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FoodInside Expo 2020’s Vegan Food Festival

The Veganuary movement began eight years ago in London and has since spread across countries and continents, encouraging people to abandon animal products each January in favour of a plant-based diet.  It gives people a glimpse into a life of veganism and many permanently convert after dipping their toes. Almost 600,000 people officially signed up for Veganuary 2021 but many more people adapt their diet informally. Resident restaurants and DJs will occupy the space, with...
Mark LomasJanuary 11, 202213 min
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Vegan Dough CoVegan Dough Co, part of Expo 2020's Vegan Food Festival

The Veganuary movement began eight years ago in London and has since spread across countries and continents, encouraging people to abandon animal products each January in favour of a plant-based diet. 

It gives people a glimpse into a life of veganism and many permanently convert after dipping their toes. Almost 600,000 people officially signed up for Veganuary 2021 but many more people adapt their diet informally.

Resident restaurants and DJs will occupy the space, with many international vegan brands, including some home-grown in the GCC, offering up their cuisine. It will also be home to an eco-marketplace, as well as a vegan and organic spa. 

Here, Livehealthy rounds up where and what to eat that is plant-based, whether it is at Expo 2020’s Vegan Food Festival, or the when you are visiting Expo all event long. 

Veg’d 

The mission of Veg’d, curated by world-renowned chef and entrepreneur Matthew Kenney, and is to provide delicious, nourishing whole foods and drinks on the go. The 100% plant-based menu features the classic Veg’d burger with signature Veg’d sauce. Kenney is aligned with the world’s rapid embracing of a healthy diet and increase in plant-based food consumption. 

“We use innovative techniques and creative thinking to produce minimally processed plant-based cuisine that is delicious, vibrant and nutritious,” Kenney tells Livehealthy.  “Our ethos is reflected in Expo 2020’s theme ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ so of course we jumped at the opportunity to be involved .

“Veganuary is always  a huge deal for us, and we are truly excited to be part of this and leading the way for plant-based dining at Expo this Veganuary.”

Dates: Now open

Opening Times: Saturday-Wednesday: 10:00 – 00:00 Thursday-Friday: 10am – 1am

Location: Sustainability District – Ground Floor, Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion

Instagram: @vegdlife

XYST 

Kenney also brings his plant-based approach to Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, taking artistic licence to create vibrant, playful adaptations of traditional cultural dishes. Expect variations on plant-based shawarma, stuffed flatbreads and an extensive list of original mezze options. XYST also offers a plant-based afternoon tea option during the day.

“We feel this could be a real turning point for the plant-based movement in the Middle East,” Kenney says. “Dubai has always been a melting pot of different cultures with a variety of plant-based options and now we hope our venue can show visitors that adopting a plant-based diet is the way forward.”

Dates: Now open

Opening times: Saturday-Wednesday: 10am – midnight; Thursday-Friday: 10am – 1am

Location: Sustainability District – First Floor, Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion

Instagram: @xystnyc

Vegan Dough Co

The Vegan Dough Co, which was created in London and has locations across the UK, is on a mission to show the world how delicious vegan pizza can be, with its innovative and indulgent food designed to help people fall in love with plant-based cuisine.

Founder Loui Blake told Livehealthy: “We’ve seen how far reaching and impactful Expo has been, with people enjoying food from around the world in Dubai. With it being Veganuary, we saw an opportunity to bring our plant-based take on pizza. We’re all about innovation and changing perceptions, so we feel Expo is a fantastic stage to do that on.”

He added: “Sustainability is such an important topic at the moment and our pizza uses less water, land and emissions than traditional pizzas using meat and dairy, without compromising on taste. We’re confident guests at Expo will be pleasantly surprised.”

Dates: Now open

Opening times: Saturday-Wednesday: 10am – midnight; Thursday-Friday: 10am – 1am

Location: Festival Garden

Instagram: @vegandoughcouk 

Grains & Greens

Natural, revitalizing, energy-giving food, Grains & Greens offers great value and prices. Indulge in one of their pre-made salads such as the Beef Salad or Vegan Salad for Dh45, or bring out your inner artist at the Salad Bar for Dh30.

Opening times: Saturday-Wednesday: 10am – 10pm; Thursday-Friday: 10am – midnight

Location: Mobility District

Instagram: @grainsandgreenspk

Mudra 

Another offering from Matthew Kenney, Mudrá is a lively rooftop venue with stunning views out across the Expo site. It aims to share the plant-based lifestyle via approachable cuisine. The menu has a wide range of options, from pizzas and burgers, with a gourmet twist, to novelty Nikkei sushi, along with moreish starters and mains. 

Each concept at MKC Dubai is quite different,” Kenney explains. “At Veg’d, first-time plant-based eaters can try either our burgers or bowls, Mudra is an elevated take on sushi and pizzas by Double Zero, and XYST is modern Mediterranean –there is something for everyone.

“Our guests can enjoy sundowners and plant-based sharing plates at one of the biggest rooftop areas which also have some of the best views of the Expo and the Dubai skyline.”

Dates: Now open

Opening times: Saturday-Wednesday: 10am – midnight; Thursday-Friday: 10am – 1am

Location: Sustainability District – Rooftop, Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion

Instagram: @mudraplantbased

Tawa 

A 100 percent gluten-free bakery and café, Tawa will probably make you wonder why you ever needed gluten in the first place. Whatever your relationship is with that springy little protein, a satisfying experience awaits in Tawa, a place where life is free from gluten and rich with taste.

Opening times: Saturday – Wednesday 10am – midnight Thursday-Friday 10am-1am

Location: Al Wasl

Instagram: @tawabakery

The Expo 2020 Vegan Food Festival runs 12pm-2am every day from January 14-30. It is organised in conjunction with Veganuary and Dubai Vegan Days.

Mark Lomas

Mark is a Dubai-based writer who has couch-surfed through Ukraine, broken bread with football fans in Basra, and appeared on a boxing reality TV show in the UAE – all in pursuit of a good story. Or at least an average anecdote.

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