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Being Vegan in a Greek Cypriot family

Updated: Apr 19, 2020

My family, like most other Greek and Greek Cypriot families love Souvlaki. The Sunday barbecues’ central piece is a massive tray piled up with all animals, from pigs, lambs, cows and chickens. All the family fill their plates with these animals and it’s the main part of their plate, with an odd sprinkling of veg on the side or a potato or two.

This is one of the toughest parts of being a Vegan – being around people, especially family, who are not connecting to the fact that these animals on their plate are sentient, caring, docile, loving baby creatures who felt pain, and great suffering in their lives.

Greek Cypriots are very into their animal consumption with this consumption growing day by day. Lamb, pig and goat intake grows year by year. Nonetheless I have seen small glimmers of hope;

Cypriot coffee shops in the UK are stocking up on non-animal milk and are creating spaces on their shelves for vegan cakes. On my visit to Cyprus this year I wanted to check out how the supermarkets have adapted their offerings. I was surprised to find that you can easily find a large range of vegan cheese options, milks and more.

Restaurants still had a lot of work to do, with often no vegan options available at all, but you won’t go hungry as a Vegan. Fasting in Cyprus is a big part of the Greek Orthodox diary, where animals are left off the plate and therefore during these periods you’ll find plenty of Vegan options (I assume so, anyway) and staff would be familiar with such requirements and are typically accommodating to make changes to the dishes outside of these festive periods of lent.

Back to my family, and after initially telling my parents about me going Vegan, it is now normal for them to make adaptations when invited over for dinner. Initially it was very difficult for my parents to understand. They were concerned about my health, which is odd as I am by far the healthiest in my family. As I am yet to die from a protein deficiency or to suffer from any health concerns this worry seems to have been put to bed.

My mum often prepares a Vegan meal or makes simply adaptation to several her specialities. Not surprisingly these options go down well at the table. There has also been more talk about other members of the family reducing their animal intake.

This is hugely positive, and I can only hope that such changes are being seen on a much bigger scale around a growing number of Greek Cypriot family gatherings in the UK, Cyprus and Greece. In fact, for the sake of our health, the environment and of course the animals, hopefully an intake of animals and their produce is on the fall all around the world.


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