How meat-first restaurants in the UAE are adapting to green trends

Butchers and steakhouses on sustainability, quality over quantity, and vegetarian menus

Mushroom steak on Carna by Dario Cecchini's vegetarian menu. Photo: Jure Ursic Photography
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In a private tasting room at Carna by Dario Cecchini, chef Claudio Cardoso is cooking up a storm.

As the Dubai restaurant's name suggests, Carna is a steakhouse; the tasting room itself is adorned with exquisite cuts of meat. However, the demonstration Cardoso is focused on isn’t for a steak or burger, but rather a vegan tartare: perfectly seasoned chopped tomatoes and watermelon on a sweet and tangy bread topping, akin to a bruschetta.

To hear a steak chef talk about all things plant-based ― from “ugly vegetables” to local farms ― while being surrounded by meaty cuts, is unusual. And yet, it’s perfectly in line with global trends that have been changing the way we think about and eat food.

The spotlight is firmly trained on plant-based ingredients and health-promoting recipes. In January 2022, more than 600,000 people signed up for Veganuary, while in the UK, one in four Britons actively cut down on animal products during the pandemic, according to a report