Africa Environment

Six Ways to Eat Vegetarian food in Africa to help the planet

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You won’t find much information online if you try looking up vegan African cuisine or vegan travel in Africa. It’s also possible that you came here by accident after searching for that exact phrase.

I’m here to reassure you that living a vegan lifestyle in Africa is not as challenging as you might think, so welcome. In actuality, the traditional cuisines of the continent contain a wide variety of vegan dishes.

You’ll struggle to find anyone who has even heard the term “vegan” before in many African nations, it’s true. [Note: The exception to this rule is South Africa. The vegan scene in Cape Town is absolutely booming!].

But don’t let the weak vegan movement deter you. Despite the fact that the locals wouldn’t describe them as vegan, many African dishes are naturally vegan.

In actuality, a large portion of Africa’s traditional, pre-colonial diet consisted of plants. It was made of wholesome, nutritious ingredients, primarily fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and was flavorful due to the use of numerous herbs and spices.

Many middle-class Africans still regularly eat meat today, but colonial influences are to blame for this.

There are many ways to make sure you eat well while being a vegan in Africa, even in areas of the continent where the local cuisine is not very vegan-friendly.

I’ve spent the better part of a year now traveling around Africa, stopping in 25 different nations. On my most recent three-month journey around southern Africa, I traveled to nine of those nations as a vegan.

In light of my experience, I’m going to share with you six different ways you can eat vegan in Africa and savor delectable vegan African cuisine.

Africa’s Vegan Cuisine: 6 Ways.

1. eat vegan African food that is local.

Even today, a sizable portion of the typical African diet is made up of dishes that contain cooked grains, vegetables, and legumes. A porridge made of local grains or tubers is one common dish you will see everywhere.

It is commonly made from coarsely ground maize meal in southern Africa and is known by the names “pap” in South Africa, “nsima” in Zambia and Malawi, and “sadza” in Zimbabwe. It is known as “ugali” in eastern Africa and is typically made from maize, millet, or sorghum flour.

Additionally, “fufu” is the name of a porridge that is made in western Africa from cassava and green plantain flour. Actually, this dish has a lot of other regional names, but the most important thing is that you can identify it when you see it.

Since that’s the name that most people can pronounce easily, I’ll just refer to it as “pap” moving forward. Pap, also known as “relish,” is a versatile food that goes well with many sauces. Tomato and onion stew is a well-liked vegan relish. A variety of cooked leafy green relishes are also available.

Popular African foods that are vegan include pap and relish. Chakalaka and samp and beans are other examples of vegan South African food. You can also find a variety of bean dishes, plantain dishes, and vegetable stews in other African nations.

You might need to look for these regional foods at humble food stands where the locals eat since they aren’t always offered in tourist-oriented restaurants.

In southern Africa, supermarket chains like Shoprite almost always have a take-out section where they serve hot prepared meals. This is a good place to look for pap and relish as well as other regional foods like chakalaka and samp and beans.

2. Self-Cater.

You can always make your own vegan meals if you’re having trouble finding what you want when dining out. Keep a few simple vegan recipes on hand that you are confident you can make.

Hostels (also referred to as “backpackers” in Africa) and other low-cost lodging options frequently have kitchens.

It wasn’t necessary for me to bring a camping stove on my trip around southern Africa. Throughout my three months there, I hardly ever used it.

On the other hand, if you’re thinking about camping while you’re in Africa, here are some quick vegan dishes you can prepare on a camp stove.

You can buy staple foods like pasta, rice, frozen vegetables, canned beans and other legumes, and other groceries in cities and towns, including supermarkets. In fact, it’s not unusual to find a wide variety of vegan canned goods.

Fry’s is a South African company that makes a large range of plant-based meats, including burgers, chicken-style nuggets, sausages and even pepper steak pies. You’ll find them in the frozen section of supermarkets in South Africa and neighboring countries.

But if you can’t find Fry’s products where you are, one meat alternative that you will find absolutely everywhere is soya mince.

This burger is entirely vegan as long as you order the McVeggie without mayo. Additionally, McDonald’s French fries in South Africa are vegan, in contrast to those in the United States, which have milk and beef flavoring.

Unexpectedly many vegan options are available on the menus of several locally owned African restaurant chains. Steers offers a vegan burger, and Wimpy offers a burger, a sandwich, and a breakfast plate that are all vegan upon request (by requesting no cheese, no mayo, etc.). ).

Nando’s, however, must be the chain with the best vegan options. Their vegan veggie patty can be used to make burgers, pitas, or wraps. My personal favorite is the peri-peri potato wedges with the veggie avocado and pickled red onion pita. Delish!

The side dishes, such as roasted vegetables, spicy rice, and even pap and relish, could also be used to create a meal. In Africa, Nando’s is the biggest and best-known “Portuguese chicken” eatery, but other chains like Galito’s and Barcelos also offer a few vegan options.

4. Eat in ethnic restaurants.

This is a great method for finding vegan food anywhere local cuisine doesn’t have much to offer for vegan travelers, which is the case in some African nations like Namibia and Zimbabwe.

On my most recent trip to Africa, I ate delicious Chinese food in Zambia, Italian food in Swaziland, Indian food in Mozambique, and Ethiopian food in South Africa; instead of going to local restaurants, find a restaurant serving a cuisine that is vegan-friendly.

Check out my book Veggie Planet to learn more about what these and other ethnic foods can offer vegans. I describe numerous vegan dishes from 11 of the most well-liked cuisines around the world in the book and demonstrate how vegan-friendly these cuisines are. The first chapter of Veggie Planet is available for free download here.

5. Make vegan meal arrangements with your tour operator.

Even if you are traveling independently in Africa, there is a good chance that you will eventually join an organized tour. This is specifically true if you want to take a safari and see Africa’s amazing wildlife.

Before your tour begins, be sure to inform your tour guide that you are a vegan. I’ve gone on safari in a number of different African nations, and every time I mentioned that I was vegan (and explained what that entailed), the tour operators were very accommodating.

Vegan meals were prepared for me at Wild Dog Safaris in Namibia and were delicious. The proprietor even has plans to make vegetarian and vegan cooking the focus of their upcoming staff training event!

I also had the amazing opportunity to view the wild animals with a local vegan guide in Botswana’s Okavango Delta. Discover why I believe Botswana to be the best safari destination for vegans by reading my post about that safari.

6. Consume food at vegetarian and vegan restaurants.

In fact, Cape Town is one of the best vegan foodie destinations I’ve ever visited. Yes, there are vegetarian and even fully vegan restaurants in Africa.

The vegan scene is somewhat less prominent in other South African cities. However, there are a few fantastic vegan restaurants in Johannesburg’s Greenside neighborhood.

Foreigners have opened vegetarian restaurants that offer a variety of vegan options, even in nations like Malawi where there isn’t much of a local vegan movement. For instance, the masala dosa at Lilongwe’s Veg-Delight Indian restaurant is excellent.

The Mushroom Farm, a community-based eco-lodge, serves the best vegan food in Malawi. Various international and Malawian dishes are served in their wholly vegetarian kitchen.

The continent of Africa is diverse.

The second-largest continent on Earth, Africa is home to more than 50 nations. Therefore, Africa is incredibly diverse, which probably goes without saying.

Depending on what region of the continent you’re in, you might have very different experiences being vegan there. I’ve traveled extensively throughout Africa, but I’ve only done so as a vegan in the southern and central parts of the continent.

As a result, the majority of this article is based on my vegan travels through Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Eswatini, Lesotho, and the Republic of the Congo (Brazzaville).

You can read some guest posts about vegan cuisine in other African nations right here on The Nomadic Vegan. Visit this article to learn what vegans can eat in Morocco.

And this one, written by a Kinshasa native, describes what it’s like to be a vegan in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Finally, Ly is the author of this piece on veganism in Rwanda. He has been residing in Rwanda for more than a year and is originally from Guinea in West Africa.

Check out these articles on Eritrean and Ethiopian vegan cuisine as well. Although the two cuisines are quite similar to one another, they are entirely distinct from everything else you’ll find in Africa. Or really anywhere else in the world.

Remember that West Africa is the least developed part of the continent if you are traveling there. Chain restaurants and faux meats are not sold in supermarkets, as some readers have noted below. In fact, supermarkets might not even exist.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t vegan food in West Africa just because there aren’t veggie burgers or other Western-style vegetarian foods. The traditional African diet, as I’ve previously stated, is primarily vegan.

And hey, even in Burkina Faso there is a restaurant that is entirely vegan, so things are changing there as well!

African Vegans in the area.

The best people to ask about local vegan food in an African nation is a local vegan who lives there or a vegan traveler who has already visited that nation.

Look into notable vegan Africans like The Vegan Nigerian Tomi Makanjuola.

Ly, also known as @fulanivegan on Instagram, is a vegan from a West African country. He is originally from Guinea and now resides in China. He travels widely throughout Africa and beyond. This article on Black vegan travelers to follow on Instagram has more information about Ly.

Nicola Kagoro is another. k. Chef Cola. She is a vegan chef from Zimbabwe who divides her time between Cape Town and Harare. African Vegan on a Budget was founded by Chef Cola, who is dedicated to demonstrating to Africans how they can eat healthily and affordably by using plant-based foods.

Connecting with vegans in your African destination can also be done through Facebook groups and Instagram. Try looking up relevant hashtags on Instagram, such as vegan+[name of the African nation].

There is plenty of vegan African food available, whether you’re cooking at home or dining out.

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