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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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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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Reasons to Consider Having a Dairy-free Easter

avoid animal products with these dairy free Easter eggs

Ditching dairy for your health, for animal welfare or to reduce your environmental impact is all the rage these days. Before we get into the reasons one might consider giving up dairy for the sake of the climate this Easter, we wanted to share our cute, new Easter Egg Bomb Surprise with you. Easter has a healthy, sugar free option this year…

Easter eggs for stewards of the Earth

Get your little “Earth stewards” a healthier option of Easter eggs. Eggs you can plant! These little eggs are made of previously used paper and have mixed herbs and marigold seeds inside. Soak the eggs in water, keep wet above or below the soil until you see some sprouts. Cover with shallow soil and water daily. The marigold seeds attract pollinators to your garden and with the rapid decline of bee populations, attracting pollinators to your garden is a great way to help save the bees! Purchase our Easter Egg Bomb Surprise here.

dairy free Easter egg basket

We believe planting these little eggs and being able to engage in conversation with your child about climate change, might help mitigate it. Gardening also prepares young people for climate change and opens up an array of opportunities to explore nature. This Easter, take your children outside to see butterflies, bees, snails, birds, caterpillars and ladybirds and make use of this time to teach them about the species when they spot them, as well as supporting ecological balance. Gardening also encourages your child to eat healthier! By growing and engaging with food, children are more likely to try different veggies and fruit. Take a look at our My Eco Sprout growing kits and teach your child a new skill that will benefit your entire family and your child’s health for the rest of their lives.  

The problem with traditional Easter eggs

Marshmallow egg wrappers and plastic Easter egg molds are not recyclable. The good news is that Easter egg foil is recyclable! The best way to recycle Easter egg foil, is to scrape off the chocolate and scrunch the foil up into a fist-sized ball before placing it in the recycling bin. This ensures the small bits of foil don’t get lost in the recycling process. Although the foil is recyclable, we suggest staying away from sugary, dairy products that cause inflammation and will have your kids bouncing off the wall. Take a look at our delicious child-friendly recipe and make these wrapper-free, plant-based peanut butter and choc Easter eggs. 

dairy free peanut butter choc eggsMegan Gilmore’s healthier peanut butter eggs are also less trashy. This photo and easy recipe belong to her. Take a look at the recipe here.

 

Reduce your impact on Earth by avoiding dairy

Cutting back on dairy (and meat) consumption is an easy, small thing we can all do to help the situation and resolve some of the issues our world faces.

  • The methane emissions that dairy (and meat) cattle produce, contribute to climate change. A 2018 study by researchers at the University of Oxford found that the greenhouse gas emissions from the production of cow’s milk are almost three times more than any plant-based milk.
  • A staggering source of agricultural pollution in the USA is the animal waste produced by livestock and poultry in factory farms. With almost 13 times more waste than that produced by the entire US population, one has to ask where all of this waste ends up.
  • Fertilisers, pesticides, hormones given to dairy cows to increase milk production and antibiotic use in farm animals end up in our waterways and oceans. If treatment systems to handle waste produced by livestock is done incorrectly, fertiliser, pesticides and manure runoff create ocean “dead zones.” According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 335 million tons of extra nutrients from livestock’s manure flow into American lakes and the ocean each year.
  • The UK imports 1.83 million tons of soya every single year from the Amazon rainforest, which is equal to about 900 000 hectares of the Amazon, to produce soya just for animal feed in the UK alone!
  • Agriculture, which accounts for 70% of water withdrawals worldwide, plays a major role in water pollution. Farmers are the leading direct users of water in South Africa, consuming 66% of all water. This water usage is due to the animals’ hydration needs and the amount of water needed for crops grown to feed the livestock.
  • Two-thirds of the world’s chameleon species live in Madagascar, but three of those species on the island are at critical risk, losing their habitat to slash-and-burn agricultural practices, logging for construction or charcoal, and cattle grazing.
animal agriculture water pollutionPhoto taken by Rick Dove, one of the founding members of the Waterkeeper Alliance.

 

We hold an immense amount of power to create a better world

The above facts are all scary and there are also shocking photos and videos about animal abuse that have gone viral on social media. That is a topic for another day… Let us not be scared or angry, but let us be motivated to fix this. We are not asking you to go vegan, but we are asking you to start being conscious of what you eat. Try to be moderate with your meat and dairy intake. See it as a treat. Not as a necessity. Educate and empower yourself. You do not have to do it perfectly and it does not need to be overwhelming. Take a look at these amazing people on Instagram. We hope you will find some cooking inspiration from following them!

If you would like to learn a little bit more, please watch the documentaries Cowspiracy as well as Seaspiracy. And if you would like to consider going vegan, perhaps join thousands of participants for a 22-day vegan experience on www.challenge22.com. You’ll receive fabulous recipes and personal guidance from their mentors and clinical dieticians for free!

Let’s get more people to ditch dairy this Easter

Let us know by leaving a reply below if you have ditched dairy and how it’s going for you. Have you discovered any amazing health benefits? Please share this post and let’s help our climate (and animals) by reducing our dairy consumption.

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Shop Zero turned 1, and they’re only getting started…

Shop Zero™ has officially celebrated their first birthday.  Those who have been following them will know that Shop Zero™ has had an online presence since August 2017.  Since then they have been ‘hustling’ hard to make Shop Zero™, and what it stands for, accessible to as many people as possible.

Shop Zero’s journey over the last 12 months:

  • In October 2017 they crowdfunded and raised R35 000 towards opening Shop Zero™ – thanks again to everyone who believed in the concept.  Your names will never be forgotten.  Literally, they are printed on Shop Zero’s shelves!
  • In September Janneke, Shop Zero’s founder, was joined by Elza and Abi as business partners.
  • From November to January, Shop Zero™ had a presence at various Western Cape markets and started selling some of their products via their Facebook Shop, while looking for their perfect shop space.
  • In February, Shop Zero™ opened their brick and mortar pop-up shop in Woodstock, Cape Town.
  • In April, Shop Zero™ also started trading permanently at the Old Biscuit Mill market on Saturdays.
  • In April, Shop Zero™ launched their online store, www.shopzero.co.za, with nationwide delivery of all their lifestyle goods.
  • During this time Shop Zero™ also hosted a few workshops in their pop-up shop ranging from Zero Waste Basics, natural DIY Body Products Workshops through to delicious & nourishing Smoothie Bowl Alchemy Workshops, with many more to follow.  They even threw in a FREE Zero Waste Workshop in celebration of their 1st birthday.
  • Shop Zero™ has also successfully started hosting corporate Zero Waste Workshops – an exciting platform to help incorporate Zero Waste into your home and business.  Please don’t hesitate to contact them if you would like to host a Zero Waste Workshop at your business or collaborate on a workshop with them.  These events are a great way to learn and interact in a fun and inspirational way.

What’s in store for the next few months?

  • We are excited to announce that Shop Zero™ will be opening its permanent Cape Town branch, just down the road from their pop-up shop.  From September 2018 you can find Shop Zero at 403 Albert Road, Woodstock (right next to the Old Biscuit Mill).   This means the pop-up shop will be closing down to make way for the new shop space.
  • Joining them on the premises in their own right is Flourish Bistro: a vegan, plant-based, gluten and refined sugar free bistro.  Being a zero waste, plastic-free lifestyle store with vegan pantry essentials and specialty foods as one of Shop Zero’s trademarks, Shop Zero™ and Flourish Bistro are a match made in vegan heaven – plus the food from Flourish Bistro is simply amazing!
  • Last but not least, Shop Zero™ will be adding Zero Waste Bulk Product Delivery (food & cleaning products) to their online store (Cape Town only) – with reusable packaging that uses a deposit system and is of course … plastic-free!  They are also eagerly awaiting the arrival of their electric scooter, which means they’ll then deliver with zero emissions.  This will be an SA first!  Watch this space, more details to follow very soon.

And there you have it.  We’ll let you digest this all for a while we get back to the business of zero waste.  Because we love this planet, and we love helping you look after it!

Until next time,

The Shop Zero™ Team