21 things only vegetarians will understand

While the availability of vegetarian and vegan cuisine has increased dramatically over the years – even Beyonce is a part-time vegan – you’re still going to struggle for choice in many of South Africa’s restaurants. As a lifelong vegetarian, and blogger over at, Laura Cooke has eaten her fair share of spinach and feta pies, veg lasagnes and ravioli dishes. Here are 21 feelings that fellow vegetarians may recognise.

1. When your pizza arrives covered in chorizo so you send it back and the chef picks off the meat and tries to disguise the evidence of the crime with a few strategic lumps of guacamole.

2. When you order a main meal that’s made predominantly out of lentils and it’s the same price as a steak.

3. When the only vegetarian item on the menu includes roast vegetables, which really means the exact opposite: overcooked, soggy, slimy and dripping with cheap oil.

4. When you have to listen to the waiter going through the specials, knowing there’s no chance in hell there will be anything you can actually eat.

5. When you aren’t sure what’s in the canapés, so you have to ask your friend to be your royal taster, or find a napkin into which you can spit unidentifiable springroll bites.

6. When it’s two in the morning and the petrol station shop is out of spinach-and-feta pies.

7. When it’s two in the morning and you discover the petrol station shop has vegan chickpea rotis! (Thanks Engen on Orange!)

8. When you order the spinach-and-feta ravioli and the crazy chef thinks six pieces is sufficient to satisfy your carb addiction. And then when you bite into your spinach-and-feta ravioli and realise they’ve brought you the beef.

9. When the random couple you sit next to at your friend’s birthday feels the need to ask you where you get your protein.

10. When the other ‘vegetarian’ at your table orders the catch of the day. (There’s a word for that: pescetarian.)

11. When you realise that the one plus-side of dining out as a vegetarian is less stress of deciding what to eat. Just scan the menu for the two items that qualify, and pick one.

12. When you’re on a roadtrip through the Karoo and all you can buy is cheese-and-tomato sandwiches and slap chips. Lots of chips. Mmm… chips.

13. When you discover that fine dining restaurants like Planet at the Belmond Mount Nelson, Azure at 12 Apostles and La Mouette serve a vegetarian tasting menu.

14. When you first realise that not all wines are vegan and many use egg albumen and fish-bladder extract during processing.

15. When you realise you’re going to have to get used to trotting out your “Why I don’t eat meat” speech on regular occasions.

16. When you look at the price tag on the 1kg tub of raw and unsalted mixed nuts.

17. When shops run out of cauliflower because of all the banting fanatics frantically trying to recapture the joys of pizza with a cauliflower base.

18. When you go to steakhouse for dinner and some bright spark thought a giant mushroom on a roll would be an appropriate substitute for a burger. Thank goodness for unlimited chips.

19. When burger joints finally realised that you can make delicious burgers using chickpeas, beetroot, beans and lentils. (Here’s looking at you, Hudson’s and Royale.)

20. When you secretly don’t mind that the only thing you can eat on the menu is nachos, because anything with avo is amazing.

21. When you first walk into a vegan or vegetarian restaurant and realise you can eat all the things. (Like at Plant in Cape Town or Leafy Greens in Muldersdrift.)

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