A vegan bakery in the middle of the desert is making the most out of a desert climate.
Luna Bakery is located on the outskirts of the town of Ta’if, in the heart of the Hajj pilgrimage route, where Muslims are required to wear full-face veils.
It is a rarity for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza to have a bakery, but it has become a staple for those who can’t afford to buy a box of bread or a box or two of flour.
“We are a small operation, but we are doing a lot,” says Luna’s owner, Ahmed al-Mughir.
“I am a baker, but I am also a farmer and a mukhabarat [a person who raises livestock] and I also have a family of sheep and goats.”
The bakery, whose owner and his wife, Lala, own it, is part of the Mughir family’s extended family.
It has been in business for just over four years.
The couple had to sell their home to afford the bakery’s expansion.
“It is a big change to the country and the people,” says Mughirs mother-in-law, Asma, who is a teacher and the mother of three.
“In the past, they were forced to convert to Islam or pay a heavy price for it.
We had to do it.
Now, we are here.”
The Mughiris are not alone in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where a large number of Palestinians live in the arid and arid-flooded areas of the Golan Heights.
But the Maghirs have been the first in Israel to start a vegan bakery, despite being forced to buy wheat flour and other staples.
“When we were selling bread, it was like we were making a new business,” Ahmed explains.
“But when we started making vegan bread, people told us we were crazy.
It was really easy to do.”
“The Mughiri family is not alone.
We were the first to make it,” says Yousif Mughira, a resident of the West Jordan neighborhood of Yatta, who has also come to enjoy the change in the vegan lifestyle.
“For us, it’s like a big shift,” he says.
“People have become more accepting.
We have started to sell more vegan items, but there is still a lot of work to do.
We want to give our customers a better experience.”
The first vegan bakery opened in the Gush Etzion settlement in the central West Bank in 2016, and has since expanded to the surrounding areas.
The Maghir family was the first Israeli family to become fully vegan.
The bakery is part-owned by the Makhluq family, a family with roots in the Jewish settlements of Ramallah and Hebron.
Yousa Mughireh, a Yatta resident, is the head of the family and is the only member of the entire family who still works in the bakery.
“Everyone is vegan,” she says.
When the Muhriq family moved to the settlement, the family of six became a full-fledged family, but they had to pay a steep price for the opportunity.
“After we moved, we had to move from our family home to the bakery,” says Shimon, who moved from Hebron in order to get a job as a waiter.
“This was very difficult for us.
I had to work in the kitchen.
My children were scared.
They could not work in a bakery.
It affected them, but the other kids helped us.”
“They didn’t want to go back to their home,” says Asma.
“They had to take the risk, but at the same time they felt comfortable with us.
They are used to living in the settlement and they are happy here.”
In 2016, a small bakery opened up in the town’s main square, which has become known as the “Kashrut Square” due to the number of Jewish and Muslim worshippers who gather there.
The Kashrud Square is a traditional Jewish gathering place and a place for Palestinians to pray, according to the head and head of Fatah in the Palestinian territories, Mohammed Dahlan.
But, he says, it is a place that has been under siege for years.
“Since 2014, we have been forced to move here to survive, because the situation has become unbearable,” Dahlan said.
“So we have decided to open a bakery.”
The opening of the vegan bakery at the Kashrid Square has raised the status of Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories.
According to Dahlan, there are now more than 50 vegan businesses in Israel.
“The new wave of businesses is important, because we can all benefit from it,” he said.
The first Israeli vegan bakery will open its doors to customers next month.
For its first year, the Mufra Bakery, which opened in 2015, sold vegan goods