The Emirates is moving towards an age of sustenance when it comes to generating clean energy and developing innovative technology within its borders. But the country which has created two homegrown satellites in three years, still imports 85% of its food supply to nurture a thriving population.

But things are set to change since Emirati authorities are promoting innovation in agritech, which involves sprays that can make desert land more fertile, as well as local production of plant-based meat. As part of the growing interest in vegan food options, UAE’s major halal food supplier Al Islam has launched a plant-based burger, marking a major shift after more than 50 years of dishing out meaty offerings.

Creation of the innovative meat substitute took eight months of research before a recipe of sunflower oil, fava beans, peas and onion extract was finalised. The concoction also has carrot and beet juice to double up as blood, and give the product a more fleshed out feel.

The vegan patty is part of the veganuary trend, which marks a month of global brands launching vegan products, and it’s the first of many such innovative treats to come from Al Islam. Al Islam’s ambitions are more than just a gesture to be part of a global campaign, since the firm has ambitions of forming alliances with eateries and hotels to export plant-based meat across the Middle East.

UAE has seen the rise of vegan brands including Sharjah-based Healthy Farm, which already sells burgers, meatballs and kebabs created from plant-based ingredients. Healthy Farm has even set an ambitious target of turning 500,000 people among meat-loving Emiratis into vegans by 2025.

Plant-based substitutes have gained traction in the Emirates thanks to nutritionists, restaurant owners and fitness enthusiasts promoting the dietary trend. Major brands like Subway and Beyond Meat have also launched vegan meat offerings for fast-food lovers in the country.

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