Vegan at a Tunisian wedding - My 3 favourite dishes!

Hammamet Beach and Port, Tunisia
Cactus in Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia
Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia
Medina of Nabeul, Tunisia by night

In September 2022, I had the pleasure of attending the wedding of a friend in Tunisia The wedding with all the trimmings was to last a week and I decided to extend my trip to Tunisia by a week and a half to get to know the country even better. I also decided to fly only on the outbound trip and take the ferry to Italy on the way back and spend another week and a half there to save the emissions from one flight.

I spent the first three days in Tunisia with an acquaintance of my family in Tunis. More precisely, in Carthage, the quarter of the capital where artifacts of the Carthaginians and Romans can be found and whose archaeological site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Based there, I explored both Carthage itself and the medina (= "old town") of Tunis.

I spent the rest of my stay in Tunisia in Hammamet. First, I stayed for five days at the Palm Beach Club Hammamet, an all-inclusive hotel, together with the bride and her sister, and was allowed to "help" with the preparations for the wedding. From there, we often visited the neighboring town of Nabeul, and we also went to Sousse, which is an hour and a half away, so that I could explore a few Tunisian medinas.

For the wedding week we moved into a large Airbnb together with several female wedding guests from Germany as well as from Tunisia, where we would cook, dance, swim in the pool and get ready for the respective parties together. It felt like a week-long bachelorette party - it was really awesome and I am infinitely grateful for this experience!

Medina of Tunis, Tunisia

Medina of Tunis

Carthage, Ancient Baths of Antoninus, Tunisia

Carthage, Tunis

Hannah in the Medina of Hammamet, Tunisia

Medina of Hammamet 

Vegan in Tunisia

Medina of Nabeul, Tunisia by night

Medina of Nabeul

Breakfast Buffet in Tunisia

Breakfast Buffet at Palm Beach Club Hammamet 

In general, veganism is a rather foreign word in Tunisia and unknown to most people. Meat and animal products play a major role in Tunisian cuisine and many things are cooked with beef broth or butter, which is why you should always ask about even vegan-looking dishes, such as pasta with tomato sauce.

In Tunis, however, there were a few restaurants with vegan options, that were displayed on the app Happy Cow even one fully vegan restaurant near the airport. However, since most of my three days there were spent cooking with my acquaintance and most were quite far from Carthage, I was unfortunately unable to try any of these restaurants.

In the hotel there was a huge buffet, unfortunately without vegan labeled dishes, but there were many salads for self-assembly, various vegetables, lots of fruit (which tastes much better than in Germany) and often pasta with tomato sauce. Here I was lucky being there with my friend who speaks fluent Tunisian, so she could always ask for me what ingredients were used.

Eating Out Vegan

During the two weeks in Hammamet in the evenings we often went to restaurants, to meet friends and relatives of the bride - here going to cafes is an important form of social contact.

Almost always, bread with olives, Harissa and various salads (without dressing) was served as an appetizer, which I often ate almost alone. As a main course, I could then usually choose between fries (which usually came with mayo, no matter how often I said "only ketchup") and pasta with garlic, vegetables or tomato sauce (always asked whether it is prepared without any animal ingredients). In addition there was usually Slata Tounsia (= "Tunisian salad"), which consists of finely diced cucumbers, tomatoes and occasionally onions, sometimes garnished with pieces of tuna.

Once I had pizza with olives and mushrooms without cheese and another time I ate vegetable risotto without parmesan, although I was asked twice if there really should be no parmesan, because otherwise it would not taste as good... Unfortunately, they never had hummus, although dishes with hummus were on the menu, because it was unfortunately too hot at the time to store the hummus properly (on one day we had up to 40 degrees).

Unfortunately, I can't say much about the prices, since I hardly ever paid anything myself. Tunisians are very hospitable, which is why they always insisted on inviting me when we went out to eat. In general, Tunisia is a lot cheaper than Germany. You can get a portion of French fries for three dinars, which is about one euro (the exchange rate was € 1 : 3 DNT).

Appetizer in Tunisia: Bread, Olives, Salad, Harissa
Tunisian Garlic Pasta
Vegan Pizza in Tunisia

Vegan Street Food

Tunisian Bambalouni
Cactus figs
Vegan Dark Chocolate Ice Cream in Tunisia

Outside the restaurants and cafes we often ate something in the city. A typical street food in Tunisia is fricassé. This is fried dough, which is topped like a sandwich, typically with mashed potatoes, harissa, olives, egg and tuna, but I could leave out the latter two. The seller has even noticed once, that we have talked about whether it is vegan, and has specially washed the container and the refillers again for me.

Another typical Tunisian delicacy are Bambalounis. These are fried dough rings that taste slightly salty and then are rolled in sugar. On one of my social media posts there was a huge discussion about whether they were vegan or not, but my friend and also the internet say that the dough consists only of flour, yeast, water & salt, which is also suggested by the low price of one dinar. The best and most Bambalouni stalls can be found in Sidi Bou Said, a district of Tunis, also known as the “Santorini of Tunisia”.

What’s more, there are the so-called Hindis (=“cactus figs”). The sellers remove the peel and you can eat the fruit straight away. Here one is very often pulled off as a tourist, I once paid 10 dinars for three pieces (over three euros), although locals usually pay 0.5 dinars (about 30 cents) per piece...

What surprised me was the ice cream parlour Mongelli in Hammamet. There were some vegan ice creams, including dark chocolate and sorbets like mojito, and the staff knew right away when we asked. The ice cream was also incredibly delicious – we visited it very often. 😀

Typical Tunisian Dishes Made Vegan

During our time together at the Airbnb we cooked a lot – often we had salads or pasta with typical Tunisian tomato sauce with loooots of garlic. The sauce is made with olive oil and various spices and is generally vegan. Once a typical Tunisian dish was cooked, which is called Mloukhia. It is a soup made from the dark green powder of the plant Corchorus Olitorius, which is cooked for a very long time and has its own flavour. Normally, the meat is cooked in the soup at the end, but for me a part was put on an extra plate, so it was vegan.

Vegan at a Tunisian Wedding

Tunisian Wedding Arrangement, Tables and Chairs
Stuffed Dates at Tunisian Wedding
Lunch at Tunisian Wedding: Couscous, Slata Tounsia, Slata Mechwia

A Tunisian wedding consists of several celebrations on different days, organized by the bride’s or groom’s family and usually attended by several hundred guests. Due to this large number and also because the parties start very late in the evening, there is no buffet or similar.

Instead, drinks such as smoothies and sweet snacks such as pralines, stuffed dates and Tunisian baklava are served. The latter is unfortunately made with butter but from the other treats I could eat a lot as a vegan! Most of the pralines were delivered by the patisserie Masmoudi Hammamet, whose branch in Tunis is even labeled with vegan options in the Happy Cow app.

On one day, there was a family lunch where couscous, Slata Tounsia and Slata Mechwia (grilled, crushed vegetables, preferably peppers) were served with a portion of meat that I left out.

Golden Tunisian Wedding Shoes
Pralines for Tunisian Wedding
Pralines and Baklava at Tunisian Wedding

My 3 favorite dishes from Tunisia

  1. Definitely Bambalouni, this pastry is so delicious that I always took two pieces at once.
  2. Tunisian pasta, especially the typical tiny noodles, also called “Ditalini” or “Fell”, and tomato sauce with lots of garlic
  3. Harissa - I usually don’t eat spicy, but Harissa really got to me, especially in combination with vegan Mayo (brought with me from Germany)

My summary: As a vegan in Tunisia

My trip to Tunisia was very enriching in many ways and also in terms of vegan food I was very surprised, because my friend had warned me beforehand that it was going to be very difficult. These low expectations I had because of her doubts were actually exceeded. With some questioning and trying, I found a lot of what I could eat as a vegan. niedrigen Erwartungen wurden tatsächlich übertroffen. Mit einigem Erfragen and Durchprobieren habe ich einiges gefunden, was ich essen konnte.

My diet was not really balanced during the period, but I think that was also due to the fact of the wedding, because who eats particularly well-balanced at such a celebration? Vegan cooking is definitely possible in Tunisia, because there is a variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes, cereals, seeds and nuts, to make the diet relatively balanced. However, there are substitutes if at all very few, tofu or vegetable milk I have not seen anywhere. But I think, especially in Tunis one would get along quite well and also find some shops with (small) vegan offer.

For more impressions of my trip to Tunisia please check my Instagram highlight!

Feel free to follow me on Instagram for more inspiration and travel content! @hannahsveganworld

I would be more than happy to receive feedback from you!

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Doro

    So interessant, wie unterschiedlich Kulturen sein können✨. Richtig interessanter Beitrag & ich liebe, liebe deine Bilder😍

  2. Anna

    Du hast die Eindrücke wieder richtig toll beschrieben und durch die Bilder eingefangen! ☀️

    1. Hannah

      Danke, wie lieb von dir <3