Being Vegan: Veganism is taking over the world

Veganism is rapidly spreading around the world. It’s promoted by celebrities, but critics say it’s an untenable choice. Is it really? We decided to find out how you can switch to a vegan lifestyle, talk about the difficulties, health benefits and goals of veganism in reducing carbon emissions.

“Veganism” has been among the popular lifestyle words for the last few decades. Veganism has been gaining popularity among celebrities for quite some time, and yes, it is better than vegetarianism in terms of health benefits. However, associations with this term are still the most modern. “Vegan” sounds like a modern “trick” – but in the East people have been living this way for centuries, especially in the subcontinent, and only in the West did veganism become popular a few decades ago.

However, misconceptions about veganism are very common. First, many people do not distinguish it from vegetarianism. Veganism is an advanced form of vegetarianism that excludes meat, eggs, milk and all dairy products, as well as any prepared food containing any animal or dairy products. In addition to food, real vegans also have an aversion to things of animal origin, such as leather and fur.

To learn more about veganism, we interviewed local vegans and experts in the UAE. Many of them came to veganism recently in search of health and a more sustainable lifestyle. We discovered an amazing thing: veganism is not only good for health. Being a vegan is very easy!

Vegans in the UAE.

Dubai-based South African native Alison Andrews runs and co-hosts the 607-member Raw Vegan group. Her website includes information on how to get started on your journey to veganism, vegan and raw food recipes, information on nutritional supplements, weight loss, and a free e-book on becoming a raw vegan. She became a vegetarian in 1999, fifteen years ago, and began going vegan in 2005. “It was a gradual transition to vegan that started in the second half of 2005,” says Alison.

Alison, as a vegan practitioner and instructor, is dedicated to helping people transition to veganism. “I launched the Loving it Raw website in 2009; Free information on the site is used by people around the world, it helps them understand: hey, I can do it! Anyone can drink a smoothie or juice or make a salad, but sometimes when you hear about veganism and raw food, it scares you away, you think “out there” is scary. In fact, switching to a plant-based diet is very simple and affordable,” she says.

The team behind another popular local website,, prefers to remain anonymous, but they have the same goal: to make life easier for vegans in Dubai through tips and useful information. “In fact, we have been omnivores all our lives. Vegetarianism is unusual for us, not to mention veganism. That all changed when we decided to become vegetarian for ethical reasons three years ago. Back then, we didn’t even know what the word ‘vegan’ meant,” says a Dubai Vegan Guide spokesperson in an email.

 “Veganism has awakened in us the attitude of “We can!”. When people start thinking about veganism (or even vegetarianism), the first thing they think is “I can’t give up meat, milk and eggs.” We thought so too. Looking back now, we wish we knew then how easy it was. The fear of giving up meat, milk and eggs was greatly inflated.”

Kersty Cullen, blogger at House of Vegan, says she went from vegetarian to vegan in 2011. “I came across a video on the internet called MeatVideo that showed all the horrors of the dairy industry. I realized that I could no longer drink milk or eat eggs. I had no idea that this was how things were going. It’s a pity that since birth I didn’t have the knowledge, lifestyle and education that I have now, says Kersti. “A lot of people don’t realize what’s going on in the dairy industry.”

Benefits of veganism.

Lina Al Abbas, a practicing vegan, founder of Dubai Vegans and CEO and Founder of Organic Glow Beauty Lounge, the UAE’s first eco-friendly and organic beauty salon, says veganism has been clinically proven to provide enormous health benefits. “In addition to the health benefits, veganism teaches people to be more ethical and kind to animals. When you understand what exactly you are consuming, you become a more conscious consumer,” says Lina.

“Now I have much more energy and better concentration,” Alison says. “Small problems like constipation and allergies go away. My aging has slowed down considerably. Now I’m 37, but few people think that I’m over 25. As for my view of the world, I have much more empathy, I feel happier. I have always been an optimist, but now the positivity is overflowing.”

“I feel so calm and at peace inside and out. As soon as I became a vegan, I felt a strong connection with the world, with other people and with myself,” says Kersti.

Difficulties for vegans in the UAE.

Members of the Dubai Vegan Team say that when they first moved to Dubai, they were frustrated by the lack of opportunities for veganism. They had to surf the internet for hours to piece together information about vegan restaurants, vegan food stores, cosmetics, and so on. They decided to change it.

About five months ago they launched a website and created a Facebook page where they collect all the information they can find about veganism in Dubai. For example, there you can find a list of restaurants with vegan dishes, sorted by cuisines of different countries. There is also a section on tips in restaurants. On the Facebook page, the albums are sorted by supermarkets and the vegan products they offer.

However, there is another approach. “Being a vegan is easy everywhere,” says Lina. — The Emirates is no exception, we are lucky to live in a country with great cultural diversity, including the cuisine and culture of India, Lebanon, Thailand, Japan, etc. Six years of being a vegan has taught me what menu items I can order, and if in doubt, just ask!”

Alison says that for those who are not yet accustomed, it may seem difficult. She says that almost any restaurant has a large selection of vegan dishes, but often you have to make changes to the dishes (“Can you add butter here? Is this without cheese?”). Nearly all restaurants are accommodating, and Thai, Japanese, and Lebanese restaurants tend to have a lot of vegan options that don’t need to be changed.

The Dubai Vegan Guide believes that Indian and Arabic cuisines are very suitable for vegans in terms of food choices. “Being a vegan, you can have a feast in an Indian or Arabic restaurant, because there is a very large selection of vegan dishes. Japanese and Chinese cuisines also have quite a few vegan options. Tofu can be substituted for meat in most dishes. Vegan sushi is also very tasty because nori gives it a fishy taste,” says the team.

Another thing that makes going vegan in Dubai easy is the abundance of vegan products in supermarkets such as tofu, artificial milk (soy, almond, quinoa milk), vegan burgers, etc.

“Attitudes towards vegans are very different. In many restaurants, waiters don’t know what “vegan” means. Therefore, we have to clarify: “We are vegetarians, plus we do not eat eggs and dairy products.” As for the circle of friends and acquaintances, some people are interested and want to know more. Others are being rude and trying to prove that what you are doing is funny,” says Dubai Vegan Guide.

Common prejudices that vegans face are “you can’t give up meat and be healthy”, “well, you can eat fish?”, “you can’t get protein from anywhere”, or “vegans only eat salads”.

“Many people think that vegan food is very easy and healthy. But it can be prepared in a very unhealthy way. For example, baked potatoes or fries are vegan options,” adds the Dubai Vegan Guide.

Going vegan.

“Veganism is a way of life that should not be seen as “giving up food,” Lina says. “The key is experimenting with different dishes, ingredients, herbs and spices to create nutritious vegan meals. When I became a vegan, I learned more about food and began to eat more varied.”

“In our opinion, the main advice is to do everything gradually,” say the Dubai Vegan Guide. – Don’t push yourself. It is very important. Try one vegan dish first: many people have never tried vegan dishes (most of them contain meat or are just vegetarian) – and go from there. Maybe then you can eat vegan food twice a week and gradually build up the pace. The great news is that just about anything can be vegan, from ribs and burgers to carrot cake.”

Many don’t know this, but any dessert can be made vegan and you won’t even notice the difference in taste. Vegan butter, soy milk, and flaxseed gel can replace butter, milk, and eggs. If you like meaty texture and flavor, try tofu, seitan, and tempeh. When cooked properly, they have a meaty texture and take on the flavor of other ingredients and spices.

 “When you go vegan, your taste also changes, so you may not crave old dishes, and new ingredients like tofu, legumes, nuts, herbs, etc. will help create new flavors,” says Lina.

Protein deficiency is often used as an argument against veganism, but there are many protein-rich vegan foods: legumes (lentils, beans), nuts (walnuts, almonds), seeds (pumpkin seeds), cereals (quinoa), and meat substitutes (tofu, tempeh, seitan). A balanced vegan diet provides the body with more than enough protein.

“Plant protein sources contain healthy fiber and complex carbohydrates. Animal products are usually high in cholesterol and fat. Eating large amounts of animal protein can lead to endometrial, pancreatic, and prostate cancer; By replacing animal protein with vegetable protein, you can improve your health while enjoying a wide variety of delicious foods,” says Kersti.

“Going vegan is a decision of the mind and heart,” Alison says. If you want to go vegan just for health reasons, that’s great, but then there’s always the temptation to “cheat” a little. But either way, it’s far better for health and the planet than no change. Check out these amazing documentaries: “Earthlings” and “Vegucated”. If you’re unsure about the health benefits of veganism, check out Forks Over Knives, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, and Eating.

Mary Paulos




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