Welcome to our new series on vegan cuisine in Israel! These articles are brought to you by members of ISRAEL21c’s student Digital Ambassadors Program (click here to see how you can apply for the paid internship, too).

To kick off this exciting new series, we spoke with Aviv Shalem, the manager of public relations at Café Anastasia in Tel Aviv, conveniently located on the corner of Dizengoff and Frishman.

The “café vibe with restaurant quality food” is perfect for a relaxing and refreshing treat after a hot, humid day at the beach, which is just a 10-minute walk away.

Aviv Shalem (“Asis”), public relations manager for Tel Aviv vegan restaurant Anastasia. Photo by Or Kaplan

Shalem, who goes by the nickname “Asis,” has been with the restaurant for four years. The owners, Roi Ezer and Tamar Ayalon, opened Anastasia five years ago after seeing the pain that animals endure daily in factory farms, slaughterhouses and henhouses. They felt it was their “way to protest for animal rights. Animals do not have a voice for themselves, so we have to be their voice.”

The name “Anastasia” comes from the book by Vladimir Megré about nature and the beauty in the world. Ezer thought it would be a great name for a vegan restaurant. “It’s a connection with nature, the nature of people and compassion.”

Anastasia owners Tamar Ayalon and Roi Ezer. Photo by Tomer Appelbaum

Asis has been vegan for almost 10 years after having a spiritual awakening while traveling in New Zealand, and became fully raw vegan in only one month!

Asis explained that the café’s menu is accommodating of customers with specific dietary restrictions, such as gluten free, raw vegan and fruitarian. Anastasia, is “channeling how to live the best way on this planet.”

Chef Shira Gadot cooks in a creative way, choosing fresh ingredients of the highest quality. Everything is “cooked in a very delicate way, with no refined sugars,” Asis added.

Chef Shira Gadot of Anastasia, Tel Aviv. Photo by Or Kaplan

Asis loves Tel Aviv because the city encompasses different activist movements. “One of the biggest vegan festivals in the world is here,” Asis told us after we asked about the difference between veganism in Tel Aviv compared to the rest of Israel.

With veganism being such a hot topic and focal point in Tel Aviv now, most of the customers who come into Anastasia are tourists, and many of them are not even vegan.

Asis has several favorite menu items including the smoothie bowls topped with the house-made granola and fresh fruit.

Smoothie bowls at Anastasia in Tel Aviv. Photo by Or Kaplan

Asis also applauded Shira, Roi and Tamar for their vegan cheeses.

An Anastasia vegan cheese platter. Photo by Or Kaplan

There is a shop that sells Anastasia’s “products and teas, and cheeses and everything!” Asis adds. The owners are now planning to open a factory that will produce all their cookies and cakes.

Anastasia’s mission is to create interesting, healthy, colorful “food that loves you back,” says Asis.

Make sure to check them out if you are ever in the center of Tel Aviv!

Click here to see the menu (scroll down for English). Although vegan food is inherently kosher, Anastasia is open on Shabbat and does not have formal kashrut supervision.

Watch for future articles in the Vegan Israel series written by our student ambassadors.