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Sustainable Food Choices SMEs leading the way in the Middle East - COP28 insights

At the recent COP28 event organised SustainUAE for the ADSW and hosted by MASDAR, I had the honor of participating in a panel that was part of a comprehensive day-long session focusing on SMEs' contributions towards achieving Net Zero emissions. The panel I joined specifically addressed the vital role of SMEs in promoting sustainable food practices in the Middle East. In my capacity as a naturopathic chef and the co-founder of MyAuthentikSpoon, I shared my insights and practical advice on adopting more sustainable food choices. Below, I have summarized them for you, including my top 10 recommendations. I'd love to hear your perspectives on these topics, so please feel free to share your thoughts with me directly or leave a comment on this article.


One of the key recommendations for sustainable food practices, as I discussed in the COP28 panel, revolves around the conscious use of water and the choice of food.

Firstly, the shift from bottled water to filtered tap water is crucial. This change not only significantly reduces the use of plastics but also eliminates numerous toxins, such as synthetic hormones (plasticisers), commonly found in bottled options and chlorine used to sanitize tap water. There are multiple SMEs leading the way in this field, one we love particularly in the UAE is Liquid of Life.

Additionally, emphasizing the consumption of whole foods plays a vital role. By choosing natural, local or regional, seasonal, and organic foods, we support sustainable agriculture and reduce the environmental impact associated with long-distance food transport. I was initially against technology-farming like hydroponic and aquaponic due to their lower phytonutrients content when compared to the organic farming but given the water scarcity challenge we have on the Middle East region and beyond, I recommend you check The Food Engineer or HydroArt, two SMEs empowering people to produce their own food.

Further, we discussed the importance of minimizing the consumption of ultra-processed foods. These products beyond their negative impact on our metabolism and satiety, often contain additives and are packed with plastics, contributing negatively to both health and environmental sustainability. Adding instead, flavorful spices, herbs or mushrooms with their umami flavor and a long list of health benefits can be an easy first step. I recommend you check Below Farm, an SME specialized in vertical farming of mushrooms here in the UAE.

Another key aspect is encouraging the preparation of homemade meals. This practice helps in cutting down the use of single-use plastics and containers, often associated with takeout or pre-packaged foods.

Lastly, we touched upon meat consumption, advocating for a balance between plant-based and animal-based proteins focusing on quality rather than quantity. Indeed, plants can be a great source of protein in addition to fiber, healthy carbohydrates and micronutrients for us. Visit one of the Not Just for Vegans markets to get to know brands and companies in this field. Further more, opting for grass-fed meat is beneficial with the valuable anti-inflammatory omega3 it provides but also as it is known to emit 30% less methane (20% direct and 10% indirect) compared to conventional intensive farming meat production, thus contributing to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Muttons for instance is a far better sustainable food choice than beef, this is another fact I learnt by participating to the 2Tonnes workshop.

These interconnected practices, when adopted, can pave the way for a more sustainable and health-conscious approach to food consumption in the Middle East and beyond.


The consumer response in the Middle East to sustainable food initiatives is a compelling indicator of the region's shifting attitudes towards health and environmental responsibility. Spearheading this change is the Endocrine Disruptors Awareness Campaign, a collaborative effort by MyAuthentikSpoon and Because You Care. This campaign has been crucial in educating people about the health dangers and environmental effects of plastics and other harmful substances. It's done more than just share information; it has made people think differently about their everyday choices and the big impact these choices have on their health and the environment.

In Egypt, where I used to live before relocating to Dubai, there's an emerging trend of embracing natural, homemade foods, signifying a broader cultural change towards a lifestyle that's both healthier and more sustainable. This shift is gaining momentum with a rising interest in organic and pesticide-free farming hinting at a deeper respect for the origins and methods of food cultivation.

Contrastingly, in the UAE, especially within the expat community, there's a discernible eagerness for sustainability-oriented educational programs. The masterclasses and coaching sessions we offer at MyAuthentikSpoon have witnessed enthusiastic participation from this demographic, both from the French and English speaking communities. This engagement reflects a robust desire not only for increased knowledge but also for actionable guidance on integrating sustainable practices into everyday life.


Local and regional SMEs in the food sector must adopt innovative, sustainable practices to stay profitable and reduce food waste. This strategic shift is key to their long-term success, allowing them to meet growing consumer demand for eco-friendly options while positively impacting the environment.

One such practice is the utilization of 'ugly foods' – produce that is often discarded due to its appearance but is perfectly edible and nutritious, HeroGo is one of the SMEs leading the way in this area. By incorporating these items into their product lines, businesses can significantly cut down on food waste.

Additionally, partnering with food waste reduction apps like Qalil by WIN Sustainably presents a modern solution to minimize food loss. These apps can help businesses in managing surplus food more effectively, ensuring that less food ends up in landfills.

Another key aspect is the focus on regional and seasonal ingredients. By building menus and food products around what is available in the region and in season, SMEs can reduce their carbon footprint associated with importing ingredients from afar.

At MyAuthentikSpoon we have helped a group of nurseries to revamp their menu with the naturopathic principles and we made sure to use seasonal ingredients available in the region as much as possible. This approach not only supports local and regional agriculture but also ensures fresher, more nutritious offerings for consumers.

Adopting these innovative practices will not only position SMEs as leaders in sustainable food production but also align them with the growing global movement towards environmental responsibility and resource conservation.


In addressing the challenge of reconciling traditional diet practices with sustainability in the Middle East, a dual-strategy approach is essential.

Firstly, raising awareness is crucial. As a leader in the food and wellness industry, MyAuthentikSpoon has been at the forefront of educating the public about the importance of making healthier and planet-friendly food choices. Actually, traditional diets are totally aligned with sustainable practices, thereby ensuring that cultural culinary heritage is preserved while also adapting to environmentally conscious methods. For instance, our DETOX program features dozen of scrumptious traditional cuisines recipes enhanced to support our natural detoxification using a variety of locally available plant-rich protein sources to open up people's culinary horizons.

Collaboration is the second crucial element. Forming partnerships with like-minded SMEs prioritising sustainability is essential. These collaborations can enhance eco-friendly practices, such as water filtration, using reusable items like Citron's insulated stainless steel lunchboxes, natural detergents from Green Touches or Kyma, or participating in Hempy people's educational workshops. These joint efforts significantly contribute to reducing our environmental footprint. By working together, these businesses amplify sustainability's importance and form a strong network championing ecological responsibility. Such unified actions are key in merging traditional dietary habits with modern sustainability needs, leading towards a healthier, more eco-conscious future in the region.


  1. Opt for filtered tap water: Reduce plastic bottle use.
  2. Choose whole foods: Prioritize natural, organic options.
  3. Cook at home more & Cut down on processed foods: Limit single-use packaging, avoid food additives, GMO and plastics.
  4. Balance plant and animal rich protein sources: Lower methane-producing options.
  5. Prioritise quality over quantity of meat: Prefer grass-fed and pasture-raised.
  6. Raise awareness: Educate about the impact of food choices.
  7. Support local & seasonal foods: Enhance local/regional economy and reduce carbon footprint.
  8. Reduce food waste: Use 'ugly foods' creatively and put together sustainable menus.
  9. Embrace food reduction technologies: Utilize apps and tools to minimize food waste.
  10. Foster collaborations: Partner with like-minded SMEs for greater impact.

As an experienced naturopathic practitioner, I really emphasize the importance of awareness and education in making sustainable food choices. With the right knowledge and practices, each one of us can make significant steps towards a healthier and more sustainable food system in the Middle East and beyond.

How do you see yourself or your company contributing to the journey towards sustainable food practices in the Middle East?

Feel free to contact us directly at We will be delighted to answer your questions and assist you on your journey towards better health and optimal well-being, taking into account sustainable food choices.


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Club Synergy Dubai

Le "Club SYNERGY" rassemble des entrepreneurs et des représentants de petites et moyennes entreprises présentes aux Emirats Arabes Unis.

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