Bahrain’s First Vegan Café

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The wave of veganism flooding the Arabian Gulf has finally washed over the island nation of Bahrain. Though a number of eateries offer vegan-friendly options, Plant Café emerged in February 2017 as the first 100% plant-based restaurant in the Kingdom. Inspired by the culinary creativity of American chef, Matthew Kenney, Plant Café honors his innovative style and aesthetic as learned through the vegan chef’s signature training. At first glance, one would assume that Bahrain’s Plant Café is an extension of his franchise, but it is actually independently owned and operated by local and regional entrepreneurs who are individually and collaboratively passionate about plant-based wellness and holistic living. Continue reading

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How a Vegan Celebrity Chef Became One of Biggest Influencers in Atlanta

Chef Ahki brings a much-needed relevance and relatability to many who never imagined themselves going vegan.

You might not recognize the name Sepsenahki Aahkhu, but you definitely know her clients. Known professionally as “Chef Ahki,” the Atlanta-based vegan’s first high-profile job was working in Paris as Lenny Kravitz’s personal chef. From there, Chef Ahki returned to the United States and propelled herself into a career as a celebrity chef who worked with other high-profile personalities such as Salma Hayek, Bradley Cooper, Lee Daniels, and Wendy Williams. In addition to working as a chef, Ahki also spends her time as an author and activist, and the basis of her work is rooted in urban communities, where she educates and empowers people of color to reclaim their health and heritage through indigenous and wild foods. This work is one reason why, in November, Toyota recognized Chef Ahki as a change ambassador and influencer for the city of Atlanta. As an Oklahoma native, Chef Ahki takes pride in her ancestral connection to Mother Earth through her Choctaw and Cherokee lineage but credits Atlanta for furthering her reach as a plant-based cook and activist.

Social media star
Chef Ahki’s culinary career began as an unpaid intern at a colonic spa in Atlanta. Realizing that her clients were returning to cleanse but not making improved dietary choices, she began blogging recipes and teaching vegan cooking classes.

Going vegan
Working in her grandparents’ garden was a fond childhood memory of hers. “I traveled 25 minutes every Sunday to work in their farm in preparation for Sunday dinner by shucking peas and picking berries, fresh plums, and pears for pies,” Ahki says. Watching family members suffer from poor dietary choices made veganism a tactic of survival for Ahki and others who come from urban communities where poverty and homelessness are more visible concerns than animal welfare. “I was never motivated by animal rights like others,” Ahki said, “but I do love horses.”

Healthy and happy
With health and longevity as her primary motivations, you’re not likely to see Chef Ahki binging on faux-meat burgers and soy milkshakes. Instead, she promotes an “electric diet” that is based on non-hybrid, alkaline foods. With a focus on a return to home cooking, many of her dishes include her beloved butternut squash, hemp seed “tofu,” black quinoa, spelt, and chayote, or Mexican squash. Though her early days of veganism started with fast-food bean burritos and fries, her first cookbook, Electric: A Modern Guide to Non-Hybrid and Wild Foods, shows her 20-year dietary evolution toward raw and cooked foods that grow as nature intended (without genetic engineering or manipulation). Some of her favorite recipes include carob smoothies, collard wraps, and raw key lime pie.

More than cookbooks
Beyond cookbooks and creating recipes, Chef Ahki is also a speaker and educator. With a special connection to other women of color, she leads healing retreats, speaks at conferences, and works to make plant-based eating relevant to her community. Of particular concern to her is the unprecedented rise in reproductive disorders plaguing women. Her second cookbook, The Fibroid Elimination Recipe Guide, focuses on the healing power of food for relieving the challenges of infertility, endometriosis, and other hormone-related conditions. “I’ve gotten emails from food networks and cooking channels for meat-cooking competitions, which is not even an option,” Ahki says. “My whole brand is built on being plant-based. I cook to cure, not for entertainment.” Instead, Chef Ahki develops online courses and YouTube videos that invite viewers into her kitchen to see how she hacks plant-based eating to be as fly as her fashion sense.

Reaching the hip-hop generation
If you didn’t recognize the chef featured in the music video for PETA’s 2017 Vegan Song of the Year, it was none other than Chef Ahki serving the macaroni and cheese. She is as comfortable in the kitchen as she is networking, educating, and managing her company Delicious Indigenous. Reflecting on her brand, Ahki admits that she intentionally crafts her work to reach individuals that mainstream vegan marketing doesn’t generally target. “We like things that are sexy and upscale, and we generally spend on things that add value and make us look good,” Ahki says. “This is why we respond to ‘Hip Hop is Green’ movements or when personalities like Jay Z, Beyoncé, and Waka Flocka Flame eat vegan. We don’t respond to sickness because we’re so used to it already. We have to feel a connection, and we don’t often connect to a ‘crunchy’ or ‘hippie’ approach to veganism.”

Photo Credit:  Victor Emerson of Awoke Media

This article was originally published at VegNews.

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Vegan Pizza Takes Over the Gulf

Vegan Dubai

In the Arab Gulf, we have ample access to authentic Indian cuisine and an array of Mediterranean delights, but there is nothing more affirming to the vegan palate than a proper vegan pizza. We’re not talking about the cheese-less veg pizza or the hummus substitute for cheese. We’re talking stringy, stretchy, cheese-substitutes adorned with or without whatever veggie goodness that may follow. A few years ago, such a treat was a far-fetched dream in this region but in the last two years, a few brave restaurants offered a vegan cheese option and have seen a five-fold increase in demand. So much so that many pizzerias offset the higher cost of non-dairy cheeses just to supply the growing requests for vegan options on their menus. In a classic example of “supply and demand”, several businesses have been forced to create a dedicated vegan menu including salads, sandwiches and desserts. If you find yourself in the Arabian Gulf, here are three vegan pizza options not to be missed. Continue reading

Being Evergreen in Doha

Evergreen Organics

In an illustrious waterfront development called The Pearl in Doha, Qatar’s first vegan restaurant has sprouted at the hands of two Qatari vegans. Both Ghanim al-Sulaiti and Jawaher al-Fardan have gathered seeds of wellness and health in their travels abroad and are sowing them into their island homeland. Evergreen Organics, the shared business venture of al-Sulaiti and al-Fardan, only opened in September of 2016 and in less than one year, has attracted the attention of not only vegans but the health conscious and curious alike. At food festivals and pop-up restaurants, Evergreen Organics imports their jungle-themed vibes with lush green foliage, bamboo huts, and fresh coconut water to complement an array of raw and cooked vegan delights. Continue reading

Farm-to-Table Dining in Jamaica

Jamaica’s food scene can be summarized in three words: hot, spicy, and fresh. However, vegan options are usually lacking at the dining table. Instead, curried or spiced meats and seafood dominate the platter, leaving only a few sides animal-free. To find meat-free options, one can find refuge in Rastafarian eateries that serve primarily plant-based cuisine, locally known as “ital,” but few lack the setting or ambience of STUSH in the BUSH. Continue reading

Sawa Restaurant at Marsa Malaz Kempinski in Doha Review

Located in The Pearl, Doha’s premier residential and commercial development, Marsa Malaz Kempinski sits like a regal throne fit for royalty. As an ultra-luxury resort on a secluded island, it exceeds the imagination in its variety of services and detailed aesthetic. Both artistry and attention are evident in unique characteristics like clustered oyster shell-shaped chandeliers, brass plates adorned with Arabic calligraphy, and an enormous exotic fish tank in a staircase base. Continue reading

5 Essential Tips for Muslim Vegan Travelers

Vegan Moroccan Couscous

If you haven’t heard the news, veganism is on the rise!  Some give up meat for ethical reasons and find it cruel to take the lives of animals. Others are motivated by the health benefits of eating more plant-based foods. Still, others are driven by environmental concerns and want to distance themselves from the pollution attributed to meat and dairy farming. Muslims are also seeking out more veggie options when dining at home and abroad, especially when halal options are limited.  So, if you happen to be vegan, Muslim, and traveling, here are five tips to make your trip enjoyable, purposeful, and easier for the next traveler to tread! Continue reading

The Yellow Chilli Oman Review

The Yellow Chilli Oman

By:  Chantal Blake

As a vegan, I’m very familiar with Indian food. In every country I’ve visited, it’s my go-to cuisine for a flavorful, meat-free meal that rarely disappoints. Though I have yet to visit India, it’s safe to say that my taste buds journey there quite frequently. So when I inquired about vegan dining options at The Yellow Chilli in Panorama Mall, I assumed I would enjoy just another mundane Indian meal, but I have to admit that my expectations were totally exceeded. Continue reading

Vegan Detox Retreat at the LifeCo Antalya

Vegan Detox Retreat

Visitors flock to Turkey’s Southern coast for yachting and sunbathing along the Mediterranean Sea, but a select few are drawn to the idyllic location for rejuvenation and renewal.  Housed in the five-star Akra Barut Hotel Resort, you’ll find one of the country’s dedicated detox centers in Antalya.  From as far as the Arabian Peninsula to as close as Europe, LifeCo is a serene sanctuary for all who come seeking a better way of living and a new recipe for life. Continue reading