While not too surprising, the reason why this country is considered the home of the world’s healthiest foods is quite intriguing.
the The Lancet recently published a study This suggests that 1 in 5 deaths is linked to poor diet. Of all 195 countries surveyed, they found the highest number of deaths in Uzbekistan, and the lowest in Israel (the United States was 43rd).
So if you are planning a holiday based on your culinary preferences and are interested in switching to a healthier diet, you might want to take a look at Israel. Alternatively, if one is planning death by eating, there is no need to go to Uzbekistan. Just head to Las Vegas and dine at their infamous Heart Attack Grill and enjoy their free cardiac arrest.
The study published by The Lancet
So why is Israel considered the healthiest (or at least has the lowest number of deaths “connected” to poor diet)? Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the capital of Israel is dubbed the “vegan capital of the world”.
- Deaths related to poor diet: 1 in 5 or 11 million deaths in 2017
The poor diet in the study was linked to cardiovascular disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes. But in Israel there are less fatty foods that characterize fast food.
The study found a shortage in global consumption of good foods like nuts, seeds, milk and whole grains (along with overeating sugary drinks, processed meats and sodium).
But the food in Israel is varied, fresh and increasingly vegan. In the 2000s, there was a clear trend towards healthy eating in the country. There has been an emphasis on organic and whole grain foods, and many Israelis have turned back to the Mediterranean diet, widely touted for its health benefits.
Israel’s vegan craze
According to the Independent, the city has over 400 vegan and vegan-friendly kitchens online. They also state that the people of Tel Aviv “put a real emphasis on the freshness of the produce”. And that the city is in close proximity to fresh vegetables.
- Vegan restaurants in Tel Aviv: 400 (including vegan friendly)
- Number of Israeli vegans: 200,000-300,000 people (only 8 million inhabitants)
It’s very easy to give up meat in Israel and many of the best dishes are already vegetarian or vegan. The country has plenty of high-quality fruit and vegetables and a very rich culinary tradition.
Israelis (especially those in Tel Aviv) are known to be very progressive and liberal (perhaps that’s why Tel Aviv is known as one of the most LGBT-friendly destinations in the world).
In the last six years there has been an explosion in plant-based restaurants, an explosion that has transformed the tiny country of Israel into the world’s largest vegan nation per capita.
- Largest Vegan Nation: Israel (per capita)
- Tel Aviv: The vegan capital of the world
Israel has become so vegan that the Israel Ministry of Tourism even promotes Israel as a vegan nation. They say:
“With the world’s largest vegan population per capita, Israel’s restaurants and supermarkets offer plenty of options for vegetarian lovers. As the world capital of vegetarian cuisine, Tel Aviv’s restaurants and food stalls offer plenty of options for vegetarians. Vegan foods are no longer seen as marginal and have a much wider choice on supermarket shelves and restaurant menus.“
On another note that The Independent also reported that the Australian city of Melbourne is also fast becoming another global hotspot for vegans.
The diversity of Israeli cuisine
Israel is an immigration country. People have flocked to Israel from all over the world over the past 80 years, and you’ll find a wide range of influences in their cuisine.
You will see Moroccan, Middle Eastern, Russian, Turkish, Greek, Georgian and many other influences.
- diversity: The Jewish diaspora has brought incredible diversity to Israeli cuisine
This was helped by the fact that Israeli staples were already hummus and falafel (already vegan).
- Widespread in Israel: Falafel, hummus, msabbha, shakshouka, couscous
- Kosher: Israeli cuisine is kept kosher (pork, ham, and bacon are usually absent)
Tel Aviv is known as a young and exciting city – and one with great culinary cuisine. In some of their restaurants, veganism is less about imitating meat and more about new and innovative cooking methods.
The dishes found in Israel are both local and a variety of dishes brought to Israel by the Jewish diaspora from around the world. There is a mixture of Mizrahi, Sephardic and Ashkenazi cooking styles and they incorporate many foods traditionally found in other Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines.
However, if you’re a meat lover, you’ll find plenty of options for that in Israel too (although finding pork will be difficult).
Next: Some like it hot: Where to find the spiciest cuisine in the world
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