Discover the best of Dubai’s vegan, vegetarian, raw and macrobiotic restaurants, dishing up healthy food in fabulous locations for discerning plant-based diners. From traditional Indian vegetarian cuisine to fashion-forward vegan eateries in art hubs, there are more meat-free options in Dubai than ever before.
Dubai was once lacking meat-free menus, but today you’ll find a healthy range of plant-based feasts in the city. Residents and visitors are becoming more environmentally conscious, which has fuelled demand, and now there’s an abundance of vegan and vegetarian food in Dubai. The city has everything, from cheap vegetable thalis and stews at a glut of authentic Indian restaurants to molecular gastronomy tasting menus minus the meat at fine-dining haunts. Health food cafés and clean-eating hubs in arty neighbourhoods add to the smorgasbord, loaded with reimagined Middle Eastern falafels, tasty jackfruit tacos, eggless omelettes and more. Tuck in!
Discover green cuisine and art at XVA Art Café
Cafe, Vegan, Vegetarian, Healthy
The menu at XVA Café features dishes such as watermelon, feta and mint ‘Creek Salad’ and rose cheesecake | Courtesy XVA Gallery
Those in the know will know XVA Café. The art space and café is hidden away in an old coral limestone Emirati home (now converted into a boutique hotel) within the historical neighbourhood of Al Fahidi alongside Dubai Creek. Traditional majlis-style seating and mature trees in the courtyard preserve some of the atmosphere of the original residence, while the on-site art gallery and design boutique bring a contemporary edge. The menu – predominantly vegetarian save for the odd tuna ensemble – features dishes such as watermelon, feta and mint ‘Creek Salad’ and rose cheesecake.
Sample Dubai Marina’s affordable vegan eatery at Soul Santé Café
Cafe, Vegetarian, Vegan
Listing calorie, carb, protein and fat values for every dish, new vegan restaurant Soul Santé, in glamorous yacht-filled Dubai Marina, is a sound choice for those on strict diets. From polished concrete floors to wicker ceiling lamps hanging between exposed metal beams, the vibe feels both industrial and bohemian. Eggless omelettes, grilled peach salads, white-bean falafels and pulled jackfruit tacos are among the raw and macrobiotic mains. Sweet treats start from a reasonable AED12 (£2.60) for a peanut cup and their selection of drinks include raw coffee, fresh juices and smoothies.
Try wholesome vegan food with a side order of yoga and meditation at Life'n One
Cafe, Vegan, Vegetarian, Healthy
In the residential area of Jumeirah, urban retreat Life’n One offers much more than just vegan food. There’s a lauded yoga studio, a quirky concept store and a calming meditation garden in addition to the café serving superfood salads, smoothies and juices. More complex dishes include black hummus made with activated charcoal and ‘I am Not a Cheese Platter’, a spread of vegan cheeses made in-house, served with fruit, nuts and gluten-free oat bread. Round off with raw matcha doughnuts or their best-selling Snickers Pie, which is exactly what it sounds like.
Tucked away in Dubai’s arty district Alserkal Avenue – an industrial area now occupied by galleries and hipster eateries – you’ll find Wild and The Moon. Two floors of exposed brickwork and foliage-filled hanging baskets create a suitably green backdrop for the 100 percent vegan food. Expect cold-pressed raw detox juices, vegan Mylk lattes infused with turmeric and charcoal, bars made with sun-dried fruits and activated nuts, colourful açai bowls, and sandwiches crammed with a rainbow of vegetables.
Discover creative vegan dishes inspired by travel at Super Natural Kitchen
Deli, Vegan, Vegetarian
SNK is almost hidden on the upper level of Dubai Mall department store Galeries Lafayette, but it’s within easy walking distance of two of the emirate’s biggest attractions, Dubai Fountain and the record-breaking Burj Khalifa. The shiny shop-floor deli serves unadulterated raw vegan food that’s free from gluten, sugar and preservatives, inspired by Chef Athena Matheou’s travels. Crunch through raw beetroot and courgette lasagne with vegan cheese sauce and Japanese-style sushi rolls made with cauliflower rice.
Savour Ayurvedic flavours in sattvic dishes in the heart of Karama at Govinda's
Restaurant, Vegan, Vegetarian, Indian
Ayurveda, a traditional Hindu healing system and practice, recognises three gunas (states): tamas (inaction), rajas (action) and sattva (balance). Those following the practice’s balanced diet of sattvic cuisine (food that encourages a clear and healthy mind) can find it served in Govinda’s in Karama. Amid plastic flora and luminescent deities hanging on the walls, you can find organic fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes, dairy products and mild spices on their menu. Allow yourself 10 minutes to read through it – the selection of soups, salads, dals and biryanis is overwhelming. Govinda’s thali platters, served from 12pm to 3.30pm, are a good way to sample several dishes. For dessert, try the gulab jamun, deep-fried condensed milk dumplings soaked in sugar syrup.
Try Dubai’s oldest and cheapest vegetarian restaurant, Rangoli
Restaurant, Vegan, Vegetarian, Indian
Easily overlooked with its insipid beige dining room, Rangoli is a gem in the dusty shopping district. Nestled between the Bur Dubai streets of Al Fahidi, Al Ghubaiba and Al Musalla, the area is known locally as both Little India and Meena Bazaar. One of the emirate’s oldest and best-value vegetarian restaurants, it opened in 1992 and now has additional branches in Karama and Oud Metha. Start with the savoury snack chaat, then try the classic pan puri, which is the perfect introduction to this street-food staple, made with deep-fried crispy crêpes filled with tamarind chutney, spices, potato, onion and chickpeas. Next, sample Gujarathi thali, and then end with eggless Indian ice cream, kulfi.
Devour vegetarian burgers at Little Erth by Nabz and G
Cafe, Vegan, Vegetarian, Healthy, $$$
With exposed wood and brickwork, a bookshelf of second-hand novels to thumb through and a plant-lined terrace, this cosy restaurant looks every bit the rustic vegetarian café; however, strictly speaking, it’s pescatarian. The odd tuna or salmon dish shares the menu with mini raw walnut and flaxseed burgers with basil cashew cream dressing, and mushroom risotto cakes with vegan truffle cream and fresh coriander. Help yourself to complimentary fruit-infused water in a dispenser on the counter, or splash out on their ‘Beetroot to Yourself’ smoothie.
Jumeirah’s elegantly bohemian award-winning health food café offers a vast range of sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, raw, vegan and vegetarian creations, with a few fishy options thrown in. All of the dishes are proudly made with sustainable ingredients from local organic farms. Menus change with the seasons – however, a regular entry to look out for is the avocado crostini topped with cashew sauce, alfalfa sprouts, guacamole and cucumber. Dairy-free ice cream and almond milk rose lattes ensure a sweet ending to your meal. Be sure to pick up a souvenir in the concept store before you go; the Claus Porto artisan soaps make charming gifts.
Feast on meat-free tasting menus at Carnival by Trèsind
Restaurant, Vegan, Vegetarian, Healthy, $$$
Though this isn’t an exclusively vegetarian restaurant, it does serve lengthy fine-dining vegetarian tasting menus from AED200 (£43) and is one for special occasions. The tasting menu also includes wine pairings and delicious cocktails, which is something no other restaurant on this list does. The name reflects the venue’s carnival vibe and the brand’s identity: it’s a combination of très (‘very’ in French, in a nod to the cooking style) and ‘ind’ as in Indian. Theatrically presented dishes include ‘Life of Pie’, featuring mock-meat shepherd’s pie with garlic toast, and ‘Who Moved my Cheese’, a baked paneer pinwheel with pomegranate sauce. If you visit only one high-end restaurant in Dubai, make it this one.