Silvena Rowe, executive chef at Nassau Dubai, has a history with healthy vegan food. As a new columnist for Time Out Dubai’s Vegetarian View, she talks us through the differences of meat-free dining.
Vegetarian? Vegan? Or maybe just plant-based…? Despite the increasing popularity in Dubai and globally, there is still some confusion about what the terms mean. To make it more complicated, the term ‘plant-based’ is used a lot more than ‘vegan’ these days. But what is the real difference and why should you care?
Veganism is a sub-category of the vegetarian diet. While vegetarians and vegans both cut out meat, poultry and seafood, vegans go further by avoiding animal byproducts including dairy, eggs and for some, honey. ‘Plant-based’ is a lifestyle that centres around natural foods.
A plant-based diet has the potential for myriad health benefits. It can help prevent heart disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. It can also make you feel better with studies showing it can improve your mood, boost energy levels and improve your wellbeing.
Of course, not all plant-based diets are created equal. You can still eat vegan and vegetarian food that is unhealthy – from sugary desserts to salty meat-free burgers. The key is to eat a whole plant-based food diet. That means avoiding processed foods and focusing on whole, unrefined and unprocessed foods including fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, grains and pulses. By creating a lifestyle around plant-based food, you are increasing the fibre intake and nutritional value including vitamins and minerals.
If that sounds boring, it doesn’t have to be, trust me. Plant-based food can be just as delicious, indulgent as a meat-based diet. It is all about using the right ingredients and blend of flavours. Some of my favourite dishes are green salad with peanut sauce, vegan green salad with vegan feta cheese, cauliflower rice with vegetable coconut curry or a black bean burger with sweet potato fries.
It may take some more effort initially, but you can always take it slowly and add more plant-based options into your diet gradually.
For everything you need to know about being vegan in Dubai, click here