Is it really worth switching to the ‘Vegan’ diet?

08 Dec 2018
POSTED BY Alvin Thomas

Whether for reasons of health or personal and religious beliefs, taking the step towards a primarily plant-based diet is a life-changing one. Here’s what you should know.

Considering a switch over to a vegetarian or vegan diet? The benefits of a plant-based lifestyle are numerous, and its movement has quickly become a multi-billion-dollar industry worldwide, with sales of plant-based foods in the U.S. alone growing by 8.1 per cent over the past year to top US$3.1 billion (RO 1.19bn) according to Forbes Online.

From dairy alternatives and vegan cheese filling more and more supermarket shelves, to hyper-realistic mock-meat hamburgers and watermelon ‘steaks’ turning up on menus of vegan restaurants; gone are the days when the rise of vegetarianism and veganism were passed over as simply a fad.

They are ideologies that are here to stay – and their roots run deep.

Following a plant-based diet is now considered mainstream thanks to media attention, trending and celebrity endorsement. But in fact, it’s a practice that dates back centuries to India where they continue to make up an estimated 70 per cent of the world’s current vegetarian population.

In addition to reducing the environmental impact of meat production on the planet – mainly the staggering amount of water resources and crops grown to feed beef and poultry stock that are slaughtered for consumption – the myriad health benefits of vegetarianism are considerable.

For starters, a vegan diet is richer in certain nutrients such as folate, magnesium and vitamins A, C, and E. It can also help you shed those extra pounds – which can be beneficial for those struggling to manage their diabetes and maintain healthy blood glucose levels, along with a whole range of metabolic functions. Studies have also shown that our kidney function improves when following a plant-based diet, which can also protect against the development of certain cancers such as colorectal cancer.

So, if you’re thinking of moving away from a diet rich in meat products to embrace plant-based living, here are some basics to help you get started.

Know the lingo

Vegetarians: The Vegetarian Society defines a vegetarian as: “Someone who lives on a diet of grains, pulses, legumes, nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits, fungi, algae, yeast, and/or some other non-animal-based foods (e.g. salt) with, or without, dairy products, honey and/or eggs.

“A vegetarian does not eat foods that consist of or have been produced with the aid of products consisting of or created from, any part of the body of a living or dead animal. This includes meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, insects, by-products of slaughter, or any food made with processing aids created from these”.

Lacto-ovo-vegetarians: Eat both egg and dairy products and are the most common type of vegetarian.

Lacto-vegetarians: Eat dairy products but avoid eggs.

Ovo-vegetarians: Eat eggs but not dairy products.

Vegans: Do not eat dairy products, eggs, or any other products derived from animals.

(Source: The Vegetarian Society,

Vegan-friendly Oman

The Sultanate’s foodie scene is catching on to the vegan and vegetarian movement. Here are some tasty options for a veggie-friendly night out:


Location: Qurum Gardens Complex, Way 2237, Opposite Qurum Natural Park

Timings: 12 noon to 12 midnight, daily

Contact: (+968) 2200-9598

This Turkish restaurant has a dedicated vegetarian menu offering inspired and flavoursome takes on traditional classics. We love their Turkish style roasted eggplant and stewed okra – and if you let your server know in advance that you avoid eggs and/or dairy, they’ll make sure their piping-hot pide bread is prepared without them.


Location: Qurum Commercial Complex

Timings: Sun-Wed, 11:00 a.m. till 11:00 p.m.; Thurs-Sat: 11:00 a.m. till 12 midnight

Contact: (+968) 2456-1010

Our favourite pan-Asian franchise recently launched their new vegan menu and we’re pleased to say it packs a punch. Operating under the motto that ‘meat-free shouldn’t mean taste-free’, their Kare Burosu vegan ramen bowl with silken tofu, mushrooms, and udon noodles is a bowl of comfort.

Coconut House

Location: Across from Al Seeb Vocational College, Seeb

Timings: 11:00 a.m. till 11:00 p.m., daily; Closed from 11:30 a.m. till 12:30 p.m. for Friday prayers

Contact: (+968) 9818-8220

This hole-in-the-wall hotspot is a tasty nod to the Sultanate’s African roots and heritage. There are heaps of vegetarian/vegan options to fill up on and you can’t go wrong with a lunch-time order of their spicy stewed beans and vegs with a side of cassava. Yum-o!

This bowl of goodness is protein-packed vegan comfort food at its best:

West African Peanut Soup

Prep time: 10 mins

Cook time: 35 mins

Serves: 4


  • 6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bunch collard greens (or kale), ribs removed, and leaves chopped into 2.5cm strips
  • ¾ cup unsalted peanut butter (chunky or smooth)
  • ½ cup tomato paste*
  • Hot sauce, like sriracha
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped peanuts, for garnish


  1. In a medium Dutch oven or stock pot, bring the broth to a boil. Add the onion, ginger, garlic, and salt. Cook on medium-low heat for 20 minutes.
  2. In a medium-sized, heat-safe mixing bowl, combine the peanut butter and tomato paste, then transfer 1 to 2 cups of the hot stock to the bowl. Whisk the mixture together until smooth, then pour the peanut mixture back into the soup and mix well. Stir in the collard greens and season the soup with hot sauce to taste.
  3. Simmer for about 15 more minutes on medium-low heat, stirring often. Serve over cooked brown rice if you’d like, and top with a sprinkle of chopped peanuts.


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