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.
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, www.vegsoc.org)
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.
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