2018 promises to be another great year for vegans. Middle East is now evolving from a society that once used to rely on meat to a society that will soon go green. Earlier this year, Prince Khaled Bin Alwaleed announced plans to open nearly a dozen vegan restaurants throughout the Middle East. “By 2020 we are aiming to have a minimum of 10 restaurants/cafes. Our region occupies parts of the top ten most obese counties in the world. This is crazy and frankly a joke we have reached this level,” Prince Khaled, 38, wrote in a post on his Facebook page “I’m not saying opening 10 restaurants will solve this issue, but you better believe it’s a step in the right direction.”
Veganism is so important for Al Waleed Bin Talal and his family. Prince Al Waleed Bin Talal himself is a vegan. Prince Khaled is the son of one of the wealthiest people in the world, billionaire investor and philanthropist HRH Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. This gives a clear signal that supporters of the vegan movement in the Middle East like Israel’s Ori Shavit and Royal Family of Saudi Arabia will be the pioneers of a vegan middle east very soon.
Prince Khaled was named among the world’s top influencers toward veganism in 2017 for his investments in Matthew Kenney’s vegan lifestyle company. He took the brand international by opening the first vegan restaurant in the Middle East with Bahrain’s new Plant Cafe. Commenting on his Facebook page about the current diets of people in the region, Prince Khaled said the side effects “on states and society, economic, social, and health,” were disasters “that must be fought.”
Unlike the Levantine Cuisine which has countless vegan options, Middle East used to rely on unhealthy meat that has caused much harm to animals and humans alike. Now things are changing. Middle Eastern and Levantine Vegan food is popular across the globe. One of the most delicious vegan meal course that the whole world now relishes is Mezze. Mezze is a selection of small healthy dishes such as Babaghanoush, Hummus, Falafel, Muhammara, Tabbouleh, Fattoush, Arugula and Olives served with Pita Bread. This meal is popular in Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Syria, parts of southern Turkey and now Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iran, India and Maldives. There are so many healthy vegan options in the Middle East that meat is not even an option if one wants to live a healthy life. Some other popular vegan dishes are Kaak, Za’atar Bread, Makdous, Lentil Soup, Muhammara and Mujjaddara.
Israel itself has a huge list of vegan dishes that are now getting popular across the globe as I see it, right from fine dine bistros to street food counters. One can start with spiced cracked olives, Msabbha, Pita Bread, Couscous Salad, Tahini, Malawach with Zhug and then move to Vegan Sambusa, Sabich Salad, Hamusim and Ptitim. Things dont end here, for desserts once could choose delicious items like Ozne Haman, Ma,amoul, Hamantash along with a platter of dry fruits. Now if one considers such healthy and rich food that is available in the Middle East, who would even want to look at ugly meat products that cause cancer, diabetes and countless more diseases that are fatal in nature?
India too has a never-ending list of delicious vegan items. In the 2005-06 National Health Survey, 1.6% of the surveyed population reported never consuming animal products. Veganism was most common in the states of Gujarat (4.9%) and Maharashtra (4.0%). Unfortunately Indian vegetarians rely on milk to a great extent. This defeats the purpose of abandoning animal cruelty. All the Indians need to do is, understand how cruel milk is and think before they consume milk, alternatively look for cruelty free milk, which may cost more but is worth every cent.
Personally I feel becoming Vegan overnight is not easy. One needs to plan a vegan diet. I moved from being a non-vegetarian 24×7, almost 7 days a week to a 5-day vegan diet. It’s a matter of time till I move to a completely vegan diet.
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