Tabbouleh 

Other accidently plant-based dishes

Ful Mudamas (fava beans topped with spices), falafel (deep-fried chickpeas), Manakish similar to Pizza (often served with soft cheese (ask to be omitted) or Za’atar and fresh vegetables), Mujaddara (cooked lentils and rice topped with roasted onions), Makloubeh (the vegetarian version of this amazing upside-down dish omits the meat and replaces it with plenty of veggies and rice) and Freekeh (bulgur wheat with veggies), Batata harra (spicy potatoes), Dolma / Dolmas (stuffed vine leaves), Koshari (bowl of rice, lentils, pasta, chickpeas and tomato sauce)


Baklava (pastry filled with chopped nuts, and sweetened with sugar syrup or honey (so check for honey), Meghli (floured rice pudding spiced with cinnamon, check for eggs), cezerye (a semi-gelatinous dessert made from caramelized carrots, shredded coconut, and roasted nuts), khoshaf (dried fruit & nut compote), Lokum  (also known as Turkish Delight), faloodeh (granita-like frozen dessert made with thin rice noodles, a rosewater syrup).

Baklava (pastry filled with chopped nuts, and sweetened with sugar syrup or honey
faloodeh (granita-like frozen dessert made with thin rice noodles, a rosewater syrup)
Lokum  (also known as Turkish Delight)
cezerye (a semi-gelatinous dessert made from caramelized carrots, shredded coconut, and roasted nuts)

Easy tips for eating Vegan in the Middle East

Fly with airlines that offer vegan-friendly meals in-flight

Or order a meal at least 48 hours before (request a VGML meal)

Search for vegan-friendly spots

Before leaving you can do some research on the vegan or vegan-friendly restaurants, eateries, or food joints using Happy Cow or blog posts. 

Pack your favorite snacks

You can opt for easy-to-eat, protein-packed easy-to-carry snacks.

Get accommodation with a kitchen

Cooking some of your own meals with local ingredients can give you a real authentic, unique culinary experience while traveling. And of course, you’re able to control the ingredients so you know you’re enjoying a vegan meal.

Research nearby grocery / convenient store

Know where the nearest grocery store is to replenish your vegan snack supply and stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables. It’ll save you money on eating out, too.

Familiarize yourself with common phrases in the local language

Ordering a meal in a spot with a language barrier can be hard enough, and adding explaining your dietary needs to the mix can be a real challenge.

two small penguins on the beach with the text: Learn more about our vegan tours to South Africa

Familiarize yourself with common phrases in the local language

When you are traveling to the Middle East, you don’t have to become fluent in Arabic, but learning a few phrases can be helpful. Learning a couple of useful phrases like “I’m vegan,” Does this contain meat?” “I don’t eat meat, fish, eggs, or dairy” could work like magic.

Our Arabic language guide contains general phrases, vegan phrases, and some emergency-related phrases.

This Arabic language guide is so unique, that you can utilize it in multiple ways. Either you can show them an Arabic script or you can read phonetics to communicate with natives. The cherry on top, we have asked an Arabic friend to read these phrases so you can download them onto your phone and practice these phrases. Our audio guide is recorded by a native speaker and helps to breakdown the language barrier for your next trip.

Feel free to bookmark the webpage for this and keep it in your wallet, or download PDF and print it out and have it with you at all times throughout your travels to the Middle East and all of the other countries where Standard Modern Arabic is used.

EnglishArabic scriptPhonetic
Goodbye!مع السلامةma’a alssalāma
Thank youشكراshukran
Pleaseمن فضلكmin fadhlik
How are you?كيف حالكkayfa hāluk?
I am a vegan. I do not eat meat, fish, shellfish, poultry, eggs, milk, or milk products (butter, yogurt, cheese).أنا نباتي. أنا لا آكل اللحوم أو الأسماك أو المحار أو الدواجن أو البيض أو الحليب أو منتجات الألبان (الزبدة ، الزبادي ، الجبن).‘anā nabātiy. ‘anā laa ākul alluhum ‘aw al’asmāk ‘aw almahār ‘aw aldawājin ‘aw albayd ‘aw alhaliib ‘aw muntajati al’albān (alzubda , alzabādiy , aljubn).
I eat veganأنا آكل نباتي‘anā ākulu nabātiy
Does this food contain meat, fish, shellfish, poultry, eggs, milk, or milk products?هل يحتوي هذا الطعام على لحوم أو أسماك أو محار أو دواجن أو بيض أو حليب أو منتجات ألبان؟hal yahtawiy hādhā alta’ām ‘alā luhum ‘aw ‘asmāk ‘aw mahār ‘aw dawājin ‘aw baydh ‘aw haliib ‘aw muntajāti ‘albān?
I can’t eat meat.لا أستطيع أكل اللحومlā ‘astatī’w ‘akla alluhum
Please no broth made from meat or fish.من فضلك لا مرق مصنوع من اللحوم أو الأسماك.min fadhlik lā maraq masnu’ min alluhum ‘aw al’asmak.
Porkلحم خنزيرlahmu khinziir
Chickenلحم دجاجlahmu dajāj
Beefلحم البقرlahmu albaqari
Seafoodالمأكولات البحريةAl-maʾkūlātu albaḥriyyatu
Cow’s milkحليب البقرḥalību albaqari
Tofuفول الصوياfūlu alṣṣuwyā
Soya milkحليب الصوياḥalību alsuwya
without __________بدونbiduuni
with __________معmaʿa
Instead of … with_____ can I have the ____ with______بدلاً من … مع ______ هل يمكنني الحصول على ____ معbadlan min … ma’a ______ hal yumkinunī alhusūlu alā ____ ma’a _______
Please tell me if I order something that is not vegan.رجوك أخبرني إذا طلبت شيئاً ليس نباتياً.hal yumkinuka iqtirāhu ‘ayi shay’in nabatiyin min qayimatika ‘aw yumkinu ‘an yaquma tāhīka bi’iiedadi ta’āmin nabātiyin?
No fish sauceلا صلصة سمكLā salsata samakin
I eat veganأنا آكل نباتي‘anā ākulu nabātiy
Can you check with the chef that this is vegan?هل يمكنك التحقق مع الطاهي من أن هذا نباتي؟hal yumkinuka alttahaqququ ma’a  alttāhī min ‘anna hādhā nabātiy?
Can you make this dish vegan?هل يمكنك جعل هذا الطبق نباتيا؟hal yumkinuka ja’alu hādhā alttabaqi nabātiyan?
Please fry in oil, not butter.من فضلك اقلي بالزيت وليس بالزبدة.min fadhlik iqli bialzayti walaysa bialzubda.
Thank you for accommodating me at your restaurant. I really appreciate you and the kitchen staff looking after me.شكرا لك على استيعابي في مطعمك. أنا حقا أقدر لك وطاقم المطبخ الاعتناء بي.Shukran laka alā astī’ābī fī mat’amika. ‘Anā haqqan uqaddiru laka wa tāqama almatbakhi ali’tināa bī.

Does this have any leather, silk, wool, or anything else from an animal?هل يحتوي هذا على جلد أو حرير أو صوف أو أي شيء آخر من حيوان؟hal yahtawī hādhā ‘alā jild ‘aw harir ‘aw suwf ‘aw ‘ayi shay’ akhara min hayawan?
Zero waste
No straw, please.لا قش ، من فضلك.la qisha min fadhlik.
I really don’t want a straw.أنا حقا لا  أريد القش.Anā haqqan lā urīdu alqasha.
No plastic bag!لا كيس بلاستيكي!lā kīs plāstīkī!
Please call an ambulance!من فضلك استدع سيارة إسعاف!min fadhlik astad’i sayārata ‘is’āf!
I need someone that speaks English now. It’s an emergency!أحتاج إلى شخص يتحدث الإنجليزية الآن. إنها حالة طارئة!‘ahtāju ‘ilā shakhsin yatahadathu al’iinjilīziata al’ān. ‘iinnahā hālatun tāri’atun!

Please send an ambulance with a doctor on board if possible.يرجى إرسال سيارة إسعاف على متنها طبيب إذا أمكن ذلك.yurjā ‘irsālu sayārati ‘iis’āfin ‘alā matnihā tabībun ‘ithā ‘amkana dhālika.

While Standard Modern Arabic is not always spoken or used in the written language our handy table here will tell you where Arabic is generally used

Country Official Language
Bahrain Arabic
Cyprus Greek, Turkish
Egypt Arabic
Iran Persian
IraqArabic, Kurdish
Palestine Arabic
Saudi Arabia Arabic
United Arab Emirates Arabic
Yemen Arabic

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