So when everyone heard that I was travelling to Thessaloniki, Greece for seven weeks to volunteer the first thing I would hear was – WHAT are you going to EAT?
With traditional greek meals consisting of souvlaki, gyros, and seafood, it seemed like a daunting task trying to find plant-based foods that I could survive on. But I knew that Greece was by the MEDITERRANEAN sea – so it was also KNOWN for its mediterranean diet – filled with grilled veggies, feta cheese and OLIVES! So I set off, knowing that I would locate a market and health food store the minute I landed.
Every week I would go to this market to pick up my veggies, spices, puffed quinoa, dried beans, raw buckwheat kernels, organic free range eggs (with the feathers still on them!), and I even experimented with a little organic goat’s cheese, German dark chocolate and wild rice! I loved how proud people from Greece were about their products – with almost everything directly from Greece – very little imports compared to Canada.
The cherries, honeydew and peaches were in season – best fruit I’ve ever tasted and available just about everywhere (even on hiking trails!).
I loved how kind the people from Greece were … always offering to help! I was living with students and let me tell you – no one knew what a cutting board and good knife was!! I was living with my Greek student host and a bunch of interns from around the world – and we all shared the set that I bought! Teaching the girls to cook beans and add flavour to their meals with a little parsley, some spices and lemon really inspired me to continue my creativity in cooking!!
Now on to the amazing restaurants ……
Everywhere I went I could at least find a greek lentil salad or grilled veggies on the menu and you knew they were using WHOLE foods and good olive oils. I loved the purity of their foods, and their attention to good spring drinking water with glass bottles on tables of every restaurant I went to.
Also loves Mama’s Tapas in the centre of town, they had great vegan and vegetarian greek entrees! Every restaurant offered SEASONAL and LOCAL foods, definitely something Canada needs to adopt! Santorini was incredible always FEEDING my soul with some of the best things to do in Greece like hiking, cliff jumping, sailing, swimming in hot springs (natural MUD facials!), ATVing and watching the sunset on top of a CASTLE!
Don’t let your love of living a holistic, healthy diet keep you from travelling and experiencing all the world has to offer. I think I opened the eyes of those from around the world about how to feel alive when you feed your soul with the colours from the Earth.
Here are the three greek things I learned about eating:
Sit and ENJOY your food.
Food is supposed to be an EVENT SHARED with friends and family, not fast and convenient while driving in your car – I saw not ONE Greek eating on the bus.
Eat WHOLE ingredients.
Processed and fast food is not nearly as embraced as in North America. All the students – even though they didn’t cook – were most likely eating their parent’s home cooked food and bringing home fruits and veggies from their family gardens. Let’s just say …. few students knew what Cheetos were.
Eat SEASONALLY and LOCALLY.
Restaurants only served what was in season, and mostly what was around them. Santorini was full of seafood, because that was what was available and sustainable. I adhered to the fruits that were season and local – they are more nutritious and delicious that way. I ditched the soft bananas and mushy apples and opted for cherries, kiwis and peaches. Also, greens were hard to keep alive in the heat – so romaine, cucumbers and tomatoes were my staples in Greece.
So enjoy all that Greece has to offer!
I will never forget the juicy cherries of Greece, or how juicy I felt in the Mediterranean heat.
Peace & Love,
Jill – Your veggie villager xx