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The Rise and Challenges of Veganism in Cairo: A Limited Culinary Landscape

February 7, 2024

In recent years, the demand for vegan food has been on the rise globally, as individuals become more conscious of their dietary choices and environmental impact. However, while veganism has gained traction in many parts of the world, the vegan culinary scene in Cairo, particularly in terms of dedicated vegan restaurants, remains relatively limited.

During an interview at Vegan in Our House, a prominent vegan restaurant in Maadi, we spoke with a family to understand their experience navigating the vegan food landscape in Cairo. 

Radwa, 19, along with her parents Yehya, 50, and Suzanne, 45, expressed their frustration with the scarcity of vegan restaurants in the city. While the number of vegan establishments has grown over the years, they are primarily concentrated in Maadi. 

They mentioned Veggin and Sincerely V as notable vegan options, but noted that the majority of restaurants throughout Cairo merely offer “vegan options” rather than exclusively catering to vegan diets. This limited availability poses challenges for those seeking plant-based meals in different neighborhoods of the city.

To gain further insights, we interviewed Connie, 25, an English citizen residing in downtown Cairo, and Nevine, 27, who lives in El Mohandessin. Both Connie and Nevine shared their struggle in finding vegan options near their respective neighborhoods. 

They emphasized that the prevailing cultural perception in Egypt often associates a vegan diet exclusively with Christian fasting during holy months, which limits the awareness and acceptance of veganism as a lifestyle choice. Even burger shops that used to offer beyond burgers (meatless) during Christian fasting periods have ceased to do so outside those specific times.

Connie and Nevine also highlighted the challenge of sourcing vegan products, as they are predominantly imported rather than locally produced. This dependence on imports leads to fluctuations in availability based on demand and potential importation issues.

Nevertheless, amid this trend, various vegan stores and brands, such as Violife, Good Earth, and Health & Tasty Markets, have emerged in Egypt, providing a convenient avenue for vegans to purchase products. However, it is noteworthy that these establishments often offer vegan items at premium prices.

While these brands facilitate accessibility for many vegans, there is undoubtedly potential for further expansion and increased affordability within the Egyptian market, fostering diversity in product offerings and ensuring more reasonable prices.

Moreover, the affordability of vegan options remains a concern for many individuals. The higher prices of vegan products and meals often make them inaccessible to those who are eager to adopt a strictly vegan diet. 

As the demand for vegan options has not yet reached significant heights, the market forces keeping prices high persist. While the vegan food scene in Cairo faces obstacles in terms of limited availability, cultural perceptions, and affordability, 

It is important to acknowledge the growing interest in plant-based diets and the potential for change. As awareness and demand continue to increase, it is hoped that more vegan establishments will emerge, offering a wider range of options throughout the city and making a plant-based lifestyle more accessible to all.

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