Beyond meat

The food industry is shifting away from carnivorous diets and is seeing an inclination towards veganism



Published: Mon 31 Jan 2022, 5:21 PM

For the past few years, veganism has undoubtedly been on the rise. Based on the most recent United Nations study, the world population in 2021 is estimated at 7.9 billion. Therefore, the total number of vegans in the world was recorded at approximately 79 million by January 2021. Once considered a fringe notion, the idea of eliminating all animal products from one’s diet is rapidly becoming mainstream, whether for one’s health, to protect the environment, or for the sake of the animals.

Vegan for a reason

The term ‘vegan’ was coined in 1944 by Donald Watson, co-founder of ‘The Vegan Society’. Initially, the term was used to describe non-dairy vegetarians. Later, the transition from vegetarians to vegans was accelerated by the global movement —Veganuary Month.

Veganaury month was launched in the UK in January 2014 to encourage non-vegans to try out the lifestyle of vegans. Often referred to as a lifestyle and not a diet, veganism aim to reduce the suffering of animals, help the planet and improve global health by not eating any animal products, such as meat, dairy, or eggs and also by abstaining from contributing to animal exploitation such as honey production, the creation of leather goods and the industrial farming of animals.

The concept

With the rise in the health movement globally and UAE, Just Vegan launched its first vegan-only joint in April 2021, in Dubai. The concept behind the restaurant takes us back to the year 2017 when it was born in the US, with its presence in North America, Europe, UK, having the Brands Master Franchise operating in UAE for several years. Just Vegan stand as the largest vegan brand in the UAE today, with multiple outlets and team members and serving a vegan and flexitarian audience. The concept behind Just Vegan was undeniably a compassionate attempt at showing people the power of fresh produce vegan cuisine in being delicious, colourful and healthy. As an idea, veganism is growing in popularity and visibility, which has led the research up by 92 per cent worldwide.

Plant-based revolution

The demand for plant-based food is showing continuous growth. It has been a long-time coming, and now with both social and environmental concerns over meat consumption, companies are adapting to the changing times. With accessibility to ingredients, recipes and different cuisines, Just Vegan has conceptualised the idea of ‘veganising the dishes’. The brand is living up to its name and has managed to set up a theme of ‘everyone can eat differently’, without compromising on taste. Just Vegan is catering plant-based dishes to satiate the taste buds of masses and not just the vegans. To appeal to the taste of people exploring the vegan option, the brand claims to be a 100 per cent plant-based restaurant that is known for veganising meaty dishes like Shawarmas, Shish Tawouk, Pizza, Cheese and Bacon, and more.

Vegan vs Vegetarians

The main difference between vegetarians and vegans is that although vegetarians do not eat meat (including cows, chicken, and fish), they consume dairy products, eggs, or both. The vegan diet excludes all products with animal-based ingredients. It is more restrictive, so people need to think about the nutrients quotient, ensuring they meet their daily dietary requirements. Hopping the trend, the UAE has quickly taken up the vegan movement, and today eight per cent of the total population is contributing to the community of vegans. The brand has attempted to introduce a vegan version of famous local dishes on its menu. French toast, English breakfasts, double cheeseburgers, lasagne with plant-based milk béchamel, pasta, pizzas, nachos with plant-based meat, quinoa tabbouleh, and orange salad to name a few have grabbed quite a lot of attention.

Healthy and clean

Given how healthy plant-based foods can be, this is no wonder that world-class athletes and other famous names are opting to eat vegan. A recent study suggests that eating vegan can help reduce the risk for disease, as plant-based foods are rich in phytochemicals – including the powerful antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables. Researchers found that vegans had higher concentrations of antioxidant carotenoids, a higher proportion of total omega-3 fatty acids, and lower levels of saturated fatty acids than non-vegans, all of which are linked to positive health outcomes.

Breaking myths

There are so many misconceptions and stereotypes about veganism that shuffle around social media. For most people, it seems restrictive to forego all animal products as they think it is loaded with suitable nutrients and supplements. Breaking this stereotype, Just Vegan has envisioned an attempt to produce a whole load of plant-based proteins and nutrients from — oats, quinoa, beans, spinach, tofu, fruits and necessary grains. The restaurant has food outlet joints in Al Seef, Dubai Marina, JBR, Al Barsha and Expo 2020, Dubai. The upcoming expansion plan of the restaurant includes the opening of the franchises in the City Walk, Dubai; the Northern Emirates and Abu Dhabi. Recently, in collaboration with Vegan Middle East, Just Vegan opened two franchises in Business Bay and Umm Suqeim-2.

anam@khaleejtimes.com


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