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Visiting the Vegan Restaurants in Athens, Greece

Not that long ago, vegetarianism (let alone veganism!) was an alien concept to the average Greek. Nia Vardalos’ laugh-a-minute portrayal in My Big Fat Greek Wedding of Greek immigrants in the US gives a raucous nudge to this fact in the scene when Toula brings her American boyfriend to a family feast and she announces to her mother that he’s a vegetarian. “You don’t eat meat?!” her mother asks, flabbergasted and horrified, as everyone in the room freezes with shock (and glasses break). “That’s OK, I make lamb!”

Over the last decade, and perhaps owing partly to the increasing local fascination with alternative therapies and exercise regimens like yoga, Greeks have become not only familiar with but enthusiastic about meat-free, and increasingly, vegan diets. The classic Greek diet includes a wide-ranging variety of vegetarian and vegan dishes, and anyone who has followed a religious fast such as Lent knows that foods like halva, cheese-free pies, and egg-free cakes are not only possible but a delight, as are dishes based on legumes and grains. But today, Athens and a growing variety of places around the country have caught up with major trends in healthy, nutritious, and modern vegan gastronomy, with products like meatless beef, sausage and chicken products, vegan cheeses and nut milks lining the shelves of the average supermarket, and a broad and colorful array of restaurants successfully centering its offerings on this type of cuisine. From Instagram and TikTok personalities to cooking classes led by acclaimed vegan chefs like Nikos Gaitanos and George Kassimatis (both teachers and restaurateurs in Athens), the city is beginning to embrace fvegan cuisine.

Directed by Matteo Pizzocaro

Matteo Pizzocaro is a Greek-Italian filmmaker. He studied film at Edinburgh Napier University (Screen Academy of Scotland, BA, with Honors) and in Brooklyn College, City University of New York, Film Department. He is based in Athens. He is the co-owner of Happyant Productions, focusing on documentaries and short films. He is currently working on his first feature film.

His short films have been presented at the Drama International Short Film Festival (Greece) the Athens International Film Festival (Greece), the Olympia Film Festival for children and young people (Greece), Microμ (Greece), Clit (Portugal), the International Silk Road Film Festival (Istanbul, Turkey) and the San Francisco Greek Film Festival (USA). His short films include “Just a thought”, “The Thief”, “Next Stop” and “Hi There”. He films in development include “Canary”, “Sono un Ribelle Mamma” and “Better Days are Coming”. He is currently working on his first feature film.

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