By Lutho Pasiya
Vegan diets are rising, and more consumers are becoming aware of the health benefits of not eating animal products, as well as the ethical and environmental impact of animal agriculture.
More consumers are cutting out preservatives and animal products as a healthier option for their families.
As the buzz about plant-based meat continues to grow, you may have found yourself wondering whether you should try out a plant-based diet. Vegetarianism and veganism have been practised for thousands of years for a variety of reasons, and in recent years, it has become easier to give up meat and animal products, thanks to the excess of plant-based alternatives that are so close to the real thing.
With Heritage Day upon us, this can be a stressful time for people who follow a plant-based diet as they might have no idea what to cook or prepare on the braai this holiday. If you are one of those people or have a family member who is following the diet, here’s what to consider.
For starters, you can make vegetable “hotdogs”. You can replace the meaty wors at the braai with carrots for a tasty vegetarian twist. Char (either on the grill or under the broiler) and steam them, and then peel off the skins.
They end up nicely cooked, making them perfect for a cook out. Choose the largest, thickest carrots you can find; they shrink during cooking, and you can always trim the narrow end to fit the bun. You can serve these carrot dogs in buns with the toppings such as vegetarian chilli, cheddar, chopped onion, pickles or relish, tomato sauce, and spicy mustard.
South Africans will use any excuse to braai. Tips for a vegan braai are a variety of salads like potato salad, coleslaw, rice salad, pasta salad (use egg-free mayonnaise), and don’t add cheese, feta, or any meat to salads.
Make garlic bread with coconut oil and garlic. Traditional green salad can also be nice, but why not try something a little different this year? Steam green beans, baby peas, and asparagus. Serve with a good helping of feta and a salad dressing made of olive oil, fresh chilli, mustard, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
For the braai you can find sausages, patties or schnitzels at the supermarket. They do not take long to cook and you will need to have them in an ovenproof dish or pan on the fire as vegans do not like their food touching a meaty grill.
Another main that can combine with the braai, besides salads, is pap with tomato and onion relish. Pap can be eaten with a variety of sauces, sometimes referred to as “relish”. A popular vegan relish is a tomato and onion stew.
You will also find relishes made with different types of cooked leafy greens. Pap and relish is just one example of a popular African food that is vegan. Other examples of vegan South African food include chakalaka. And in other African countries, you will find a variety of bean dishes and vegetable stews.
Vegan lentil bobotie
If you don’t feel like a braai, you can make a bobotie. Bobotie is a Cape Malay dish, traditionally made with minced, curried meat and fruit (usually chutney) with a creamy egg-based topping. It is traditionally enjoyed with hot yellow rice (with raisins in it), and vegetables such as sweetened pumpkin, roasted potatoes, and curried brinjals on the side.
The Cape Malay people have influenced many parts of South African culture, and our culinary specialities are enjoyed locally and worldwide. The first challenge for making a vegan bobotie is to find a substitute for the main ingredient. Instead of going for the obvious option of using crumpled tofu, aim for something more vegetable-based. This is an easy and exciting recipe you can serve your friends and family.
Vegan milk tart
For dessert, try a vegan milk tart. Pronounced in Afrikaans as “Melktert”, this is a traditional South African custard-style sweet pie, served as a delicious dessert or as a perfect teatime treat. The traditional Melktert consists of a sweet pastry crust containing a creamy filling made from milk, flour, sugar, and eggs, and topped with a generous dusting of cinnamon.
Now how do you make it vegan? For the crust, you can swap out the refined flour and butter used to make the pastry, and a mixture of oat flour, almond flour, and coconut oil, in order to create a crust that is free of refined flour and is vegan.
And for the mixture, instead of using the eggs and dairy milk, simply use a bit of non-dairy milk, coconut milk, and cornstarch to create the creamy filling.