In recent years, there has been a rapid increase in the number of food blogs, trendy restaurants, and vegan-friendly products. This has made being vegan easier than it used to be. It is making those who eat meat, egg, and dairy-free foods inspired and confident in their food intake. Do you think vegetables, brown rice, and kale are the only things vegans eat? Maybe that is what you see on social media platforms, what you are told or what you read on some websites.
But lots of foods are coincidentally vegan and if you're in Dubai, Abu Dhabi or anywhere in the Middle East, then you don't have to worry at all as vegan alternatives are easily available due to the growing trend of vegan food in Dubai
and all over the region.
There are lots of restaurants that use vegan ingredients to make some of your favourite dishes. Below are some vegan alternatives you can use as a substitute to your favourite foods:
VEGAN ALTERNATIVES TO MILK:
1. Oat Milk
This is one of the types of milk that can replace your usual dairy intake. It is regarded as the powerhouse of protein because it contains four to five grams of healthy plant protein per serving. Its nutrients are not limited to protein as it is also rich in carbohydrates but no cholesterol and saturated fats; it is also fortified with Vitamin D. Oat milk is made from the grains of oatmeal cereals and is extremely high in soluble fiber which helps to strengthen the immune system.
Even though it has less protein when compared with to soy and cow milk, it still provides more protein than other plant-based beverages. Oat milk is good for anyone who is intolerant or allergic to nuts or dairy products.
You can make use of oat milk as your ingredient in making baked goods, creamy soups and smoothies. It can be used as liquids in waffles, pancakes, casseroles or mashed potatoes. It does more than just pouring it on whole-grain cereals; you can even add it to your coffee or tea.
2. Rice Milk
Even though rice milk might be a common vegan food in Dubai, Abu Dhabi or Saudi, it could still be a shock to people hearing about it for the first time. It is one of the non-dairy foods that can serve as an alternative for vegans. With rice milk, vegans would have the opportunity to enjoy a healthy blend of protein and carbohydrates.
Rice milk, as taken from its name, is made from rice. It is hypoallergenic and nutritious having more carbohydrates than cow’s milk. Though it contains less protein, it is still a good alternative as it lacks cholesterol and is low in fat, making it a healthier option. It is also a good alternative if you are allergic to soy.
Rice milk is a good choice for vegan desserts, and it can also work well for savory recipes, light sauces, soups, coffee and you can pour it on cereals. Rice milk can be an ingredient for preparing cream of mushroom soup and many more delicious dishes!
3. Hemp Milk
Out of all other non-dairy milk except soy milk, hemp milk is high in protein. If you add a cup of hemp milk to dairy-free meals, you will be nourished with omega-3 fatty acid, 5g of protein, 3g of fats with only 140 calories. It is also a good source of magnesium, calcium and other vitamins. It is gluten-free, sugar-free and free of cholesterol. This vegan milk can help put your blood pressure and cholesterol in check.
Using the hemp milk can offer you lots of health benefits such as improving the heart health, bone density, cognition and immune system. There are lots of vegan recipes you can use hemp milk for. Like all other vegan milk options on this list, you can use it for smoothies. Try adding hemp milk to your blueberry smoothies or use it in preparing your beet veggie burgers. You can also use it for savory dishes and for baking such as broccoli cheese pasta bake.
VEGAN ALTERNATIVES TO CHEESE:
4. Cashew cheese
It is a vegan cheese which is a simple and versatile substitute for dairy cheese. It is one of the vegan foods in Dubai and Saudi that anyone can make. The cheese is a good source of protein, calcium, magnesium, Vitamin B & E, and fiber. It aids in losing weight and relaxing muscles. You can spread it on crackers and sandwiches, use it to make pasta sauce, and for healthy creamy salad dressing.
You can use the cashew cheese for baked cashew mozzarella. Yes! You can now eat the mozzarella sticks using cashew cheese as an alternative to your regular cheese. Garlic and herb cream cheese is another favorite option as you can layer it on pizza, spread on crackers and bread.
Other dishes you can enjoy with cashew cheese are vegan cashew dill cheese and raw carrot cake with cashew cream cheese frosting. The vegan dishes you can make with cashew cheese are endless. Try experimenting with your other favourite vegan ingredients!
5. Almond Cheese
Almond cheese is dairy-free and rich in vitamins and proteins. It is also void of cholesterol and is loaded with good fats. This vegan cheese can help in keeping your heart healthy. You can use it as a topping on your salads. It can also be used to add a unique flavour to your pasta and soups.
6. Tofu Gouda
You might be surprised to know this dairy-free Gouda is made from potatoes and tofu. The cheese has the same nutty, buttery taste just like the real thing. Tofu is a versatile ingredient in this cheese, and it offers lots of health benefits. It contains eight essential amino acids and a good source of protein. Also, it is a good source of minerals such as phosphorous, copper, magnesium, zinc, manganese, vitamin B1 and selenium.
Potatoes, on the other hand, are active ingredients in making the cheese, containing a significant amount of fibre. It lacks cholesterol but has vitamin B6, potassium, and vitamin C. Tofu Gouda can be added to sandwiches or lasagna and paninis. You can also spread it on vegan pizza.
VEGAN ALTERNATIVES TO MEAT:
When you decide to give up meat, tempeh is one of the good alternatives. It has a nutty flavour, more grainy texture than tofu and is made from fermented soybeans. Tempeh contains a great amount of protein, vitamins, fibre, and minerals such as iron, calcium, zinc, phosphorus and the likes.
The texture of tempeh makes it a perfect replacement to meats in recipes. When cooking with tempeh, you grind it using a food processor, dice it or slice it. No need to press it. Whenever you find it a bit bitter for your taste, you can try steaming or simmering it for a few minutes. It is also a great replacement for ground beef with chillies and other dishes. You can try tempeh out in recipes such as Vegan and Gluten-Free Tempeh Meatballs, Vegan Tempeh Reuben Sandwiches, Balsamic BBQ Tempeh Ribs and Vegan Tempeh Gyros.
Mushrooms are the way to go when you want that meaty, savoury taste in your recipes. They have a meaty, earthy and rich flavour especially Portobello or cremini mushrooms. Mushrooms can replace meat in any recipe, and they are filling and healthy. They are cholesterol and fat-free and low in calories.
Also, they have more than a dozen minerals and a modest amount of fibre. You can call mushrooms a powerhouse of nutrients. They are high in antioxidants which are believed to reduce inflammation and chronic diseases and prevent cells from damage. They can stand in for meat in sandwiches like Vegan Philly Cheesesteak, pasta dishes such as Mushroom Pizza with Pesto, sausages, burgers, Risotto, and soups.
It is a perfect alternative if gluten is not an issue for you. Seitan has a meat-like texture, and it is a powerhouse of protein. Since it is 100% plant-based, it has no cholesterol. It is low in fat and sugar-free, and contains a high amount of vitamin B6. It can replace pork, beef or chicken. It can hold up to braising, grilling and frying because it has a dense, chewy texture.
You can buy seitan in Dubai, Abu Dhabi or even in KSA. You can also make it yourself. You can try it in dishes like Balsamic BBQ Seitan Ribs, Seitan Kebabs with Sangria Tomato Salad, Seitan and Mushroom Bourguignon and Seitan-Portobello Stew.
VEGAN ALTERNATIVES TO MAYONNAISE:
It is made from avocados (or nature’s butter), giving it a creamy texture. You only need ripe avocados, lemon or lime juice, and salt to balance the avocado’s richness. You can add chop onion, tomato, chillies, or cilantro if you want. If you are to buy a brand, stick to brands with low amount of sodium because some may have more salt or spices than others.
It is incredibly nutritious having vitamins K, C, E, B6, and B5, and potassium. It also rich in fibre and high in good fats. Guacamole is loaded with mono-unsaturated fatty acids and powerful antioxidants that are good for the heart and eyes. Also, it can help in losing weight and relieve symptoms of arthritis.
It can be used as a creamy dressing on salads and also put in-between sandwiches. Use it to garnish soups or improve vegetable patties, vegetarian breakfast burritos, and cucumber salads, or use it as a dip for your veggie nachos.
If you are watching your calories, Hummus is a good substitute for mayonnaise. It is made from chickpeas which is one of the most nutritious legumes you can consume. It is a good source of fibre, protein, vitamin B, phosphorous, folate, and iron. Hummus is creamy and has a nutty flavor. You can create your own version of hummus at home or choose the healthier variants available in the market with less than 50 calories.
Hummus also aids in balancing cholesterol levels, prevents heart disease, and hypertension. Hummus also helps in digestion and intestinal health, boosts your energy, supports healthy bone, and decreases inflammation. It is also a good source of plant protein.
You can use and enjoy hummus as a dip for tomatoes or as a spread on frozen pizza dough, or vegan breads. It is also good in making creamy soups and sprinkle it with your favourite vegan cheese. Hummus can also be used for pasta, salad dressing, and a lot more recipes.
Mustard is a good and healthier alternative to mayonnaise. It is a good option for people who want to put their health in check due to its low level of calories. Mustard is rich in protein, vitamins and a considerable amount of minerals such as zinc, copper, iron, and calcium. It has a high level of antioxidants which prevents DNA mutation and cell damage.
Mustard is high in fibre and helps lower cholesterol levels. It can also help boost your immune system and strengthens your bones because of the vitamin C and K present in it. Mustard is a favourite to many because it can be a used for sandwiches, and vegan sausages and hot dogs. You can also use it as a dip for crispy tofu nuggets and also for salad dressing.
VEGAN ALTERNATIVES TO EGG:
Flegg is a replacement for egg, and is made from flax meal and water. Mix one tablespoon of flax meal with three tablespoons of water. Let it sit for five minutes, and you will have a vegan alternative to your egg. It contains omega-3 essential fatty acids which improves the heart-health. Flegg also contains lignans, polyphenols found in plants such as flaxseeds, which act as an antioxidant that prevents cell damage. It is also a source of soluble and insoluble fiber. Also, there has been some evidences found that fleggs may help reduce the risks of diabetes, cancer, heart diseases, and stroke.
You can add flegg to your daily meals as substitute to eggs. You can take with oatmeal, yogurt, soup, or smoothies. Also, you can use it in baking vegan rolls, muffins, breads, waffles, and pancakes.
14. Baking Soda and Vinegar
A mixture of baking powder and vinegar is a perfect way to include some fluffy, airness to your vegan baked goods minus the eggs. You can replace one egg by mixing one tablespoon of vinegar with one tablespoon of baking soda. You can experiment by using different types of vinegar until you’ve achieved your desired taste.
It can help fight off diseases, lower cholesterol, regulate the sugar level in the blood, and many more health benefits. You can also use it as a replacement for eggs in vegan desserts.
15. Chia Seeds
This is another vegan source of omega-3. Chia seeds mixed with water can equally offer a nice texture to your baked goods. They offer iron, calcium, and fibre. Chia seeds are rich in antioxidants and can help increase HDL cholesterol that protects against stroke and heart attack.
You can use it in vegan recipes such as pumpkin pie oatmeal, falafel salad, almond chia seed scones, strawberry chia seed jam, maple oatmeal cookie, and chia waffles.
VEGAN ALTERNATIVES TO BUTTER:
16. Pumpkin Puree
It is one of the favourite vegan alternatives to butter because it adds an amazing depth of moisture and flavour to baked goods. Pumpkin puree is enriched with fibre which is good for digestion; potassium and vitamin A which are beneficial for bone and eye health. It is very versatile because it can also be substituted for oil.
It is packed with potassium, magnesium, zinc, and protein. Pumpkin puree helps in maintaining a healthy immune system. You can use it as an ingredient in rustic pumpkin pie, cinnamon rolls, cheesecake, peacan crumb cake, pumpkin cream cheese stuffed muffins and pumpkin sage pasta with crisped sage breadcrumbs.
17. Pureed Avocado
You might not think of this as a replacement for butter, but it does a great job as a vegan alternative to fats found in butter. It is rich in mono-unsaturated fats which help in increasing good cholesterol level while lowering bad cholesterol. Chips, burgers, tartare, tacos and some other vegan baked goods can all benefit from avocado puree’s rich texture and taste.
The vegan alternatives mentioned above are great for anyone looking to reduce or cut out allergens such as eggs, gluten, dairy, meat and more from their diet. There is simply no good reason to keep consuming these foods when there are many plant-based alternatives to milk, cheese, meat, mayonnaise, butter, and yogurts that are good to your palate while offering the same health benefits, without the health risks.
You don’t need to sacrifice your favourite dishes when deciding to eat vegan foods. Explore more options in some vegan restaurants in Dubai, Abu Dhabi or Saudi, or try out some of Circle Café’s vegan dishes
. We serve delicious vegan food in Dubai and Abu Dhabi – order online
or call 800 247253 if you’re in the UAE, or +966 11 489 5505, +966 11 489 6566 if you’re in Saudi Arabia. Happy eating, healthy vegans!