Participation in IVU’s 42nd International World VegFest (Dubai)

vegfest speech   Last week’s VegFest in Dubai was a great success! Hosted by MEVEG (Middle Eastern Vegetarian Group), the International Vegetarian Union (IVU) has its annual conference in Dubai for the first time. The event was also held alongside MENOPE (Middle East Natural and Organic Products Exhibition), which perfectly complemented the theme of IVU. To name a few things, I got to cross paths with some great people, sample some amazing vegan dishes, learn (and share) nutritional information, find out about the new farmers’ market (in the parking space of the Emirates Towers), experience new cooking methods and equipment, and so much more!ivu talk The best thing, however, is that I had the honor to participate in such a huge event–especially that I’ve been an avid reader of the IVU (International Vegetarian Union) website since the year 2000–around the time when I first turned veg, and was in dire need of some new ideas (I’ve even mentioned an IVU-ispired recipe on this blog before–the vegan “cheese” recipe). I gave a presentation entitled Beyond Zucchini: Mediterranean Superfoods in Traditional Dishes, in which I introduced some lesser-known traditional dishes made from (also lesser-known) superfoods such as amaranth leaves, oregano, dandelion greens, jute (Egyptian spinach or ‘molokhiya’), sumac, , purslane, pomegranate molasses and others (some of which are frequently used in recipes posted here on the blog–hence the hyperlinks). I gave some detailed information (concerning the nutrients and phytonutrients) about each ingredient, and gave some cooking ideas. If you want to have a look at the presentation itself, here it is:

Please cick on the following link to view the presentation on Mediterranean superfoods: 42nd IVU VegFest

Some of the great notable figures that are worth mentioning are the following: Dr. Marly Winckler, chair of IVU, flew in from Brazil to inaugurate the event and give some interesting talks on the history of IVU Sandhya Prakash, founder of MeVeg IMG_6625


MEVEG volunteers, along with Sandhya Prakash (founder of MEVEG) and Marly Winckler (Chair of IVU), cutting a vegan cake at the opening of the conference. (The cake was made by Brownie Point)


Brownie Point’s 100% vegan cake at the 42nd IVU World VegFest in Dubai

Mr. James Rose, who is a speaker, instructor, and facilitator for SOS USA gave two talks, one about the “Power of Inner Stillness”, and another about “Leadership Traits and Trends”.It was also such a pleasure for us to dine with him at the same table and enjoy the presence of such a well-balanced, positive, and sweet person.IMG_3424   And of course, Dr. Aris Latham– the father of raw vegan food, who demonstrated various cooking methods in preparation of purely raw vegan dishes, such as raw hummus, raw mango pie, and raw pizza–was among the most notable participators in the conference. His interesting ideas on “sunfired” foods and their contributions to wellbeing somehow explain the reason why his energy levels are way higher than those of a typical 67 year-old. Drawing much attention from the crowds, his revolutionary and rather innovative meal preparations are far from taking us back to a neanderthal style of eating. Contrary to the stereotypical “caveman” raw vegan rep, Dr. Latham showed everybody how to be creative in preparing 100% raw gourmet foods. And it all starts with making a few changes in the kitchen tools: “What we’re going to do is show you how to work with modern technology…Alot of us go to the biggest catering operations, the biggest chefs, and you ask them to, you know, get you some shredded carrots. And they pull out a grater…But you at home, get yourself a food processor, and it’s going to save you a whole lot of time, a whole lot of stress, and a whole lot of struggle.”


Dr. Aris Latham

Dr. Aris Latham preparing raw hummus at the 42nd IVU conference (Dubai)

Crowds surrounding Dr. Aris Latham again

Crowds surrounding Dr. Aris Latham again

Malcolm Slyper, a detox, raw food, and fasting specialist spoke about the importance of fasting and its link with keeping the body parasite-free. He also spoke about different types of parasites and their roles in causing various  illnesses and even autism. This session was an awakening experience for many–and I must admit, the haunting sights of gallstones, liver stones, and meters’ long worms made me cringe! But the effect of such sights, charts, and information was highly effective in alerting people on the ramifications of consuming foods they often disregard such foods (sugar, sushi, unwashed produce…). IMG_3454 Chef Bobby and Chef Anil gave some insightful information about the quality of food that we eat, and Chef Bobby presented us with the first vegetarian menu (at a non-vegetarian restaurant, Fuego) in Dubai. He was also the mastermind behind the delicious vegan meals presented at the conference.

From left to right: Chef Bobby, Chef Anil, and Dr. Aris Latham

From left to right: Chef Bobby, Chef Anil, and Dr. Aris Latham

IMG_3501 Laura Allais, founder and leader of Slow Food Dubai, shed some light on locally grown crops and gave some advice on where to find some good quality local produce (at a fraction of the price paid in supermarkets and organic food shops).Thanks to her advice, I was able to grab 7 bunches of fresh, organic, local kale for 15 aed from the Emirates Towers market this weekend!IMG_3443

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