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Upfield and Violife celebrate 5 top chefs in Dubai as climate change food warriors on World Food Day

Chef Amro Al Yassin

This is in line with Upfield’s Environmental, Social and Governance strategy and its vision for “A Better Plant-based Future”.

Press Release
October 19, 2021

DUBAI – In celebration of World Food Day 2021, Upfield and Violife have identified and recognized five top creative Chefs in the UAE who have opted to play a significant role as frontliners of the food industry in addressing global climate change. These 'Climate Change Food Warriors' have taken on the vision to advocate for a more sustainable food system while creating the best plant-based meal alternatives in the region. Their vegan creations have helped to make significant inroads with discerning gourmets and regular diners, and they have made a name for themselves in the mainstream.

The five game-changers who have been honored are Chef Nawaf Al Mhamid, Chef Amro Al Yassin, Chef Suresh Baabu, Chef Kait Gandhi and Chef Ryan Waddell. As the world gravitates towards health-conscious and sustainable dining, culinary experts are shifting their focus to offer more plant-based meals on their menus. In the UAE, this plant-based lifestyle is gathering momentum, opening endless possibilities for food innovators and foodservice operators.

Speaking on the recognition of these top Chefs by Upfield and Violife, Reinier Weerman, General Manager of Upfield North Africa and Middle East says, “We are pleased to recognize and celebrate our first set of Climate Change Food Warriors on this year’s World Food Day. These are the Chefs who are at the forefront of promoting plant-based diets in the region through their work and general advocacy. Plant-based diets have been recognized to significantly reduce our impact on the environment and this is especially important for us at Upfield as we work towards our vision to create a better plant-based future. Our recently published Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) report provides further insights on our commitment.”

Talking of their experience, Chef Kait says, “I am honoured to be recognized for advocating for a better planet because this is something I am very passionate about.” Chef Nawaf adds, “Moving to a plant-based diet can make such a difference to our environment and our health without affecting our lifestyle.” Further, Chef Amro states, “Products like Violife plant cheese from Upfield make it easier for me to create tasty, plant-based meals because they provide Chefs and cooks with quality, delicious and functional plant-based alternatives that I can use in my menus. Chef Suresh also adds, “I hope we inspire more people to make the shift in their food choices so we can create the sustainable future we all want.”

The significance of World Food Day is immense because food affects not only human health but also the environment. Food is at the heart of many environmental issues – it is a significant contributor to climate change and is responsible for a third (34%) of global man-made greenhouse gas emissions. In this light, countries worldwide are uniting to help build sustainable food systems that deliver food security and nutrition for all without compromising the economic, social, and environmental bases for generations to come.

Upfield, the world's largest plant-based consumer products company, has been leading the advocacy for a sustainable food system through the adoption of innovative plant-based foods both amongst the public and culinary professionals globally, including in the GCC region. Upfield's extensive plant-based portfolio includes Flora Plant Butter and Cream, and Violife, a range of award-winning vegan alternatives to cheese. These have all been designed to cater to the needs of those who are aware of the importance of making the shift and want to cook and enjoy delicious plant-based recipes.

The growing awareness about health, climate change, conservation of resources and animal welfare have been a catalyst in plant food innovation. Driven by highly talented visionary chefs who are constantly reinventing their recipes by adopting plant-based ingredients, the new vegan-friendly culinary trend is reshaping Dubai's restaurant sector. As part of its commitment to the region's sustainability drive, Upfield has been working closely with the UAE's food sector, helping to spearhead the shift to plant-based diets.

World Food Day 2021 will be the first International Day celebrated at Dubai Expo 2020 as a series of activities and events that call for global solidarity in rethinking and reshaping food systems for people and the planet.

Violife is the plant-based cheese supplier of choice in the Sustainability Pavilion which features a three-storey vegan dining complex housing a trio of vegan kitchens, each bringing its clean, sustainable menu to the world's greatest show. Chef Ryan Waddell who was part of the team to create the sumptuous plant-based menu in collaboration with Matthew Kenney Cuisine says, “I couldn’t be prouder to see Expo visitors enjoy our dishes while at the same time knowing these dishes are helping us protect our planet.”