How MENA is Rediscovering its Vegan Heritage

Keen followers of green-related news will have noticed an increased trend in veganism when it comes to the GCC and MENA. Gulf News highlighted the 250% increase in vegan supermarket options across the region in one November analysis, and more and more families are looking at options for their families to enjoy a more environmentally friendly and health conscious diet. This is, of course, not news to the region.

Veganism has been around longer in the MENA than perhaps in any other part of the world, and eco-friendly eaters and businesses across the Gulf are taking note and helping natives to rediscover that heritage.

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Back to basics

Some of the most popular vegan staple foods originated in the Middle-East. The Levant, in particular, saw the rise of foods including hummus, falafel, za’atar and mutabbal, all key parts of the modern vegan diet. As highlighted by The New Arab, this goes as far as classic pan-regional dishes like the Palestinian maqlooba.

Spreading this good message has been a key objective of businesses and blogs across the region, which focus on content-driven material to get the word out to a variety of audiences. By highlighting the benefits of the vegan diet and the roots it has in genuine MENA heritage and history, and promoting the benefits of vegan cooking, these blogs are having tremendous success and are doing real good for the region.

Notable bloggers

The National highlights the amazing efforts of these environmentally-minded bloggers. The Syrian Foodie in London, Bhibik Ya Neh Neh, and Shahiya all highlight vegan recipes from across the region that have a real positive impact on your own environmental footprint.

More crucially, they’re spreading the word overseas to MENA diaspora in other countries. From there, they can continue to influence their community, their family and their friends back home. This may have a serious impact in years to come.

The positives

While the populations of many MENA nations are relatively small compared to the global stage, their rate of consumption is not. In more prosperous nations like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, consumption can reach 64kg per person every year, according to marketing mag Images Retail Me. Brands like Beyond Meat, VBites, Cauldron and Tofurky have broached the mainstream appeal needed to match the meat appetite in these countries and others across the region.

With the help of those intrepid bloggers and food explorers, the disproportionate rate of meat consumption is reducing, and that will have a direct impact on the carbon economy – especially in countries like Saudi Arabia, where much of the beef consumed must be imported, putting strain on the carbon cycle. UAE-based elGrocer report an 1152% rise in vegan-based sales through 2019 to current: that’s a huge upward trend that will soon start to show in carbon terms.

For that reason, vegans and environmentalists alike have something to look forward to in the future. The range and quality of vegan goods is improving; so is the uptake, meaning that the environment will have further room to recover. With the help of businesses, advocates and bloggers, this trend will hopefully continue to surge.

About Salman Zafar

Salman Zafar is the Founder of EcoMENA, and an international consultant, advisor, ecopreneur and journalist with expertise in waste management, waste-to-energy, renewable energy, environment protection and sustainable development. His geographical areas of focus include Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe. Salman has successfully accomplished a wide range of projects in the areas of biomass energy, biogas, waste-to-energy, recycling and waste management. He has participated in numerous conferences and workshops as chairman, session chair, keynote speaker and panelist. Salman is the Editor-in-Chief of EcoMENA, and is a professional environmental writer with more than 300 popular articles to his credit. He is proactively engaged in creating mass awareness on renewable energy, waste management and environmental sustainability in different parts of the world. Salman Zafar can be reached at salman@ecomena.org or salman@bioenergyconsult.com
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