Probably not so many people outside Crete and Greece know that the authentic Cretan diet is to a great extent vegan. It should be stressed that the Cretan dishes and ingredients falling into this category are not purpose-made to be vegan, as a lot of vegan dishes are nowadays containing a lot of processed ingredients. Cretan vegan diets is based on whole plants and does not contain any processed ingredients, such as powders and dubious oils. Cretan vegan dishes have been like this for centuries. This vegan food style emerged from what the Cretan soil provided, which is in short fantastic olives as well as fruits, vegetables and herbs. In essence everything that is plant based thrives on this amazing island and this fact has shaped Cretan diet through the ages. Cretans could just resort to their plants, add their creativity and love for food to produce an extremely diverse and healthy food culture. It is therefore not an exaggeration to say that Crete is a heaven for vegans both from the perspective of the available vegan dishes as well as from the perspective of the quality of raw vegan ingredients that grow on the island.
And of course Cretan healthy life and longevity heavily relies on vegan diet which has been proven to have great health benefits. Vegan diet is generally low in calories and is full of A, C and E vitamins, folate, potassium as well as the very important antioxidants. It results in lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels and it has been shown to protect against some forms of cancer. It certainly defends the body against cardiovascular disease, being the number one cause of death in the western world. Therefore it is not surprising that Cretans enjoy better health and a much longer lifespan than the average European.
As you will discover by reading further, the pillars of the Cretan diet, those being olive oil, tomatoes and vegetables are of course vegan elements. Follow the links provided below to explore all the main vegan elements of the Cretan diet:
- Olive oil culture
- Tomato culture
- Bread and grains
- Bitter greens
- Wild mushrooms
- Edible bulbs