Most Egyptians eat vegetables most of the time – meat and fish are luxuries – yet the concept of vegetarianism is incomprehensible. Even if you say that you‘re vegetarian (in Arabic, ana nabati if you’re male, ana nabatiya if you’re female) people may offer you chicken or fish as a substitute. Still, vegetarians and vegans will have no trouble feeding themselves in kushari and falafel joints, and fatatris offer reasonable pickings too, even for vegans (who can try ordering a veg or mushroom fiteer without cheese). Restaurants and hotels that cater particularly to tourists often feature a few vegetarian dishes on the menu, such as omelettes, vegetable tageens, pasta and salads.

For vegans the magic word is siami, which means “for fasting”. Coptic Christians have a huge number of fast days in which they eat no meat, fish, eggs or dairy products, and siami versions of many dishes are available for their benefit. Thus a siami pizza, for example, is one without cheese.

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