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An Athens restaurant presents a vegan option to regular gyro

In a region identified for its cuisine, there’s 1 fast-foods merchandise that locals can not seem to be to get sufficient of: gyro.

Gyro consists of a heat pita stuffed with items of meat — typically pork or rooster — shaved off a vertical spit and served with tzatziki yogurt sauce, tomato, french fries, onion and other sauces.

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“It’s like the holy grail for the Greeks. It’s the No. 1 thing. The meat, the sauces — we Greeks are form of obsessed with this.”

Alexandros Alexandratos, Vegan Defeat Athens

“It’s like the holy grail for the Greeks. It is the No. 1 thing. The meat, the sauces — we Greeks are sort of obsessed with this,” said Alexandros Alexandratos, a former marine engineer whose restaurant is spinning up an unconventional model of this quintessentially Greek fast food.

At Alexandratos’ speedy-food stuff joint, Vegan Conquer Athens, in the city’s downtown place, gyro — or “place gyro,” as they call it in this article — is the most preferred menu item coming out of the kitchen. But you will not obtain any spinning stacks of meat close to.

Alexandratos’ joint is vegan and so is the gyro.

As a substitute of meat, they use mushrooms — “from Greece, of system,” Alexandratos extra.

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The cooks chop up the mushrooms into skinny slices, marinate them in a unique spice blend and stick them in the oven. Once the mushrooms are browned up and tender, they stuff them in the pita — and insert tomato, onion, greens, vegan tzatziki and mayonnaise.

“And kaboom! You have acquired the ideal vegan gyro,” Alexandratos explained.

Alexandratos opened up Vegan Conquer Athens a pair of many years back. Just after likely vegan himself, he thought: What’s Athens missing? What’s Greece lacking?

“Vegan quick-food items companies … [are places] you can go [if] you never take in meat, [and] you want to take in something healthy and rapidly and delicious.” 

Alexandros Alexandratos, Vegan Defeat Athens

“Vegan quickly-food items companies … [are places] you can go [if] you really do not try to eat meat, [and] you want to consume a thing healthier and fast and delicious,” he stated.

While most of Vegan Beat’s shoppers are travelers, some Greeks also recurrent the location.

“The gyro is [the] most delicious factor I’ve ever eaten,” said Father Chrisostomos, an Orthodox priest who serves at a church nearby and visits commonly in look for of meatless and healthier possibilities.

But in a region that loves its meat, and of program its gyro, there are also some haters. In response to a photo of the room gyro on Facebook, some have remaining disparaging remarks.

“Keep your holier than [thou] angle out of our gyro stores,” a single commenter stated.

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“Gyro devoid of meat. What’s next? Beer without having alcohol?” an additional included.

“That’s disgusting,” a 3rd poster chimed in.

Alexandratros laughs off the criticism from gyro purist trolls, but suggests he understands the hesitation.

Even though meat intake in Greece falls marginally beneath the European typical, and considerably under the American common, in accordance to the most current details from the UN Food stuff and Agriculture Business, several Greek dishes and complete vacations revolve about meat.

Like in many elements of the environment, in Greece, way too, meat intake is often glorified, even fetishized, Alexandratos explained.

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Alexandratos said he grew up with messaging encouraging him to consume meat, some of which arrived from overseas.

“In Greece, we look at a whole lot of US films. And I keep in mind [the messages I got from them] as a very little child: strong males consume meat. Breakfast: bacon … Excess fat, juicy steaks — medium to rare. So, this variety of factor also handed to us,” he reported.

But Alexandratos is also inspired to see vegetarian and vegan choices in the town and region developing. His restaurant is on a compact, but developing, record of locations providing vegan gyro.

Men and women in the country, he mentioned, are progressively realizing the environmental, overall health and other added benefits of turning vegan.

“Things are switching,” he mentioned.