Food

Vegan Restaurants and Homemade Vegan Meals in South Africa

I first heard about veganism two years ago when my brother became a vegan bodybuilder. I found it strange that someone could still look and feel healthy without eating meat.

Being vegan seemed impossible until I began to learn more about it. I met more people who were vegans their whole lives or who had just transitioned. As I learned more about the health benefits, environmental impact and the philosophy of veganism I decided to transition.

I have been vegetarian since January 2019. I seldom ate eggs but still ate foods that were made with cow’s milk (like cakes). I enjoyed being vegetarian, so when Vegan Month started in November, I thought I should give it a try.

vegan food

What Is Veganism?

Veganism is a cruelty-free lifestyle and diet. Vegans do not eat any meat, poultry, seafood or animal by-products (eggs, milk or honey) or dairy. There are different types of vegans, such as dietary vegans, raw food vegans, etc.

At the beginning of Vegan Month I was not aware of the different types of vegan diet I could follow, but looking back I can now see that I followed a dietary, whole-food and junk-food vegan diet. I just wanted to make the most out of the month.

Why Go Vegan?

There are many reasons as to why people go vegan. Some want to end animal cruelty and suffering, as they believe that no living, innocent creature should suffer. The goal is to live more compassionately and to end suffering.

Another reason why people go vegan is to improve their health. It’s been proven that veganism lowers a person’s chance of falling ill and generally increases longevity. A few people also go vegan to lose weight.

The other main reason why people go vegan is to reduce their carbon footprint. The meat and dairy industry has become the second largest contributor to Global Warming. Due to the high levels of methane produced by cattle and the land needed to feed the animals, the planet’s natural resources have drastically deteriorated.

Actually, the meat industry is even considered the main cause of the Amazon fires. Over fishing has led to the depletion in coral life and, in fact, most of the plastic waste that ends up in the oceans are from discarded fishing equipment (not always plastic straws).

How Did I Start?

Starting off vegan month was easy for me as I was already vegetarian. Meat and fish were off the grid. I barely had dairy before because I’m lactose intolerant. The only foods I had to cut out completely were eggs (including anything made with eggs) and honey.

What Did I Eat?

I ate anything and everything vegan. I wanted to try every vegan option I could find, from breakfasts to burgers and pizzas, drinks and desserts.

Vegan Tofu Scramble
Vegan Tofu Scramble and Mushrooms.

Challenges

In case you didn’t know, I have a sweet tooth. I love baking and I love desserts. Unfortunately, most of the sweets and decadents that I like are made with eggs and milk. So, when I had cravings I either ate Oreos (which are vegan) but I grew tired of them. I couldn’t have a croissant with my almond cappuccino before running to the office in the morning. It was frustrating at first but I guess it was good for my health. I did attempt to bake vegan cookies but failed miserably.

The only other problem I faced as a vegan was constant hunger. Nothing filled me up. Soon after a big vegan meal I was ready for a second serving. Ironically, I lost weight. I ate more but gained less weight.

The Best Vegan Meals

I loved every vegan Indian dish. Dhal and rice, potato curry and green beans…all of it was delicious and so filling. My favourite vegan ‘junk’ food would be the Valentino pizza from Piza ē Vino. It tasted like normal pizza!

Vegan pizza

The vegan chocolate cake from Doppio Zero was the best dessert. It tastes better than non-vegan chocolate cake.

The Worst Vegan Meals

As I mentioned before, my vegan cookies were a disaster. I’m not sure if it was the recipe I got from Pinterest or if it was just bad luck.

The most disappointing meal was the Beyond Burger from Woolworths café. The Beyond Burger patty is 100% plant based and it looks and tastes exactly like beef. That’s probably why I did not enjoy it. I never liked beef so I wouldn’t like anything that resembles it.

Best Restaurants

The best restaurants/cafes were Doppio Zero for having a full vegan menu, Piza e Vino for offering vegan alternatives for their pizzas, and The Grind Café for having so many vegan drinks, snacks, meals and decadents.

After Vegan Month

I don’t think I have fully transitioned yet as much as I enjoyed Vegan Month. I am still vegetarian however I do think that I will continue to eat mostly vegan food.

Who knows? Maybe by 2020 I will be 100% vegan.


-Kayla Shivana

Follow my cruelty-free and sustainable journey on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

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