A plant-based dish at COP28 venue at Dubai Expo
Savouring the vibrant flavours of this mouth-watering plant-based masterpiece at COP28 venue in Dubai. Image Credit: Anjana Kumar | Gulf News

Dubai: In the midst of the game-changing COP28 hosted by the UAE, a revelation has set this event apart from the rest – brace yourselves, because most of the culinary delights served are purely plant-based.

The announcement, dramatic and adventurous for the pallate, comes straight from the UAE's Minister of Climate Change and Environment, Mariam Almheiri, who disclosed earlier that a staggering two-thirds of the summit's gastronomic offerings will be a feast of plant-based delights.

The 1.5°C aligned menu

This groundbreaking decision wasn't a whimsical choice; it's the culmination of months of intense collaboration between YOUNGO, the powerhouse Youth and Children constituency of the UNFCCC, and Food@COP, an avant-garde initiative within YOUNGO committed to ensuring that COP events are graced with catering that aligns with climate-friendly principles.

As this bold move unfolds, COP28 is not just a eco-summit – it's a culinary adventure in its own right.

Together in support with food awareness organisation, ProVeg International, the groups sought to implement the plant based food vision at COP28.

Dubbed the “1.5°C aligned menu”, the COP28 Presidency is setting a precedent for future summits.

How it all happened

Lana Weidgenant, ProVeg campaigns and policy officer said: “YOUNGO sent a letter earlier this year. But even before, the Food@COP made requests for climate-friendly catering at COP26 and COP27.”

“Animal agriculture is responsible for around 20 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions1 and the UN’s IPCC reports how a shift to more plant-based diets can bring these emissions down,” said Weidgenant, who was Youth Vice-Chair for the UN Food Systems Summit which engaged over 100,000 young people from around the world, and she now works in UN policy with ProVeg International.

“By committing to plant-rich, affordable catering, the COP28 Presidency is showing leadership and acknowledging the impact of diets high in animal-sourced foods. It is really fantastic to see this happening,” Weidgenant added.

Eating within budget

An estimated 250,000 meals will be served to more than 60,000 visitors every day across nearly 80 outlets including food halls, grab and go stations, and food trucks across the site.

The COP 1.5°C aligned menu is designed to enable delegates to eat within a daily food budget calculated to curb global warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius – the limit agreed under the 2015 Paris Agreement.

British chef 

British chef Loui Blake, a plant-based entrepreneur, speaker and investor, is meanwhile plating up plant-based meals at the venue, the Dubai Expo.

The founder of multiple hospitality concepts, including the U.K’s largest vegan restaurant Erpingham House, Blake said his food company is taking care of most of the plant based menu onsite at the COP28.

Blake, the force behind PXB Lifestyle, is dishing out a majority of the menu for delegates and visitors. “PXB Lifestyle is not just a restaurant; it is a movement with purpose, committed to fostering a sustainable and conscientious approach to our relationship with food,” he said.

Where to find your plant-based food at COP28

PXB Cafe and Rooftop

Blake said the PXB Cafe and Rooftop is located at Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion The Café is open from 9 am to 8 pm on weekdays and 10 am to 8 pm on weekends offering a diverse menu featuring dishes like the Carrot Lox Bagel and the hearty Katsu.

Signature dishes like the Fsh & chips and the Lotus Cheesecake can be got as well.

Plant-based food truck in the 'Blue Zone'

The PXB and Partners food truck parked in the Blue Zone will offer a variety of plant based dishes. Roots & Rolls, Prunch and Wilder Than Moon are some of the more plant-based dishes to be found on site.

Plant-based Pop-ups in the Green Zone

In the heart of the Green Zone, you can find yummy dishes like the Chuck Chick, Floozie, Lena Lu and more.

Blake is also hosting cooking classes at the Green Zone for people to watch and learn. The cooking workshops will not only give participants a choice to prepare delectable plant-based dishes but also gain insights into the larger narrative of sustainability and conscious living.