I became a strict vegetarian in 2010, seven years before I moved Oman. When I made the decision to change my diet and lifestyle, I had zero intention and no expectation of living overseas (I’m glad that changed as I love living on the Arabian Peninsula). I wonder if I would have made the same decision if I knew that I would move to a part of the world where the people love to host and share their meals, meals that nearly always include plenty of meat. (I think I would have gone veggie regardless; I have my reasons.)
Upon moving to Oman and befriending some wonderful Omani ladies, one of my first outings in Muscat proved tricky. As a friend and I decided where to eat, I told her that I didn’t eat meat. That statement in America is pretty straightforward, but I discovered in Oman, English-speaking Omanis hear the word “meat” and think “beef” only. “No problem,” they say, and then offer up a seafood restaurant or note that the restaurant also serves chicken. No, no, I then explain, no animal meat, no fish, chicken, or beef. “Oh!” they respond, sometimes with a strange look on their face. It only took one (maybe two) meetings to get in our rhythm of restaurants that offer food for any diet.
But then I made a friend who had an actual vegan friend who not only lived in Muscat but who was also a vegan blogger. It’s like I found a unicorn! She is also the organizer of Plant Based Muscat, a group of vegans and vegetarians currently living in Muscat, Oman, that holds monthly vegan meet-ups at restaurants in the area to build community and support. I have only followed their adventures via Instagram thus far, but they are an active group that appears to be finding plenty of good vegan food around the city.
Before I moved to Oman, I had numerous people ask me if I would remain vegetarian/vegan when I moved. “Yes,” I responded. I knew it would be fairly easy to maintain. I had traveled to the region previously and knew that many supermarkets carried various vegan food brands readily available in America or the UK (Lightlife, Quorn, Beyond Meat, Daiya, Morning Star, Yves, Field Roast, etc.). And I knew that the diverse expat community in Oman (and the wider Gulf region) provided ample restaurant options, such as Indian, Thai, and Ethiopian cuisine among others.
When I visit friends in Salalah, they know about my vegetarian/vegan diet and plan accordingly. We usually stop by the local Lulu Hypermarket for an array of veg-friendly foods to cook at home. There are also options for eating out in the city. We’ve been to Al Mina at the 5-star Anantara’s Al Baleed Resort. A Mediterranean-inspired menu, there are numerous vegetarian options available. The resort’s other restaurants, Mekong and Salakan, also offer vegetarian options (check out their menus online). Perhaps one of our favorite places in Salalah, loved by meat and non-meat eaters alike, is Udupi, a vegetarian restaurant featuring south Indian food. It might be the talk of the town, in terms of restaurants. (My mouth waters just thinking about it.)
Back home in Muscat, there are any number of places with veg-friendly options. Visit any of the large malls in the city and you will find numerous recognizable Western chains, like P.F. Chang’s, Chili’s, and Paul Café, that have veg-friendly options on the menu (vegan options may be harder to find here). You will likely have better luck finding both vegetarian and vegan food outside the major malls. Check out these favorites:
Mani’s Café: Mani’s has three locations in Muscat, and they offer vegan and vegetarian options throughout the day, including dessert!
Mint&Coco: A lovely café now at two locations has a few veg-friendly options on their menu (and good coffee).
Wagamama: OK, this one is a chain, but it’s not in a mall. They have dedicated vegan menu with lots of options. You can’t go wrong with Wagamama. (Plus, there is free green tea with your meal.)
D’arcy’s Kitchen: A British restaurant near the Al Shatti beach, D’Arcy’s has a little bit of everything including choices for the veg-friendly diet. It’s quite popular with the locals and the tourists.
Hayats: Hayats has hosted the Plant Based Muscat group for monthly meals and offers a variety of Mediterranean and Asian inspired dishes.
Loko: Near Wagamama, Loko has great Mexican street food and offers vegan and vegetarian bowls. A good location for the vegan who has meat-eating friends.
Bomba Burrito: Another entry in the Mexican food category, Bomba has a veg option in nearly every category. To make something vegan, remove the cheese.
Dakwa: Sudani food with attitude, that’s how they refer to themselves. A pop-up food stand that can be found in festivals and markets like the seasonal Souq es Sabt. They’ve hosted a sunset vegan dinner at the beach for the Plant Based Muscat community.
Healthy Kitchen: This restaurant is more vegetarian than vegan friendly. Take a peek at the menu and see what you think.
Lokanta: A Turkish restaurant that hosted a vegan iftar for the Plant Based Muscat community in 2019.
Saha-w-Hana: A juice bar with vegan-friendly salads, desserts, and smoothies. There is one location inside Jasmine for Her, a ladies-only fitness gym, so men, make sure you call in your order or visit another location at Horizon Fitness gyms.
Nourish Kitchen: These guys are actually a meal preparation service, but they offer a vegan menu that people rave about.
One for the bonus round: Go Green Oman. Go Green is a package-free supermarket in Muscat and their aim is to provide products that are wholesome both to the consumer and the environment. They have sustainable products for the home as well as organic, fresh produce and natural hygiene products. It’s a vegan, earth-lover’s dream store. Don’t forget your reusable shopping and produce bags when you visit.
With just a little planning and forethought, the vegan lifestyle is fairly easy to navigate in Oman. Let us help you plan your vegan-friendly tour of Oman. Please reach out with your questions about vegan travel to Oman. We’d love to explore the many options with you.