Five new venues planned for April as veganism surges amid coronavirus
Just Vegan sources almost 70 percent of the vegetables on its menu from local organic producers
Just Vegan is riding the wave of coronavirus inspired interest in veganism and is set to open five locations, including casual and fine-dining options, across Dubai by the next month.
Business for the vegan cuisine restaurant grew during coronavirus as consumers became more health-conscious which accelerated plans for expansion, explained Suresh Baabu, cluster executive chef at Just Vegan.
Currently located in Dubai Marina and Al Seef, Just Vegan is launching casual dining outlets in Al Quoz, Business Bay, Barsha, and City Walk, as well as a fine-dining style restaurant in Jumeirah before the end of April.
“We were already planning on expanding prior to coronavirus, but after seeing the increased interest in veganism during the pandemic we decided that now is the right time,” said Baabu.
“People got more conscious about their health and wellbeing as they were dealing with a lot of stress and being at home and so we wanted to further cater to that growing market by providing them with healthy plant based foods,” he added.
The post-coronavirus surge in demand for vegan products has made it a lot easier to source plant-based alternatives to meats and dairy products in the UAE, explained Baabu.
“Every other dealer in the local market now has vegan products, and the big grocery chains have special sections for vegan food while previously they had sections only for gluten-free or organic,” said Baabu.
Just Vegan sources almost 70 percent of the vegetables on its menu from local organic producers, said Baabu, which is indicative of how agriculture is growing in the UAE.
The concept behind Just Vegan is to offer “affordable and tasty plant-based alternatives to loved food items,” said Betcy Mary, digital marketing team lead at Just Vegan.
Menu items include vegan sushi made with vegetable, chicken curry made with a bird protein alternative and pizza made with plant-based cheese and meatless meatballs.
For those vegans who have no time to cook, Just Vegan is soon launching its own line of ready-to-eat products, including lasagne or meatless beef patties, which will be available in supermarkets across Dubai.
While Just Vegan is set on expansion across the UAE and in the region, Mary insisted that they are taking things “step by step” to manage and grow demand with the Dubai expansion as a start.
This comes in as plant-based meat, egg, and dairy companies pulled in $2.1 billion in investments in 2020, more than triple the amount raised in 2019, according to a report from industry group Good Food Institute. Cultured meat and dairy companies, meanwhile, raised more than six times the previous year’s total, the report found.
Meanwhile, plant-based food start-up Eat Just Inc., a California-based company that develops plant-based alternatives to egg products, raised $200 million in new financing with Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund leading the round that also included Charlesbank Capital Partners and Vulcan Capital, Eat Just said. Representatives of Qatar Investment Authority and Charlesbank will join the company’s board.