As many other eastern countries, in Turkey meat have his king place in cooking behaviors and Turkish dishes so it is not easy to eat in Istanbul if you are a vegetarian. You have to choose carefully your foods. Be clear when asking if there is meet in the meals or not because most of them recognize this as only a question about red meat, not chicken or fish meat.
Don’t be scary about the first sentences, I can make you sure that you will not starve if you can eat cheese. There are a lot of salad and ‘’meze’’ types made with cheese.
Anyway, there are a lot of option what to eat in Istanbul if you are a vegetarian.
Stuffed grapevines leaves
Stuffed grapevines leaves is a traditional Turkish food and his served in two ways, hot or cold. Mostly the cold version is stuffed with rice, vegetables like peppers and olive oil. The hot version of stuffed grapevines leaves is stuffed with meat, rice and olive oil.
Dürüm is a roll filled up with meat (chicken or red meat) and vegetables like green salad, tomatoes, peppers and onion. But in ‘mantarlı dürüm’ version instead of meat there is mushrooms.
Kumpir is a potatoes smashed and filled with different ingredients like green/black olives, different sauces. Be sure to ask for a Kumpir without Sucuk (a Turkish sausage).
Pilav means rice and you can find rice in almost every restaurant. Sometimes they use to mix red meat into rice so be sure to ask them before for rice without meat.
In conclusion, it’s not that hard to be vegetarian in Istanbul, you have only to get used and you have to know what to ask for when you go through local restaurants. So there is nothing else to say, just enjoy your stay in Istanbul.