What type of vegetarian are you? A vegetarian is someone who typically does not include any meat or fish in their diet, but may include eggs and dairy.
- Lacto-ovo vegetarians eat eggs and dairy products.
- Lacto-vegetarians do not eat eggs, but do eat dairy products.
- Ovo-vegetarians do not eat meat or dairy products but do eat eggs. Some people are ovo-vegetarians because they are lactose-intolerant.
- Vegans do not eat meat, eggs and dairy. They usually avoid all other animal-derived ingredients, such as honey, or those processed using animal products, such as refined white sugar.
So what on earth do vegetarians eat? Surely being a vegan means you can only eat lettuce leaves?
Contrary to popular opinion, it is incredibly easy to get enough protein on a vegetarian and even on a vegan diet. Here are a few of the best sources of meatless protein for vegetarians and vegans – all can be found here in Qatar:
- Quinoa and other whole grains: Unlike many sources of vegetarian protein, quinoa contains all of the essential amino acids, making it a ‘complete protein’. Just one cup of cooked quinoa contains 18 grams of protein and nine grams of fibre. Other whole grains, including whole grain bread, brown rice and barley are all healthy protein-rich foods for vegetarians and vegans as well, and can be easily found in the supermarkets here.
- Beans, lentils and legumes: Black beans and kidney beans (found in Mexican food), lentils (in Indian dhal dishes), and hummus made from chickpeas are all easy sources of protein. One cup of canned kidney beans contains over 13 grams of protein.
- Soya is also a bean: Not just tofu and soya milk, but also edamame, soya ice cream and yogurt, and soya cheese. TVP (textured vegetable protein – available from Mega Mart and Foodrite) and tempeh (from LuLu hypermarket) are also protein-rich soya foods. Many brands of tofu and soya milk are also fortified with other nutrients that vegetarians and vegans need, such as calcium, iron and vitamin. Half a cup of tofu contains 10 grams, and soya milk contains 7 grams of protein per cup.
- Nuts, seeds and nut butters: All nuts contain protein, as do seeds such as sesame and sunflower. Most nuts and seeds are high in fat, so don’t make them a primary source of protein. Nut butters (again widely available – try the extensive range of organic butters in Mega Mart) are delicious; try peanut, almond or cashew in place of regular butter/margarine or mayonnaise. Two tablespoons of peanut butter contains about 8 grams of protein.
- Veggie burgers and other meat substitutes: Most meat substitutes are made from either soya protein, wheat protein (wheat gluten) or both. Check the list of ingredients and the nutritional panel first, but expect a veggie burger to have about 10 grams of protein. Regularly available in Qatar: Quorn, Linda McCartney, Yves Veggie Cuisine, MorningStar, Fry’s and Amy’s.
- Protein powder/supplements: Too tired to cook? Need a quick fix after the gym? Vegetarian and vegan-friendly protein powders can be found at GNC and York Nutrition Centres, along with meal replacement/snack bars, and vitamins and minerals.
You will find an abundance of vegetarian and vegan food on offer in Qatar. Arabic food is especially good for non-meat eaters – try hummous, tabbouleh, vine leaves, batatas harras (Lebanese spicy potatoes) and foul medames (slow-cooked fava beans). Most restaurants will accommodate special requests, so if you don’t want your Indian food made with ghee or cream, for example, your curry can be made with coconut milk instead.
Marhaba Picks: List of vegetarian/vegan friendly restaurants:
- Indian: there are an abundance of options to try in Qatar. Chingari at Radisson Blu Hotel, Royal Tandoor (various locations), Asha’s at Villaggio and The Village at Salwa Road are standout choices for accommodating special requests. For more options, check out Marhaba’s Food Files #1: The Flavours of India.
- Lebanese and Arabic: Al Mayass Restaurant at The Pearl-Qatar offers fresh food, a beautiful location and eager to please staff. For take away try Wafi Gourmet at Landmark. For more options, check out Marhaba’s Food Files #12: Lebanese Cuisine.
- Thai/Asian: Green and red curries are made with coconut milk, and always include tofu/vegetable dishes. Our favourites: Elements and Nobu Doha at Four Seasons Hotel Doha and Thai Snack House in Al Mirqab Al Jadeed Street. Also worth mentioning is the live cooking station at Sakura at Radisson Blu Hotel for fresh and tasty teppanyaki. For more options, check out Marhaba’s Food Files #9: Thai Cuisine.
- Brunches: A veritable smorgasbord of veggie delights and an institution in Qatar! Look out for the live cooking stations for stir fries and pasta dishes. Most of the hotels now indicate on the food card whether an item is suitable for vegetarians or vegans.
- Best of the rest: Salads are an easy way to include more nutrients in your diet, but watch out for those dressings; try the Black Bean salads at California Tortilla. If you eat eggs and cheese, JG Sandwich Cellar has omelettes, sandwiches and jacket potatoes with veggie-friendly fillings.
Author: Sarah Palmer
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