Vegan Travel: The Sights and Tastes of Bethlehem and Jericho, Israel

My fourth day in Israel began with a delectable apple crumble for breakfast. I had purchased it the prior evening at Cafe Louise (Cafe Louise) in Tel Aviv. The restaurant offers a few vegan food items on its menu at a reasonable price. They offer healthy cuisine.

As always, my tour guide from Ben Harim Tours arrived promptly at 7am for a group tour of Bethlehem and Jericho. Our first stop of the day was at the Judaean Desert “sea level” point, along the highway from Tel Aviv to Jericho.


We passed by the Inn of the Good Samaritan by the highway. It is located near the site of the inn described in the New Testament bible parable. Built in the 19th century by Christians, the site was created for Christian pilgrims to experience the bible story visually. The Good Samaritan, according to the bible, was someone who passed by a wounded man that was robbed on the road to Jericho. The Samaritan bandaged his wounds and brought him to an inn to take care of him.

After our jaunt through the desert, we arrived in the town of Jericho. We continued to drive until we reached “Tell es-Sultan”. This is where the ancient city of Jericho lies. The ancient town can also claim to be the oldest city in the world and the lowest point on earth. A beautiful fountain and its tiled pavement states likewise.


A couple of peacocks strutted by us, one spreading his gorgeous green-blue plume before our eyes.

We marched up the dirt steps to the top of the tel(“hill”). From this vantage point, we caught a splendid glimpse of the city below us, while palm trees stand tall in every direction.

Glancing to our left, we see Mount Temptation, where Christ was tempted by the devil during his 40 days fast.

A Greek Orthodox monastery clings to the side of the hill. To its right, lies the fortress of King Herod.

The frame and foundation of ancient Jericho houses on the excavated hilltop.

The ancient city walls have been uncovered as well.



Heading down the hill, additional Bronze age structures are exhibited.

We exited the tel excavation site and proceeded to Zacchaeus tree in modern Jericho. According to Scripture, the tax collector Zacchaeus climbed this sycamore tree to see Jesus when he arrived in town. Jesus noticed him in the tree and called him by name and told him that he will visit his home. This visit from Jesus had such an impact on Zacchaeus, that he decided to give half of his wealth to the poor.

Beside the tree, a vendor sells local nuts. What a nice surprise to find a vegan snack to alleviate my mid-morning hunger pangs!

We hopped on the tour bus and continued our journey towards Bethlehem. During our drive, we noticed many nomadic Bedouin tribes had erected tents and aluminum frame temporary homes scattered along the main highway in the desert.

Upon our arrival in Bethlehem, we walked through the arched entrance to our first stop.

The Church of the Shepherds contains a lustrous grotto representing the angel that appeared to the shepherds to announce the birth of Christ. A 7th century bishop visiting there, had noted the burial places of the three shepherds in the church.

The fields outside of the church are believed to be where the shepherds stood when the angel visited them.

The lower level church is where the shepherds heard the angel proclaim “Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth and good will to men” (Luke 2-14). This cave was also the shepherds’ tombs.

Our group then headed over to the Milk Grotto.

An Orthodox priest guards the chapel.

We see the corner section of the lower level where Virgin Mary is said to have nursed baby Jesus. Her milk is said to have flowed onto the cave rocks. Faithful believers take some of the rock powder and place it in their mouths, as it is thought to produce miracles.


Lunchtime had arrived for us. Our guide had arranged for us to dine at “Christmas Bells Restaurant”(Christmas Bells Restaurant) in Bethlehem. The restaurant offers a huge selection of items with their buffet. Many of the entree and side dishes were indeed vegan. The vegan-savvy waitstaff told me which items were vegan. I feasted on a delicious plate of rice, baked potatoes, carrots, string beans, eggplant salad, cabbage salad, carrot salad, and cauliflower.

After our tasty and hearty lunch, we passed by Manager Square on the way to the Church of the Nativity. Many Christian pilgrims of the Greek Orthodox, Armenian, and Roman Catholic faiths travel to the famous Manger Square for Christmas Eve celebrations and caroling.

Constantine and his mother Helena commissioned the Church of the Nativity basilica in 325AD over the site located over the cave where Jesus was born. Byzantine Emperor Justinian built a new basilica in 565AD, after Samaritan revolts had destroyed the original church by fires.The church is currently administered by the Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, and Roman Catholic churches.

The entrance leads to a huge hallway where we walk through an Orthodox chapel. We then enter the Chapel of the Manger. This is the place where it is thought that Jesus lay in the manager as an infant.

Following the Manger visit, I proceed to the Grotto of the Nativity. This underground cave beneath the basilica consecrates the site where Jesus was thought to be born. A 14-pointed silver star surrounded by silver lamps, commemorates and reveres the exact spot of his birth. The 14 points represent the 14 generations from Abraham to David, from David to Babylonian captivity, and from captivity to Jesus. As a devout Christian, I especially felt emotional and in awe at this poignant site.

Our group spent some time at a local gift shops to make some purchases and our day tour of Bethlehem had soon after concluded. During our visit to Bethlehem in Palestine, I felt really safe. Nothing I encountered or saw made me feel unsafe or that danger was “in the air”. It was a calm and happy visit. The region seemed quiet and peaceful and everyone was going about their daily business, as usual. We arrived back in Tel Aviv to go our separate ways. I was ready for something to eat, as evening had arrived. My first stop on my vegan food journey was an ice cream shop Capitolina (Jaffa Flea Market, 9 Olei Tzion) in Old Jaffa’s bustling flea market area, near my hostel. I purchased a really superb chocolate and berry ice cream in a sugar cone. The artisan shop uses fresh ingredients from nearby markets.

A safe and convenient bus ride away, I arrived at the all-vegan Anastasia Restaurant (Anastasia Restaurant) for dinner. The restaurant serves up eclectic and creative dishes in a great atmosphere. Diners may choose to eat outside on their patio, while enjoying the healthy food that the restaurant offers. My entree was a flavorful and delectable Macadamia Crepe with stir-fried vegetables and tofu.that consisted of roasted veggies and tofu in in palm and rice vinegar.

For my dessert, I selected the vegan tiramasu. This vanilla raw cake with chocolate mousse coconut cream, topped with cashews was absolutely superb!

There was just one additional vegan food item that I had to purchase at Anastasia Restaurant. I ordered a vegan chocolate croissant pastry as a take-away for my next day’s breakfast.

Upon arriving back at my hostel, I reminisced about my wonderful day of sightseeing at the incredible biblical sites in Bethlehem and Jericho. I looked forward with anticipation to the following day’s tour of Masada and the Dead Sea.

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Vegan Travel: The Sights and Vegan Food in Old Jerusalem and Tel Aviv

I began my third day in Israel with a scrumptious breakfast that I had purchased the prior night from Village Green (Village Green Restaurant). Chef Onri was kind enough to prepare the sweet and savory treats in advance, due to the fact that my day tour would start before the restaurant opened for breakfast. My delicious breakfast consisted of a carrot spelt muffin and a huge spelt pastry with spinach and homemade cheeses(cashew, almond, soy). I really enjoyed both of these! The spinach bread was accompanied by two sauces: one sweet and one spicy olive tapenade. Absolutely superb! The vegan restaurant offers some wonderful breakfast menu items such as pancakes or scrambled tofu. They also offer burgers, pizza, and quiche on their day menu; and crispy tofu, seitan fingers, and more on their evening menu. A shop within the restaurant sells jams, teas, and various other products.



Promptly at 7am, my guide arrived and then we were whisked away to the day’s tour of Old Jerusalem. The tour van first made a stop at the Mount of Olives. From a different vantage point than the prior day’s City of David tour, we saw the panoramic view of the Temple Mount, with the shiny gold Dome of the Rock glistening in the sunlight.

The tour van then proceeded to Old Jerusalem. We arrived at the Lion’s Gate, one of seven gates in the old city walls of Jerusalem, located in the east wall.

Our first stop was the Church of the Holy Sepulchre within the Christian Quarter of the Old City. This was one of the top sites that I was looking forward to visiting the most and one of my vacation highlights. The site is venerated as Calvary where Jesus was crucified. The church grounds is also thought to be the place where Christ was was buried and resurrected. The last four stations of the cross from the Via Dolorosa path, representing Jesus’ Passion are found in the building. Greek Orthodox of Jerusalem are headquartered here, although the building is controlled by several Christian denominations. During the 2nd century, Roman emperor Hadrian had a temple built here to hide the burial place of Jesus. Christian emperor Constantine, replaced the temple with a church around the year 325.

A cross lays outside the entrance, depicting Christ’s crucifixion.

Upon entering the massive church building, visitors first encounter the Stone of Anointing, where Jesus was anointed. According to tradition, this is the spot where Joseph of Arimathea prepared Jesus body for burial.

Towards the back of the ground level rotunda, a small chapel is found. Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Armenian churches maintain control over it. The two room chapel is believed to hold a portion of the stone that sealed Jesus tomb and the tomb itself.


The first stone is visible from outside the chapel entrance.

A stairway leading to Golgatha is located south of the altar. I climbed the steep stairway to the second level. Here I found the site of Jesus’ Crucifixion. The main altar belongs to the Greek Orthodox and it is there that the Rock of Calvary (the 12th Station of the Cross) is found. The rock is visible under a glass covering on both sides of the altar. Faithful visitors may kneel down under the altar, place their hand inside a hole, and touch the rock which is believed to mark the spot where the cross was raised. To the left of the altar is a statue of Virgin Mary which is believed to be the location where Jesus body was removed from the cross and given to his mother.

My tour group then exited the church after an emotional and profound biblical experience. Our guide led us through a maze of tunnels and passageways of Old Jerusalem’s Christian and Jewish Quarters. A multitude of gift shops line the streets.

We arrive on the Via Dolorosa. This “Way of Sorrows” street is thought to be the path that Jesus walked as he carried his cross on the way to his crucifixion and subsequent resurrection. Christian pilgrims honor this 600 meter route from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to Antonia Fortress. Nine Stations of the Cross mark this windy path, while five additional ones are located within the church.



As we make our way through another tunnel to the other side of Old Jerusalem, I notice the yellowish stone houses with their lovely flower covered windows and gardens.



Our group stops for a lunch break at Panoramic View Cafe(130 Aftemos Market) restaurant that our guide pre-selected. Fortunately, when he inquired about the falafel sandwich ingredients, the staff assured him that it was indeed vegan and fried in separate fryer of vegetable oil. My falafel sandwich topped with salad, in a large pita bread was really good. I washed it down with some orange juice, which is very popular in Israel. Jerusalem is quite vegan-friendly! You also get a spectacular rooftop view of the city.

From the rooftop dining area where we ate, overlooks a glorious panoramic view of Old Jerusalem.

Pillars stand among the Roman market ruins in the old city. We strolled through the Byzantine Cardo which was Jerusalem’s main road during the Roman era.

Crossing through the Zion Gates, we passed the Church of Saint James in the Armenian Quarter.



Street vendors were selling a tasty assortment of vegan-friendly dried fruits and nuts.

The old city comes alive with yellowish stone homes and shops, accented with vibrant colorful flowers in the gardens.

We arrive at the building located over the spot which is believed to have been occupied by the Room of the Last Supper. It is housed on the second level. The lower level is by tradition, thought to be King David’s tomb.

Our group entered through a side door.

The current building is thought to be built sometime between the 12th to 14th century. The “Cenacle” (Upper Room) is where Jesus ate his last Passover meal, the disciples feet were washed, Jesus appeared after his resurrection, and where the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples during Pentecost.

We then wandered down to the Church of the Dormition or “Dormition Abbey”. The original structure was a Byzantine basilica, built by the bishop of Jerusalem in the 5th century. The modern building was erected by architect Heinrich Renard of Cologne, Germany after he discovered the foundation of the war-ravished earlier church. The new foundation was laid in the year 1900. Tradition holds that the Virgin Mary died here. In Orthodoxy and Catholicism, death is referred to as “sleeping”, hence the name “Dormition”. Catholics believe that her body and soul ascended into heaven from here.

The inside of the church is gorgeous with its icons and religious symbolism.

Names of disciples are spelled out in the tiled flooring.

The crypt of the Virgin Mary lies beneath a lower level in the church.

Our day tour had completed by early evening. However, when we arrived back in Tel Aviv, my night had just begun! I decided to stroll along several of the spectacular coastal beaches, from Jaffa port up to Jerusalem Beach near central Tel Aviv.

Some sections had a wooden boardwalk, while further up the shore, visitors walked on paved pathways.


Palm trees dotted the skyline, along the way. It was a beautiful and soothing sight!

Sunset was drawing near during my journey by foot.

A few of the beaches possessed cabanas for sun-bathers to take a relaxing break.

The lengthy, white sand beaches gave vacationers a spectacular spot to frolic and enjoy the water’s refreshing touch.


Finally, the sun had set. Magnificent shades of orange and yellow rays shimmered over the waters.

After a lengthy walk along the shore, my thoughts turned to dinner. I dined at a restaurant called “Puaa” (Puaa Restaurant) near my Jaffa hostel. One of the specials that night was listed as “I’m Vegan and I like it”. This delicious plate consisted of beets, leeks, black beans, tomatoes, string beans, carrots, and squash.

Hopping on the local bus made it quite easy for me to go about town during the evenings. After dinner, I went directly to Cafe Louise (Cafe Louise) to pick up a treat for the following morning’s breakfast. My apple crumble selection would fill me up before the next day’s tour would begin.

Tel Aviv is a mecca for vegan ice cream! This evening, I headed to Leggenda (Leggenda Ice Cream) for this cool summery treat! I chose a cup of fig and lime ice cream. The lime and fig taste were superb!

I noticed yet another vegan-friendly ice cream shop in the neighborhood! Iceberg(Ben Yehuda St 108) proudly displayed a “vegan” sign on their window.

I peered inside to check out the expansive variety of vegan flavors.

It was time to call it a night and get back to my Old Jaffa Hostel. Another day of incredible sightseeing in Israel had been a both and poignant and joyful experience. My longtime dream to see and experience the biblical sites of Jerusalem had come into fruition on this day.
And Israel was continuing to please as a very vegan-friendly country. Upon arrival back to my hostel, I looked forward with anticipation to the following day’s exploration of Bethlehem and Jericho.

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Vegan Travel: Vegan Meals and Biblical Sights in the City Of David – Jerusalem

I awoke bright and early in my Old Jaffa hostel during my first full day in Israel! Since my tour guide would arrive by 7am, there was no time for me to get breakfast at a local restaurant. The seasoned traveler in me understood that it was imperative for me to pick up a breakfast meal option during the previous evening. Thus the prior evening, I had purchased a halwa pastry at vegan-friendly bakery “Piece of Cake” (Piece Of Cake Bakery). The sales staff are familiar with which items are vegan. Some vegan items are on the shelves, while others are kept in the glass display case. My halwa pastry was wonderful! The sweet treat was a nice size portion.


En route to Jerusalem, our tour guide brought us to an interesting cafe for mid-morning snacks and beverages. The Elvis Inn (Elvis Inn Cafe) is a popular tourist stop. The restaurant offers freshly made sandwiches, beverages, and snacks. The sitting area is surrounded by Elvis Presley memorabilia. I settled on a falafel and hummus sandwich with several toppings(salsa, greens, veggies) in a pita bread. The falafel and hummus were really tasty! The pita bread was amazing: much fluffier and fresher than in our own supermarkets abroad!

We arrived in Jerusalem within a couple of hours of leaving Tel Aviv and the highway restaurant snack stop. Our guide led us to the top of the Mount Of Olives to experience the panoramic view of Old Jerusalem and what a spectacular view it was! The incredible vista includes the Temple Mount of the Old City. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam have roots here. The golden Dome of the Rock is where Jesus was presented as a baby in the temple. Arab tradition states that this commemorates prophet Mohammed’s ascension into paradise. The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism where God’s presence is revealed. The first temple built by King Solomon is thought to have resided here, then demolished by the Babylonians. King Herod re-constructed the Temple. During the Second Temple period, it functioned as an economic center of the city. The Mount is significant to Christians because Jesus spent time in the Temple as a boy, spoke out against corruption of those who used it for their own monetary gain, and prophesied its destruction in the year 70. History holds that it stands between the biblical mountains Mount Moriah (where Abraham almost sacrificed his son Isaiah) and Mount Zion(where the Jebusite fortress was founded). The Jebusites had settled the city prior to the conquest of King David and thus the city was originally known as “Jebus”.

Moving on from the Mount Of Olives, our group left the tour van and proceeded to walk into the Old City Jerusalem. From a distance, we could see the Church of All Nations. The location is believed to be built over the rock where Jesus prayed in agony before he was betrayed by Judas and arrested, on the night before his crucifixion. The church, completed in 1924, is the third one erected on this site. Adjacent to the church on the foot of the Mount of Olives, is the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus went to pray with his disciples, the night before he was crucified.

The Church of the Dormition is thought by Christians to be the location where the Virgin Mary “fell asleep”. A Byzantine church built on this site was destroyed by the Persians in AD 614. The current church was constructed in the year 1910.

Our guide pointed out the Jerusalem Archaeological Park to our right. The exhibit contains a wealth of archaeological artifacts from the period of the first and second temple such as giant stones that fell from the Temple Mount during the destruction of AD 70, the original steps of the 2,000 year old gate, and the Herodian street. Even Bronze Age Canaanite structures are found in the park.

King David’s Tomb was the next stop on our agenda. His tomb is located on the first level of the building, while the Room of The Last Supper is located on the second level. David is noted for being the second king of Israel and according to Scripture, the Messiah would be descended from him. Christians, Jews, and Muslims rever David and Jesus.




Outside of the building, stands a golden statue of King David playing an instrument. He was also a distinguished warrior, poet, and musician, who composed many of the psalms.

We made our way through Old Jerusalem’s Zion Gate into the Jewish Quarter. Winding alleys and narrow streets with white stone facade homes and businesses greeted us with every step.




Lucky us! A Bar Mitzvah procession was making its way through the streets! Leading the way were the musicians.

Next, the young man celebrating his Bar Mitzvah walked under a white awning, surrounded by family and friends, some bearing desserts.

As we wandered through the streets and narrow alleyways, we noticed that many homes and businesses bear a “hamsa”symbol plaque or carving. The outstretched hand symbol signifies protection against evil.

Remains of prosperous aristocratic and priestly residences are found in the Upper City of Jerusalem. This is where we next visited. Because of its lavishness, it was named the “Herodian Quarter”.

Original stone walls, tiled floors, and intricately detailed pottery are exhibited, showing the glory of the time period’s aristocratic elegance.


Burnt fragments of the house roofs are displayed within a glass case. The timeframe is from the destruction of the Second Temple period.

Another home with clearly defined rooms comes into view at a lower level of the excavated park.

Quite a few glass cases display pottery, tools, and crafts from the Herodian Quarter period.

Upon exiting the archaeological park, we strolled by a lovely outdoor cafe in the Old City Jewish neighborhood. A Hasidic Jewish gentleman in traditional attire walks by us.

Lunch time had arrived for our tour group. Fortunately for me, the Quarter Cafe Restaurant (Quarter Cafe Restaurant) where our tour guide brought us for lunch was vegan-friendly. Diners select items from a cafeteria-style buffet. Prices are reasonable. The manager at the restaurant was very familiar with the vegan diet requirements. I feasted on falafel, homemmade Jerusalem hummus with whole chickpeas, tabouli salad, Israeli salad with tahini, carrot and sesame salad, cabbage salad, and wheat bread. A refreshing strawberry, banana, and apple juice accompanied my meal. My vegan lunch meal was really delicious! Nothing beats fresh, homemade food in its region of origin! The Jerusalem hummus version consists of whole chickpeas on top. Another plus was that the dining area overlooked a breathtaking view of the Temple Mount!

After a hearty and tasty meal, we headed to our next destination. The Wailing Wall is a small part of the western portion of the walls surrounding the Temple Mount. This western segment of the wall is the holiest site in Judaism, outside of the Temple Mount itself. King Herod The Great is believed to have built it. Jews come here to pray.

Religious Jews and tourists alike leave prayer notes in the wall crevices.

The excitement was building as we headed towards our next destination! Our group arrived at the gates of the much anticipated “City Of David” underground tour in Old Jerusalem. King David left Hebron about 3,000 years ago to arrive at Jerusalem.

Excavations have uncovered what is believed to be King David’s palace. Several rooms of various sizes were found.


What appears to be a column from his palace, has also been found during excavation.

On the hill outside, remains of period homes are visibly apparent.

To the lower right side of this two story stone home, one notices an ancient toilet.

Pomegranate trees still bear fruit here, as they did all those centuries ago.

A sign notifies us that we are about to encounter Hezekiah’s Tunnel as we progress further below ground level.

We descend down into the underground City Of David on a narrow stairway.

We encounter multiple cave rooms and tunnels. Eventually we arrive at a darkened small nook with flowing water. We have reached Gihon’s Spring! This was Jerusalem’s main water source for over 1,000 years. King Hezekiah’s 2,700 year old water tunnel was an impressive accomplishment.

We exited the massive underground city and headed back to our point of origin in Tel Aviv, as our day’s sightseeing tour had now concluded.

My day was far from done! The evening was beckoning me to explore Old Jaffa Port and then proceed to central Tel Aviv for more vegan food encounters! First up was a local juice cafe in Jaffa. “Juicy” (in the Jaffa Flea Market area) displays colorful and plentiful fruit selections. I opted for a smoothie with mango, melon, pineapples, and dates with soymilk. It was wonderful.

The Old Jaffa Flea Market is a popular activity for locals and tourists alike. Antique shops, art galleries, clothing and jewelry boutiques and cafes line several of the neighborhood streets.


On Jaffa’s main street a clock tower proudly stands, surrounded by shops and restaurants. The tower was built in the early 20th century to commemorate the silver jubilee of Ottoman Sultan Abd al-Hamid II’s reign.

I proceeded to make my way towards the oldest and most historic neighborhood of Old Jaffa, making a brief stop at the stunning beach. Speaking of Jaffa’s port location, Every child knows the bible story of “Jonah and the whale”. This one of the reasons for which Jaffa is recognized.

One of the first landmarks that presents itself in Old Jaffa is St. Peter’s Church. The towering brick facade and belfry makes this the largest and most unique structure in Jaffa. The church was built here because of Jaffa’s significance in the bible. Saint Peter raised Tabitha (one of Christ’s followers) from the dead in Jaffa. Thus the church is dedicated to him.

I encountered a labyrinth of biblical period stone walkways and alleyways before me.

Finally, I found what I was seeking in earnest; the house of Simon The Tanner! Apostle Peter was staying at Simon’s house in Jaffa and received a prophetic vision to preach to the gentiles.

I continued to meander through additional lovely stone passageways.

From an overlook vantagepoint, I gazed upon Adromeda’s right to my furthest left. Mythology claims that Andromeda was chained to a rock as a sacrifice to a sea monster, but was saved by Perseus.

Evening was turning into night as I headed back to the “newer” neighborhoods of Jaffa. The beach with its skyline yet again looked beautiful in the glow of the lit buildings.

Thanks to outstanding public transportation, it was convenient and cost-effective for me to take a city bus into central Tel Aviv for dinner. Restaurant dining for dinner meals seem to occur at a late hour in Israel. It is not uncommon to find diners eating between 10pm and midnight. Taste of life (Taste Of Life Restaurant) is a vegan restaurant offering organic, homemade, natural, low sodium meals by the Hebrew Israeli community. The meal prices are quite reasonable. Menu items include comfort foods such as pastas, veggie burgers, quiche, and stir fries.

On Thursday evening, jazz musicians perform. This evening that I visited, a gentleman was playing soft jazz on the keyboards.

My vegan dinner entree was the potato casserole with soy cheese , potatoes, and dried dill; with a small salad. I really enjoyed each flavorful bite!

A chocolate and vanilla shortbread cookie was my dessert of choice. This tasty treat satisfied my sweet tooth cravings!

Before going back to the hostel, I had to make one more stop. The staff of Village Green Restaurant(Village Green Restaurant) had kindly offered to prepare a couple of breakfast items for me, so that I would have something for to eat prior to the next day’s early morning tour pickup time. The restaurant had asked me to arrive by 10pm to pick up my pastries. The all vegan restaurant is a popular breakfast spot. I purchased a carrot muffin and savory spinach and cashew cheese pastry with two spicy sauces for my next day’s breakfast.



What an exciting first full day I had in Israel! I enjoyed my tour of the underground excavations at the City of David; Old Jerusalem’s Jewish, Muslim, and Armenian Quarters, the Christian biblical sites, the Wailing Wall, and my time exploring Old Jaffa. Israeli’s fairly recent declaration of vegan-friendliness was definitely living up to its reputation! I called it a night and waited in eager anticipation for the following day’s tour of Christian biblical sites in Old Jerusalem and more vegan-friendly dining!

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Vegan Travel: Day#1 in Israel – Sightseeing and Vegan Food in Tel Aviv

I recently returned home from the vacation of a lifetime! I had always wanted to visit the Holyland of Israel but fears for my safety had kept me away. This year appeared to be a fantastic time to visit, since safety concerns in the country had not been in the international spotlight for quite some time. So off I went to finally visit this exciting biblical destination! Much to my delight, during the past year, I had been reading that the vegan dining scene has been growing by leaps and bounds in Israel. I was eager to experience this for myself, as well.

My dinner meal on my Air France flight was a tasty black bean patty, a side of sauteed spinach, and stewed carrots. The entree was accompanied with a salad and mixed fruit. A multigrain bun was provided with vegan buttery spread. As usual, Air France knows “how to do vegan right”! The meal was really good.

The next morning, the airline provided a vegan breakfast for me. A sesame bagel, banana, and orange juice satisfied my hunger pangs.

During the connecting flight from Paris to Tel Aviv, lunch was provided. My vegan entree consisted of zucchini, cauliflower, and peppers over pilaf rice and a flatbread sandwich made of diced vegetables in an olive oil dressing. My snack was an applesauce cup. This was yet another good meal from Air France.

By early evening, I had arrived in Tel Aviv, Israel! This would be my home base for the week from which five day tours would originate. I purposely booked my hostel accommodations in Old Jaffa Port,a neighborhood of Tel Aviv. This historic port with its coastal beach, narrow cobblestone streets and ancient buildings was just the atmosphere that I was seeking. The exterior of my hostel was lovely with its intricately detailed wrought iron gates and pinkish facade. The interior of the Old Jaffa Hostel was quite charming, as well.

It was too late in the evening for touristy sightseeing, but not to late to start exploring the vegan dining scene. I set out with my food-centric itinerary in my hand and hence I went off into the sunset to find these vegan eatery gems!

My first stop of the evening was a vegan-friendly bakery called “Piece of Cake”(Piece Of Cake Bakery) in downtown Tel Aviv.

I purchased a halwa flavored pastry which would be perfect for breakfast the following morning before my 7am Jerusalem tour began. The pastry was delicious.

Next on my list was a stop at the vegan “Seeds” deli and bakery(Seeds Bakery). They offer both sweet and savory vegan treats. The owner showed me each area of the shop and described each of the items for purchase in the fridge and displaycases. This is a well-stocked bakery with a nice variety of vegan baked goods.

The baked goods run the gamut from all kinds of cakes to sweet and savory pastries.

Fancy cupcakes with sprinkles met my gaze through the door of a refrigerated unit. They looked amazing.

Cake pops, truffles, and chocolate pieces were showcased in another fridge.

On the savory side, the local bureka pastry was offered on the menu. I purchased a bureka made of spelt flour, filled with cashew cheese, and topped with sesame seeds in the pastry. It was really good.

I also purchased a slice of a chocolate “Roulatta” cake. The chocolate cake was layered with swirls of chocolate cream filling and topped with a chocolate piece. It was absolutely scrumptious and flavorful!

My final purchase at Seeds was a Krembow. The local sweet treat is basically a cookie with vanilla cream inside. The delish snack was indeed a good choice.

Israelis eat dinner late at night, thus I did likewise. After the bakery visit, I headed to a vegan restaurant for my dinner meal. HaSchwarma HaTivonit(“The Vegan Shwarma”) (The Vegan Shwarma ) is a fast food restaurant that offers Israeli, American, and Mid-Eastern food. Since shwarma is all the rage in this part of the world, I desired to try its vegan version. The signage on the building is written in Hebrew, so its important to look for the address and go inside.

My shwarma sandwich was made of seitan slices with vegan cheese topping in a pita bread. This authentic taste of Israeli food was quite good, especially with the yummy local pita bread.

After dinner, I was excited to visit one of the plentiful vegan-friendly ice cream shops in Tel Aviv. Fortunately, “Gala Gelateria” (Gala Gelateria) was located closeby, on the same street at Seeds Bakery and The Vegan Shwarma restaurant. The vegan-friendly gelateria offers several vegan flavors, including some unique ones.


I opted for one of the unique flavors:lotus. This soy-based ice cream flavor was delicious!

My first night in Israel had come to an end. The quaint old port of Jaffa will definitely be a location to explore further during the week. The Tel Aviv food scene was indeed living up to it’s online reputation of being a vegan haven. It was time now to get some sleep, in order to be alert and energized for the following day’s sightseeing in Jerusalem’s underground City Of David and more vegan dining!

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Unique Attractions and Vegan Ice Cream Across New England!

The six northeasternmost states of the USA are known collectively as “New England”. This region that I call “home”, offers scenic beauty during every season. Because the earliest settlers in the country inhabited the area, historic residences and museums abound here as well.

Fortunately, more and more places across the New England states are offering vegan ice cream options nowadays! My experience devouring incredible vegan ice cream varieties in this region is worthy of sharing, so that other vegan travelers will enjoy it as well!

In addition, I would like to share some noteworthy sightseeing options in the region. I have written in the past regarding the typical sightseeing that a tourist in New England seeks: the stunning coast with its lighthouses, the idyllic lakes, and the majestic mountain ranges. This time, I would like to mention some of the region’s “unique gems” or ‘hidden treasures” that travelers would enjoy visiting.

Maine is by far, the largest of the six New England states. The town of Freeport is home to a little known attraction called the “Desert of Maine”. An ancient glacier arrived in the state 11,000 years ago and left sand and mineral deposits, forming this small desert, surrounded by a pine forest. Tours are offered today explaining its history.


Further up the highway, in the central Maine region, is the city of Augusta. A special site there is the “Old Fort Western”. This Revolutionary War fort is the oldest surviving fort in the United States. Visitors are invited to climb the watch tower and see the soldier’s quarters.

Speaking of “unique” and “noteworthy” places in Maine, I found a special ice cream shop in the town of Brunswick. Gelato Fiasco(Gelato Fiasco) is a gelato shop that offers several flavors of vegan sorbetto. The sorbetto actually tastes like gelato. I opted for the four flavor combo dish of strawberry, chocolate, mango, and banana. I absolutely enjoyed the gourmet-like sorbettos! The price is reasonable. Another location is found in the city of Portland.

While visiting a city where no vegan-friendly ice cream shops can be found, sometimes vegan restaurants may offer a couple of flavors on their dessert menu. Indeed in the city of Portland, the vegan restaurant “Little Lad’s” (Little Lad’s Vegan Cafe) included a cherry pie topped with vanilla vegan ice cream. My dessert was great.

Likewise at vegan-friendly Silly’s restaurant (Silly’s Restaurant) in Portland, where diners may choose a vegan ice cream sundae or a pastry drizzled with chocolate sauce and a side of vegan ice cream. This dessert was awesome.

New Hampshire:
Adjacent to Maine, in the state of New Hampshire, more “hidden gems” are found, in its picturesque outdoor allure and in wonderful vegan ice cream!

Each June, the small town of Sugar Hill celebrates the “Lupine Festival”. These slender purple flowers are found in the fields across the Franconia Notch region. While many travelers are well aware of the breath-taking landscape of the Franconia region, this “hidden gem” of Sugar Hill’s lupine fields are worth a visit as well! Craft vendors display their goods in tents throughout the festival grounds.

I was absolutely thrilled when I discovered the vegan ice cream shop “Rock Salt Creamery”(Rock Salt Creamery) in the small town of Sanborton, just south of the Franconia Notch/White Mountain region! They serve up ice cream bars and pints of hard ice cream.

One freezer contained pints of hard ice cream flavors.

A freezer display case contained bins of the vegan ice bars offered for that day.

The owner put together a display tray of the various ice cream bar flavors, so that I may see them up close without the wrappers. What a colorful and lovely display it was! Each yummy flavor caught my eye and peeked the interest of my taste buds! Raspberry, maple nut, chocolate, strawberry, and more tempting flavors provided many options for vegans to savor.

I selected the strawberry cream ice cream bar(made with cashew milk) dipped in chocolate and topped with pecans. It was so delicious!

My second purchase was a pint of the vegan peppermint stick ice cream. Each and every spoonful was decadently flavorful! Visitors to New Hampshire have got to try the yummy vegan ice cream here!


Another visit to the state brought me to the Lakes region. Lucky for us vegans, Sunapee Harbor has a market in town that includes vegan sorbet on its menu. Marzelli’s Deli ( Marzelli’s Deli) offers a strawberry sorbet that is vegan. I enjoyed the refreshing taste on a hot summer evening.


Vermont provides such stunning vistas with its Green Mountains and forested terrain. However, one attraction that may escape many visitors is its quarry in the small town of Dorset. The quarry is the oldest one in the United States. Shimmery waters reflect off the brilliant green tree leaves surrounding it. It presents an opportunity for many a weary tourist to take a refreshing swim or to simply walk along its perimeter and enjoy the views.

Ben and Jerry’s(Ben and Jerry’s) ice cream headquarters in the city of Burlington, offers a sorbet that is vegan. My raspberry sorbet was a tasty treat for the day.

Those visiting the state of Massachusetts are aware of Boston’s historic tourist attractions. I offer up a suggestion to take a drive to the neighboring town of Concord. The town is home to many accomplished authors of yesteryear. Tourists may visit the homes of Louisa May Alcott, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Nathaniel Hawthorne.

The Alcott’s Orchard House gives a glimpse into her life and writings. Travelers can see the desk where she wrote her novel “Little Women”.

Quite a few ice cream shops in Massachusetts offer the gamut of vegan ice cream, sorbet, and frozen yogurt. The northern town of Gloucester is a scenic coastal getaway in the northeastern tip of the state. Bishco’s Cafe(Bishco’s Cafe) in the downtown area has a homemade, soy-based frozen yogurt on its menu. The owner makes it himself and will mix it with fruit upon request. I opted for the strawberry flavor. It tasted really yummy! They serve large portions at a good price.

Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts has a couple of options for vegans. The J.P. Licks ice cream shop (J.P. Lick’s Ice Cream ) offers usually two flavors of soy or coconut milk ice creams per week. I enjoyed their coconut almond lace flavor in a vegan sugar cone.

A few streets away, I strolled into Lizzy’s Ice Cream(Lizzy’s Ice Cream) on Church Street for some tasty chocolate Tofutti ice cream in a cup.

Central Square in Cambridge is home to the vegan diner “Veggie Galaxy” (Veggie Galaxy). They offer vegan ice cream scoops, sundaes, and banana splits with multiple toppings. The ice cream is made by the local vegan ice cream shop “Fomu”.

I enjoyed a delicious sundae with vanilla and strawberry ice cream, chocolate sauce and vegan whipped cream.

My next sundae was drizzled with a fruit topping.

Yet another visit enticed me to eat a scrumptious banana split with all the fixings: bananas, cherries, chocolate sauce, vegan whipped cream, and a couple of ice cream flavors.

Speaking of Fomu Ice Cream shop (Fomu Ice Cream) in Boston’s Allston neighborhood, I purchased an apple cider donut flavor ice cream. It was really delicious! Their ice cream is mainly coconut milk-based, with a few flavors offered that are nut milk-based. Two of my favorites are the avocado and the mint chocolate chip ice cream. The all vegan ice cream shop offer many flavors.

Heading to Cape Cod for the day, I first made a stop in the southern Massachusetts town of Duxbury. Most travelers are familiar with Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts as the site of the first Pilgrim colony. However, a little known fact is that after Pilgrim John Alden and his wife Priscilla left Plimoth Plantation, they built a home in Duxbury. The stone foundation of this homestead is visible after its excavation.


Several hundred yards through the woods, another Alden home is located. The Alden’s son resided here. John Alden may have spent some time here while visiting his family. Some of his belongings were excavated as well. A display case shows his personal belongings such as shirt buttons, tweezers, and other items.



Making a stop in Plymouth, I visited the Jabez Howland House. He was the son of Pilgrim John Howland. It is thought that the elder Howlands lived here for a while. Several of the senior Howland’s belongings are displayed within a glass case on the first floor level of the home.


Cape Cod attracts many visitors each year for its gorgeous coast and beaches. I am thrilled that vegan ice cream is now an option in several towns, along the upper and lower Cape region!

In Falmouth, Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium (Ben and Bill’s Chocolate Emporium) offers a couple of vegan soy gelatos. I opted for the strawberry flavor. It was quite good.

My most recent find was a vegan-friendly ice cream shop in downtown Hyannis. Katie’s Ice Cream (Katie’s Ice Cream ) offers a couple of vegan ice cream flavors and vegan frozen yogurt. I selected a chocolate ice cream (coconut milk based) topped with walnuts, in a sugar cone. It was wonderful!

Further up the highway in Orleans, the Ice Cream Cafe (Ice Cream Cafe ) offers a couple vegan ice cream favors and vegan soft serve. I chose a vanilla and chocolate twist soft serve ice cream. It was incredibly delicious!

I returned again for another treat! As of summer 2015, the Ice Cream Cafe is offering vegan sundaes! I enjoyed an absolutely delicious hot fudge sundae with vegan salted caramel ice cream and toasted coconut ice cream scoops, hot fudge, strawberry sauce, and nuts.

The furthest town at the tip of Cape Cod is Provincetown. A local cafe “Grab N Go” (Grab N Go Health Bar) offers vegan soft serve ice cream. My vegan vanilla flavor was awesome.

One of the best summertime experiences in the state is a visit to the island of Nantucket, located off of the southern Massachusetts coast. Much to my delight, the extremely popular Juice Bar (The Juice Bar) started offering vegan ice cream in the past couple of years. I really enjoyed the yummy chocolate flavor topped with walnuts.

As of summer 2015, Nantucket has a new, vegan-friendly cafe called “Lemon Press” (Lemon Press Cafe). The cafe offers vegan frozen yogurt on their menu, available for the first time ever on Nantucket! I really enjoyed my delicious coconut froyo topped with strawberries and sliced almonds!

The Barker Character, Comic, and Cartoon Museum resides in Cheshire, Connecticut. This unique museum is well worth a visit. Curious tourists may peruse the museum’s collection of cartoon memorabilia from several decades or gaze at the fanciful cartoon character cutouts upon the grounds.


Manchester, Connecticut is home to Divine Treasures chocolate shop (Divine Treasures). In addition to creating chocolates, they offer vegan ice cream. My chocolate ice cream with chocolate sauce and caramel sauce was really yummy.

I returned yet another time to enjoy a vanilla and chocolate soft serve hot fudge sundae with sprinkles! Yummy!

Sweet Claude’s ice cream (Sweet Claude’s) in Cheshire offers several Tofutti favors. I chose a cup of the vegan cookies and cream ice cream. It was delicious.

I ate dinner at an award winning gourmet vegan restaurant in Branford, Connecticut one evening. G-Zen (G-Zen) is an exquisite, upscale, vegan restaurant that also offers desserts. The evening that I dined there, their menu included a wonderfully unique vegan gelato ice cream. My vegan gelato was a lacuma(Peruvian fruit) flavor with a cashew milk base, topped with fresh mint. It was absolutely delicious!

Rhode Island:
While many tourists are familiar with the striking mansions of Newport, Rhode Island; less have heard of Blithewold Mansion located in Bristol. Equally as charming, it makes for a wonderful day trip by the coast. The property is a 33 acre estate in Narragansett Bay. It became the 19th century summer home of coal mining businessman Augustus Van Wickle and his wife Bessie. The property boasts of having one of the top public gardens in the country.

The elegant mansion contains many large rooms, a patio overlooking the bay, and a gorgeous public garden.



Rhode Island is home to an all vegan ice cream truck! The “Like No Udder” truck (Like No Udder) is found throughout the streets of Providence, as well as outdoor festivals. They offer vegan soft serve. I savored the great taste of the vanilla and chocolate twist flavors topped with chocolate sprinkles, in a sugar cone.

Cool Bob’s (Cool Bob’s) is a vegan ice cream cafe within a juice bar. I enjoyed the mint flavor topped with chocolate sauce and nuts.

The vegan-friendly restaurant “Crazy Burger”(Crazy Burger) resides in the coastal town of Narragansett. They have amazing vegan sundaes with vanilla ice cream, sliced bananas, nuts, and raspberry drizzle sauce.

As you can see, a visit to New England’s “hidden gem” attractions, followed by a visit to one of the many vegan ice cream shops will make for an interesting and happy summer vacation or day trip! I hope every vegan visiting New England will enjoy these itinerary suggestions and wonderful vegan ice cream options!

No trip to New England would be complete without a visit to the region’s spectacular mountains and magnificent beaches.


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