It’s easier than expected to be a vegan in the UAE, people are well aware of trends in health and environmental issues, so healthy eating and veganism, in particular, are making headways quickly, even though the young generation complains of their parents’ resistance to their new lifestyles and adhering to a diet “with so little protein”.
The vegan movement is largely led by the large ex-pat community in the UAE, as is reflected in the great variety of foreign restaurants in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Foreign restaurants mean easy availability of cuisines that are mostly vegan friendly such as Thai and Indian.
The availability of vegan food and restaurants change drastically depending on your location. Larger cities such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi will offer a large variety of veg-friendly restaurants. The large numbers of ex-pats in these cities mean different food habits and diets, therefore more requests for vegan items.
If your journey takes you outside of the larger cities in UAE mentioned above, make sure to check out our Local Food guide. This will help you locate vegan food no matter where you are in the country. Since traditional vegan Middle-Eastern food includes a rich variety of legume-based dishes such as hummus and falafel and large varieties of mezze salads that you should be able to locate pretty easily on the go. Be sure to check out our Vegan Food tab to better know your options in traditional nonvegan local restaurants.
The UAE grows few of its own vegetables and so a majority of produce and fruits (except for dates, tomatoes, cabbage, eggplants and some varieties of squash) are imported, meaning relatively high prices. Moreover, fruits and veggies have traveled by plane or come by land from as far as Turkey. This is not the country to hope for farmers’ markets, but in general, the quality is good in spite of its high carbon footprint.
English is spoken widely in larger cities, so veganizing dishes is just a request away. But if you are venturing outside of the larger cities we highly recommend learning some Local UAE Vocabulary tab, to be able to better express your vegan needs.
Supermarkets follow the demand and carry milk alternatives, vegan burgers, and tofu on a regular basis, to find out about all the vegan snacks and foods products you should taste on your visit, be sure to check out our Vegan Snacks page for UAE.
When you put it all together, the UAE is a pretty good place for vegans.
Still have questions? Visit our UAE Forum tab to get all the answers.
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