The Georgian cuisine mirrors the country’s geopolitical location. If you are familiar with Russian cooking, you will surely see the similarities between Russian and Georgian food (take the boiled dumplings or the stuffed bread as two examples). There is also a Serbian influence that can be seen especially in the use of walnuts, garlic and certain spices and herbs. Veganism isn’t a very known concept here. That’s why it might be better to ask about the ingredients instead of just asking whether a dish is vegan.
Although meat is quite anchored in the Georgian culture, it won’t be your main concern. Meat dishes are mostly quite easy to detect and hence to avoid. In more touristic areas you can often find English translations of the menu (though Russian translations are more likely). Vegetarians: That’s basically it, you can stop reading here. Vegans: Avoiding cheese and especially milk, butter and eggs can be tricky. Even vegan looking food often contains eggs, milk and butter. The following overview informs about possibly vegan food and its non vegan versions. There isn’t „the“ recipe for a certain dish. Butter and oil are apparently interchangeable and bread variations also include milk or eggs. You will simply have to ask about the ingredients and decide by yourself if you want to rely upon the answer.
An option for vegans might be the lobio stew made of kidney beans and flavoured with coriander. It is made either with butter or with oil. Usually without meat broth.
There are a lot of aubergine dishes that are actually vegan. To play save you can always ask about non-vegan ingredients (especially butter). The veggie pâtés should be vegan too. In some cases you might want to make sure there isn’t any mayonnaise inside.
You can also get vegan versions of the Khinkali/ Kinkhali dumplings. The dough optionally contains eggs. Their filling is made either of meat, cheese, potatoes or mushrooms. Whenever potatoes come in the shape of mashed potatoes, they are usually mixed with milk. Thus, mushroom Kinkhali are the most likely ones to be vegan. If the mushrooms are pre-fried, find out if butter or oil has been used.
Fruits and veggies are available on markets, supermarkets and in a lot of little shops all over the country. On the aboutfood homepage you can find an alphabetically sorted list of seasonal produce in Georgia.
You should definitely get some bread (puri). It is baked in a tone (deep oven) and usually vegan. If it has a glazed look, it was probably buttered though. Let’s skip the obviously non-vegan versions (such as Khachapuri, which is made with cheese and eggs) and get to the „I don’t really know“ breads. These include those with fillings that might seem vegan, but normally aren’t. The ones with mashed potatoes usually contain milk, those with kidney beans (lobiani) butter. If you want to stay vegan, stick to plain bread.
There are some nut candies called Churchkhela you might want to try. Don’t mistake them for sausages (seriously :)). They are made of nuts or raisins that are threaded and dipped into a mixture of grape juice and flour obtaining that sausage like shape.
Do you want to know what others write about vegan travelling in Georgia? Unfortunately, Georgia doesn’t seem to attract many vegan writers. Here is what the mindful wanderlust guys write about their vegan experience. Here you can find a listing of vegetarian food options. Missing something? Please let us know about relevant web pages and blogs we haven’t listed.
More to come…
We are working on being able to provide more information about vegan travelling in Georgia. Some useful phrases in Georgian/ Russian language could be nice. Some information about vegan wine, too. We’re working on it. If you can contribute somehow, we would be very grateful. Just let us know.