Update 21/12/2016: The Change Initiative has closed.
Even though I mark myself as a terrible cook, that doesn’t mean I never see a grocery store from the inside or dine out three times per day. Usually I eat pretty much the same meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner unless I order / go to a restaurant. However I love checking out new (grocery) stores just as much as I love dining out – always out there to find more vegan products I can try and include into my diet! While I got used to doing my groceries at Lulu Hypermarket in Al Barsha, I passed by The Change Initiative the other day to see what they offer!
The Change Initiative attempts to be an eco-friendly shop, which offers anything from environmental friendly fashion brands over wall paints to organic groceries. The building of the store was rewarded as “World’s most sustainable commercial building” when The Change Initiative opened a couple of years ago. It’s a 4000 square feet shop, which includes a bistro – “The Taste Initiative“. I didn’t try anything there, but checked out there menu and it’s a nice place located in the back of the store. They offer some vegan salads, but nothing that sounded like I definitely have to try it! BUT if you do decide to stop by there to have a coffee check out the vegan desserts from SugarMoo, which they are offering!
But now to the vegan groceries at The Change Initiative in Dubai: there are a couple of aisles with organic food – anything from cookies over vegetables and fruits to olive oil. Next to organic oats, chia seeds and almond milk I found spirulina, a dietary supplement (or “superfood”), which contains 60% of protein and can be eaten raw or used in soups and smoothies! I was a little bit disappointed by the selection of dairy alternatives as I could only find a few brands of non-dairy milk and the refrigerated food section was so limited that there was no vegan cheese or yoghurt available. However I got super excited when I spotted my most favorite part of every supermarket; the selection of chocolates and cookies. I don’t want to say that I haven’t seen these brands elsewhere in Dubai, but other than in a few other Organic Supermarkets I normally only spot one or two brands that actually have vegan chocolate.
This time I tried a granola bar and chocolate coconut macaroons from Planet Organic. Both of them weren’t only vegan and raw, but also gluten-free and super delicious! The chocolate coconut macaroons had a strong coconut flavor and were gone within minutes! Absolutely loved them but in fact didn’t taste as chocolaty as I expected them! The granola bar was really good as well – it is made of coconut nectar, sunflower seeds, cashew nuts, coconut chips, chopped dates, almonds, cacao powder and a few other good things! It was crispy and finally pleased my demanding taste buds owing to its rich dark raw chocolate flavor!
Also I picked up a fruit popsicle from Bensons The Juicers – these fruity ice lollies are called “Chilly Billy” and made out of pure fruit juice only. I tried the blackcurrant and apple flavor – and liked it. A good frozen, refreshing and vegan fruit popsicle perfect for the heat in Dubai! They had more flavors available at the Change Initiative and a lot more products online (just in case you happen to be in the UK now and then). Last but definitely not least I finally had to try raw organic handmade chocolate from Pana Chocolate. Pana Chocolate is an Australian brand which produces raw, organic, handmade, vegan, soy-, gluten-, and sugar-free chocolate (yes, all of this in all of their chocolates)! There are eleven different flavors available from the classic mint chocolate to rose chocolate. My first try from the Pana Chocolate vegan assortment is the Sour Cherry & Vanilla Chocolate. And I don’t lie if I say that’s a taste you have to try to believe.
I have never in my entire life eaten such a decadent bar of chocolate. It’s perfectly rich in a raw dark chocolate taste (but sweet at the same time) as well as brilliantly smooth in texture. The added sour cherries round up the best chocolate I have had in a long time by far and I can only recommend you try it if you love chocolate as much as I do!
PS: I ate the chocolate and the coconut macaroons so quickly that I didn’t even take a nice picture of the products! However The Change Initiative has some great vegan and organic stuff available – be aware that their Café is entirely closed during Ramadan and don’t forget to check out the Workshops they are offering frequently!
The Change Initiative
Al Barsha 1, SZR between IBIS Hotel Al Barsha and Al Zahra Hospital
Opening hours: 8 AM to 10 PM