Veganism: The new diet fad

The dining area at Ol Pejeta bush camp
The dining area at Ol Pejeta bush camp

It is safe to say that if Nairobi starts a fad, the trend is bound to catch up in the country. One that is spreading right now is veganism. With the increasing number of people warming up to the vegan diet, more due to health reasons than animal compassion, it is reasonable to notice more restaurants adopting menus that suit them.

Vegan events popped up in Nairobi last year, such as Veg-bruary, Santa is Vegan and VegFest, which further helped spread the craze among city dwellers. These events created platforms that taught attendants how to make vegan meals and achieve a balanced vegan diet. Participants met, networked and discussed the way forward for vegans in Kenya.

Kenya might be learning from cities such as Dubai, which have also have noted a rising number of people who are going the vegan way. The city is a haven for residents and visitors who prefer to eat vegan, starting from restaurants and various eateries to the massive food festivals that the city hosts.

One of the most popular food festivals internationally is the Dubai Food Festival. The festival promotes the diversity, creativity and multicultural nature of Dubai’s culinary offering, from five-star gourmet dining to everyday restaurants and cafés for all budgets; international brands to a burgeoning scene of homegrown concepts influenced by traditional Emirati cuisine and the flavours of the 200 nationalities that live in Dubai.

The 2019 Dubai Food Festival is actually offering an exclusive Vegan Experience at Bleu Blanc, Renaissance Downtown Dubai. The offering will be extended to only six guests, who will get to sit at the Grill Counter and enjoy a special Vegan meal, filled with tantalising flavours and aromatic dishes by David Myers, an award-winning chef.

Apart from the festival, some of the restaurants that offer sumptuous vegan meals in Dubai are Bramble Dubai, Super Natural Kitchen, Life’n One.

BRAMBLE DUBAI

Brambles is influenced by northern Californian cuisine and includes loads of veg, cold-pressed juices and a “farm-to-table” motive. The café is located at Le Méridien Mina Seyahi and serves up fresh dishes, including plenty of vegan and gluten-free options, such as a black bean burger, açai berry power bowl and kale and grapefruit salad. Step into a cosy haven, where breakfast lasts all day and bowls are bursting with fresh herbs and veggies and kale brownies.

THE PEARL COURTYARD

The Pearl Spa at Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach has launched its very first healthy dining menu, to be served in The Pearl Courtyard, a beautiful outdoor terrace area next to the Spa, which is shaded with palm trees and melodied with the sounds of the glittering fountains nearby.

The restaurant offers a special menu called “Get the Glow”. It uses fresh and seasonal produce and aims to “change the way we view food without compromising on the flavour”. Dishes include avocado toast with moringa, pistachio, pomegranate and organic onion crispy bread and a spinach wrap, quinoa and chickpea patties.

SUPER NATURAL KITCHEN

Super Natural Kitchen is Dubai’s first and only 100 per cent raw, vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free, preservative-free café. The eatery uses organic and locally grown produce whenever possible. Interesting about the kitchen is that it is plastic-free and uses stainless steel straws. If you choose to buy a takeaway meal, they pack it in delivery containers, which are plant-based and completely compostable!

LIFE’N ONE

This hidden cafe with a Bali-like atmosphere, offers a plant-based menu that’s gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free and without refined sugars. Sample items include veggie burger, chickpea omelette, vegetable rolls, chocolate smoothie, acai bowl and cakes. The café makes their own almond milk and fresh juices daily. For Kenyans looking for new dining experiences while at the city, then this is the place to try.

Locally, vegan restaurants are an unexplored niche business idea, with less than 20 operating out of the many in Nairobi. They offer eating alternatives to the locals with a touch of both local and international cuisines. Some of these include Chowpaty, which offers Indian Vegan Cuisines, Ashiana Vegetarian Restaurant, Jagannath Restaurant, Riyas Delicious Corner, LMS Guest House Restaurant, which offers local traditional vegetables as part of their menu, Slush Limited, Ruchira and Bridges Organic Health Restaurant.

There is a popular vegan quote by Howard Lynan that says: “No animal needs to die in order for me to live. And that makes me feel good.” Perhaps one of these days you should try a vegan meal and see if it is worth the craze?