Book Review: The South African Vegan Cookbook

Leozette Roode

Human& Rousseau

Review: Brian Joss

I am an avowed carnivore but the South African Vegan Cookbook has given me an opportunity to reflect on what I eat and consider including more plant-based dishes into my diet, not that I’m planning to give up the occasional rare juicy steak or lamb chops cooked on the braai. But Roode’s book does give you food for thought and in addition there are mouth-watering recipes ranging from Avo Chocolate Truffles to Tofu sosaties and everything in between.

Roode doesn’t advocate people becoming vegan but she explains in down-to-earth terms what veganism is. The book is for people who are interested in more plant-based foods, pescatarians and vegetarians who want to move to a vegan lifestyle, for chefs, cooks and caterers to include vegan items on their menus, for new vegans searching for recipes to make at home, and for experienced vegans looking for simplified plant-based versions of their favourite dishes.

Her journey to veganism is interesting and the time, she says, she was the only vegan she knew, and she struggled to find restaurants to eat at, ingredients to cook with and other vegans to confide in. But then she created her own blog: theCTveganista and it all started when she had to do an assignment for her honours degree in public relations at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

In Vegan 101 Roode explores the difference between the common diet types: omnivore, pescatarian, vegetarian, strictly vegetarian/vegan/plant based green and raw vegan. She also answers some of FAQs about veganism, why it is helpful to the environment, the equipment you need and a list of her vegan-friendly kitchen alternatives. She also gives hints about how to use egg replacements, chocolate, which biscuits are suitable for vegans and the list includes Oreos and Baumann’s tennis biscuits. Some house-brands are suitable for vegans but it’s best to read the labels.

The recipes sound mouth-watering and there are suggestions for a Go To Chocolate Peanut Butter and Coffee Smoothie; Double-thick Chocmint Smoothie as well as a Choc-Nut Quinoa Breakfast Bowl and one for a Healthy Chocolate Granola. You can also work vegan magic with chickpeas; tofu, beans and avo, flapjacks and a fruit salad. Interesting ideas for snacks include Crunchy Kale Chips; Spicy Tandoori Cauliflower Bites and Pea Pesto for a dip. Other recipes include Earthy Brown-rice Medley; Chili Con Carne and more. Vegans can also enjoy a braai: try the Sweet&Sour Chicken and Mushroom Braai Pie or Tasty Tofu Skewers, and for afters there’s a Cherry-Berry Yoghurt Pudding, a sweet and refreshing summer dessert, according to Roode. If you’re a gym bunny then the Post Workout Protein Bowl will help restore your energy. Even if you’re a vegan you can enjoy wine and a fine dining experience. Consider putting on your menu a Sweet Butternut Soup; Patrick Knight’s Carrot Lox (Vegan ‘Smoked’ Salmon), a Vegan Butter Chicken with Quorn or even “sushi”, Rainbow Rolls with Marinated Tofu; and to satisfy that sweet tooth try the Vegan Chocolate Mousse or Oreo Peanut Butter Truffles; and there’s a range of vegan sauces, Caramel or Chocolate. If you don’t feel like slaving away over a hot stove there are numerous vegan-friendly eateries in the Western Cape as well as in Knysna. Some of the franchises are also suitable for vegans, says Roode: Spur, Mugg & Bean, Ocean Basket, Wimpy, Kauai and Simply Asia, to name some.

The South African Vegan Cookbook is an adventure in cooking (and eating) which will give you a chance to spread your culinary wings. Many of the dishes will appeal to all categories of eaters. The ingredients are widely available and the step-by-step instructions are clear. In my view the colours chosen for the typography are too insipid and sometimes hard to read. That aside, The South African Vegan Cookbook gets a big fat six stars and it will be well used. Images are by Myburgh du Plessis.

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