Here I share with you how it was eating vegan in Dubai and whether it was an easy feat or not. From disappointing airline meals to delicious Lebanese cuisine, I cover it all. The question is, was it easy to Eat Vegan In Dubai?
This holiday differed from nearly every other I have written about on Simply Living Vegan particularly when writing about what I ate on my travels. This was the first holiday in 3 years where I have gone away without Chris or my girls and where food hasn’t been at the forefront of everybody’s minds. Let’s be real here, being vegan when in a foreign country is daunting and can bring about anxiety therefore most days are planned around where we can eat and where I want to review. Sounds riveting right? For me it’s heaven, but, for my family that isn’t how this holiday was going to go and I was okay with that. It meant I had to adapt a lot and revert back to the days of making do with what I got. After reading many blogs about Vegan food in Dubai, I was ready for the challenge.
Emirates Airline In Flight Vegan Food
Let me share with you a top tip before flying, always bring food with you. Sounds like a no brainer right, well you’d assume not when flying with an airline that provides Vegan food as an option. I had pre-empted an issue and luckily packed enough healthy snacks as well as a Pret Christmas sandwich. Much to my surprise, the Vegan option hadn’t been allocated to my seat as it has to be re-stated online 24 hours before flying. Firstly, what sort of system is that for customers with dietary requirements and secondly, how is anybody supposed to know! It was a blessing in disguise as I find aeroplane food rather disgusting all together. Having your own food with you is much more of a healthy choice and guaranteed to taste delicious.
On the flight back we took the initiative to select my meal before flying. Much to my dismay there was no longer a Vegan option but rather a Raw Vegetable meal or vegetarian selection. I opted for the Raw Vegetable meal which unfortunately only contained one or two vegan-friendly dishes. The fruit was laden in a chocolate sauce and crudites accompanied by a yoghurt dip. Thankfully I had made a peanut butter sandwich before flying and stocked up on my favourite snacks. Nevertheless, I am glad there are Vegan and dietary specific options on some long haul flights however the ‘no guarantee’ of receiving the food is something I will always be sceptical of.
Middle Eastern Cuisine
When in doubt, always rely on Middle Eastern cuisine. Dubai was in no short supply of Lebanese restaurants and I was very thankful for that. Here you can sample their delicious and creamy houmous, baba ganoush, toasted pita, fresh falafel and the incredible Fattoush salad made from romaine lettuce, pomegranate, mint, tomatoes, crispy bread and a balsamic dressing. It’s safe to say I cannot look at another bowl of hummus for a month or so due to consuming my weight in the stuff! We ate Lebanese food multiple times throughout the week as it catered for all dietary types and was simple yet flavoursome.
Our firm favourites
Al Nafoorah restaurant at the Zabeel Saray 5* Hotel
Bazerkan Lebanese Restaurant
The Cheesecake Factory
Despite the dairy laden name, this American joint catered pretty well for vegans. The dish I ordered was the Vegan Cobb salad; quinoa, chickpeas and seeds on a bed of delicious greens with the ripest avocado I’ve ever eaten. The portion was so huge I had leftovers the following day. They offered more such as the Super Antioxident salad as well as others which could easily be veganised; a Kale and Quinoa Salad without the cheese, Guacamole Salad without the cheese and even Veggie Burger without cheese and mayo! Unfortunately they didn’t offer a vegan cheesecake which I was gutted about however I doubt I would have been able to fit in another mouthful!
I am unsure on how I had never tried a fresh Acai bowl up until this holiday. Pronounced Ah-say-ee not Ac-ky, this tiny cafe sells small, medium or large bowls of the stuff with your choice of toppings. I chose a medium Acai bowl with mango and blueberries; a fruitarian’s heaven packed full of nutritious and delicious ingredients. Alongside Acai bowls they offer Smashed Avocado & Tomato on toast, a Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad as well as dairy-free smoothies and juices.
In any hot country, I am always on the look out for vegan ice cream or sorbet. The ice cream hunt did not prove successful however an Island Mango Sorbet from Menchies on Jumeriah beach hit the spot! It was self-serve therefore you choose your sorbet flavour and add toppings of fresh fruit and other vegan friendly options like granola and desiccated coconut – delicious!
Juices & Mocktails
On Jumeriah beach lay Retro Feasts, a quirky beach bar and cafe that sold delicious drinks and desserts. As alcohol wasn’t on the menu and desserts weren’t vegan-friendly, I opted for a Coco Loco Mocktail; coconut water, pineapple juice, date syrup and passionfruit puree served in a fresh coconut itself. Sweet, refreshing and moorish!
Not far from the beach and marina was Dollies Coffee, a small cafe that served food and beverages. We all chose to try the mango juice and wow, it was incredible. From the sweetness of the mango and the thickness, we believe there were 3 or 4 whole mangos blended in the juice into this magical and creamy drink. It was the best fruit juice I have ever tried!
Our local 24 hour supermarket was great for vegan food. Despite being rather pricey they had a fantastic array of dairy-free milks, raw snacks, soya yoghurts, gluten-free cereals and even my all time favourite hummus crisps. The fresh hummus and tinned beans were the staple on holiday in a wrap with fresh salad leaves. The Carre Four at the marina had more to offer with a selection of fresh vegan food such as vegan cheese, quinoa burgers as well as dairy-free desserts. I sourced the Cocoa Libre vegan chocolate set as an evening treat alongside small cartons of chocolate and ordinary rice milk – delicious.
Was Dubai A Vegan Friendly City?
I would give Dubai a 6/10 for being vegan friendly. Despite there being a multitude of options in supermarkets, I only ate at one restaurant that served dishes which were clearly labelled Vegan. Prior to embarking on the trip, from researching and reading blogs, I did feel as though there would be vegan and clean eating places on every corner. But, as Dubai is so vast and the malls and restaurant are scattered all over the city, they were difficult to locate and therefore felt non-existent. Nonetheless, if like me you love Middle Eastern cuisine, fruit juices and sorbets, you’ll have a blast!
Have you been to Dubai? If so, what was your experience like?