Health and convenience don’t typically go hand in hand. When we talk about fast food and ordering in, we don’t typically associate it with food that is necessarily good for those of us watching our waists.
In a city like Dubai, people have the luxury of delivery-access to almost all the most restaurants, and to more options of cuisine.
But when a fresh bowl of salad laden with supposed “superfoods” often costs more than twice that of a McMeal, it’s not surprising that most people do not end up taking the healthy route.
And, of course, the temptation of a quick and convenient manakeesh, burger or butter chicken arriving at your door within three-quarters of an hour is enough to give some good old home food the side-eye.
In the Gulf, the cup of food delivery apps runneth over with a fair few companies jostling with each other for customer acquisition, offering more and more deals, and convenient payment options.
This increase in convenient complacency has evidently led to an increase in a population riddled with health issues not seen before.
According to a report by the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, Ischemic heart disease and diabetes, undeniably caused by dietary risks, are leading the UAE’s residents in the slow march to their graves.
Late last year, The National reported on the fact that diabetes cases in the UAE have risen 35% in just two years.
If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em
Two nutritionists based in Dubai have conceded to the idea that people are getting busier (read “lazier”), and thus more frequently opt for their favored delivery app rather than whizzing something up in their kitchens. Their solution is to take the game to these “busy” folk.
Joining the already crowded food delivery service market, Nadine Tayara teamed up with Maria Abi Hanna, another nutritionist, and Mohammed Johmani, an app developer, to launch Plotos, a mobile app where you can order healthy options—OK’d by the two nutritionists —from the myriad of restaurants in Dubai.
“One of our main goals is to make healthy food easy, convenient and accessible, and to show people that living healthy isn’t as hard as it seems,” says Tayara.
They also want to challenge the perception that healthy food is pricey.
“You can find items on our app that range from as low as Dhs12,” she adds.
Plotos has also just launched another side to their app—a healthy online grocery delivery service. The products available have all been given the stamp of approval by the duo.
Trained nutritionists, Tayara and Abi Hanna put in a substantial amount of research into getting restaurants and stores on board.
They don’t simply add establishments but work with them by studying their menus, often encouraging chefs to change things in the recipes to make them healthier—sometimes as simple as swapping mayonnaise for mustard on a burger.
“When we look for partners to be part of our app, we look for restaurants or suppliers for our grocery section, that we believe also fit within our ethos of health and well-being,” Taya says.
“We work very closely with the restaurants, their owner and chef, if needed, to go through their menu items and make sure they highlight allergens and offer credible nutrition information on Plotos.”
The duo reveals that their revenues are generated through a percentage from every order, with a fixed delivery fee of Dhs5. The restaurants do not, however, pay a fee to get listed.
Launched in March this year, Plotos is currently relying on social media campaigns on both Instagram and Facebook to market their app, instead of advertising.
“We’re also teaming up with influential individuals to work with us on being brand ambassadors for Plotos as well as a few strategic partnerships within the community,” explains Tayara.