Many people believe vegans don’t have as much to eat in terms of variety and choice as meat-eaters or even vegetarians do. Certain-ly, there are no omelettes or porridges to look forward to in the morning, but there are some exciting alternatives.
Dareen Al Hiyari’s friends, for example, swear by her vegan pancakes. “I have non-vegan friends who say they prefer my pan-cakes to the traditional ones,” the 33-year-old Jordanian software engineer from Dubai tells GN Focus.
A quick Google search offers a host of recipes, she says.
Contrary to what one may believe, there are no extra measures or tools needed to create these dishes. It takes about the same amount of time and ingredients, if less, to create a delicious and healthy meal for that perfect everyday breakfast.
Pancakes aren’t the only thing that vegans know how to effectively replicate. They can create dishes such as scrambled tofu, a healthy replacement for the eggs that lowers bad cholesterol and even the risk of cancer.
Not only are there substitutes for everything, but there’s no need to sacrifice taste or variety. From acai bowls to traditional pancakes, nearly everything can be made vegan — and often tastier!
Holly Al Dhebaiei, 33, agrees. The Emirati living in Dubai turned vegan a few weeks ago in an attempt to align her life to holistic principles and is still coming to terms with the diet.
“It’s been difficult to get over the idea of not having eggs, especially for breakfast, but there are many other choices out there,” she says.
Many like her in the UAE and around the world are starting off on a new journey as people work to improve their diets and combat obesity, diabetes and other effects of a sedentary lifestyle.
Naturally, some of the hottest restaurants have launched vegan-friendly breakfasts.
Super Natural Kitchen at Dubai Mall’s Galeries Lafayette has been open for the past three years and has always been vegan-centric. Recently, chef Athena Matheou has expanded the menu to include many types of raw vegan food too.
The 25-year-old Brit, who lives in Dubai, says its smoothie bowls are a filling and nutritious way to kick-start the day. A dragon fruit smoothie bowl is a hit among the clients, which is easy to make as it just contains pink dragon fruit, fresh coconut water and banana.
Eat Well at the Dubai Herbal Treatment Centre is another restaurant that offers a range of vegan meals. Zenia Menon, a qualified nutritionist at the centre, says, “A vegan diet can be beneficial to keep major illnesses at bay such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and hypertension.”
Research shows that the vegan lifestyle has many health benefits. Not only do such diets nourish the body, but they reduce the possibility of cancer and bone disease.
There is a high amount of dietary fibre and nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, vitamins C and E and phytochemicals in plants, and those following plant-based diets can assure their health if they stick to some basic guidelines, says Dr Ishi Khosla, a practising clinical nutritionist, columnist and entrepreneur.
“Since vegans won’t be getting their nutrition from two of five of the food groups — dairy and lean meats or poultry — they need to up the quantities they consume from the other three [fruit, grain and vege-tables], in order to get a wholesome and healthy breakfast,” Dr Khosla says.
Further, the question of a lack of protein in a vegan diet can be answered by increasing the consumption of beans, nuts and pulses.
Vegans testify to many benefits. “Since I’ve turned vegan, I’ve never felt better. My digestion is smoother, my sleep is better, my energy levels are higher and my temper is much calmer. This isn’t just a diet for me, it’s a lifestyle,” Dareen says. “My outlook on life has changed ever since turning vegan.”
— The writer was an intern at Gulf News Commercial Publishing