Close to one-in-ten Tel Aviv residents are either vegan or vegetarian

This would categorize 40,000 of the 450,000 city residents as heavy consumers of a leafy-green diet.

A Tel Aviv produce market. (photo credit: TEL AVIV MUNICIPALITY)
A Tel Aviv produce market.
Nearly one-in-ten Tel Aviv-Yafo residents are vegan or vegetarian, according to a new survey led by Tel Aviv Global & Tourism, released ahead of World Vegan Day on Sunday.
Within the representative sample, some 4% of White City residents define themselves as vegan, while 4.5% describe themselves as vegetarian. Some 6.6% identify as pescatarian – those who eat fish but not meat.
This would categorize 40,000 of the 450,000 city residents as heavy consumers of a leafy-green diet.
Israel's vegan-friendly culture and its plethora of plant-based cuisine options have brought the country to the forefront of discussions surrounding its vegan dominance.
The coastal Israeli city is home to around 255 veggie-friendly restaurants, serving plant-based food that oftentimes travels from farm-to-table within the same day, along with the beautiful beaches and other fine scenery throughout in the city itself and its bustling, youthful atmosphere and secular culture.
In December 2019, Tel Aviv ranked seventh on the BBC’s “Good Foods” list of the “Top 10 destinations for foodies 2020,” where the White City's vegan-friendly culture outranked the cuisine and food-centric culture of Spain, particularly the city of Cadiz, as well as the cordon bleu of Scotland’s coast, along with the country's premier shellfish, fine scotch and whiskeys.
“In recent years, Tel Aviv has upped its game to become the world’s self-designated vegan capital, with slick vegan coffee shops and local chains such as Domino’s offering animal product-free pizza,” the BBC said in its review.
And while the culture surrounding the food makes Tel Aviv a top destination on its own, the Mediterranean diet provides most of the allure of the vegan cuisine offered in Israel, not the aversion of its citizens toward meat products.
However, that disposition has led 31% of non-vegetarians to rethink their meat consumption habits, with a pledge to reduce it over the next year. Some 2.2% hope to completely eliminate meat from their diet in the near future. Almost half (48.8%) of the city's residents report eating a vegan meal at least twice a week.
Two-thirds of survey respondents noted that health concerns were the main drivers in their dietary choices; animal welfare, economic factors and taste were also reported as factors.
"The diverse food scene here, including many vegan restaurants, makes Tel Aviv-Yafo an exciting culinary experience for residents and visitors alike," said Eitan Ben-Ami, director of the Environment and Sustainability Authority at Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality. "I am delighted to see that Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality's efforts to encourage sustainable and healthy eating are being reflected across the city, benefiting both residents and the environment.
"The results of the survey demonstrate a positive and impressive trend of healthy eating among the residents of Tel Aviv-Yafo, primarily resulting from a shift towards a sustainable Mediterranean diet, as recommended by the World Health Organization," he added.
Representative of the survey, the IDF is the most vegan army in the world, with 1 out of 18 soldiers declaring themselves vegan, according to a 2018 Army Radio report. Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi is also the IDF’s first vegetarian chief of staff.