Photo essay: Chefs in the UAE cook up a storm for Veganuary

The annual trend is taking root in the Emirates

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Every January, restaurants across the UAE add plant-based dishes to their menus as they tap into a global trend called Veganuary.

The annual challenge, which began in 2014, is run by a UK non-profit that encourages people to follow a vegan lifestyle for the first month of the year, with an increasing number of participants each year. In 2023, 706,965 people around the world signed up to take part.

In Dubai, veganism has been a trend for a few years and many restaurants already have creative options for guests eschewing animal products. Bounty Beets at Le Meridien Mina Seyahi, for example, has created taco shells made of courgettes filled with a lentil and walnut meat.

The Strand Craft Kitchen, at Palm Views West on Palm Jumeirah, has a meatloaf made from Impossible Beef, while Drip Burger in Arjan forgoes meat substitutes in its vegan burger for a crumbed sweet potato mash and chickpea patty that's covered in homemade ketchup and tahini sauce with lettuce and tomato all piled on a dairy-free bun.

For dessert, Angel Cakes on Bluewaters Island, which is co-owned by vegan chef Alina Tutkova, has a doughnut with peanut praline that's not only dairy and egg-free, but also without sugar and gluten.

At Punjab Grill, which as outlets in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, executive chef Sandeep Ali has created a special menu that includes a particularly innovative vegan kebab, called jimikand ka seekh, made of elephant foot yam. Other highlights include a banana stem salad, masala pumpkin fried idli, tofu tikka masala and an all-spice carrot cake crumble with coconut ice cream and orange butterscotch.

"We have combined traditional Indian techniques with superfoods, offering health benefits and a departure from conventional Indian dishes," says Ali. "Join us in simplifying the enjoyment of delectable plant-based meals, transcending borders and culinary norms."

Updated: January 12, 2024, 6:01 PM