While the festive period could traditionally be quite challenging for vegans in the UAE, huge strides have been made in the crafting of plant-based Christmas dishes over the last few years. This means it’s no longer just dry nut roasts on menus for vegan diners with plenty of top restaurants in Dubai now offering superb dishes throughout the festive month.
Here at The Ethicalist we’ve been busy (like little elves!) putting together our pick of the best places to get vegan festive fare this December, and there’s not a soggy sprout in sight.
With stunning views of Dubai Marina, Ain Dubai and beyond, Akira Back at W Dubai – The Palm is a popular spot for celebrating big occasions, so it’s an ideal choice for a special dinner in December. Swap stuffing for (vegan) sushi from a dedicated vegan menu which includes AB Impossible tacos, made with Impossible bulgogi and roasted tomato ponzu, and AB eringi pizza, as well as eggplant miso, crispy tofu, vegan rainbow roll, spider rolls, roasted cauliflower with chipotle mayo, truffle rice clay pot and ‘not tuna’ tataki. Yum!
This entirely meat-free restaurant at VOCO Hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road has both a vegetarian and dedicated vegan menu so it should be the number one choice for plant-based diners looking for a special treat over the festive period. Dubai’s first and only fine dining vegetarian restaurant is mentioned in the Michelin guide, and delicious dishes on the 16-course winter tasting menu include coconut kheer with appam and aam ras – a sweet mango based desert – and hazelnut crémeux with a chocolate rosette and wild java plum sorbet.
BOCA is well-known for its vegan menu as well as its dedication to sustainability, zero-waste policy and ‘desert garden’ where it grows its own herbs. The trendy restaurant in Dubai’s DIFC has an extensive and creative vegan menu all year round, but it should definitely be on your go-to list over the holidays. On the festive menu throughout Christmas and New Year there are veggie dishes, such as crispy quinoa and snap pea salad, BOCA potato chips with bravas sauce and aioli and BOCA-touille with roasted veg and balsamic glazed onion. Vegan dishes include green gazpacho and acquerello rice with caramelised beetroot and confit baby beetroot. Festive packages start at Dhs295 and run through until January 6, 2023.
Marina Social proudly lays on a carefully curated vegan menu throughout the year, and over Christmas plant-based diners are well catered for at this gorgeous spot in Dubai Marina. Roasted parsnip velouté, whipped chickpea tart with mulled grape jelly, and beetroot tartare with vegan feta and rocket pesto, start things off at Marina Social, followed by the choice of braised leek stuffed with vegan cheese or mixed roasted nut loaf with butternut squash and braised lentils. Desserts include bitter chocolate torte and a spiced, poached fruit salad with raspberry sorbet.
This Latin American restaurant in DIFC has recently introduced loads more vegetarian and vegan dishes, due to popular demand, so it’s a good choice for fine dining during the festivities. Dishes on the plant-based menu include sweet potato and black bean empanadas, marinated melon salad with pistachio praline, cauliflower tostados, mango ceviche, charred cabbage with pine nuts and roasted pumpkin paella.
This incredible Thai restaurant at Madinat Jumeirah is not only the perfect place for a special occasion, but it has a plant-based festive menu running throughout the whole of December too so there’s no need to wait until the big day to check it out. Perched on the waterways of the Madinat, you have to take an abra to reach it – talk about making an entry – before being faced with an impossible choice because everything on the menu sounds delicious. Dishes include pomelo salad, vegetable spring rolls, steamed veggie dumplings, green Thai curry, wok-fried tofu, vegetable pad Thai and sticky mango rice. The festive vegan menu is Dhs350 a person and runs daily from 6pm until 11pm until December 30.
A popular spot with vegans in Dubai, this cute café on Jumeirah Beach Road has a boho-chic vibe and friendly atmosphere. This Christmas it is laying on special vegan festive dishes with highlights such as chestnut soup with vegan cream cheese and gluten-free croutons and caramelised pear salad as a sumptuous starter.
Main courses include a festive tofu and chickpea fillet with garden veg stuffing, potato purée, cranberry jam and mushroom gravy or glazed Brussels sprouts with parsnip and white bean purée topped with cranberries, pomegranate and a dash of truffle oil. For dessert there’s an indulgent plant-based coconut and cranberry cake. All dishes are 100 percent plant-based and free from gluten and cane sugar, too.
All dishes at Just Vegan are 100 percent plant-based with a commitment to using and serving dishes made from local, sustainable and organic produce. The US brand has several branches in Dubai – including in Business Bay, Al Seef and the flagship restaurant in Jumeirah offering lashings of style with the festive menu, which is available throughout December. Dishes include forest mushroom bisque, pablona patacones (raw banana-cassava and coconut crèma-pablona chilli), a plant-based ‘meat’ Wellington with chestnut mushrooms and roasted nuts, a Christmas nut roast with plant-based ‘meat’ and four seasons pepper jus and a plum cake for pudding.