Once upon a time…
I remember when I first arrived in Qatar with my 9-month-old son. Although I had lived in the Middle East before, I had never been out living in another country on my plant-based diet.
The offerings in the supermarkets and restaurants were dire and the weather most certainly was not conducive to the way I was used to growing most of my own produce back home all year around in South Africa. It left me feeling deflated and miserable and on top of that I couldn’t cycle everywhere as my mode of transport like I did back home. I felt completely dejected in my first year here and all I wanted to do was to go home to everything that was familiar to me.
After a year, I realized that I was completely responsible for my own happiness. I started singing again and from there all the beauty starting flowing back into my life (music does that).
I finally founded my food business when I started cooking for my friend Dawn in 2016. She was like most professionals here, working long hours and while not having access to healthy meals, she felt her health declining. I started providing her with healthy meals, and she started thriving because she was eating healthier during her working week and as we know, food is medicine.
Her overall mental health improved, physically she was feeling more energised and overall she felt nourished. Word spread and suddenly I was feeding everyone. From doctors, to nurses, lawyers, engineers, teachers, exhausted new mums and whole families. I am so grateful that Qatar has offered me the opportunity to bring good, wholesome food to the people.
Never look back
So much has changed in the last 10 years. Besides an array of plant-based products being available in supermarkets, you now have various food delivery services that include plant-based offerings. It is still a work in progress at most restaurants, as most of the staff (including chefs) unfortunately do not always understand the fundamental differences between being vegan and being a vegetarian.
But things are changing and people are starting to make more of an effort to incorporate plant-based offerings into their menus as they realise that being plant-based is not just another fad. It is here to stay, and the world around us is slowly making its way towards a more sustainable way of eating and living.
Ten years on and I now know when I can plant my veggies in winter and where to find my favourite plant-based products. As I sit here and write this in my garden, it is winter and a beautiful 26 °C – Life is good, and it truly is a privilege to be alive in Qatar in 2022.