Herbivorous adventures


in Daily updates, Travel

One notable feature of Istanbul are the men (invariably men) who stand in front of every stall, shop, and restaurant and try to convince passers-by that they should enter. They are always fairly energetic about it: sometimes bordering on the aggressive. That made the following exchange that much funnier:

Man outside kebab restaurant encourages us to come in, stressing how fine an eating experience we would have.

My father: “Do you have anything without meat? We’re vegetarians.” [Actually, it’s just me, but it’s kind of him to help.]

Kebab man, incredulously: “Why?,” said as though he has never heard a more mad idea.

Us: generally shrugging shoulders, rather than trying to explain.

Him: “Then, you must go to another restaurant.”

Now, they did have vegetarian items on the menu and, in my experience, not even a restaurant called the Steak and Burgers BBQ will actually tell you not to eat there, if you are vegetarian. My vegetarian friends have frequently been reassured over the phone, to later be presented with only salad and french fry options (the latter being only dubiously unrelated to the killing of animals). It makes for an odd contrast with the people who will follow you for a block, trying to sell you a hat in which you never expressed the slightest interest.

On another note, somebody on the tour that my father and I took today who learned, at lunch, that I was a vegetarian later asked to have his picture taken with me, on account of the fact. Odd experiences, in both cases.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Meghan December 6, 2006 at 7:31 pm

Just imagine trying to explain veganism to that fellow…

Mike Kushnir December 6, 2006 at 7:49 pm

Tristan Laing December 6, 2006 at 10:04 pm

that’s a wonderful story. To bad about the mini tripod. I had a similar experience, although it lasted more than a few hours, and I subjected it to likely much more abuse as I used it with my F90x exclusively (quite a heavy camera).

Sarah December 7, 2006 at 1:46 am

Hmmn, much like the French response. I look forward to my own efforts in finding vegetarian fare, when I visit Istanbul with my mother in January.

Milan December 7, 2006 at 4:28 pm


I have been eating a lot of bread and lentil soup. Partly, I do not want to hold up my fellow travellers much and, partly, the kind of places where you can manage with English and gestures tend to be the kind that serve almost exclusively meat.

Thus far, my experience wıth veggie kebobs has been very poor. One that I had in a fairly decent restaurant was just terrible and one my father ordered today was a pile of veggies topped with slabs of meat.


Unless they did not want to eat out at all, vegans should probably avoid Turkey – or at least come in anticipation of enormous problems.

Milan December 7, 2006 at 4:30 pm


I still cannot understand how it broke. It was just sitting on the floor of a mosque, so as to capture the ceiling, and, when I picked it up, one of the little rubber knobs at the base of the legs had fallen off.

I cannot force it back in, using any level of force I can muster (how did it fall out so easily?) and the tripod cannot really be used without it.

tony December 8, 2006 at 11:34 am

Perhaps he didn’t know where Vegetaria was, and was afraid his ignorance might prove embarrassing?

Perhaps he thought Vegetarians were a weird cult who would start trying to proselytise other diners?

As someone who had to live with a fundamentalist vegetarian daughter through her teenage years, I was not best pleased when, after she’d left home, she told us on her last visit, “I’m not a vegetarian any more!”

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