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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
As the name suggests, Fresh Earth is about healthy and nutritious food that is naturally sourced. It is associated with the Fresh Earth Food Store in Blairgowrie, which sells health and wellness products that are sustainable and ethically produced. The café, headed by Chef Matthew Ballenden, specialises in vegan and vegetarian food with an emphasis on great tastes and flavours. Also on offer are gluten-free and banting-friendly food items. There’s a daily harvest table served buffet-style. Everything is made fresh on the day, including the baked goodies, curries, salads, fritters and interesting sides. The newly updated menu boasts additions such as the plant-based chicken burger, prego roll and beef trinchado.
Holistic health and wellness is the focus of this charming café in Midrand’s Waterfall Country Estate. Aurelie’s offers an extensive vegan and vegetarian menu (including breakfasts, wraps, salads and snack platters) while also accommodating meaty items as well as gluten-free and banting-friendly varieties. It is known for its veggie juices, superfood smoothies and liquid-cleanse packages. The retail section offers plenty of health supplements, kids’ lunchboxes and homeware.
Shayona is a vegetarian restaurant, deli and store that upholds a purist sattvic vegetarianism rooted in Indian culture. The menu borrows from North and South Indian as well as Indo-Chinese flavours and influences. Come for their vegetable dumplings, paneer tikka masala, uttapam (savoury pancakes made from a rice and lentil batter, and topped with fresh vegetables and coriander), pizzas and pastas. Vegan options are available. The sweet treats are also a speciality.
Cleavy’s Health Eatery is a new addition to the prime spot in Rosebank’s Oxford Parks. Opened in March 2021, it specialises in vegan and vegetarian food. The menu boasts all-day breakfasts, light meals, wraps and burgers as well as health and smoothie bowls. The dessert menu is compact but exciting with the addition of the beautiful-looking Chocolate V-Cheesecake. Non-alcoholic drinks have also been introduced.
The Grind Greenery sits on top of the popular Grind Coffee and is a sister company to the Honest Food Store in Hyde Park. The focus is on healthy vegan food. The menu has a variety of plant-based options ranging from the “Beyond Meat Burger” to the well-flavoured bowls (particularly the black rice and tofu bowl, with broccoli, cocktail tomatoes, edamame beans, avo and a hoisin dressing). The classy café also specialises in sugar- and gluten-free baked goodies.
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.