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Embracing African Vegan Cuisine: A Journey Back to Our Roots

African vegan cuisine cookbook

What if we told you that the roots of veganism run deep in the soil of Africa, where long-established dishes have been plant-based for generations?

Sometimes seen as a lifestyle choice predominantly associated with certain groups, veganism has transcended those boundaries and as we approach the annual celebration of World Vegan Day on November 1st, we find ourselves reflecting on the incredible journey of veganism. It’s a movement that has evolved and expanded, proving that it knows no boundaries, cultural or economic; and it’s not just a lifestyle choice, but a testament to our commitment to a healthier planet and a brighter future for all…

Chef Cola: A Mission to Make Veganism Accessible

Let’s introduce you to Nicola Kagoro, also known as Chef Cola, a woman on a mission to make the vegan lifestyle more accessible in Africa. In 2016, she founded “African Vegan on a Budget,” inspired by her growth in the culinary industry and her mission to inspire people to follow healthy vegan and plant-based diets without breaking the bank.

Chef Cola preserving African vegan cuisine

Chef Cola’s mission is not just about food; it’s about culture and heritage. She believes that veganism is part of African culture and heritage and told Takudzwa Nyambi in a GQ South Africa interview: “I believe veganism originated in Africa and it is through colonial practices that we learnt these unhealthy meat-eating practices. I am not saying my African ancestors did not eat meat but they did not consume in large amounts nor slaughter animals daily.”

Preserving Plant-Based Traditions in Africa

In some parts of Africa, plant-based diets persist, like in rural Zimbabwe, where some individuals still follow plant-based diets. However, a challenge endures; some feel ashamed of this way of eating, wrongly equating meat consumption with wealth. They consume plant-based foods, such as soy chunks, but label them as meat. 

Chef Cola’s mission is about connecting with our heritage, celebrating our culture, and reclaiming the vegan roots that have been overshadowed by the commercialization of food. It’s a reminder that we have a legacy of plant-based eating waiting to be rediscovered…

Veganism isn’t just for certain groups or the financially privileged; it’s for everyone and embracing it doesn’t mean leaving behind traditional flavours and dishes. In fact, it’s an opportunity to explore the rich tapestry of indigenous African cuisine…

Chef Cola, founder of African vegan on a budget

The Indigenous Cookbook: A Culinary Journey Through Africa

For this year’s World Vegan Day celebration, we want to shed light on the incredible work of The Green Dietitian. They’ve released a groundbreaking e-cookbook titled “Indigenous Cookbook – Southern Africa Edition.” This culinary masterpiece, authored by Registered Dietitians Jessica Kotlowitz and Nadia Mulder, invites us on a delectable journey through the heart of Africa and we’ve got a discount code for you!

Introducing us to the wealth of indigenous African foods that have been enjoyed for generations, it’s a celebration of flavours, traditions and heritage. This cookbook is a testament to the fact that these foods are not inferior to any other cuisine; they are just as deserving of respect and reverence, with each dish telling a story that connects us to our past.

Championing Indigenous Foods for a Better Tomorrow

Why should we champion local indigenous cuisine? The answer is simple: it holds the potential to reduce food and nutrition insecurity, especially for those in resource-poor households across sub-Saharan Africa. The Southern African ecosystem hosts over 200 edible plant species, with 103 being actively consumed. However, as large-scale commercial farming takes over, the knowledge of these indigenous foods is at risk of being lost.

Embracing Indigenous Foods for Health and Sustainability

In 2017, Jessica was contacted by the IAPF (International Anti-Poaching Foundation) to develop a balanced plant-based menu for their all-female antipoaching rangers (known as Akashinga) in Zimbabwe. The IAPF aims to protect wilderness landscapes in Africa and restore endangered species. They follow a vegan diet as part of their conservation efforts. 

The Green Dietitian’s journey with IAPF and exploring indigenous foods got her thinking about how as South Africans, we tend to forget about all of the incredible local cuisines which come from our very own continent.

In their cookbook, Jessica and Nadia emphasize the benefits of local indigenous foods, describing them as sustainable, drought-resistant and supportive of local economies. They also highlight their accessibility, affordability and the fact that they are nutritional powerhouses, rich in phytochemicals linked to disease prevention. The authors stressed that embracing indigenous foods contributes to improved dietary diversity, a key factor in mitigating disease risk.

To celebrate this year’s World Vegan Day,  The Green Dietitian is offering our readers a 15% coupon code to purchase their e-book on thegreendietitian.co.za. This is your chance to embark on a culinary adventure and rediscover the diverse tastes of Africa. Enter the code “shopzero15” at checkout to enjoy your discount.

Remember, veganism isn’t merely a modern trend or a choice reserved for the privileged. It’s a celebration of our heritage and a reconnection with our roots. It’s a movement for everyone, and the table is set for all to enjoy.

African vegan cuisine cookbook

The Wider Impact of Veganism

In the realm of nutrition, we have reassuring statements from both the American Dietetic Association and the British Dietetic Association, affirming that a vegan diet is nutritionally complete and safe for all life stages, including pregnancy. With some thoughtful planning, we can effortlessly source protein, iron, calcium, and every other nutrient typically associated with animal-based products while positively contributing to environmental well-being. Learn more about key nutrients for vegans here and remember our Shop Zero™ store stocks high-quality staples which are rich in these key nutrients (and more) and we ship them to your door plastic-free!

Also, if you need help with your vegan diet journey, we can highly recommend consulting with local registered dietitian, The Green Dietitian

Veganism and the Environment

Veganism isn’t confined to our plates; it extends to our planet’s welfare. Environmental concerns weigh heavily in the growing popularity of plant-based diets. Opting for a vegan lifestyle is one of the most potent choices we can make to reduce our environmental footprint. Mass production and consumption of meat and animal products bear a significant burden on climate change, pollution, deforestation, soil degradation, water scarcity and species extinction.

Understanding that our dietary choices have a profound impact on our world today and the legacy we bequeath to future generations is a compelling catalyst for embracing plant-based foods. Whether it’s witnessing the realities of slaughterhouses through undercover footage or delving into the research of Dr. Michael Greger, published in peer-reviewed scientific medical journals, we are driven by an undeniable need for change.

Collectively, we possess the power to bring about change, starting with a reconsideration of what we put on our plates. History is replete with instances where progress was achieved when individuals representing the minority spoke out against injustices. It’s our duty to follow suit, working to save animals, protect the environment, and, ultimately, secure our own well-being.

This World Vegan Day, let’s journey back to our roots and embrace the myriad flavours of indigenous African cuisine. Let’s celebrate the legacy of veganism ingrained in our culture. It’s a movement open to all and inviting everyone to the table, where the flavours of indigenous African cuisine await.

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World Vegan Day 2022: Eating for the Environment

vegan for the planet

Greek philosopher Pythagoras spoke about veganism around 500 years before Christ

Today is World Vegan Day and a terrific beginning to World Vegan Month. One reason for celebrating World Vegan Day is kindness to animals. Nobody, or almost nobody, would claim to dislike animals. Almost everyone thinks that it is wrong to harm animals and that those who do so should face consequences. For this reason, laws exist to protect the rights of animals, or at least certain animals.

Most children who grow up with pets  in their homes are given the chance to sympathize with animals, understand their feelings and anticipate what it is they need. Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, and Peppa Pig are beloved friends to children around the world and most children are taught to love and respect animals, but sadly a form of abuse, torture and oppression is taught and passed down from one generation to the next. New research shows though that children differ dramatically from adults in their moral views on animals and that we need to consider how we talk to children about humans’ relationship with non-human animals.

Vegan child with duckling. Photo by Yulia Dubyn.jpgPhoto by Yulia Dubyna 

Not only do fewer animal products lead to less animal cruelty, but also fewer greenhouse gas emissions, which means a healthier environment for all. Eating fewer animal products is also healthier for the human body. A win-win all round! 

The vegan movement is so profoundly mindful and seeing the global adoption of a plant-based lifestyle by so many individuals who don’t only wear tie-dye shirts and bell bottoms, but rather people from all walks of life looking for ways to take care of the earth, their body and helpless animals all at the same time is really such a wonderful victory.

A vegan diet is nutritionally adequate and safe for all stages of life.

World Vegan Month is about recognising how far the vegan movement has come and to keep spreading the word about the many advantages of a plant-based (vegan) diet. As the number of active vegans worldwide grows, so does our access to a diverse range of vegan products. Most stores now include departments especially for vegans and offer an abundance of vegan substitutes for whatever one might miss from a carnivorous diet. Thanks to the American Dietetic Association and the British Dietetic Association both stating that a vegan diet is nutritionally sufficient and safe for all stages of life, including pregnancy, we can obtain all the nutrients we require without consuming any animal products. With some planning, it is easy to get protein, iron, calcium and every other nutrient that we connect with animal goods without having to harm animals or contribute to climate change. Eating a whole food plant-based diet is also scientifically proven to prevent and reverse disease.

Veganism’s reach goes further than your plate.

The reasons why people choose a vegan lifestyle vary. From recycling our waste to cycling instead of driving, we all know ways to live a greener life. Therefore, environmental concerns also contribute to the rise in the number of people choosing a plant-based diet. One of the best choices we can make to lessen our environmental impact is switching to a vegan diet. Mass production and consumption of meat and other animal products contribute significantly to climate change, widespread pollution, deforestation, soil degradation, water scarcity and species extinction.

Being aware of the fact that leaving animals off my plate affects not only the world I live in, but also the one my child and his future child/ren will inherit, is a very powerful motivator to only eat plants. Knowing what happens in slaughterhouses after watching undercover footage and also after having learned about Dr Michael Greger’s studies published in peer-reviewed scientific medical journals are my two other drivers of change.

Vegans at Extinction Rebellion protest. Photo by Markus SpiskePhoto by Markus Spiske

 

Fight the climate crisis by going vegan.

If you haven’t already, do yourself a favour and watch Sir David Attenborough’s “A Life on Our Planet.” It is, in his own words, his witness statement and is incredibly touching, serving as a stark reminder of how urgently humankind has to change what and how we are doing. He advises, “The quickest and most effective way for us to make space for returning wilderness is to change our diet…we must change our diet. Whenever we choose a piece of meat, we too are unwittingly demanding a huge expanse of space…. the planet can’t support billions of meat-eaters.”

Sir David Attenborough has inspired millions by bringing the natural world into our homes and at the ripe old age of 96, he is still incredibly passionate about preserving our natural world. I haven’t seen his most recent opus, Frozen Planet 2, but from what I’ve read he reduced his fans to tears making an “urgent final plea”  while speaking straight to the camera and begging viewers to ensure that our planet has a future, especially for the animals featured in the program.

“Eating Our Way to Extinction” is another sobering documentary that should be compulsory viewing for every single politician, leader and policy maker. Uncovering hard truths and addressing the most pressing issue of our generation – ecological collapse and major disease plaguing our species – this powerful documentary sends a simple, but powerful message. Leonardo DiCaprio has encouraged his 53 million followers to watch this climate crisis documentary  and has stated that this is the film future generations will be wishing everyone watched today. With very explicit remarks and all research and facts cited on screen, the movie is simple to follow. A reference page for the facts referred to in the film is available  here. Sir Richard Branson (the billionaire who has invested in vegan and cultured meat brands) makes an appearance in the film, along with world-renowned expert on marine biology, Sylvia Earle and philanthropist Tony Robbins.

And lastly, if you’re looking for a 5-minute short film, have a look at Britain’s leading environmental thinker, George Monbiot’s informative “Regenesis”.

If you think about the issues you already care about, you’ll probably find that animal agriculture is where they all come together. And if you are someone who has been a bit sceptical about climate change (and veganism), I hope that these resources will convince you so we can act now and do our bit for the sake of our beautiful planet.

Together we can make a difference and we can begin today by reconsidering what we put on our plates. We would still have slavery and apartheid if everyone had always believed that “one person can’t make a difference.” Progress was made because people who represented the minority at the time, spoke out against injustices. It is now our responsibility to follow suit in order to save animals, the environment and ourselves. 

If this post has inspired you to go vegan for the sake of the environment or the animals, click here to get started now for free. I also highly recommend taking part in Challenge 22 – a free and very supportive 22 day vegan experience guided by mentors and registered dietitians. 

What do you think?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. If you found this post interesting. please share it with your community so more people can know about it.

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Small Business Owners And Mental Health Challenges

mental health

Earlier this month Studio Candor hosted the MORE LOVE Market at their shop space (which we moved into at the beginning of May). Why the MORE LOVE market? Because the month of May is for Mental Health Awareness (and more love)!

Mental Health Awareness Month has been observed in May in the United States since 1949. In South Africa, the month of October has been declared Mental Health Awareness Month. Nevertheless, the more we can encourage people to talk about mental health the more we can normalise conversations, change the way people think and act about mental health, help people recover from mental illness and improve relationships.

On this last day of May, I noticed the latest The Big Issue Magazine is the Mental Health and Wellness Edition. I got a copy, which I’ll read properly after getting this blog post published, but one of the first things that caught my eye when I was flipping through it for some last bit of inspiration for this blog post, is that “Recent statistics (SADAG 2021) cite that one in three South Africans have or will experience a mental health condition, yet there are very few professional resources available (one psychologist per 100 000, one psychiatrist per 300 000) and only 5% of the entire Health Budget has been allocated for mental health.” The article goes on to say, “This means we need to assume responsibility for our mental well-being as far as possible, and it begins with awareness – of our own state of body and mind, as well as those around us. There is no need to diagnose or treat, merely to act as an early warning system. Prevention is always preferable than cure.”

Therapy is expensive, but perhaps finding a blogger who helps people identify mental problems is the first step for some? (I’ve also shared some free resources and tips in this blog post that may help someone who is struggling.) We know that social media use can be harmful to mental health and well-being, but it can also be used to positively promote mental health awareness. There are some top mental health influencers that make discussions about therapy, anxiety and depression everyday conversations and make people feel seen and understood. My personal favourites are Dr Brené Brown (Researcher), Matthias James Barker (Psychotherapist) and Sanam Naran known as @the.conscious.psychologist.   

Some other self-help material that I’ve been enjoying recently is the Make Your Damn Bed Podcast. I love that this morning motivation podcast is only 3 ish minutes of real-talk. I’ve just finished Sarah Knight’s bestseller Get Your Sh*t Together and can highly recommend this to anyone struggling with work-life balance, procrastination and anxiety.

Hosting a community event or activity promoting mental health awareness is also a great option and it’s great how Studio Candor created space for communities to gather this month. The MORE LOVE market was a wonderful day of supporting local, small businesses, spreading love, doing good and living sustainably.

The Caya Creative Studios  team was there too and did a live podcast  with the owners of Studio Candor as well as myself and Kawthar from KAWRHU.   

In this episode we chatted about sustainability in business, mental health, how business owners have dealt with the Covid crisis, manufacturing, community working together and more. I opened up and shared some of my scariest thoughts and revealed the truth of my deeper secrets of my challenges of being an entrepreneur. If you’re interested in art, sustainability, or the small business journey, this is the episode for you.

Thank you for reading my thoughts. If you have any advice to share, let me know in the comments and let’s spread kindness because everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.

Love and virtual hugs,
Janneke

 

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Diet Change for Climate Change

diet change not climate change vegan friendly sushi

The 1st of November is the start to World Vegan Month, but also World Vegan Day. And no, World Vegan Day isn’t just a day when vegans get a bunch of carrots and a sack of potatoes from their loved ones to congratulate them for being vegan. World Vegan Day is not only dedicated to vegans, but rather a day for people to share their experiences with veganism as well as to raise awareness around the benefits of a more plant-based diet. 

Society loves to joke that vegans always make sure to tell you that they’re vegan, and people often just assume that vegans are simply tree hugging animal activists. But people have different motivations for their vegan lifestyle choices.  The 3 main reasons are; 

The Animals, 
The Planet or for 
Health reasons.

Personally, I became Vegan for the Planet after learning about the unsustainability of a meat-filled diet. Animal agriculture is one of the leading contributors to the climate crisis, being responsible for 14.5% of greenhouse gases. Not to mention the exponential deforestation rates which result from agriculture required to sustain meat-filled diets. Knowing that what I choose to have for dinner not only impacts the planet I live in, but the planet my kids and grandkids will see through, is quite a substantial motivator to eat more plant-based, don’t you think?

Corporations changing for Climate Change

Everyday we are faced with decisions which have an associated climate cost. Will we drive to a fast fashion store to buy a new outfit for the weekend or will we walk to the second hand store around the corner and choose something with a little more character? Will we have roast lamb for dinner, or will roast veggies do the trick? As individuals we have the power to make small changes, but corporations play the greatest role in driving climate change. There’s been much finger pointing between the largest corps, which is often accompanied by a stench of virtual signaling. But which corporations are truly walking the climate change walk and who are just looking to be invited to a COP26 talk? 

Mark Schneider, the CEO of the world’s largest food company and producer of dairy products, Nestlé, spoke out about the benefits of eating less meat and dairy for not only our health, but the planet’s too. As one of the greatest producers of carbon emissions, I’m sure that Nestle’s plans to launch a plant-based protein to ‘replace every animal protein out there’ has Greta Thunberg smiling from ear to ear. Nestlé has already launched a vegan-friendly KitKat in Europe and a plant-based version of Cadbury’s classic bar is about to go on sale in the UK this month. 

Last month McDonald’s launched their vegan McPlant burger in the UK. While I’m a big believer in supporting small vegan businesses, one isn’t always going to find a cute vegan cafe in Brakpan, but you may find larger chains, such as McDonald’s, with new vegan options that aren’t just a super sized portion of chips, which is definitely one small step for vegan and one large step for humankind. Corporations produce almost everything we consume, making their decisions large role players in our decision making. Corporations not only need to shift their product offerings to meet the massive shift in consumer demand towards plant-based options, but also to help make consumers’ dietary decisions that much easier.

Being vegan is easier than we think

I remember when I first jumped aboard the renewable energy powered Veggie train a couple of years ago. The thought of not being able to enjoy something as tasty as my dad’s braaied tjops or my granny’s famous Christmas gammon made me shiver in newly purchased mushroom leather boots. “Am I going to have to eat wilted spinach for breakfast, lunch and dinner in order to meet my daily requirement of iron…”’ I thought.

Thankfully, nowadays, most shops in Cape Town have dedicated vegan sections and vegan alternatives to everything you may miss from a carnivorous diet. “Why do you want vegan alternatives if you hate meat so much?” – the question I often get asked when I slap my Romeo & Vero  Vegan Ribs on the braai. Sorry Susan, but just because I don’t eat meat, doesn’t mean I don’t miss the flavours of meat. Being vegan no longer means just eating lentils and greens or being forced to order a plate of chips from a restaurant because they don’t cater for vegan diets. Choosing to eat a more plant-based diet is truly much easier and tastier than it was a year ago, nevermind a decade ago, and with all the scientific evidence  which points out the importance of decreasing our animal product consumption to help mitigate the impacts of climate change, is it not the perfect time to try a plan(e)t based diet, if not even just for a day?

Going vegan might seem daunting at first, and when you’re hungry it may be a little bit more complex than asking yourself “chicken or beef?” Why not celebrate this World Vegan Day by challenging yourself to make a small change in your diet. Start by going vegan one day a week, or trying a vegan meal at your favourite restaurant, or even better, try a vegan restaurant. Here are my favourite picks to help a vegan transition be made easier.

Veganism made easy

Plushi – Vegan Sushi

I’ll start with my favourite vegan brand, and no it’s got nothing to do with the fact that I co-own it, well… maybe a little. Giving up sushi was probably one of the toughest things I’ve had to do in my transition, but Plushi satisfies every craving, if not, surpasses every and any sushi I’ve ever eaten. If you’re a little sceptical of fish-free sushi, then order on Fridays, for #FishFreeFridays where you get 25% off your order.

sushi for a vegan diet

How Bao Now

Weekend markets are always filled with layers of aromas, all luring you in. Oranjezicht City Farm Market is no exception, luckily, many of these aromas are also vegan. My favourite has to be the Jaca Boa from How Bao Now. The most incredible play on a pulled pork Boa made with slow cooked BBQ jackfruit created by top-class chefs Carla Schulze and Matt van Den Berg.

Pizza Shed

Money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy you pizza, which for me, is pretty close. Most pizza places offer vegan options nowadays, but Pizza Shed gets it just right! Their Neapolitan style Vegan pizza, topped with tomato, caramelised onion, salsa, pine nuts, avo and olive oil is happiness in a box! Order directly through their website and save 15%!

pizza for vegan diet

Patiala Brew & Q

This beautiful hidden gem is tucked away in Constantia with delicious food and ice-cold beers made on site in their micro-brewery. They have such a wide variety of vegan options, but my favourite has to be their vegan pancakes served at their Sunday Brunch.

vegan for the planet

Vegan options big chains offer

Whether it’s the local after-work drinks, take out or the kids’ favourite restaurant. Big South African restaurant chains have caught onto the growth in veganism, and they’re not shying away from stepping up to the (dinner) plate.

The Houdini Burger from Hudsons
Big Cheesy Nachos with vegan cheese from Fat Cactus
Plant-based Whopper from Burger King

Sweet Treats

The donuts from Grumpy and Runt have to be the best in the biz! Not to mention their subs and sandwiches. Their new ice cream truck is also serving up the best ice cream Sundaes just in time for summer.

The bagels from Dolce Bakery are almost as good as their cruffins. My favourite has to be their Lotus Bischoff Cruffin. For anyone with a sweet tooth like mine, this guy is your number.

Whether you’re interested in trying out veganism for the month, maybe a day, or even a meal, making just one change in your diet will have an impact on climate change, no matter how small you may think it is.

About the author

Business woman Carin Brink on why vegan for the planet

Carin is a nature enthusiast with a passion for sustainability. While completing her Masters in Environmental Science, Sustainability and Society, she also co-founded and owns vegan sushi company Plushi, as well as a boutique marketing agency, Peeled Orange Agency. 

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Local Tourism and Dips in Eco Pools

local tourism

Sometimes we all need some time to escape the real world. Stress will always be part of our lives, but too much stress can lead to a meltdown. Escapism is the new self-care and there are some easy, scientifically-proven ways to do this. Reading a book, catching up on movies, getting out of the city to go camping or hiking are just some of the great ways to take a step back and to feel reinvigorated. Some might enjoy going for a swim, getting some exercise, journaling, or taking a holiday to switch off from work and relax.

A recent invite to Angala Boutique Hotel allowed me to pause and enjoy the quiet, the birds and the beautiful mountains. We are so spoilt by natural beauty in this country and Angala is a quick and easy getaway for South Africans who seek a world-class destination to relax in.

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed immense pressure on the hospitality industry and local tourism is key to saving the tourism sector. I wanted to share my little staycation photo diary should you wish to visit this beautiful family owned and managed hotel.

local tourism

The chef, Maxwell, skillfully prepared and served our flavourful dishes. He has been working at Angala for 13 years and Cerene, who also took great care of us at breakfast time, was actually born in one of the guest rooms! The rooms used to be houses for workers on the farm and Cerene is so happy about working on the farm where she grew up. It was wonderful hearing her stories and knowing that Angala was able to keep on all of their staff during the coronavirus crisis.

local tourism

The scrumptious selection of warm and cold breakfast options was served on the balcony overlooking the eco pool and mesmerising mountains.

local tourism

Dinner was served in Angala’s beautiful in-house restaurant. For starters, Maxwell served his delicious cauliflower soup with freshly baked bread. He even shared the recipe with us! Angala happily caters for any specific dietary requirements or food allergies. Speak to them before you arrive and they will tailor their menus for you personally.

local tourism

I spent the first night on my own, which was amazing as a little solo escape for some proper rejuvenation. My sister-in-law joined the next day and we had a great girls’ night! This barefoot 5-star sanctuary is perfect for girls’ nights, couples, tired moms and even intimate weddings or corporate getaways.

local tourism

Sipping coffee on the balcony, watching the sunrise over mountains… what could be better? We had the property all to ourselves, so this was also the perfect spot for meditation.

local tourism

Facilities at Angala include an infrared sauna, steam room, solar heated plunge pool and an ozonated spa pool which is kept clean with activated-oxygen (ozone) instead of chemicals.

local tourism

The room’s earth-toned colours are inspired by nature. The wellness and hydro facilities along with the room’s fireplace make Angala ideal for recharging your batteries at any time of the year.

local tourism

The beautiful bathroom opens to the outdoor shower. There is something spectacular about showering outdoors. I don’t know why I still don’t have an outdoor shower at home! It’s such an amazing feeling of becoming one with mother earth when you see the sights and sounds of nature and feel the fresh air intermingled with shower steam. 

local tourism

The room’s patio and private garden were also lovely for meditation and morning coffee. The many garden birds were also beautiful to look at and listen to. Angala regularly also hosts retreats and there is an amazing weekend of yoga, mountain walks, relaxation and stillness coming up in November. Take a look here.

Angala is pure magic and it’s really hard to choose my favourite part of my stay at this luxury, eco retreat, but experiencing the beauty of their unique eco pool was absolutely wonderful! It is kept sparkling clean by circulating it through a living ecosystem of water plants. This indigenous aquatic garden’s perfectly clean water is soft on the skin and infused with healing energy and loads of grounding. No salt, no chemicals and no sterilisation equipment. I chatted to Aubrey Blignaut, Angala’s owner’s brother, about the eco pool. You can watch our live IGTV video here.

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Stress Relief and Finding Calm in the Chaos

stress free zone

Different cities around the world are lifting lockdowns and some people are feeling that things are slowly returning to “normal.” For those who have lost loved ones during the pandemic, or for some of those who have lost their jobs or opportunities amid the crisis, going back isn’t even an option.

Covid-19 has upended all the normal routines in our lives, but it has also given many an enormous opportunity to reflect on our lives and, potentially, to reset our lives, as well as reimagine, and reset our world.

Photo by Denise Toledo Fleetham

 

I loved reading through this collection of hopeful responses from 58 people from 24 countries about some of the new habits and new lifestyles to keep in a post-lockdown world and thought you might enjoy reading this too.

Destigmatizing, normalizing and prioritizing mental health

Because of the ongoing pandemic many people are experiencing “Covid fatigue” and feeling a lack of motivation, exhaustion, depression and loneliness. Psychologists also say that getting back to pre-pandemic routines might also be overwhelming for some.

I wanted to share some tips that might help with finding calm in the chaos. 🤍

Asking for help is strength

The Counselling Hub makes mental health care services more accessible to those in need. They offer one-on-one counselling services in Woodstock, Cape Town for R50 a session. Call them on 021 462 3902 to book a session.

The South African Depression and Anxiety Group has a Mental Health Line. Call 011 234 4837 to speak to a counsellor.
 
Miss South Africa 2020, Shudufhadzo Musida, also has a mental health initiative #MindfulMondays in partnership with SADAG where she speaks to various experts on a diverse range of topics related to the subject on Instagram on Monday evenings at 19h00. I also enjoy following the amazing mental health advocates @thesouthafricantherapist and @drjess_stanbridge on Instagram.
 
Checking in with loved ones can also be incredibly uplifting. Your support can really make a huge difference. If you don’t know how to tell someone they’re not alone, take a look here to help you get the conversation started.
 

Take deep breaths

 
Simply breathing can help with stress relief, but did you know that shallow, short breaths can actually make you feel more anxious. Deep breathing decreases stress and increases calm. Learn how to do deep breathing here. Dr Neda Gould, PhD also has some lovely videos on Youtube that teach this relaxation technique.
 
feeling stress
Photo by Kajetan Sumila
 

Getting enough sleep is a healthy way to cope with stress. If stress is keeping you from getting your z’s, try the apps Headspace or Calm for meditation, sleep sounds and music. These apps also have great bedtimes stories for adults to fall asleep to. (They also help getting my five-year-old drift into dreamland much faster!) These CBD capsules also really help me get some sleep at night.

Finally, my absolute favourite videos for finding calm and peace are Boho Beautiful’s Juliana’s guided meditations. With 2+ million Youtube subscribers, I’m sure you will also enjoy this travel, yoga and lifestyle brand.

Try creative activities to relieve stress

Studies have shown that art therapy, adult colouring and drawing in general can also be a great stress relief tool. Even if you’re not good at art, colouring mandalas or doing some art therapy is great for adding to your self-care routine. Just go with what you feel on a page. It’s not about the end product, but all about mindfully creating something beautiful that distracts us from feelings of stress and anxiety.

Eat stress-busting foods

Try to eat healthy meals and exercise regularly to help tame stress. Take a look at this list of 10 best foods to help fight stress. Below are some of my favourites:

Craving chocolate in stressful situations? Go ahead, grab some dark chocolate! Raw chocolate is a rich source of of magnesium and mood enhancing brain chemicals, including PEA (phenylethylamine), anandamide, serotonin and dopamine. Make raw chocolate smoothies and desserts of all kinds with our raw and organic cacao powder. It’s also great to sprinkle over your breakfast.

raw chocolate for stress relief

Avocados are very high in omega 3-fatty acids that are known to reduce stress and anxiety. Purchase some chia seeds here and flaxseeds here to add even more omega-3s to your plate.

Nuts are full of many nutrients that may help reduce feelings of stress. Almonds, pistachios and walnuts are heart-healthy and high in the antioxidant vitamin E and zinc. Add some almonds to your cart here.

Heal through medicinal food

Soaring Free Superfoods developed their Potent Plants range to be used for their medicinal properties, for optimal health and wellness. In essence Potent Plants are medicinal foods which act to restore and replenish your body as supplements would, but in a natural way which the body already recognises and can easily absorb. If you are deficient in vital nutrients and looking for supplements or if you want to upgrade your health to help your body to deal with the daily pressures of life and environmental stressors, then Potent Plants are for you.

I love using their Euphoria Mood Enhancer Blend when I feel emotionally drained, stressed and anxious. Their Ashwagandha capsules are also great for supporting adrenal health and treating a variety of conditions.

Quieting my busy mind

Tourism Month is celebrated annually in September and I was honoured to have been invited to Angala Boutique Hotel last month. We are truly blessed to live in beautiful South Africa and I will never tire of being a tourist in my own country. Located in the heart of the Cape Winelands, this beautiful retreat for body, mind and spirit was just what I needed to fill my cup. Between the magnificent mountains I was reminded to slow down and that every phase of my journey serves a purpose. Being a small business owner and having to juggle many roles (including wife and mom!) is VERY hard. I’m still working on improving my work-life balance, and my time alone at Angala was such a good reminder that I need to make time for myself.

Angala is a quick escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Walking through the door you feel instantly relaxed and I love how they not only look after their guests exceptionally well, but also look after our planet. Check out their amazing eco pool here.

The month of October has been declared Mental Health Awareness Month in South Africa. Angala is currently running spring special packages (and will be hosting amazing yoga and art retreats in November). If you need a little time out to relax, that’s what you will get at this barefoot 5-star sanctuary.

stress free getaways

Thank you for reading my tips and thoughts. If you have any advice, resources and rituals for practicing self-care to share with those struggling with mental health problems, please pop them in the comments below.

Please note that I am not a doctor. This post is for educational and informational purposes only, and does not constitute any professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Stay healthy and take care of yourself!

Love and virtual hugs,
Janneke and Team Shop Zero™ Xx

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How to Give Your Home a Green Spring Clean

how to give your home a green spring clean

Spring has sprung in the southern hemisphere, bringing the perfect opportunity to give your home a green spring clean. When spring rolls around we brush off the dust gathering over winter and start to get rid of everything that we have grown out of over the colder months. It’s also easier to open the windows and get the air moving again. Increasing ventilation will help reduce indoor toxins such as VOCs, mold, heavy metals, phthalates and PVC. Bringing greenery with air-purifying qualities into your home is also a good way to clean the air, plus they’re lovely to look at! Thanks to Plantify you can create an instant jungle look with the Mother-in-Law’s Tongue and the Peace Lily houseplant and let them do the job. 

Spring is here. Open your home's windowsPhoto by Alistair MacRobert

The next step to make your home feel like spring, is to make it smell like spring. Using essential oils is a wonderful, natural way of making your home burst with the delicate scents of nature. By using a diffuser with some of your favourite fresh scents such as SOiL’s lavender oil, you can emit a lovely mist of wonderful smelling goodness that also eases stress and helps stimulate a more restful sleep. Vaporize peppermint oil for a refreshing and stimulating smell through your home or use lemongrass oil as an insect repellant.

Essential oils are also great to have in your starter pack for making DIY natural cleaning mixtures, and many of the other ingredients (such as lemon, salt and vinegar) may well already be in your pantry. Trying DIY home cleaning recipes will save you money and protect the environment. Using non-toxic cleaning products is also much better for your health.

How to replace chemical-laden cleaning products with non-toxic household ingredients

  • Clean your windows with 1 part white vinegar and 1 part water. Use old newspaper for great smudge-free results.
  • Clean your oven with baking soda. Mix baking soda and water until it makes a spreadable paste.
  • Unclog your drain with baking soda and salt. Mix 1/2 cup baking soda with 1/2 cup salt, pour down the drain and leave it to work for at least three hours. Rinse the drain with boiling water.
  • Remove mildew with white vinegar and make a baking soda paste to clean grout between tiles.
  • Clean wood furniture with a mixture of 1 cup water, 1/4 cup vinegar and 2 teaspoons olive oil. Use olive oil for polishing wood furniture.
  • Remove bacteria from counters, your microwave and stovetop by making your own solution of one cup of water with one cup of apple cider vinegar. (Vinegar and marble is a deadly combination though, as it will eat into a marble countertop’s surface and dull the stone, so never use vinegar to clean marble or granite counter tops!)
  • Replace fabric softener with white vinegar. Add to the rinse cycle to naturally soften your laundry. Citric acid also makes an excellent fabric softener.
  • Learn more about cleaning your shower, dishwasher, espresso machine and kettle with citric acid here.
spring clean your home naturallyPhoto by Amélie Villa

Make an easy zero waste citrus peel all-purpose cleaner

A great way to reduce the amount of waste we send to landfill is by composting kitchen scraps. Organic waste in landfills create methane, so by composting you can help decrease greenhouse gas emissions. A bokashi food waste bin makes it easy, even for those living in apartments. Start composting today!

But before you compost your lemon, lime, orange or grapefruit peels, store them to make your own citrus-infused vinegar cleaning spray. You really get such a huge sense of accomplishment reusing kitchen scraps to create a low cost, non-toxic cleaner for your home!

  • After you collected a good amount of citrus peels, add them to a glass jar so it’s at least half full. (Any jar will do, but if you’d like your own iconic Le Parfait jar as pictured above, get it here.)
  • Cover the peels with white vinegar and infuse for at least 2 weeks. Please note the vinegar will eventually corrode your jar’s metal lid.
  • Strain the vinegar and compost the peels. Voila! Enjoy using an all-natural cleaner made from some of your trash.

Another lovely all-purpose cleaner to try, uses 1/4 cup white vinegar and 1 and 3/4 cups water. Add 30 drops of essential oils to the vinegar and water. 15 drops of lavender and 15 drops of lemon is a great combination to try. Or play around with a blend of eucalyptus, peppermint and orange. There are so many different blends that you can try. Personalise them to your family for whatever suits your senses best, but avoid cleaning marble/granite counter tops, wood furniture or hardwood floors with vinegar.

The fun part about using your own homemade cleaning mixtures, instead of store bought cleaning products, is that you get to blend your own custom scents that you enjoy. Creating a signature scent for your home, is a wonderful way to make your home feel fresh, clean and inviting, but without using air fresheners and cleaners made from harsh chemicals.

If making your own products is not for you, Shop Zero™ has a section dedicated to amazing zero waste cleaning supplies that are a must have in your zero waste home. Try out the trusted Better Earth Dishwashing Liquid and GWIZZ Multi-Use Cleaner. There is a swap for almost everything! Lay your hands on a vegan loofah sponge which can be used as a body exfoliation or a dishwashing sponge. And if you really want to get your thumbs green, then try out the loofah seeds activity pack by My Eco Sprout where you can grow your own loofah sponge with your child. 

At Shop Zero™, there is something for everyone and we want your zero waste journey to be made manageable and seamless. There is so much to worry about in this world; at least how the hidden toxins in your cleaning supplies are affecting your health (and the earth) is no longer one of them.

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Women and Nature – who is She to You?

women and nature

From a young age, I always found it so intriguing how nature took on the role of a woman – Mother Nature. How we referred to it as ‘her’ or ‘she’ and even at times seeing people and literature spell it with a capital N. How cool, I thought as a little girl, that we gave nature so much recognition, we even made it a pronoun. That we, women, were being compared to something so magnificent, so powerful and so beautiful. But for some reason, this Women’s Month, when I started thinking about why we refer to nature as a woman, the ecofeminist within me was flooded with mixed emotions.

The term ‘fertile land’ was my first gaze into this kaleidoscope of beautiful, yet unclear thoughts when looking through this new and confusing lens. How beautiful, to think, just like a woman, who can create new life, so too, can nature carry the power to reproduce. But if the land isn’t fertile, it is referred to as barren. Being able to empathise with the shame that women sometimes feel when they are unable to reproduce, I found this term quite demoralizing.

I started thinking about the parallels between women and nature. I was looking into this not-so-new revelation, but my rose-tinted glasses no longer covered my eyes. It dawned on me, women have been fighting for their rights, to be seen and heard, and to stop the discriminatory actions of society for centuries. So too, have we been fighting for the rights of our environment, giving a voice to the voiceless, fighting against its destruction. While progress has been made, albeit slow, we have been fighting against society’s oppression of both. Fighting for society to understand that they are both worth fighting for.

Was it he that made nature a she?

The idea of nature being a woman has existed for centuries. From ancient and enduring traditions of feminine spiritual incarnations such as the Incan Goddess Pachamama and the Greek deity Gaia, to its connection portrayed in art and language. Explorers and travelers, who were mostly men, often described and compared their discoveries to the beauty and the shapes of women. Even Shakespeare famously asked ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

We are taught from a young age to refer to our natural environment as ‘Mother Nature’, giving us the idea that our planet is a parental figure which is there to sustain us. Well, that’s the comforting analogy I believed for years, one taught to us as children, but what we are not taught as children, or with age, is the impact which gendered terms and languages can have to reinforce gender hierarchies and stereotypes within our society. These metaphors, imagery and language paint certain images of the feminine, which can reinforce these stereotypes. Women and nature are morally linked if we think of it in a way that both are oppressed and fighting in solidarity for one another.

Carolyn Merchant explained in her book “The Death of Nature” how the environment shifted into something which was altered, exploited and used to create profit post the revolution of science. This transformation took place in the context of a patriarchal society, where women’s rights were already being protested, as women’s reproductive and labour abilities had for years been exploited.

The comparison between nature and women has long been deep seated in Western culture, something which confirms the other’s inferiority. By creating this connection between nature and women are we not condoning or justifying the acts of exploitation? I do believe that by truly understanding nature through the hierarchical structural lens with which society is seen, we may begin to place the natural environment in a different ideological place in our minds, showing it the respect it truly deserves.

When we fail to respect nature, are we disrespecting women?

Ideological terms are not the only manner through which disrespect for nature translates to disrespect towards women. When we fail to respect and protect our natural environment it translates into unbalanced disadvantages for certain socioeconomic groups, in particular, women. Climate change impacts poorer communities more harshly, especially women, since women have great and valuable roles and responsibilities within nature, particularly within these communities, as well as the fact that women constitute the majority of those living below the poverty line. In the global south, 60% of food is produced by women, with 50% of the world’s agricultural workforce consisting of women.

Therefore, anything that impacts climate agricultural activities, such as flooding or droughts will have an impact on women’s sources of income, security, as well as their access to food and their basic survival. When the impacts of climate change result in girls and women being taken out of their education in order to work harder and walk further to collect and produce resources, we must realise that we are essentially taking away opportunities from them, which would empower them to have a brighter future. Women have incredible and unique knowledge which is exceptionally valuable in the fight against climate change. In order to enact positive climate change action, we have to incorporate women in environmental policy. By bringing women into climate change action on a decision-making level; it not only promotes the empowerment of women, but it also pushes to redefine their relationship with the natural environment, but this time, it’s on their own terms.

Dismantling dualisms

The manner in which we think about our natural environment is directly linked to the manner in which we think about women. In a patriarchal society, perceiving our planet as feminine is to some degree to perceive it as inferior, whether we realise it or not. Why do some people regard things made naturally to be less than things which are man-made? In a society founded on polarities and pairs; female and male, physical and mental, emotional and rational, natural and man-made, body and mind; nature has been seen as the antithesis to rationality with its unpredictable patterns. Men are symbolized by their rationality, while women are portrayed as irrational.

Women are often hidden in the shadows; “behind every successful man is his woman.”  That outdated quote reminds me how women have for centuries been placed in the background to males’ actions and success, without recognition, being devalued. In the same way women are often thought of as background figures to the success of the men in the foreground, so too, does society often think of nature as a background to the happenings in the foreground. Philosopher Val Plumwood says

‘[t]o be defined as ‘nature’ in this context is to be defined as passive, as non-agent and non-subject, as the ‘environment’ or invisible background conditions against which the ‘foreground’ achievements of reason or culture […] take place […] a resource empty of its own purposes or meanings, and hence available to be annexed for the purpose of those supposedly identified with reason or intellect, and to be conceived and molded in relation to these purposes’

Plumwood suggests there to be a logical inconsistency in the way we perceive our relationship with the natural world. Majority of the population acts as a mind which ceases to understand their impact on the body of which they are a part of. These socially constructed dualisms create a distinction between natural and man-made, but in fact, we are all just a part of a larger whole.

Understanding Nature and the Mother

In order to understand the feminization of nature, we need to really understand how our mothers are treated, which differs from person to person and within various cultures. Catherine Roach describes this intricate relationship in “Loving Your Mother: On the Woman-Nature Relation.” She explains that even the most benevolent usually regard our mothers as existing for us instead of the sovereign beings that they truly are. Catherine reveals how we identify our mothers as a  person we can turn to for anything and that they will, without expecting anything in return, be there for us, whether it be for advice or support.

This imbalance in the mother-child relationship conceptualizes many peoples’ relationship with nature; Mother Nature. We act in a manner to which no cost is fixed to our negligent use of natural resources, as if resources are there purely for our ability to deplete them, with no guilt attached. When we view nature as a mother – a woman; we view it as an endless being from which we can take with no consequences. In a patriarchal society, where women are often viewed as being valuable for their abilities to become mothers and their capacity to produce new life, we are placing value on what they can offer us instead of what they indeed are. Just as we should respect our mothers, we too should respect nature, not simply for its ability to produce new life, but simply for what it is. The power it has, the beauty it holds, the life it carries.

Disrespecting women is a natural disaster

By viewing the natural environment as a simple background entity, we are essentially dismissing the fundamental role it plays and denying the reliance we as a society have on it for our basic human existence. The urge for change has long been standing, but how do we overthrow the deep-rooted exploitation of nature and women which has been ingrained in Western culture? Just as we presume nature will just simply remain silent while we continue to disrespect it, disregard it, devalue its importance in our everyday lives, just as we proceed to view nature as a background non-agent, while we very well recognise, that without nature itself, we will not be able to sustain life. So too, if women remain in the background, without honouring them with the respect they deserve, acknowledging their ability to sustain, these two, magnificent, powerful entities, will carry on acting irrationally, fighting back, fighting for their voices to be heard… they will erupt with anger, they will bring the heat and they will burn anything in its path, they will bring tears, delivering a tidal wave of reimagining, flooding society with new paradigms. They will tear through the toxic masculinity which poisons and soils everything which sustains us, bringing winds of change. It’s time to listen. Feel the tremors, let it shake you up from the inside out.

As destructive as this dismantling change may be, it’s a beautiful thing to see how nature and women are no longer allowing themselves to be placed in the background. Until they are both brought to the foreground, we will be dealing with a natural disaster, resulting in damage which will take years to mend. The effects may be catastrophic, tragic and even disastrous. I’m not necessarily saying we need to stop referring to nature as a woman, but that when we do, we recognise the parallels of oppression that both have had to endure for many years, and that we begin to value them both as they rightfully deserve, such that our planet is not only sustained, but can function optimally, for many years to come.

Changing the way society views women and nature

Our relationship with the natural world is clearly a complicated one, and the dualistic assumptions under which we operate do not always paint a realistic view of the world. But the relationship we hold with nature, the way we feel about it, the way we respect it, has a vast impact on the way we treat it and the degree to which we engage with nature with conscious behaviours. Ecofeminists suggest that we stop looking at nature as something below or above us on a hierarchical scale, but rather viewing it with reverence. Just as women, if we saw nature as something which we had no right to exploit, would society not begin to treat them both differently? Yes, women are more connected to nature, and forging more connectedness to nature would be beneficial, but the creation of reverence will be more powerful in its ability to stop the exploitation of nature.

What if the idea of drawing connections between nature and women didn’t lead to oppression? Maybe there’s an opportunity for the connection to be reclaimed in a way that becomes liberating? I believe women are inherently closer to nature, but I do not find this association to be disempowering. Despite what I’ve come to learn about why we refer to nature as a woman, the fact that nature and women are both the source and sustainers of life, that we share an incredible connection to our natural environment, the roles women have played in nature for centuries, and that the bodies of women are more affected by the natural world in comparison to men, is a beautiful thing. I will never stop referring to nature as a woman, as I believe that they are both alike in their power, beauty and value, but when I do, I will always remember to recognise the fight they have both fought for years and be reminded of the respect and value they both deserve.

Note from the author

By all means, my perception and connection with nature is a direct result of my own experiences. I am privileged enough to have grown up in Cape Town, where nature is always around the corner, and I was able to make time in my day for time in the ocean or to go on hikes, as well as being able-bodied, which allowed me to explore freely. Other women, with differing backgrounds and circumstances may have a different relationship with nature. Of course, the experiences of other women are as significant as mine, and the greater picture of ecofeminism would be incomplete with these variant experiences. However, it’s important that an ecofeminist space is created which is not dominated by white, able-bodied, straight and privileged women. It’s important to create an inclusive ecofeminism space. In the same way we seek to end the oppression of both women and nature, within this space, we should prioritize marginalised voices within.

Business woman Carin BrinkAbout the author

Carin is a nature enthusiast with a passion for sustainability. While completing her Masters in Environmental Science, Sustainability and Society, she also co-founded and owns vegan sushi company Plushi, as well as a boutique marketing agency, Peeled Orange Agency. 

As part of our Women’s Month celebrations at Shop Zero™, we recently interviewed a few fellow female entrepreneurs. Carin was one of them and gave us such thoughtful answers. Read the interview here.

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We Are All Wonder Women!

artist: Diana Pedott

I’m still buzzing after last week’s Women’s Day and hearing a song that highlights strong women in Vivo, the new Netflix musical animated film. ‘My Own Drum’ is a banger that has been stuck in my head for days. Get ready to discover your new anthem and watch the music video here. This awesome and wholesome song is about a girl feeling different and instead of conforming to fit in, she is true to herself. As I watched Vivo with my five-year-old son, I thought to myself it’s so amazing how girls are represented in films these days. I just love it how animated movies bust gender stereotypes and teach young girls (and boys) different lessons today. Our young girls are now idolising strong, brave and self-sufficient female characters. Hell yeah!!

strong women

Missy Elliot and Ynairaly Simo’s song ‘My Own Drum’ is all about individuality and empowering girls around the world.
 

August is Women’s Month in South Africa

South Africans celebrate Women’s Month in August and Women’s Day on 9 August every year, where we pay tribute to the more than 20 000 women who marched on 9 August 1956 to protest against the carrying of pass books. August is a wonderful time to honour and celebrate the bravery and power of the women who came before us, but also the South African women in our society today. Women’s Month is also a great reminder to empower each other and that supporting another woman’s success will never dampen yours.

South Africa’s high levels of gender-based violence sometimes make it hard to remain positive, but it’s very important to stay positive and celebrate inspiring South African women. We love supporting the Restoring Dignity Project, encouraging independence, restored self-esteem and healing through soap-making. Purchase their beautiful natural products here. These women are an inspiration as to what can be achieved! 

We as women can change the world for the better and together, we are unstoppable! We are all wonder women, and we are all warriors with inspiring journeys.

I recently interviewed a few powerful women and want to share with you what they have to say. I’d also like to take the opportunity to make a shoutout to all our female customers and followers. Thank you for your support. Nothing but gratitude for you all. We love you!

Meet Ayanda Vana

power woman Ayanda Vana

Ayanda Vana is currently doing her Masters in Tech Law and is the COO of the tech-startup, Khula. She also recently started an amazing podcast ‘Equip and Elevate’  to help women progress, grow and take up space.

What does this year’s Women’s Month theme “Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights for an Equal Future” mean to you?

Women’s Month, it is a reminder of how far we have come in the realization of gender equality. However, it is also a reminder that the path to women’s equality has been long and there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to bridge the gender gap. More so we have the responsibility to work towards breaking down the structural barrier to women’s equality as it is fundamental for progress and key for development. In order for all of us to be fully free and equal as a generation, we need all genders to work together to eradicate the disparities faced by women on a daily basis. Generation equality means that we need everyone to unite in order to eradicate systemic barriers that hold women back from equal participation and opportunity for all women. It is a demand for equal opportunities, equal pay, call to the end of violence against women’s bodies and mental health as well as policy reform and programmes by our government that are geared towards achieving this goal.

 

As a woman, what is one of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome while running your business and how did you do it?

Many women face obstacles and barriers in business and the workplace because of their gender.  Women have to work twice as hard in order to get a “sit at the table”. Even when you do have a “sit at the table”, you still need to work twice as hard in order to be heard and seen. I had to learn to be assertive and stand up for my worth and value.

What impact do you hope for your business to have on your customers and the world?

Khula is a digital ecosystem of platforms that connect & enable role players in the agricultural and food value chain to grow their businesses: through an e-commerce marketplace, trade platform and digital support service for funders & farmers. We envision a connected & inclusive food system that can support the growing need for sustainably and responsibly sourced and produced food around the world.

How do you balance professional and personal life? Have you mastered the work to play ratio yet?

It is not easy. I am still learning the art of balancing my professional and personal life especially because I have a 9-5 and some side hustles. However, if I do not get it right, I try to be kind to myself. It is important not to be hard on myself especially when I am balancing a lot of things.

As a young girl, did you think you’d be where you are now? What did you dream of becoming?

Growing up I wanted to be many things from a neurosurgeon because I loved Grey’s Anatomy to a fashion editor and then eventually an international Humans Rights Lawyer. Ultimately, I was able to arrive at a decision that whatever I did with my life should contribute to unlocking and cultivating structural changes and development in Africa through my passion for leadership, women empowerment and innovation.

If you could give female entrepreneurs any advice, what would it be?

  • Build a network.
  • Plan for raising capital- Focus on finding the right funding partners in order to scale and grow your business as there are plenty of funding opportunities.
  • Build a team that shares your vision.
  • Make sure that your idea is solving a problem as well as there is product-market fit.
  • Know and understand your customer. 

It’s so important to support small businesses during these hard times. Would you like to share the love by making a shout out to any small brands you adore?

Meet Carin Brink

Carin BrinkBusiness woman Carin Brink is busy with her Masters in Environmental Science and Sustainability, is a marketing manager and co-founder of the beautiful plant-based sushi brand, Plushi as well as Peeled Orange Agency.

What does this year’s Women’s Month theme “Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights for an Equal Future” mean to you?

I don’t think we could confidently say that any country in the world has achieved gender equality – nevermind South Africa. If we look back in retrospect, it is apparent that some progress has been made, but it’s simply not enough, or at a fast enough pace. I think this Women’s Month speaks to the people around the world, and especially in South Africa, both men and women, who are speaking up for themselves and others who have been shamed, oppressed and stigmatized. Many of these people are from a new generation – one which is wasting no time in reimagining societies, economies and political systems which not only honours our human rights, but ensures gender equality is achieved. It means, working together, we are one step closer to equal pay, an end to GBV and improved health care that supports our needs and allows for equal decision-making in our lives.

As a woman, what is one of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome while running your business and how did you do it?

Speaking honestly, one of the biggest things I had to overcome were my own insecurities. My insecurities crippled my creativity and my own voice. As soon as I learnt my own self-worth and started seeing my value for what it was, everything changed. It took lots (read lots and lots and lots) of hard work, hours of personal reflection and trying to better understand myself, books, podcasts and an incredible support structure and business partner who held space, and still carry on holding space for these changes to occur.

What impact do you hope for your business to have on your customers and the world?

We can only hope that Plushi changes people’s perception of plant-based diets – that it doesn’t have to be bland and boring. Saving the planet can be exciting and taste good too – there’s more to being vegan than wilted spinach and crispy kale (my thoughts once upon a time). Once our customers understand that vegan alternatives can be more delicious than the non-vegan options, hopefully that inspires them to get creative in the kitchen and make some changes in their day-to-day lives, no matter how small. Further than diet, we hope that not only our customers, but other business owners too, can see that making the sustainable choice, from packaging to operations, though they offer a few obstacles, are possible and so worth it.

How do you balance professional and personal life? Have you mastered the work to play ratio yet?

Yoh, this one is tough. I’d like to believe I’m in a constant battle with getting the ratio right, and that the balancing point is constantly shifting, which doesn’t make the ratio-creating task any easier. COVID itself has made play time a little more challenging, has it not? If I don’t make sure to constantly check in with myself, I find that I go through phases of pouring myself into work and then overcompensating by over-focusing on my social life, creating an unhealthy balance. Something I’ve recently learnt that really helps to create a balance is to work with purpose, but then to rest with purpose too. That means taking conscious breaks where you don’t touch or think about work – which is way tougher than it seems.

As a young girl, did you think you’d be where you are now? What did you dream of becoming?

This question stumped me a little, because I can’t really remember having one big dream as a kid, so I asked my family WhatsApp group. The response “wrestler,” “F1 driver” and “neat and tidy” were given to me – if you knew how my brother and I used to play fight, my list of speeding fines and quite unneat and untidy childhood room – you’d understand why that was not helpful at all.

Back to dreaming. I jumped from wanting to be a marine biologist, to a doctor, a physio, a lawyer to a civil engineer. As my interests changed, so did my ‘dream job’. But one thing I always knew from a young age is that I never wanted to work for anyone else. So, perhaps I didn’t think I’d be running two businesses at this age, but I’m sure the young girl in me is beaming with pride.

Times are tough and small businesses are really feeling it the most. What inspires you to keep on going in today’s climate?

We started both businesses in 2020, so you can say that times have never really been easy, but rather, that tough times have become the norm. I think something that has really helped me remain focused when things get tough is to remember the ‘why’ – why we started. While the ‘what’ you’re selling is obviously quite important, but really understanding why you’re doing something – will help you carry on pushing when times are tough.

If you could give other female entrepreneurs any advice, what would it be?

Just start. If you have an idea, run with it. While it may be possible, finding your ‘passion’ is quite a romanticized novelty. Instead of spending years trying to find your passion, rather start something you believe in, and within it, find things which ignites your passion/s.

Look at Plushi – while my friends might say I have a passion for sushi, loving to eat something doesn’t count as a passion. But within our business, I have the opportunity to be creative, work with people, to cook and create recipes and work on our sustainability – all passions of mine.

It’s so important to support small businesses during these hard times. Would you like to share the love by making a shout out to any small brands you adore?

Hygge Hygge – a beautiful restaurant in the heart of Stellenbosch owned by two sisters, which opened its doors this year and serves the most incredible vegan curry!

Wear Your Sunnies – Owned by Steph Spowart, this sustainable business, sources old school frames and retrofits them with new lenses, giving them a new life.

Fat Freddy’s – a new half-women owned dark kitchen in its final stages before launch, which I recently had the chance to taste their vegan ice cream – the Coconut Butterscotch flavour – yoh, 10/10 would recommend.

Meet Natasha Napoli

business woman Natasha Napoli

Natasha Napoli is on a big mission to save our beautiful earth – one bamboo cup and smoothie bowl at a time! She owns Nourish’d Café in Gardens and Observatory.

What does this year’s Women’s Month theme “Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights for an Equal Future” mean to you?

For me, having just had a baby girl, this theme really rings through. I know I was extremely lucky to grow up in a privileged area wherein I received mostly equal opportunities and treatment regarding my basic needs: education, job opportunities, medical care & food. But I know that not all women in this country, or this world, are that lucky. Being a female business owner I’m also regularly exposed to sexism, patronisation and I believe I’ve had to fight particularly hard to get to where I am today. I don’t want my daughter to have to fight this hard. I want every door held wide open for her, as wide as doors are held open for men – I want this for all women. I pray for our sisters to come together to not look out in jealousy, but rather sisterhood and unity. We must stand together and pave the right way forward for our future generations.

As a woman, what is one of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome while running your business and how did you do it?

To be honest just being taken seriously. I’ve noticed such a scary difference between how people react when I ask for something over the phone, or in a meeting, vs. when my partner, Gabe, asks for something. This lack of respect really frustrates me, and I unfortunately find that I have to take a much more masculine/intense/ approach just to get things done. I hate acting that way, and I hate that society pushes me into those spaces but if I’m not forward with what I want, I’ll never get to where I want to go.

What impact do you hope for your business to have on your customers and the world?

Shoooweeee! Soooo many! This question is broad haha!! I want to leave the world a better place in every aspect. I’ve recently been exploring what ‘sustainability’ really means in a more corporate and European context and it’s been very interesting. Within the UN for example, the SDG’s (sustainable development goals) cover everything from governance to equal pay, gender rights, ecological welfare and conditions of employment.  Nourish’d has always aimed to be a sustainable business – but rather narrowly within the framing of ‘environment’. Now I’m finding myself widening this understanding – wanting to make a positive difference in all areas of the business and be truly and holistically sustainable.

How do you balance professional and personal life? Have you mastered the work to play ratio yet?

It’s still VERY much a work in progress, I’m so involved in Nourish’d – it really is my first child and I really struggle to step away. I’m suuuper lucky that my partner, Gabriel, has just come onboard to help me with the operations and it’s been such a blessing. I love my daughter, Marion-Mae, beyond words and I have to take quality time with her every day otherwise I just feel completely off-centre and mom guilt kicks in baaaad! So what that generally looks like is breakfast together in the mornings, and then MIMI&MAMMA time from about 4pm – 8pm every day. Then dadda gets home from boxing at 6 and we all eat together as a family. MIMI sings us a food blessing song. It’s so cute! If I’m really busy I’ll have to work after we have put Mimi down, but Gabe doesn’t like it when I work late so I try to respect that and I’m off the laptop by 9pm.

As a young girl, did you think you’d be where you are now? What did you dream of becoming?

To be honest I didn’t really think about it much. My mom told me that when I had to dress up as what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would always dress as an actress or a model! Hahah! Loads of makeup, high-heels and dresses. Lol!

Times are tough and small businesses are really feeling it the most. What inspires you to keep on going in today’s climate?

I mean, honestly, I just can’t see myself doing anything else. Nourish’d is my dream come true, it’s my calling, my mission and my cause. The thought of giving in has never been an option for me, it just isn’t. If I had to think about two things that inspire me, then I would have to say my staff and my customers! The thought of them having to hit the job market now freaks me out so I’ll never give up!

If you could give other female entrepreneurs any advice, what would it be?

Be hard on the outside, but remember your softness within. Unfortunately, as I mentioned above it’s often necessary for women to take a more stern, hard approach in business to be taken seriously. And we all deserve to be taken seriously. But remember that this is a mask – a role you have to step into to survive and thrive in this harsh world. Remember to take that mask off when you get home and remember your softness, your inner child, your creativity, your heart and your feminine flow. Remember to sing, dance, laugh and play with the light of life. This is where the real magic happens!

It’s so important to support small businesses during these hard times. Would you like to share the love by making a shout out to any small brands you adore?

Hmmm there are so many but if I had to choose 3 now, I would say:

  1. @herbiraw– best vegan carrot salmxn YUM – Order some now!
  2. @metalmaidensa– my best friend who makes the most incredible jewellery and she’s an artist. (She’s the artist who writes all of our instore menus on the brown paper rolls.) She is so talented! She can make you anything.
  3. @bacinisonkloof– my incredible sister who is running my dad’s restaurant and is just killin’ it at the whole female boss babe in the same industry as me. <3

Meet Shiv Sewlal

Shiv Sewlal

Shiv Sewlal, allergy-friendly lifestyle influencer and TikToker, shares her story of living with over 40 food allergies to show others that despite her limitations, she still lives a healthy and happy life.

What does this year’s Women’s Month theme “Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights for an Equal Future” mean to you?

In order to achieve generational equality which affects both present and future generations, both men and women need to be aware of women’s rights. It’s not only women’s problem but humanity’s problem and we all should be aware of it in order to reach gender equality.

As a woman, what is one of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome while running your business/working as a content creator and how did you do it?

Fortunately, I haven’t experienced any hardships relating to my gender. The people on social media have been welcoming and supportive of me and my journey. Everyone in my audience (TikTok and Instagram) has been very inclusive with regards to my race, gender and nationality.

What impact do you hope for your content to have on your followers and the world?

My main aim is to create a community. This is something that I never had growing up. I want to create a space where others feel comfortable to speak about their challenges and are able to relate to other people who have allergies or eczema. Growing up, there was no representation of allergies and eczema, I always felt alone and self-conscious. Showing myself embrace my skin and restrictions with a smile on my face, allows others to feel happy, hopeful and most importantly, not alone.

How do you balance professional and personal life? Have you mastered the work to play ratio yet?

I’m currently studying Computer Science at UCT. Studying, content creation, running my own business as well as maintaining a social life has been difficult. I’m still trying to balance everything but I’m just taking it one step at a time. However, I’m doing what I love and what I feel passionate about, so this makes the hustle worth it.

As a young girl, did you think you’d be where you are now? What did you dream of becoming?

When I was younger, I watched a movie about a food critic and immediately thought that was the best profession. Eating food for a living, life could not get any better. However, my older sister soon crushed my dreams by bringing to my attention my numerous allergies. Strangely enough, I am now always looking for new and exciting allergy-friendly foods to explore. Most of my days are filled with taste testing new products I find, or having different recipes shared by my followers. So, in a way I am living my childhood dream.

Times are tough and small businesses are really feeling it the most. What inspires you to keep on going in today’s climate?

Focusing on my goals and dreams pushes me every day. I have also learnt the importance of persevering. There have been times where I have felt down and really struggled to continue on this journey. However, looking back, I am so grateful that I didn’t give up. I believe that your only limitation is your mind. When it comes to both personal and professional growth, the only limits are the ones you place on yourself.

If you could give other female entrepreneurs any advice, what would it be?

The quote “If you don’t ask, you don’t get it” by Mahatma Gandhi resonates with me. More than 75% of the opportunities presented to me were a result of me putting myself out there and literally asking for it. Don’t wait for an opportunity to present itself to you, go and make it happen.

It’s so important to support small businesses during these hard times. Would you like to share the love by making a shout out to any small brands you adore?

The Allergen Baker sells the best allergy-friendly biscuits ever! I am absolutely in love. It literally has none of my allergens in it, no dairy, wheat, soy, preservatives. Nothing. During winter, I start my day with a warm cup of black tea and their chocolate biscuits.

These female leaders really inspire me and I hope you enjoyed reading their answers just as much as I did. To every girl, every woman who reads this… Please know what a work of wonder you are. Your thoughts. Your body. Your soul. Your revolutionary ideas and your creativity. Believe in yourself and light your own fire! Let your passions, your dreams and aspirations be the fuel that ignites your soul and you will shine. Remember to honour and celebrate yourself today.

All our love,

Janneke and the sisters at Shop Zero™ 💚

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Nourishing Beetroot Dhal and Grain Free Naan

Dhal and Grain Free Naan

South of the equator the cooler weather is coming and this nourishing beetroot dhal is the perfect comfort food. It’s a simple meal, but it is nutritious and packed with flavour!

Entrepreneur and plant-based chef, Mira Weiner, created this delicious recipe for Shop Zero™. We love Mira and her recipes and everything she does to create a better and healthier world. Follow her on Instagram to learn more about conscious living, plant-based nourishment and holistic healing.

Dhal
Styled and photographed by Samantha Lowe

 

We’re obsessed with legumes

Not only do we love Mira, we also love everything about lentils! This sustainable superfood of the future is a nitrogen-fixing plant, leaving soil even healthier after harvest. Legumes are also water-savvy and affordable! Lentils are filled with B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc. They are beneficial for digestive and heart health, cholesterol, diabetes as well as blood sugar levels. Be sure to take a look-see at our Red Lentil Fusilli and Penne from Happy Earth People too.

This hearty beetroot dhal is high in protein, fibre and nutrients! It serves six, you only need 15 minutes to prep and it takes one hour to cook. This recipe freezes well and is quick to reheat. Plastic-free leftovers also always look stunning in one of our original Indian stainless steel tiffins

Ingredients for dhal

3 cups red lentils
2 cups vegetable stock
10 cups water (depending on how thick you like your dhal)
4 beetroots, grated
2 cups coconut milk
2 red onions, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, grated
1 medium piece of ginger, grated (about 1.5 tbsp)
3 tsp black mustard seeds
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground fennel seeds
1 tsp curry spice
Pink Himalayan salt and black pepper to taste
Unrefined coconut or extra virgin olive oil for cooking

Ingredients for grain free naan bread

¾ cup almond flour (blanched almond flour without the skins will give you a white naan bread, if you use almond flour with the skin of the nut you will get a brown naan bread)
¾ cup tapioca flour
1.5 cups coconut milk
⅛ tsp ground cumin
Pinch of pink Himalayan salt

To serve

Grain free naan bread
Sesame seeds
Microgreens and/ or coriander

Method

  1. Heat the coconut oil and fry the black mustard seeds. Once they start to pop add the remaining spices in. Fry for a few minutes and then add the red onions, garlic and ginger.  Cook until the onions are translucent and add the grated beetroot in. Cook the beetroot mixture for about 5-10 minutes. Add the red lentils and water to the pot. Cook for 15 minutes on medium heat. Reduce the heat and add the coconut milk. Continue to simmer for about 35 – 40 minutes. Stir through every 5 minutes to make sure the dhal is not sticking to the bottom of the pot. Add more water if needed.
  2. Combine the almond flour and tapioca flour in a bowl.  Mix together.  Slowly add the coconut milk and stir continuously until a smooth batter is formed. Heat a non-stick pan on medium heat, add ¼ cup of the batter to the hot pan allowing the mixture to spread out into a thin layer. Cook for a few minutes and once bubbles appear flip over and cook the other side.  The mixture is grain free and has a high fat content, so no oil is needed, especially when using a non-stick pan.
  3. Serve hot with grain free naan bread, toasted sesame seeds, microgreens and fresh coriander leaves. Enjoy!
Dhal
Styled and captured by Samantha Lowe

 

Stay healthy this winter season

Are you a winter lover? We are so ready for comforting porridges, creamy dhals, hearty soups, warming curries and oven bakes! Which winter foods are you ready for? Let us know by leaving a reply below. Please share some tips with the community what you include in your diet to stay healthy in winter.