On a Jordan tour, you’ll find a fair amount of meat, eggs, and dairy in the local cuisine. But there are also colorful salads, tasty dips, and numerous other dishes that can be made without any animal products. Here are some tips for vegetarian and vegan travel in Jordan:
Identify vegetarian and vegan Jordanian dishes
Build a list of vegetarian and vegan dishes found in Jordan so you can easily reference it when you go out to eat. The graphic on the right is downloadable; save it to your phone or print it out before your Jordan tour. Below are some examples to get you started.
Vegetarian and Vegan Jordanian Dishes
VT = vegetarian, VG = vegan:
Mujadara: lentil and rice dish (VT + VG)
Arabic salad: chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and herbs with olive oil and lemon (VT + VG)
Tabbouleh: chopped parsley, tomatoes, mint, onion, bulgur, seasoned with olive oil and lemon (VT + VG)
Hummus: blended chickpeas, tahini, and garlic drizzled with olive oil (VT + VG)
Mutabal: smoky eggplant dip made with tahini, garlic, and yogurt (VT, VG — only if made without the yogurt)
Falafel: fried chickpea patties seasoned with local spices (VT + VG)
Ful mudammas: fava beans with garlic, onion, and cumin (VT + VG)
Fatoosh: salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, peppers, parsley, and mint mixed with olive oil and lemon and topped with sumac and fried pieces of pita (VT + VG — pita is traditionally VG but double check as some bakeries do use milk)
Galayet bandora: tomato stew flavored with garlic, onions, and peppers (VT + VG if requested without lamb)
Ouzi: a rice dish made with carrots, peas, yellow raisins, almonds, and spices (VT + VG is requested without meat)
Knafeh: (VT) Palestinian dessert made of pastry and cheese, topped with syrup and crushed pistachios.
Dine in Amman’s Vegetarian and Vegan-friendly Restaurants
There are a limited number of vegetarian-only restaurants in Amman (Shams Al Balad is strictly vegetarian, for example), but others are increasingly adding easily-identifiable vegetarian and vegan options to their menus. Primal in Abdoun and Wild Jordan in Jabal Amman both have a number of vegan and vegetarian options. While the majority of restaurants in Amman do not label vegetarian and vegan dishes, most menus will have salad and mezze options. Or try a cooking class with a local chef in their home and learn about the ingredients that go into each dish before you sit down to eat.
While traveling in Jordan, you’ll likely be on the go and relying on hotels and restaurants that may or may not cater to vegetarians and vegans. Although Jordanians are known for their hospitality and will generally do what they can to accommodate you, it’s best to pack some snacks of your own just in case you end up on the road or in the desert with limited options.
Amman has several large grocery stores such as Cozmo and Carrefour as well as health food stores like Select Foods Shoppe that carry specialty items such as vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free foods. So if you forget to bring snacks, you can stock up here before you head north to Jerash or south to Petra and Wadi Rum.
When you book your Jordan tour, let the tour operator know your food preferences and restrictions so they can arrange and suggest the best options for you. If you’re traveling on your own, call hotels and restaurants ahead to ask if vegetarian and vegan dishes are possible. Many businesses in Jordan use Facebook messenger with guests, so you can try messaging them as well. Keep in mind that Jordanians typically mean red meat (lamb, goat, beef) when they refer to “meat.” So you’ll need to be clear that you can’t eat chicken or fish either when talking proteins. Join groups such as Vegans of Amman where you’ll find lots of helpful locals and suggestions.
Learn a Few Arabic Phrases for Vegetarians and Vegans
Here are some helpful Arabic phrases for vegetarians and vegans to learn before their Jordan tour:
I am vegetarian: Ana shakhs nabati (انا شخص نباتي).
I do not eat animal products (there isn’t an Arabic noun for “vegan”): Ana ma bakol muntajat haiwaniyeh (انا ماباكل منتجات حيوانية).
I do not eat meat (including chicken and fish): Ma bakol il lahoom, wala jajeh, wala hatta samak (ما باكل اللحوم ولا دجاج ولا حتى سمك).
I do not eat dairy products: Ana ma bakol mushtaqat al halib (انا ما باكل مشتقات الحليب)
Can you make this with no meat?: Binfa’a ta’amilli hi al wajbe bedoon lahme? (بنفع تعملي هاي الوجبة بدون لحمة)
Can you make this with no animal or dairy products?: Binfa’a ta’amilli hi al wajbe bedoon muntajat haiwaniyeh ou mushtaqat al halib? (بنفع تعملي هاي الوجبه بدون منتجات حيوانية أو مشتقات الحليب)
While vegetarian and vegan travel in Jordan is increasing, vegetarianism and veganism are still not all that common. You may need to repeat your requests and be patient with restaurant staff as they try to accommodate you.
Sunny is a Jordan-based writer and sustainable travel specialist. Her work appears in National Geographic, The New York Times, Lonely Planet, BBC Travel, and elsewhere. Sunny has a BA in International Studies from Middlebury College, an MA in Cultural Sustainability, certification in sustainable tourism, destination expertise in over 20 countries, and more than a decade of experience designing international programs for adventurous and conscientious travelers.
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