Gluten-Free Travel: Try Israel

Marketing in Jerusalem...thanks to my friend Brandon for the pic.

Traveling can be one of the most anxiety-inducing aspects of living gluten-free. Small wonder, given how hard it can be to communicate your needs to the staff at your local restaurants.

However, it doesn’t have to be stressful, and a little bit of knowledge goes a long way. It’s also true that different places are more or less likely to be celiac friendly.

One place you may want to check out? Israel.

According to the Jerusalem Post, one out of every 75 Israelis has celiac disease – so your odds of meeting waitstaff who understand your needs is fairly high. What’s more, Israel has adopted a 20ppm cutoff for the labeling of gluten-free food within the past year, so supermarkets are fairly celiac-friendly. The icing on the (gluten-free) cake is that you’ll easily find English speakers in most of the country, so you can bring your English gluten-free dining cards or even some of your disposable dining cards and be just fine.

I took a trip to Israel in the summer of 2010, and ate happily while I was there. To be fair, I was on a tour for most of the time and so I had some help navigating — but the region’s cuisine lends itself to even a solo gluten-free traveler.

To begin with, a typical Israeli hotel breakfast will have plenty of fresh vegetables, eggs, cheeses, hummus and other vegetarian spreads like baba ghanouj and tahini, fish, etc. Sure, there’ll be pita bread, but it won’t be hard to avoid.

During the day, you’ll be hard-pressed to avoid shwarma (shaved meat) or falafel. Beware that either is automatically safe – but most are. And, most cafés will be just as able to serve you a platter as a sandwich, and you’ll likely have a buffet of salads and sides to choose from to boot.

For a more in-depth look into eating in Israel, have a look at:

Have you been to Israel while gluten-free? What was your favorite meal?


3 thoughts on “Gluten-Free Travel: Try Israel”

  1. Try visiting during Pesach (Passover) for Gluten Free on a whole new level. You’ve posted about Pesach before, look for items that are non-Gebrochts (not made with matzah) and you’re pretty much good to go!

    There was also an article I read just the other day about more Israeli restaurants are starting to carry an official GF menu.

  2. I lived in Israel for 18 months, and it was very easy to find gluten-free food, even though I didn’t speak any Hebrew. I often ordered rice dishes with chopped up meat and herbs mixed in and hummus on the side.

  3. I went to Israel this summer, I don’t speak any hebrew and had alot of great meals. Tel Aviv was probably the best city for gluten-free, found gluten free falafel and pita which was awesome, I think it was called Falafel Hippo, near dizengoff street. Also, there is a strictly gluten-free store at the port. I lived in Eilat for about a month, and there is a health foods store with plenty of marked gluten-free products. Breakfast was great, fresh salmon and cream cheese omelets, as well as plenty of fresh vegetables with every meal.

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