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The ultimate guide to Jozi’s vegan food

Vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian or just trying to fit in a meat-free Monday here and there? Here’s the ultimate guide to getting your veggie fix in and around Johannesburg.

Free Food Deli & Takeaway (Birnam)

If you’re on the hunt for a dairy-free milkshake then look no further. FreeFood has the best vegan chocolate shake in Johannesburg, if not the world. Everything on Ariel’s menu is gluten-, sugar- and preservative-free. Try one of the Big Bamboo Bowls – like the kale and red jasmine rice – for lunch, or grab one of the frozen meals from the deli to take home for dinner. Free Food has one large communal table – bringing the European style of solo dining to South Africa. You can head on over by yourself or with friends and sit around a shared table to eat Free Food’s sustainable food. While you’re there, help yourself to a glass of water from the jugs on the table, which are infused with star anise for an unusual and refreshing flavour.

Dishes from Free Food. Photo by Lexi Monzeglio.

Fruits & Roots (Bryanston)

This spot offers a range of vegan options including vegan pizza with cashew cheese, spinach and avocado; an array of colourful salads; and a daily vegetarian buffet laden with options like golden-brown cauliflower bake or legumes with baby spinach.

The Fussy Vegan (Blairgowrie)

This strictly vegan café serves up a smorgasbord of colourful plant-based dishes. Think poké bowls with avo, activated cashews, pickled ginger and edamame on a bed of sushi rice; burrito bowls with black rice, pickles and avo; or oozy and comforting vegan mac and cheese. There are also vegan ice-cream sandwiches from Mylk to satisfy the sweet tooth.

The Greenside Café (Greenside)

This is another tried-and-tested truly vegan favourite. It’s a quaint, unpretentious little spot that makes you feel at home. The full English breakfast is the perfect plate of colour and will leave you feeling full and nourished. Also try the bean-and-rice burrito wrap with harissa, coleslaw and pesto.

A dish prepared and served at Greenside Café. Photo by Lexi Monzeglio.

Kaylee’s (Bedfordview)

This plant-based eatery makes use of fresh, organic and seasonal ingredients to create flavourful meals like Beyond Burgers, falafel bowls, dhal curry, pulled jackfruit tacos and Belgian waffles with vegan ice cream.

Leafy Greens Café (Muldersdrift)

Famous for its lunch buffet, Leafy Greens is probably the most well-known vegan restaurant around. If you take a little wander about, you’ll see Antonia’s veggie gardens where she sources most of the ingredients for the menu. The buffet has the most delicious little crackers with a bunch of fresh toppings on Antonia’s onion crackers (which you can buy for your own cupboard), a spread of salads, hot bakes, homemade hummus and other dips all served with fresh breads. Besides the buffet, you should definitely try the baked pizza, which rivals any so-called normal pizza in town.

Lexi’s Healthy Eatery (Sandton, Modderfontein and Rosebank)

The menu here features very little to no animal products, as well as no refined sugars or products containing gluten. The breakfast rush kicks off with options like the Farmer’s Breakfast Bowl with tofu scramble, grilled mushrooms, roasted potatoes, grilled tomatoes and fresh avo with a vegan hollandaise. Or go for the gluten-free vanilla power waffles with berries, coconut cream and vegan Nutella. Come lunch and dinner, the dishes take on a more gourmet slant. Starter nibbles like almond ricotta and pear bruschetta or beetroot falafel, carrot hummus and crudités are followed by main events like giant mushroom medallions; chickpea activated-charcoal burger; or black rice porcini risotto with basil, green peas, zucchini and a broccoli mousse.

Pop-ups and food stalls

Vegeata

This vegan food stall has been around for a good few years, and it’s especially famous for the faux pulled ‘pork’, which is actually plant-based. Try the pulled pork nachos or the delicious pulled pork tacos. Word on the street is that vegan prawns are involved in some dishes and that the baked goods are heaven-sent. You can find Vegeata on Facebook, where you can like their page for more information and updates.

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