BEIRUT: For almost a year now, Demo Bar in Gemmayze has been the host for a number of heavily-attended food gatherings that have often revolved around one main theme: Veganism.
Going vegan has recently become a more recurring lifestyle choice among people, who are now choosing a more guilt-free way of eating their meals. Enriching this lifestyle, moreover, is Ballouta Vegan Goods, a local vegan catering cuisine, which started in 2013, and is run by Lorena Saadé, who was the caterer of the Vegan night at Demo on July 22.
The catering cuisine started out of the difficulty Lorena Saadé faced while looking for meat and chicken alternatives, as well as desserts, and that’s when she decided to take matters into her own hands and make her own delicious vegan recipes.
This month’s Vegan event was Lebanese-themed, with the menu consisting of Vegan Tawouk platters: You pick either “meat” or “chicken,” which are then accompanied by some hummus, tabbouleh, and coriander potatoes — as traditional as it gets. There was also the additional option of purchasing a sugar-free, gluten-free, and soy-free dessert, for sweet tooth cravings.
“Being a vegan in Lebanon is actually easy,” said founder of Ballouta, Saadé. “A lot of Lebanese foods are actually vegan — especially the cold mezzas,” she added. “It just gets difficult when it comes to the stews, because of the meats and dairy.”
Slowly but surely, the mellow bar was full of hungry people — and not exclusively vegans, who ordered and very much enjoyed the guilt-free Tawouk platter served by Saadé, complimented by the music at the bar which completely matched the Lebanese theme — the playlist consisted of classic Arabic songs ranging from Tarab to more ‘modern’ oldies.
The bar’s decor was rather homey, with things like glass bottles-turned-into-vases and colorful flowers tucked inside; along with classic Oriental wooden chairs that are normally found in traditional cafés, making this bar more of a house than a public space.
“I was surprised that it tastes like the real thing,” commented Dana Makarem, one of the attendees, on the platter she just had, “It’s my first time at a vegan event here, and I’m loving it!”
Celine Sahyoun’s experience was no different; “I came here expecting a more chaotic ambiance,” she said, while enjoying her hummus. “The place is very laid back, and I’m very happy and relaxed,” she said. “I haven’t had Tawouk in three years, actually, and I’m happy to have finally tasted it again, but this time, it’s guilt-free!”
Across the nicely and dimly lit bar, sat a number of locals, as well as foreigners chattering over plates of vegan goodness, and the place kept getting packed, and orders kept going up.
“The crowd in the capital really helps,” said Saadé, “We get really great turn-outs most of the time.”
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