Top vegan substitutes to make Veganuary 2023 easy in the UAE

These are the best alternative dairy, meat and dessert products available in supermarkets around the Emirates

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Year after year, eating healthier is on everyone’s resolution list.

And, with Veganuary in full swing, where people follow a vegan diet throughout January, now is the perfect time to switch to a plant-based diet.

Many follow a vegan diet for health, environmental or animal rights reasons.

Making the change to go meat and dairy-free is easier than ever, with many household staples, including canned goods, fruit and vegetables, wraps, pulses and beans commonly found in supermarkets.

As for vegan-friendly substitutes for items such as cheese, meat and milk, here's what you can find in UAE stores to make your Veganuary more viable.

Vegan-friendly pasta and pasta sauce

Plenty of pasta found on store shelves is egg-free and vegan-friendly. The Waitrose Organic pasta, Mr Organic vegan porcini tortellini pasta or the Panzani pasta are good options and can be accompanied by a majority of pasta sauces, if they are dairy and meat-free.

Waitrose and Spinneys have the Sacla vegan pasta sauce range that includes white sauce and bolognese. Other vegan-friendly sauces include Barilla Basilico pasta sauce with Italian tomato and basil or the Barilla Arrabbiata pasta sauce with Italian tomato and chilli peppers as well as Mr Organic Basilico sun-ripened tomato and basil sauce.

At speciality store Biorganic, which has a branch in Times Square Centre in Dubai, you'll find Mr Organic ragus with seitan or tofu for added protein.

Vegan 'meat' and chicken substitutes

When it comes to meat and chicken substitutes, the UAE has many of the best-known plant-based brands such as Beyond Meat, Future Farm, Moving Mountains, Impossible Foods, The Meatless Farm Co and Nabati. These are accessible Spinneys, Waitrose, Choithrams, Lulu Hypermarket, Geant and Carrefour. Prices may vary from store to store.

Popular plant-based products include Nabati chicken nuggets, Future Farm meatballs, Linda McCartney's vegetarian sausages, the Beyond Burger and Plant Pioneers' mince.

There has been a lot of investment globally into the plant-based meat market over the past few years, with many opting to carry on eating the products after trying them. And, when it comes to cooking, there are plenty of perks. For example, the cooking time of plant-based meats is shorter, as there is no need to worry about raw or undercooked food — in fact, it is paramount to not overcook it so it stays succulent.

More natural meat substitutes in a vegan diet include tofu, tempeh and seitan, all of which are also widely available in the UAE. Biona seitan pieces are stocked by Kibsons, for example, while Waitrose has a range of marinated tempeh bites by Better Nature, which take five minutes to cook and enhance any salad, sandwich or stew.

Vegan cheese and milk substitutes

You don't need to give up on your favourite breakfast foods, while even vegan cheeses have come a long way since the early days.

Cereals and oats can be eaten with plant-based milk, with options such as almond, soya, coconut, oat, rice, pea, macadamia and cashew among those available. Popular brands available in the UAE include Alpro, Koita, Oatly, Rude Health and Ecomil.

For buttering your toast or crumpet, plant-based spreads from Nuttelex or Flora are good options.

Fancy a yoghurt? Alpro’s soya-based range has a variety of flavours, from original to raspberry. There are also all sorts of coconut-based options on the shelves, including locally produced Coco Yogo.

As for the cheese, most stores stock Violife products, which include cheddar, mozzarella, gouda and feta substitutes, sold sliced, in blocks or grated. More popular among vegans are products from Sheese, which have a convincing flavour and mouthfeel whether served cold or melted.

Another good option is Nurishh, which can be found in Waitrose. The sunflower seed-derived cream cheese spread is a particularly healthy choice.

Vegan desserts

A vegan diet doesn't have to mean no treats. In fact, the proliferation of plant-based desserts on the shelves has been astounding. Think vegan ice cream flavours by Ben & Jerry's, Halo Top (which is also low-calorie) and Booja Booja (which uses minimal and natural ingredients). Waitrose also stocks vegan Magnums, in original and almond flavours.

You will find a luxury waffle mix from JM Posner's Dessert Parlour range at Choithrams, while Coco Yogo, known for its yoghurts, also makes plant-based cheesecakes and bite-sized treats. Kibsons stocks The Bridge Bio's tasty soya and oat-based dessert cups in vanilla and cacao flavours, which are organic and the main ingredient is natural water.

Ultimately, in the UAE, diners are fortunate to have plenty of variety when it comes to food, but switching diets can be overwhelming. So, if you are wondering how you will be able to keep track of everything, simply try adding any of these substitutes to your grocery list for a seamless transition and a successful Veganuary.

Once you have all your ingredients bought and your fridge stocked, head to www.veganuary.com for recipes, tips and inspiration.

Updated: January 04, 2023, 7:47 AM
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