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12 Inspiring Vegan and Vegetarian Recipes from South Africa

What is South African cuisine?

South African cuisine is an eclectic blend of indigenous African, and non-indigenous Colonial British, Indian, Malay, Indonesian, and Portuguese food.

Each group of people to visit, trade with, or settle in South Africa has brought with them a folio of flavors and preparation techniques that are still being enjoyed to this day.

Vegetarianism in South Africa

Vegetarianism is not a popular choice for South Africans in the same way it has become popular in countries like the United States. One reason for this is that treatment of animals used for food is much different in South Africa than it is in other countries.

In South Africa, animals are raised for food and sold alive or very fresh at the market. People can also find an abundance of frozen fish, seafood and dried/canned meats in local grocery stores.

Like in many places, people hunt for food in their natural landscape and practice using the game economically.

The Most Vegetarian Country in the World

While a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle isn't the norm in South Africa, there are parts of Africa where it very much is.

According to Travel blog, Oliver’s Travels, the African country of Seychelles is the most vegetarian friendly country in the world, with a total (GBI) Global Vegetarian Index score of 328.

In the Seychelles, only 35.6kg (78.5 lbs) of meat per capita is consumed annually – to put that into context, the USA consumes a massive 120.2kg (265 lbs) per capita of meat annually.

Yep. That’s 265 pounds of meat, per person, per year.

Let's Go Veggies!

While meat is the centerpiece of most South African meals, there are many nutrient rich South African grain and vegetable based dishes to enjoy.

And as any vegan knows, almost any dish can be made vegan with just a few simple swaps.

Peanut Butter Porridge (Bota Une Dovi) | Vegan

Hailing from the South African country of Zimbabwe, this white cornmeal based porridge is an excellent alternative to sugar filled cereals.

Add a spoon or two of peanut butter and some sliced bananas for a yummy, nutty flavor!

Try this great recipe by Freda Muyambo for The Spruce Eats.

Fonio Cereal/Acha Pudding: The African Super Grain Porridge | Vegan

Grown in the Western Sahel region of Africa, this ancient super grain is nutritious AND gluten-free!

Add some pomegranate seeds and kiwi slices and say buh-bye to your plain old oatmeal!

Try this sweet and easy recipe by husband and wife team Lois and Femi of Yummy Medley.

Chin-Chin | Vegetarian

In Nigeria, Chin chin are sold on every street corner and in every market. They are small, crispy cracker-like cakes that are sweetened with nutmeg.

Try this great six step recipe from Vera Abitbol of international food blog

Don't feel like cooking today? Jálè has some chin-chin in our shop! Try our Chin Chin

Fried Plantains | Vegan

This recipe is so simple, you could follow it with your eyes closed. (Just make sure to open them before you start dropping plantains into hot oil!)

Crisp on the outside, deliciously soft on the inside, vegan and gluten-free, fried plantains make an excellent snack or side dish.

Get the recipe for perfect fried plantains by Afro-Caribbean cuisine expert and food blogger Imma from Immaculate Bites.

Need oil for frying? We recommend Princebrim Palm Oil to achieve a perfect crispy texture and the best flavor.

Chakalaka | Vegetarian

In South Africa, Chakalaka is a staple food you will often find at barbecues, also known as braai. It is served with a slice of bread or a bowl of pap (a kind of polenta).

This colorful vegetarian dish is super healthy and easy to prepare. Try this excellent recipe from popular home cooking blog Kitchen Nostalgia.

West African Veggie Stew in Peanut Sauce | Vegan, GF

This comforting, vegetable-based stew is vegan and gluten free. It contains potatoes, zucchini, and mushrooms.

It is full of flavor and has a hint of smoky heat.

West African vegetable stew in peanut sauce has amazing, creamy "mouth feel"!
© Lydia Walshin 2006-2018.

Try this rich, healthy recipe by Lydia Walshin of blog The Perfect Pantry.

Nigerian Vegetable Pies | Vegetarian

Nigerian hand pies usually have some type of meat inside them, but when you cook these perfectly seasoned ingredients down into a soft, well-seasoned filling, no one will care if there is meat inside or not!

Pick your favorite veggies to put in these pies and watch as your friends and family make them disappear! Try this delicious Recipe by Nigerian food expert and writer Ganiru of The Pretend Chef.

Tanzanian Inspired Mushroom Curry | Vegan

Reasons to love this dish:

  1. It’s quick. It takes about 5 minutes to prep and 35 minutes to cook.
  2. Mushrooms are super good for you because they are full of nutrients and antioxidants.
  3. It’s low-cal. Each serving contains fewer than 200 calories.
  4. It’s vegan.
  5. It’s curry! And curry is delicious!!

Get the Recipe from Recipes from a Pantry by Bintu. Bintu creates delicious recipes that anyone can cook!

For the best African curry dishes, try Lion Curry powder, available in our shop.

One Pot Beans and Plantains | Vegetarian, GF

Looking for a hearty dish to fill you up for the whole day? Try this fantastic recipe for bean and plantain pottage, also by Recipes from a Pantry by Bintu.

It is West African street food at it’s best!

For the most authentic flavor, use Maggi Seasoning Cubes.

South African Chickpea Bunny Chow | Vegetarian

Long ago, Indian settlers in South Africa invented this dish as a way to carry their curries with them while working in the sugar cane fields.

It is essentially bread filled with a delicious curried vegetable mixture.

Get the Recipe from Veggie Belly!

South African Milk Tart | Vegan

This traditional South African tart is filled with a cool, creamy vanilla pudding-like mixture.

In this vegan recipe, Arrowroot powder works in place of egg whites, and a dash of cinnamon makes it complete!

Get the recipe by Wellness blogger Taryn Fitz-Gerald for One Green Planet.

We hope you have enjoyed this day’s worth of South African vegan recipes! Let us know if you tried them out and how it worked for you!

A special thanks to all the amazing food and travel bloggers who take the time to document their favorite dishes so that we may enjoy them!

Do you have a favorite vegan or vegetarian recipe you'd like to see on our blog?
We'd love to hear from you.

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Whether you are craving the flavors of traditional African home cooking, or exploring new tastes, we are where America shops for African goods.