Saudis going vegan, often to avoid obesity

Photo courtesy: American Dietetic Association
Updated 13 March 2018
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Saudis going vegan, often to avoid obesity

JEDDAH: Saudis are at high risk of obesity, which is one of the leading avoidable causes of death in the Kingdom. Many are opting for healthy options such as vegetarianism and veganism to avoid obesity, while others have converted to them out of a sense of responsibility toward living organisms.
With the spread of health awareness from the Health Ministry, and people wanting to stick to a proper diet and pursue a healthy way of living, many are switching to veganism.
Leena Babsail, founder and CEO of start-up Honest, started the project to alter people’s misconceptions about food manufacturing and to introduce products that are free of artificial and chemical additives.
She said: “I started Honest because as a consumer, I couldn’t find products that weren’t processed but tasted good and didn’t have any artificials and coloring. I wanted to create a brand that people could trust without having to go over the ingredients because they knew it would never offer them bad fats, refined and processed sugar.”
Babsail believes it is inhumane to consume that kind of product, even if some specialists say small amounts of food coloring are harmless, especially when it comes to children.
“There’s this obsession that has overtaken people since the 1980s about calorie intake; I think snacking on something which is a 1,000 calories but fully natural is more important than sticking to a 200-calorie snack that is full of saturated fat.”
She believes people are starting to care about the food they digest because there’s more awareness now but they have false information. “The ‘healthy’ label is now on everything, so people aren’t sure which snacks to go for.”
Dr. Vivian Wehbe, a nutrition and obesity specialist, believes a lot of people are taking a vegan direction because excessive meat consumption could lead to weight gain. “We recommend that those with high cholesterol levels and blood pressure, individuals who struggle with obesity and even cancer patients steer clear of red and white meat and to eat more vegetables.”
She believes it is a healthy lifestyle if vegans know how to pick their food and replace meat with appropriate sustenance. “Fruits and vegetables lack protein and iron, and vegetarian protein can be found in legumes, to avoid anemic reactions due to malnutrition.”
Duaa Badr, a project manager in Jeddah, turned vegan once she realized she was surviving on a diet of junk food and unhealthy choices.
After a 10-day detox program that was plant-based with lots of juices, soup and salads, she noticed immediate results. “By the fifth day, I was feeling much lighter and my energy wasn’t affected at all. Besides, I was enjoying the food I was eating.”
Badr decided to stick to a plant-based diet. “What urged me to switch to veganism was to take care of my health and lose the extra weight,” she said.
“Being vegan in Saudi Arabia isn’t easy. There aren’t many options for vegans if they wish to eat out — and lots of waiters aren’t aware of veganism. The ideal situation is cooking at home, but that isn’t always achievable, as I don’t have enough time for it.
“I am noticing the change and I see more awareness about it now than when I started a year and a half ago, which is always uplifting,” she added.
Ahmad Abdulsalam, from Jeddah, told Arab News: “I became a vegetarian because I couldn’t fathom the thought of chewing a living, breathing creature. The animal rights advocate in me awoke, and I decided I was never going to put any kind of meat inside my body ever again.”
Notably, Prince Khaled, son of Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, promotes healthy lifestyles as a vegan himself. He has announced on his Facebook page that Saudi Arabia will open at least 10 vegan restaurants by 2020.


Local designers to share the spotlight during second Saudi Fashion Week

Updated 20 September 2018
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Local designers to share the spotlight during second Saudi Fashion Week

  • Riyadh will be the hub of Saudi Fashion Week
  • The Grazia Middle East Style Awards will this year take place in Riyadh

RIYADH: Emerging Saudi fashion designers will get a chance to showcase their work alongside internationally renowned peers — including Yahya Couture, Yuliya Yanina and Lama Askari — during the second edition of Saudi Fashion Week, which runs from October 21 to 25, 2018.

The dates were revealed by the event’s founder, Princess Noura bint Faisal Al-Saud, who made a statement with her choice of outfit for the official announcement: a black abaya with a traditional Saudi hand embroidered, red design.

The princess, who is the founder of Saudi fashion community and Saudi Fashion Week in Saudi Arabia, said she always dreamed of being part of the fashion industry and is working hard to help the dreams of others come true as well, by supporting local designers,providing them with a platform on which to showcase their creativity, and supplying them with the tools they need to succeed.

“This fashion week is sponsored by the GCA and we want to highlight our Saudi culture,” she said when asked how the second edition will differ from the inaugural event in April 2018. “Every designer is unique and designs in a different way. Our culture is not only about wearing an abaya; it’s what makes you comfortable as a person.

“We have more local names coming out and a program to support emerging designers. This is a platform with which we support Saudi designers, in their country, which they represent.”

However, it also embraces the wider international fashion industry, as well.

“it’s an exchange of cultures. It’s a platform for Saudi and other countries,” said Princess Noura. “When we speak about fashion, it’s a mirror that reflects our culture and modernity.”

To help launch the careers of Saudis who are just starting out in the fashion industry, a “Top emerging Saudi designers” program has been developed, and the country’s fashion community has chosen six designers to participate, some of whom are recentcollege graduates. It will offer them support and give them real-world experience of the fashion industry.

Riyadh will be the hub of Saudi Fashion Week, with three runway shows each day, beginning at 8pm. In addition, a fashion festival featuring pop-up stores will run throughout the event. The Grazia Middle East Style Awards, which is usually held in Dubai, will this year take place in Riyadh on the final day of Saudi Fashion Week.

“I want every designer in Saudi Arabia to not be afraid and to come out and show what they are made of. Be Brave,” added Princess Noura.