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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 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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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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UCOOK Pantry Boxes by Shop Zero™ are here!

UCOOK Pantry Boxes - Savoury Box

We’re ringing in the new year with our brand new UCOOK Pantry Boxes and we couldn’t be more proud! Hello 2021 and Happy New Year to all our customers and readers!

UCOOK Pantry Boxes - Savoury Box

Back with a bang!

We are looking forward to another passionate year of supplying ethical, sustainable, cruelty-free and mindful products to you and your home.  All of our products are either 100% biodegradable or reusable and sourced to promote your health and that of our beautiful planet. Shop Zero™ supports and encourages your need for sustainable, plastic-free living every step of the way. Together we are the collective that drives change with every eco-conscious choice we make.

Mindful collaborations

We are always looking to collaborate with like-minded businesses that support our ethos. That is why Shop Zero™ has started the year with an exciting collaboration with UCOOK Market Boxes. The UCOOK Market Box concept was developed to help boost the local food system by empowering local entrepreneurs and small farmers. They aim to work together to forge a closer connection between local customers, farmers and food producers. By supplying customers with local seasonal (organic where possible) and ethical produce, UCOOK Market Boxes can directly grow the local food system.

Ethical producers

Not only are customers supplied with beautiful produce, but they are also able to make informed decisions about the food they eat. UCOOK also supplies the story behind every food producer so you know exactly how your food was grown or made.

Shop Zero™ and UCOOK Pantry Boxes Collab

Along with their current Market Boxes, UCOOK are now offering versatile Pantry Boxes as Add Ons, specially curated by Shop Zero™. Any of these UCOOK Pantry Boxes will make a welcome addition to your pantry staples. Orders for our ‘Essential Box’ are already open where you need to place your order one week prior to delivery. Please place your order from UCOOK here by 12pm Thursday 7 January 2021 to receive your Shop Zero™ ‘Essentials Box’ by Thursday 14 January 2021. 

Please note that UCOOK cannot deliver Add Ons on their own. They must accompany a Market Box order. And of course all the Shop Zero™ products are packaged plastic free.

Shop Zero™ have created four UCOOK Pantry Boxes to choose from as Add Ons to your weekly UCOOK Farmer’s Market Box:

Shop Zero™ Essentials Box (available from 31 December 2020)

UCOOK Pantry Boxes - Essentials box

We’ve curated the Essentials Box to contain a variety of plant-based pantry staples for you to decant into your own jars at home.  Celebrate by eating your goodies and feel awesome about all the plastic you’ve diverted from landfill.  Use these foods to prepare a nourishing breakfast or spice up any meal by adding the harissa paste to your dish.  By purchasing this box, you will be planting trees by simply sipping on the beautiful coffee you’ll receive.  For every 3kg Rain Forest Alliance Certified beans sold, one tree is planted by Greenpop.  Mother Nature thanks you! You will also be contributing to your local economy, supporting female entrepreneurs, sustainably sourced products and low-waste packaging. 

The Shop Zero™ Essentials Box includes:

Shop Zero™ Snack Box (coming soon)

UCOOK Pantry Boxes - Snack box

The Shop Zero™ Snack Box was curated to include a combination of vegan-friendly, healthy on-the-go snacks, as well as ingredients that will liven up any party or picnic you bring them to. Arrange these dairy-free gems on a platter to create a wow-worthy charcuterie snack board and treat your guests like VIPs. We’re betting you’d want to tackle the whole box solo! 

This box will go live on UCOOK’s Market Box website on 14th January.

The Shop Zero™ Snack Box includes:

Shop Zero™ Savoury Box (coming soon)

UCOOK Pantry Boxes - Savoury box

We’ve curated the Shop Zero™ Savoury Box to include a combination of pantry staples and savoury snacks to elevate your cooking while reducing your environmental impact. Glass jars are like a little black dress… everything looks good in them. Decant these ingredients into your own reusable jars and turn your pantry into a well-organised interior dream!

Enjoy Hannam and Co’s Flatwhite Toaster Bread accompanied by balsamic vinegar & olive oil and a delicious olive tapenade, or add That Foods’ Spicy All Rounder to any dish in need of a flavour injection. Enlighten your taste buds with the elevated experiences this box has to offer. Keep an eye out for this box’s order and delivery dates on the UCOOK’s Market Box website.

The Shop Zero™  Savoury Box includes:

Shop Zero™ Sweet Box (coming soon)

UCOOK Pantry Boxes - Sweet box

We’ve curated the Shop Zero™ Sweet Box for the health-conscious sweet tooth. Enjoy sweet treats whilst also being sweet to the environment! Whether you are leading a vegan lifestyle or just trying to opt for sweet treats that are better for your health, this box has everything from breakfast options to decadent cookies and spreads. Create your dream pantry by decanting them into your own glass jars.

Most commercially sold teabags melt microplastics into your cup as they contain polypropylene woven in the paper to hold their shape and seal the edges. Not only is this toxic for the body, but damaging for the environment. Go loose leaf and ditch single-use tea bags! Tea-huggers will love brewing the perfect cup and creating a morning ritual with our cute reusable hemp and cotton tea bag.

Be sure to have a look-see on the UCOOK’s Market Box website for this box’s order and delivery dates. 

Many small, local businesses rely on our platform for sales. With this exciting collaboration we continue to support the multiple small, local businesses stocked on We are so happy to have our Pantry Boxes as Add Ons for those getting their UCOOK Market Boxes and very proud of being part of this.  Go ahead and order so you can be part of it all!

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact or


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International Coastal Clean-up Day: Stem the Wave of Waste

Dirty Dozen Methodology

Together with the Future Kids Club and other ambassadors to the zero waste movement, Shop Zero™ co-hosted the International Coastal Clean-up Day on 19 September at Strand Beach.

This global event formed part of the Clean Up & Recycle SA week. The coastal clean-up day began 30 years ago when communities rallied with the common goal of collecting and tracking coastline litter. Today, more than 100 countries participate, and it’s the world’s biggest volunteer effort for ocean health. South Africa has participated for the past 24 years, and this is the 3rd year Shop Zero has been actively involved. Collectively, our volunteers removed more than 827 kg of waste from the beach on Saturday!

Beach Cleanup South Africa
Rocco Da Silva, in the centre, started the Future Kids Club in 2017 when he was nine years old.

It’s not just about coastal clean ups

The coastal clean-up is much more than simply creating awareness and clearing plastic waste and litter from the beach.  It’s tracked using the Marine Debris Tracker, which allows users to record their findings and note the 12 most common items. AKA ‘the Dirty Dozen.’ By tracking the amounts of litter at sea, we can tell if specific measures are working or not. It’s incredibly time-consuming to track all litter, so the Dirty Dozen focuses on the primary types of litter picked up during coastal clean-ups.

Marine Debris Tracker

Introducing the marine menaces

So, what are these marine menaces scourging our coastlines? The 12 common critters are cool drink bottles, water bottles, cool drink lids, carrier bags, chip packets, and sweet wrappers. Along with straws, earbuds, lolly pop sticks, cigarette lighters, fishing line and light sticks. To date, from 100 clean-ups, we’ve tracked tens of thousands of each of these items.

Dirty Dozen Methodology

It can be overwhelming when faced with such a behemoth issue! Our daily goal is to create awareness and find eco-friendly alternatives, particularly for single-use plastic items. At our core, that’s who we are and what we’re fighting for.

If you’re reading this, it likely means you’re already taking steps to reduce your plastic waste footprint. Or maybe you’re just getting started on your journey. Either way, we are SO happy to have you here.

Our online store has a wide range of ethically sourced zero waste products. These include plastic-free alternatives to other ocean nasties such as single use coffee cups, straws, toothbrushes, dental floss, and cotton buds. All of which are also picked up regularly during our coastal clean-ups.

Ready to start making the switch? Take a browse through our range of re-usable cups and coffee cups, re-usable straws and cutlery, and plastic free toothbrushes, toothpaste and dental floss. And of course, we also stock organic cotton earbuds with recycled paper stems.

See you at the next coastal clean-up!

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Plastic Free July Lockdown Edition

We’re half way through Plastic Free July! The original concept was to refuse plastic use for the entire month of July. An estimated 250 million people took part last year. This year, across the world, Plastic Free July’s 10th anniversary challenge looks a little different. With the entire world facing this pandemic, many are staying home, even whilst the lockdown has been lightened, and only leaving home to go to work, and to the shops.

Given the current situation reducing plastic use is not a priority for many. I want to show you some things you can implement at home, if you are able to do so, to reduce your plastic use and share some things I have learnt over my 10 year green journey.

Make your own plastic-free filtered water with an activated charcoal stick.
  1. Read up about the negative environmental and health effects of single-use plastic. We all need to understand why it is so important to reduce our plastic use!
  2. Have a look at what single use plastic you currently throw away! You’ll be surprised to find there are many plastic packaged products that can easily be bought plastic free.
  3. After every shop, put your reusable bags (shopping, fruit and veg, dry goods, bread, etc.) somewhere where you will remember to take them with on your next shop. If you don’t have any, I highly recommend you invest in some. Shop Zero™ would love to help by offering 10% discount on all products bought online in July. Enter code PlasticFreeJuly10 at checkout.
  4. The same thing goes for your reusable coffee cup, bottle, straw, container and utensils, which are safe to use during this pandemic, as confirmed by health experts across the world.
  5. If you want to switch to plastic free versions of products you are currently using, don’t throw out what you are using. Be sure to use up what you have first, and after use recycle what you can and ecobrick what you can’t. Need a convenient way to ecobrick? Get yout comfortable ecobrick stick here.
  6. Not all switches are easy and that’s ok. For some, switching from plastic packaged body wash to bar soap doesn’t work, but you could switch to a metal bottle body wash instead. Or even take a reusable bottle to your local zero waste shop to be refilled.
  7. If you are passionate about reducing your plastic use, you will most likely have to go to 3 shops to get what you need instead of just one. In my area there is one shop that sells plastic free broccoli, another that sells a large variety of plastic free fruit, and a third one that sells packaging free cleaning products.
  8. Not all plastic is bad. There are many things in our home, that is made of plastic that we use every day. I’m not going to throw out a perfectly fine product just because it is plastic. Take reusable food containers as an example. We have many, and when we needed new ones, we bought glass and aluminum versions.
  9. Try make things at home that comes in plastic packaging. We make our own orange juice from packaging free oranges, instead of buying plastic bottled orange juice. I want to try baking bread at home next.
  10. Share your plastic free journey with others and you could inspire others to make positive changes to the environment.
Rich results on Google's SERP when searching for 'health shops in cape town'
These are all reused gherkins and beetroot jars, which I clearly buy a lot!

Good luck on your plastic free journey, and remember:

“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”

  • Edward Everett Hale

Lots of Love, Sharné aka The Green Vegan Chick

About the author: Sharné started her green journey over a decade ago, and has been vegan for 9 years. She started her beautiful Instagram page and blog to make it easier for others to make simple earth and animal friendly changes in their daily lives. Give her a follow on Instagram over @greenveganchick  for low waste inspiration, amazing plant-based recipes and all things green.

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Shop plastic free online

We’ve arrived online and we’re so excited: our zero waste, plastic-free online shopping site is now live and ready for you.  Now you can Shop Zero™ from the comfort of your home, making zero waste options even more convenient.  If you are looking for sustainable, eco-friendly lifestyle solutions, you have come to the right place.  Shop Zero™ has the answers!

Choose from our wide range of reusable cups and straws, zero waste skin, body and hair products, and other environmentally friendly items.  We are vegan-based and inspired by everyone and everything that is kind and fair to our beautiful planet. We also deliver nationwide in South Africa.

If you are new to the concept of zero waste and how to shop sustainably, stick around. We’ll be posting regularly to guide you in the right direction by giving tips, advice and solutions to everyday waste problems.

Quite simply, we’re here to eliminate the single use of plastic, which is the main threat to the livelihood of our oceans and the reason our landfills are overflowing. On our website and in our shop in Woodstock (Cape Town), you will see a vast range of alternatives to the single use of plastic, showing you how to shop and live plastic free.

Welcome to your zero waste community, welcome to Shop Zero™.