THESSALONIKI – When Avraam Sidiropoulos first adopted a vegan diet in 1979, it would be roughly two years before he came across another vegan in the country, a student from Sparti that he met in 1981. Forty years later, the vegan population in Greece was estimated at some 80,000 people and rising, or 0.8 pct of the country’s total population, Sidiropoulos said.
Announcing that a Vegan Festival will be held in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki on April 13-14, he noted that the vegan event held in Athens last October attracted more than 20,000 visitors. The Thessaloniki festival will be followed up by a festival in Crete during the summer, which is being held on the island for the first time.
Talking to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA), at the vegan products business that he founded in Kilkis three years ago, he noted that things had come a long way since doctors had warned him that he might die if he abstained from all food of animal origin.
“In April 2019, it will be 40 years that I have enjoyed absolute health,” Sidiropoulos said, noting that his medical exams would be the envy of a teenager. He also noted that Greeks now had the fifth-highest consumption of meat in the world, getting through 104 kilos per person a year.
Veganism in Greece was still restricted mainly to the 18-24 age group, while it was more a life stance than a diet, Sidiropoulos said: “You don’t only abstain from eating whatever is of animal origin but you also don’t wear it, you are against all exploitation and use of animals.”
Even though the figures in Greece were not even close to those in other countries with strong vegan movements, such as Israel, Poland, the UK or Germany, there was an upward trend in Greece. This has been helped by a shift in medical opinion, which now openly supported the many health benefits of a plant-based diet, according to Sidiropoulos.
This trend has led to the foundation of an increasing number of businesses catering to vegans and an increasing range of vegan foods available in supermarkets, such as his own business of handmade vegan products sold in 150 locations throughout Greece, Sidiropoulos said.