From navigating menus, to explaining why chicken or cheese aren't vegan, to the difference between being vegan and vegetarian, being plant-based isn't always plain sailing. Vegan in Abu Dhabi? These will sound familiar...
1 - Reading supermarket product labels is hard
Shopping takes twice as long when you’re vegan or vegetarian. Indeed, if you’ve never spotted a plant-based eater out in the wild, the best place is the supermarket aisle. You’ll find them in the corner hunched over a tin of vegetable soup, eyeing the ingredients with seasoned suspicion while trying to work out whether that natural flavour really is all that natural after all.
2 - Chicken is not vegan
Yes, shocking really. Picture the scene. It seems to be the perfect order. Judging by the menu, everything sounds plant-based and there’s not a whiff of meat in sight. But then at the last second comes a question from the waitress. “Is it okay if this dish is made with chicken stock?” For a moment, there’s silence while you wonder if your ears are betraying you. Er, is it okay to
pay with Monopoly money? No. Well, at least they asked...
3 - You need to have an answer for everything
“Yes, I’m vegan. Have been for 15 years. All the time (even on the weekends). No, no fish. Or chicken. Or even a sneaky mouthful of trifle at Christmas.” Every plant-based eater has those answers committed to memory, and (thrillingly) this banal series of questions normally comes in exactly the same order. As if that wasn’t tiring enough, try defending your diet to self-righteous meat-eaters who are convinced they can tempt you out of vegetarianism by citing facts about vitamin B12 and interrogating you about your protein intake. It’s worth remembering that when those around us change their habits, it forces us to consider our own routines and choices. Just saying…
4 - You’re the butt of every joke
How do you know that someone is a vegan? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you within five seconds. But we’re not all sandal-wearing, tree-hugging eco warriors (okay, okay, we do love a good pair of sandals). Unfortunately, “comedy” is a way for some to mask their discomfort at the idea we might be judging them. We’re not.
5 - But it’s actually really, really easy
Despite all that questioning, reading of supermarket labels and accidental ingestion of chicken stock, it’s actually really easy to go vegan in Dubai. From new dishes in your favourite restaurants to a wider variety of cruelty-free options in stores across the city, it’s getting better and better by the day.