This was something I searched and searched for on the internet before I came and couldn’t find a thing, presumably out of six thousand residents there is more than me living off lovely plants on campus, but if so they don’t write much about it. So here you go:
Saudi is VERY fond of meat. Also because of the weather everyone barbecues here, a lot. But that doesn’t mean it’s not possible to be vegan here.
Tamimi supermarket has such a good and diverse range of food anything you could possibly want is there, they have a massive amount of fresh fruit and veg, sorbet, grains, beans, soy milk, nut milks, tofu, chickpeas, herbs, spices – the only thing I haven’t seen are processed meat substitutes (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing!) such a seitan, tempeh. Some of the grains are really expensive – quinoa is about a tenner for a small bag. Nope. So maybe put some on your shipment or order some online or whatever. There are tonnes of different vegetables here, if it’s imported it’s very expensive – but that just gives extra incentive to use more local produce which is obviously better for the environment and also will have you trying stuff you’d maybe not think to otherwise, win win!
This weekend we got one of the campus bus’ to the Red Sea mall which is the largest of all the malls in Jeddah, they have a hypermarket (foreign concept to us Brits, it’s just basically a really really really really really really big supermarket) called Danube. I’ll talk more about the visit in general and the non-food stuff in my next post, but these guys have a LOT of good food options. I saw soy pizza, soy-replacement dairy of all kinds, imported health foods, basically everything a vegan could ever want. Great stuff. I guess with this you would really have to have a car to take your shop back if you got a lot of stuff, although you can take your trolley out of the shop and all the way back to the bus which is what we did. I also looked online and they do offer a home delivery service which is something we are going to try out.
In terms of on site restaurants, there is a real good shwarma place on discovery square – not super healthy but if you want some fries and junk food their falafel and tahini wrap is out of this world. SO GOOD.
I’ve also eaten at the racket club restaurant which seems to be japanese fusion and had an amazing veg sushi set and yasai udon for dinner which was really, really good. There’s another chinese/japanese restaurant that should be good for vegan food, an Italian (cheese-less veg pizza yes!), a curry house which offers a few veg curries (haven’t specifically asked if these are vegan as I’ve not eaten here but when I do I will update), a ‘subway’ type place which offer salad and veg options and many more.
I’ve also eaten at the campus diner a few times which is fantastic. For about 25-30 SR (6 quid) I can get a vegan main meal – eg vegetable pasta with roast pumpkin, vegetable curry with rice… Alongside a side salad with a big load of houmous, or a bowl of soup with a bun and a freshly squeezed juice. Ridiculously cheap and seriously good.
Juice is a big deal here, obviously alcohol is banned so the variety of soft drinks is ridiculous. I think I counted three shop-length counters at the supermarket last time I was in. Some of it is vile (strawberry syrup was a particular low point) but it’s all about trial and error. Also there’s a lot of alcohol free beer in the fridges here 😐
Going back to barbeques, it’s safe to say as a new arrival you will be invited to people’s houses for a bbq at some point as everyone seems so nice and welcoming here. Corn on the cob, veg skewers and cous cous are easy vegan bbq foods that are really easy to get hold of in the supermarkets and everyone seems more than happy to cater (which I was so relieved about as I despise being awkward when someone’s been nice enough to invite you over in the first place)
Will update more as soon as I find out more!! Happy munching.