In our travels to Palestine, we experienced some of the most generous, kind, and accommodating people we have ever met. As vegans, traveling anywhere, let alone abroad can be challenging and even daunting at times. We knew that Middle-Eastern cuisine was fairly vegan-friendly before our travels to Palestine, but knowing we would spend some time staying overnight in people’s homes, we were not always sure what to expect. We were also told that some folks may not understand what is meant by the term “vegan” so we made sure to spell out our dietary needs by saying things like “we don’t eat meat, fish, dairy, or eggs.”
We were amazed beyond belief, time after time, when our hosts spoiled us with vegan fare such as creamy hummus, crispy fried falafel, Arabic salad, mo’ajjanat manaeesh (za’atar Palestinian pizza), vegetable maqlobeh (upside down rice), and mujaddara (lentil and bulgur casserole). When we were staying in Aqqaba, near Jenin with our host Asma and her wonderful family, she surprised us one day with vegan pizza on homemade dough topped with corn, mushrooms, black olives, and other yummy veggies. She also made two different kinds of breadsticks stuffed with either za’atar or jelly.
The meal was accompanied by a delicious lime drink and ended with a plate of fresh fruit consisting of pears, grapes, apples, and figs.
The food, company, and gracious nature of the Palestinian people we met was unmatched by any in our experiences. People gave up their beds for us, allowed us to take showers even if there were water restrictions placed on them by Israel, and were always generous with food, drink, gifts, and laughter. We will never forget their hospitality, nor their struggle.