Tag Archives: vegetarianism

Looking for vegetarian and vegan goodies in Egypt? Try Health Harvest.

We are always happy to find places to buy vegetarian and vegan goodies in Egypt. Don’t misunderstand:  You can find vegetarian and vegan goodies at ANY shop!!! If you make the focus of your diet whole foods it won’t be hard for you to find treasures in every grocery shop, small market and even vegetable vendor.  😉

However, there are certain ingredients that are just not readily available.  While we may not use them often and they may not be absolutely necessary for our survival, some of these ingredients make it possible for us to have compassionate versions of familiar treats,  add nutrition and flavor to our soups and dishes or just try new things.

We discovered a new shop in Egypt, Health Harvest, that carries some of these rare ingredients!  – Okay, it’s not new – it’s been here for about six years or so, but it’s new to us!!!!  With three locations across Egypt, Health Harvest carries a number of products you might be interested in.  Among the items we found are:

These seeds will be great on salads!!!

Sunflower Seeds

Miso adds wonderful flavor to soups and sauces.  It’s basically fermented soy beans.  We have not found miso anywhere else in Egypt.


Agar agar flakes are made from sea plants.  You can also buy them in powder form (we did not see them at Health Harvest, though).  They serve as a vegetarian gelatin and are wonderful for making puddings or CHEESE (recipe coming soon)!!

Agar agar flakes

We don’t really buy mixes usually.  We love to cook everything from scratch because it’s cheaper and we can be absolutely certain what ingredients are included in the mix.  However, we found a number of gluten-free mixes available and decided to try them out.  They have a variety including:

There were MANY kinds of beans available for sale – even black soy beans!!!  But we bought these little lima beans.  Aren’t they cute?  They’ll be really tasty in a minestrone (recipe here!).

There are even some safer, compassionate beauty products on sale including this deodorant that is free from aluminum!!!

If you are interested in visiting Health Harvest here’s their contact information:

  • 00237483851- Mohadessen
  • 0126007879- Nasr City
  • 002035231001 ext: 1085- Alexandria
  • General Manager-0020145253777
  • healthharvest[at]hotmail.com
  • Find them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Health-Harvest/173199636066856?sk=info
  • Their website: http://kushicenter.com/index.php
Do you know of other shops specializing in specific vegetarian or vegan products?  Tell us about them!!!
Alf Hana!!!

Another Veggie Meetup in Cairo!

Dear readers, if you’re looking for a chance to meet some other vegetarians, learn more, or just have some yummy veggie treats, don’t miss this event!

A potluck will be held by some members of the previous Veggie Fest on Friday, March 18.  There are limited spaces available at the location in Zamalek, so if you want to go, you need to reserve your place today!

Don’t forget to say what you’re bringing when you sign up!

Alf Hana!!!

5 Resources for New Vegetarians / Vegans

This weekend, we learned that an acquaintance has decided to become vegan. It got us to thinking about when we first became vegan more than 10 years ago. At that time, we didn’t have access to all the amazing resources that are currently available. From nutrition advice, to easy FREE recipes, you can find almost anything you need now to maintain a healthy, plant-based diet. Many of these resources (and our favorite cookbooks) are listed here on Alf Hana’s resource page, but we thought it useful to focus on some resources especially made for new vegans.

1.  Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has a vegetarian starter kit that you can download as a pdf.  Also, on this page, you’ll be able to find links to articles dealing with the most commonly asked questions about plant-based diets.

2.  Compassion Over Killing also has a starter kit that can be downloaded, but this page also links to information about the most common reasons for considering a vegan diet, as well as recipes and issues about transitioning to a vegetarian diet.

3.  Vegan Outreach is another place to find a guide covering frequently asked questions, recipes, and other resources.

4.  PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) also has an interactive starter kit that is informative and bold.

5.  Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, of Compassionate Cooks, has a podcast called Vegetarian Food for Thought that is inspirational.  Addressing vegetarians, vegans, and omnivores alike, Colleen has a straight-forward style of dealing with issues that is at once informative, analytical, emotional, comprehensive, and motivational.  Colleen, her cookbooks, and this podcast have provided tremendous personal support for us in our journey as vegans.

BONUS resources:

United States Department of Agriculture actually has a fact sheet about the healthy nature of a plant-based diet.  You can download it here.

The American Dietetic Association has also produced a document called Position on Vegetarian Diets that you may be interested in.  You can find it on the Vegetarian Resource Group site.

We know many of you also have resources that you can share.  What has helped you in your journey toward a more plant-based, compassionate diet?

Veggie Fest Cairo: A community!

Yesterday we attended the first Veggie Fest Cairo.  It was a real blast!!!  With informative speakers, delicious food, some fun artistic expression, and opportunities to make some connections with like-minded folk, it was really a great success.  If you missed it, here’s a little bit about what we experienced:

Three speakers started out the evening, each with their own specific input about vegetarianism.  First, Mr. Ahmed El-Dorghamy, an environmentalist helped us understand about the “life cycle” of our food.   From planting, to packaging, to transporting, to refrigerating, to disposing of our food, each process has an impact on the environment.  Mr. Ahmed encouraged us to buy locally, fresh goods and, of course, to avoid animal products in order for our food to have the least negative environmental impact.  You can find out more by contacting Mr. Ahmed at ahmed_dorghamy(at)yahoo.com or call 0109666240.

Ms. Leslie Zehr also spoke about food and how it affects our bodies.  Focusing on the spiritual aspects of eating, Ms. Leslie emphasized that our bodies are like temples and we need to be more conscious of the choices we make about what goes in them.  What are we putting in our bodies and why?  Where did it come from?  How was it made?  These are all aspects of our food that will affect us and should be part of our food-choosing process.  Another thing we really liked that Ms. Leslie focused on was how preparing food is a sacred experience.  If you’re cooking and you’re angry – better stop because the results may not be so good :)!  If you’re interested in learning more, you can reach Ms. Leslie at www.theessencesofegypt.com, www.egyptianflowerremedies.com, www.universaldancer.com, and lesliezehr(at)yahoo.com.

Finally, Ms. Nadia Montasser, representative of PETA in Egypt, spoke to us about some reasons to try vegetarianism: for our health, for the environment, and for the animals.  She also shared some video and resources for those who are interested.  You can find out more by contacting info(at)petaasiapacific.org or Ms. Nadia directly at nmontasser(at)me.com.

Everyone who attended brought a dish along.  And what a delectable spread it was!!  We always love to share goodies.  Here are the recipes for the vegan delicacies we brought.  Chocolate Chip Cookies,  Apple Cake (muffins), and Vegan sushi.  There was also a live mural, a jam session, and a little poetry….

If you couldn’t make it but would like to find other vegetarians in Egypt, you can connect to the Veggie Fest community in these ways:

Alf Hana!!!

Want Tasty Vegetarian Variety? Try Arabiata!

I don’t know about you, dear readers, but one of my favorite things to do growing up was eat out.  Since we’ve become vegan, we avoid eating out for various reasons, but when we find an establishment that has a variety of vegan dishes or is willing to tailor menu items to fit our needs, we become loyal customers.  That’s why we want to tell you all about Arabiata.

Arabiata is a local Egyptian chain of restaurants that serves up traditional Egyptian favorites.  Historically, they became famous for their fava beans (slow-cooked or medames and fried in the form of tameyia [or felafel].  Gradually they added a slew of other dishes, including a lot of vegetarian options.  VERY reasonably priced, you can get your fill for just a few Egyptian pounds!  Here are a few shots of the vegetarian items on the menu (*not all of the items are vegan).

And now – for the best part, here’s what we ordered:


Arabiata Salad Bar with Egyptian pickles (Mary's favorite!)

Foul Iskandarani (Fava Beans, Alexandrian style - with tahina and parsley - and other fixin's)

Alexandrian Style Tamaya (Felafel - with hot chilis)

Regular, small tameya (felafel) - I can not resist these!

I told you I can't resist them!

Foul (fava beans) with tomato sauce and garlic!!!


You can order delivery from Arabiata by calling: 16919, as you see below, or….

You can visit any of their branches all over greater Cairo including those listed below:


For our non-Arabic speaking friends: Korba, Roxy, Heliopolis Club, Tayran St., Rihab City, British University, New Heliopolis Club, Golf City, El Abour


Try it and let us know what you think.

Alf Hana!!!

Finding Familiar Foods with Healthful, Compassionate Twists

Few of us started out as vegetarians.  Most of us were brought up on a diet of different kinds of meat and dairy products.  So, we have memories of happy times, celebrations, and comfort that are associated with animal products.  If you’re trying to rely on a primarily plant-based diet, you may feel you have lost some of those familiar feelings.

While you create your new traditions, memories (and find new comfort foods!), it is sometimes comforting to find very close substitutes to tide you over.  And now, in Egypt, that is possible.   With a line of soy-based frozen and canned products, AHEF provides vegetarians, vegans, those who are ‘fasting’ for religious reasons and those who want to reduce cholesterol and fat in their diets with a number of familiar favorites, vegetarian style.

While we knew of these products and had tried them before (and really liked them!), it was only recently that we discovered an outlet where you can buy them any time of year (fasting months or not!).

Here’s just one picture of what we bought:  veggie sausages

And here’s what we made from it:  Meatless Sausage Biscuits and Gravy (a favorite southern comfort food of mine! – recipe to follow later!)

The canned versions are available in many local supermarkets, but the frozen versions have been much harder to find.   So, to find veggie burgers, kofta, steak, chicken patties, chicken nuggets, meatballs, luncheon, and sausages any time you can go to this location:

Healthy Life Center:  16 El Kobba St., Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt

Telephone: (02)24504157 or  [fax: (02)22561996]

Operating Hours: Sunday – Thursday from 9:00 am -2:00 pm

The center also offers programs about health and wellness, including educational programs about heart disease, weight control, diabetes, hypertension, smoking, stress, and depression.  You can use their facilities for a small monthly fee including health evaluation, exercise training, cooking classes, massage, hydrotherapy, and group support.

Here at Alf Hana, we will be featuring a different AHEF product every so often so you can see all the ways you can still eat familiar foods while making healthy, compassionate choices.

Alf Hana!!

Powerful Protein

If you’ve ever told anyone that you are vegetarian or considering it, you’ve probably heard one of these questions:

  • “Do vegetarians get enough protein?”
  • “Isn’t plant protein inferior to animal protein?”
  • “Where do vegetarians get their protein?”

We hear these questions usually because people are legitimately concerned for our health.  These are very valid questions and perhaps you also are not sure about the answers, so let’s see what the research says.

What is protein and why is it important?

Protein is a nutrient that we cannot live without.  It is made up of amino acids.  Some of these amino acids are created within our bodies, and some are not.  Those that are not are called ‘essential’ amino acids and must be consumed within our diets.

The protein we consume helps to grow, maintain, and repair our bodies.

How much protein do we need?

This is a complicated question.  Many factors affect how much protein you need: your age, your sex, and your weight.  In order to know how many grams of protein is recommended for you, you should average .9 grams of protein for every kilo of weight.  In other words, use this calculation:

Body weight (in kilograms) X 0.9 = recommended protein intake

EXAMPLE: A 60-kilo person needs about 54 grams of protein per day

This calculation includes a safety margin to make sure every individual’s needs are covered.  In fact, many people do just fine and actually thrive on a diet including slightly fewer than the recommended guideline.

Do vegetarians get enough protein?

Vegetarians / vegans get their protein from plant sources.  Some people are under the impression that plant protein sources provide protein that is less complete because it may contain only some of the essential amino acids.  According to research (cited below), every plant protein includes at least some of every essential amino acids.

Courtesy of Ron Diggity

Also, it has been a popular belief that you must combine certain foods in order to obtain protein from certain plant foods.  For example, eat bread and beans at the same meal in order to get “complete protein”.  Considerable research has been carried out over the last few years and has consistently shown that our livers can store amino acids and they can be used when needed at a later time, so there is no need to combine certain foods at the same time.

So, where do vegetarians / vegans get their protein?

Here is a short list of some foods and the amount of protein in each.

Plant-Based Food Protein in grams
1 cup of firm tofu 40 g
1 cup cooked soybeans 29 g
1 cup cooked lentils 18 g
1 cup pinto beans 15 g
1 cup black beans 15 g
1 cup cooked chickpeas 15 g
1 cup cooked fava beans (foul) 13 g
1 cup red kidney beans 13 g
1/2 cup almonds 12 g
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds 12 g
8 ounces soymilk 8 g (same as cow’s milk!)
2 tablespoons peanut butter 8 g
1 cup oatmeal 7 g
1 cup bulgur (make some Tabouli!) 6 g
1 cup broccoli 6 g
1 loaf of baladi bread 6 g
1 cup brown rice 5 g
1 medium potato 4.5 g
1/2 ounce walnuts (7 halves) 4.3 g
1 cup white rice 4.1 g
1/2 ounce almonds (12 nuts) 3 g
1 cup chopped cooked cabbage 2 g
1 cup tomatoes 1 g
1 medium carrot 0.6

This is a short list.  Many more foods not listed here contain protein as well.  As you can see, a wide variety of foods contain protein and it is possible to get more than enough protein in a vegetarian / vegan diet that includes a selection of these foods.

Too much protein: a health risk?

Recently, diets very high in protein and very low in carbohydrates have been the rage.  The value of such diets, emphasizing high intake of meat and very little fruits and vegetables is not supported by the research in the field.  In fact, they may have negative effects on our health, including contributing to osteoporosis, cancer, impaired kidney function, and heart disease.  To avoid over-doing the protein, the Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine recommends trying to include the following in your diet each day:

  • 5 or more servings of grains
  • 3 or more servings of vegetables
  • 2 or 3 servings of legumes

Protein is one nutrient of which we should be conscious as we plan our diets.  There are others that we will discuss here soon.

More information about Protein:
Vegan Health.org: Where do you get your protein?
Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine: How Can I Get Enough Protein? The Protein Myth
Compassionate Cooks: Protein: Getting the facts straight
Nutrition data.com