BEIRUT: Both a diet and a lifestyle that a growing rate of people are globally embracing, veganism is also being espoused and promoted in Lebanon, with a plethora of restaurants coming up with new recipes and menus to cater to the desires of their plant-based clientele, who now have much more options than just ordering fries or hummus on a lunch date.
“Veganism is a way of living which excludes the use of animal products,” health and wellness blogger Nadine Kalouche (@thelebanesevegan on Instagram) told Annahar. “People choose to adhere to the vegan philosophy of living for several reasons; ethical, health or environmental,” Kalouche added. “I choose to follow this lifestyle first and foremost because I believe that animals are sentient beings that are on this earth with us, not for us, and therefore I am ethically opposed to exploiting them for any reason.”
With the availability of numerous online articles, documentaries, and statistical research projects that advocate and recommend the plant-based diet, the choice of having “falafel” instead of “chicken shawarma” for lunch is one being taken by a growing rate of Lebanese citizens!
“When I turned vegan almost four years ago, veganism was practically unheard of in Lebanon,” Kalouche stated. “However, the recent explosion of veganism has made a significant difference. Supermarkets are now stocked with plant milks, vegan cheeses and mock meats, and restaurants are adding vegan dishes to their menus (not to mention the fully vegan restaurants that are popping up recently!). At the end of the day, it’s an issue of supply and demand.”
Lebanon currently has three purely vegan restaurants among Lebanon's food industry:
Coara Vegan Cuisine
The first, all-vegan restaurant in Lebanon whose members organically grow all the ingredients they cook with. They have a branch in Shouf and recently opened their second in Verdun. To many more!
“We started this life style to improve our family's health and limit violence towards other creatures, and when it worked out so perfectly we decided to make a business out of it to spread the message,” Coara told Annahar. “The Lebanese kitchen contains many dishes that are plant-based and can be done without adding animal products to it so with a bit more awareness it is easy to convert to a vegan, plant-based diet.”
Luna’s Kitchen Beirut
Based in Hamra, Luna’s Kitchen offers an entirely vegan menu with board games and a Ping-Pong table to entertain you as you await your cruelty-free meal.
“Our customers, vegans or not, are mostly interested by knowing what's the base of the meals we offer,” Luna’s told Annahar. “For example, the patty of our double cheeseburger is beetroot based, the delicious vegan cheddar and mozzarella made by Vicky's which we use on our pizzas is cashew-based. However, the most surprising is the vegan hot dog which is soy-based! Non-vegans especially are interested about what is it made of because at the beginning it may sound a bit crazy, I mean vegan hot dog?! And then they try and realize that plant-based food is full of options!”
Ballouta’s Vegan Goods
Ballouta’s started out as a blog in 2013 and attracted many followers. They hosted pop-up vegan restaurants, participated in events, catered weddings, supplied coffee shops, restaurants and small businesses, until they recently decided to be the first vegan shop in Jounieh!
“Vegan food is all about experimentation and exploration of what mixtures of plants, herbs and spices can create; it's really quite fun!” Ballouta’s told Annahar. “Having said that, the majority of Vegans (including us) ate meat and dairy at one point in our lives which is why we create recipes that are most relatable to our clientele and to help them maintain this lifestyle without needing to compromise their love for food”.
The list of restaurants that have taken the initiative of adding vegan options to their menus is incredible! Roadster added seven new vegan items to its menu in 2018, including two types of burgers, pasta, salads, and dessert. Just a few days ago, Bartartine updated their menu to include several vegan dishes, such as their Mango Avocado Rolls, Avocado Edamame Dip, and many more. Crepaway added a vegan burger with a quinoa and chickpeas patty instead of one made of animal meat, as did Mano Burger. Zaatar W Zeit also added a vegan boom-burger and a hummus-avocado wrap to their menu. Kitchen Confidential and Organic Sisters have numerous vegan options, and Pizza Please has some vegan pizzas to offer as well, and the list goes on and on!
Even coffeeshops and bakeries, such as Breakfast Barn, Starbucks, and OH! Bakehouse, are embracing the needs of their vegan clients, providing them with vegan desserts and warm beverages that taste just as good, if not, even better!
“The question I get asked most as a vegan is where I get my nutrients from,” teenager Rana Thomas told Annahar, “but if people would only do enough research, they would know that our bodies can function and flourish beautifully when we work with nature and not against it. For instance, we fail to realize that we are the only species that consumes the milk of another species, how does this seem normal? The right fruits, vegetables and herbs, can give our body the nutrients and energy it needs to live a long and a healthy life, without exploiting other creatures in the process.”
For a more detailed list of vegan shops and restaurants in Lebanon, visit www.veganlebanon.com
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