As the New Year rolls around, everyone’s humming the ‘new year, new you’ tune. For those of you who want to challenge yourself, why not give Veganuary a go? This feature has you covered, with everything from the basics of what it means to be a vegan, to the health benefits and where best to satisfy your vegan appetites.

Veganuary is an annual movement that has gained momentum and marked the start of the calendar year for many a healthconscious foodie over the past decade. Launched in 2014, Veganuary (a portmanteau of ‘vegan’ and ‘January’) is an initiative by a UK-based nonprofit that encourages people to embrace a vegan lifestyle throughout the month of January.
But what does it really mean to be vegan? The essence of Veganuary involves steering clear of all animal-derived products for the month. It’s a challenge that invites participants to explore a meat-free, dairy-free and cruelty-free diet, excluding not only meats but also fish, poultry, dairy, eggs and even honey.
The campaign serves as a platform to promote and educate about veganism. According to the official website, Veganuary’s popularity has been remarkable and in 2023 it broke all previous records, with 706,965 people officially signing up from nearly every country in the world.

Beyond a month-long commitment, veganism embodies a holistic philosophy that seeks to minimise animal exploitation and cruelty in all spheres of life. It goes beyond dietary choices, extending to clothing, cosmetics and other products derived wholly or partly from animals. Veganism advocates for ethical alternatives that benefit not only animals but also human health and the environment. The underlying motivations behind embracing a vegan lifestyle vary from person to person, be it ethical considerations, environmental consciousness or personal health goals.

Veganism’s become the talk of the town lately, and it’s not just a passing fad. Google search trends reveal heightened interest in vegan-related topics, with countries like the UK, Australia and the US leading the search queries. Also, as per online data platform, Statista, the global vegan food market surged to nearly USD16 billion in 2021, a figure expected to surpass USD24 billion by 2026, indicating a growing demand for plant-based alternatives.
Greater awareness regarding the treatment of animals within the food industry has prompted many to shift toward a vegan diet. Endorsements by celebrities and influencers have also normalised veganism, making it more acceptable in mainstream culture. Accessibility to plant-based alternatives in stores and restaurants has further encouraged the adoption of vegan diets.

Is veganism really healthy? That’s a question that needs careful input from a qualified expert. So, we caught up with Danah Quintana, a clinical dietitian, to discuss vegetarian and vegan diets.
“An appropriately planned vegetarian/vegan diet can be healthy, nutritionally adequate and provide health benefits in the treatment and prevention of certain diseases, such as ischemic heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, certain types of cancer and even obesity,” she said.
According to Danah, the high intake of nutrient-rich foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, soy products, nuts and seeds that are packed with fibre and phytonutrients and the low intake of saturated fats, can help lower cholesterol levels and improve blood sugar control. This can contribute to the reduction and risk of chronic diseases.
On who should consider veganism, she says that a well-structured vegetarian/vegan diet can be suitable for all stages of life, from pregnancy and infancy to older adulthood and even for athletes. She emphasises that it’s important to ensure one eats a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, seeds and whole grains. It’s also vital to swap unhealthy fats with healthier alternatives and to maintain portion control. Even with nutritious, low-fat, plant-based foods, consuming excess calories can lead to weight gain. Thus, she recommends keeping an eye on food labels and incorporating regular physical activity into your routine.

Apart from the significant health benefits, a vegan lifestyle also positively impacts our environment. As shown in research published by Nature Food, opting for a vegan diet can substantially reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, water pollution and land use by as much as 75%, compared to diets high in meat consumption. It also reduces the destruction of wildlife by 66%.
Moreover, according to the Vegan Society, plant-based foods require significantly less water compared to animal products and can reduce water use by 54%, which means that adopting a plant-based diet is an effective way of conserving water resources – a win-win, we say!
Another important point is that cattle grazing generates substantial amounts of methane and carbon dioxide – potent GHGs that contribute to climate change. Therefore, by choosing a vegan lifestyle, we can help reduce the release of these harmful gases and keep both the cows and Mother Earth happy.


Over the past few years, veganism has been flourishing in Bahrain. From an influx of plant-based brands in the supermarkets to vegan menus entering the restaurant arena, the local food scene has had a tremendous facelift when it to comes to vegan choices. An example is the plant-based menu, Folia, which was introduced a few years ago at the Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay by celebrated Chef Matthew Kenney. Others have followed suit and many of the five-star hotels now either serve plant-based options or offer full vegan menus. Even standalone restaurants and cafés are becoming more food conscious, catering to vegan palates. We spoke with various local brands and long-term vegans to get their views on plant-based lifestyles and their experience of veganism in Bahrain.


On why she became vegan…
Initially it was due to personal health concerns and decline in energy levels. I decided to go on a cleanse and all the meals provided were vegan. I noticed an improvement in my health and decided to extend the cleanse. Meanwhile, I started researching veganism – this led me to explore the industry of animal agriculture and I learned about the [often] abusive conditions animals are reared in.

On interesting vegan trends in Bahrain…
Unfortunately, the current trend is not a healthy one; fake meats and processed meat substitutes have found their way into Bahrain’s market. I think when so called ‘foods’ require labs and factories to be engineered, it’s best to avoid them.


On what inspired her to become a vegan…
I became vegan after learning how terribly animals are treated for the food industry. But veganism is not only for animals, it’s also for the sustainability of our planet and helping to stop world hunger. It can also be a healthier way to eat.

On why she opened a vegan café…
I wanted to create a space where both vegans and non-vegans can enjoy delicious food together. My restaurant has both vegan and vegetarian options and we also offer gluten-free alternatives for most items. The idea is that you don’t need to sacrifice going out and having a good time in order to be kind.


On what inspired her to open Raw Candy…
I was inspired by my family, we love sweets! And I wanted to provide yummy nutritious versions of some of my childhood favourites. A cookie a day keeps the frowns away!

On any interesting vegan trends to watch out for…
Matcha, matcha, matcha! It’s everywhere and soon, in everything. Try out our oat milk matcha lattes. We use Chawan matcha, the BEST local supplier.


On her motivation for opening a vegan café…
I’m passionate about healthy living and wanted to create a space where others can enjoy delicious and nutritious food. My menu isn’t entirely vegan but most of our products are, especially cheese.

On interesting vegan trends in Bahrain…
While upscale vegan restaurants have existed in Bahrain for some time, there’s a growing demand for casual, affordable vegan dining options. Look out for new vegan cafes and fast-food outlets popping up across the country. Street food is a beloved part of Bahraini culture. Thankfully, there’s a growing trend of veganising popular street food items like falafel and samosas.


On how to build a nutritionally balanced diet as a vegan…
I certainly have NOT mastered this. A hearty burger, satisfying pasta, fully loaded pizza, fries and desserts will always win over a sad salad any day. That said, I actively minimalise reliance on substitute ‘foods’ as these tend to be more detrimental. More traditional dishes tend to already have a diverse array of nutrients. Bahraini breakfasts are a favourite of many, packed full of fibre, protein and sustenance.

On any changes in her health since turning vegan…
Absolutely, I used to often get floored by allergies, particularly, with cat and dog dander. Dairy is definitely one of the more antagonising agents for many people, especially during the cold and flu season. Where it used to take four to five days, it is now a lot milder with a day or two of the sniffles.


On what inspired her to become vegan and start plantbasedbh…
My overnight switch to a plant-based lifestyle was primarily inspired by documentaries like What The Health and Earthlings. These films opened my eyes to the reality of factory farming and the health risks of consuming animal products on a regular basis. They motivated me to not only change my diet but also to spread awareness through my campaign @plantbasedbh, which encourages people to include more plant-based food in their diet.

On the one thing she misses eating as a vegan…
Honestly, since most things can be made plant based, I don’t find myself missing much. I eat a larger variety of foods now than I did while eating meat. However, if I had to pick, I occasionally miss the convenience of non-vegan options, especially when travelling or dining out.

Other Vegan Friendly Brands, Cafés and Supermarkets

  • Petiole Café
  • Anais Café
  • Glo Café
  • Bare Chocolates
  • Walton’s Confectionary
  • Marketplace by Live Well
  • 9Origins Market
  • Alosra
  • Carrefour
  • Aljazira Supermarket
  • Lulu Hypermarket
  • Mega Mart
  • Nature Valley
  • Nature’s Market
  • Live Well



500g cooked pasta
1 pack mushrooms, sliced

For the Pasta sauce
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups raw cashews
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Pinch of turmeric (for colour)

For mushroom chips seasoning
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs liquid aminos or soy sauce
1/2 tsp smoked paprika

For mushroom chips

  • Make the seasoning mix and toss in the mushrooms till fully coated.
  • Lay on a baking tray and bake at 180C for 20-25 minutes or until crispy. You can also sauté the mushrooms instead.

For Mac and Cheese

  • In a blender add pasta sauce ingredients and blend for three to four minutes or until very smooth.
  • Add sauce into the strained pasta and stir on medium heat for two to three minutes.
  • Top with mushroom chips.
  • Serve warm.


175g self-raising flour
150g light brown sugar
52g cocoa powder
105g bag of ‘Free From Fellows Mini Pink & White Vegan Mallows’
350g dark chocolate (50g chopped into smaller chunks and 50g
for drizzling on top)
100ml vegetable oil
200ml oat milk
1 tsp almond extract


  • Heat your oven to about 170C.
  • Line a 27cm x 18cm baking tray with baking paper.
  • Melt 250g of dark chocolate in a saucepan, continually whisking so it doesn’t burn.
  • Add oat milk, vegetable oil and almond extract to the melted chocolate and whisk until all combined.
  • Mix together the light brown sugar, self-raising flour and cocoa powder in a separate bowl.
  • Combine the dry mixture into the liquid chocolate mixture and fold together. Add the remaining chunks of chocolate and mix.
  • Add half of the brownie mixture to the baking tray and spread out evenly. Top half of the brownie mixture with as many Free From Fellows mini mallows as you wish and top with the rest of the brownie mixture.
  • Place your baking tray full of your wonderful brownie and mallow mixture into the oven for about 15-20 minutes. Keep an eye on them, if your knife or cake tester comes out almost clean take them out of the oven and leave on a baking rack to cool down.
  • Once the brownies have cooled, melt 50g of dark chocolate and drizzle across the top of the brownies and sprinkle with mini mallows. Once set, cut your brownies into good-sized squares.


With so many myths and stereotypes about veganism, we shed light on some of the common misconceptions of this increasingly popular lifestyle and dietary choice.

Vegan diets can provide all essential amino acids through a variety of plant-based sources, such as lentils, beans, tofu, quinoa and more.
VEGANISM LEADS TO NUTRIENT DEFICIENCIESA well-planned vegan diet can meet all nutritional needs, including vitamins B12, iron, calcium and omega-3 fatty acids, through plant-based sources and supplements, if necessary. Many fortified foods are also available for essential nutrients.
VEGANS LACK CALCIUMCalcium can be obtained from various plant-based sources, such as leafy greens, fortified plant milk, tofu, almonds and sesame seeds, among others.
VEGANS DON’T GET ENOUGH IRONA well-planned vegan diet provides ample iron by incorporating numerous plant-based foods rich in non-heme iron, such as leafy greens and kidney beans.
VEGANISM IS INHERENTLY HEALTHIERAlthough a well-balanced vegan diet can offer health benefits, processed vegan foods high in sugar, fat or sodium may not be as healthy as their non-vegan counterparts.
VEGANISM IS EXPENSIVEWhile speciality vegan products might be costly, a plant-based diet centred around whole foods can be cost-effective and affordable.
VEGANISM IS ONLY ABOUT DIETVeganism extends beyond food and involves a lifestyle that avoids animal exploitation and cruelty in clothing, cosmetics, entertainment and other aspects of life.
VEGAN DIETS LACK TASTE AND VARIETYVegan cuisine is incredibly diverse, offering a vast array of flavours and textures. With creativity and exploration, there are countless delicious and varied plant-based recipes to enjoy.
VEGANISM MEANS GIVING UP FAVOURITE FOODSMany non-vegan foods have vegan alternatives and there’s a growing availability of substitutes for dairy, meat, eggs and other animal products that taste similar or even better than the originals.

As Veganuary continues to gain traction and its global interest skyrockets, the Kingdom’s embrace of veganism isn’t just a passing trend. This once niche dietary choice has transformed into a vibrant movement in Bahrain’s culture, sparking a new era of conscious eating amongst individuals from all walks of life.
Veganism is all about making choices that feel good, for our bodies, animals and the Earth we call home. It’s not about being perfect – rest assured there will be no vegan police knocking on your door! It’s about doing what we can, one veggie burger at a time. So, whether you’re diving in headfirst or just dipping your toes into the vegan pool, know that every small step counts towards a happier, healthier and more compassionate world for all.

Here’s to kinder choices and delicious eats! ✤