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Vegan for a month! Part two


Blog by Neil Bester

Two-thirds through and going strong!

I’m 20 days into my vegan challenge and it’s going better than expected! By now, I’d have thought I would be craving the sweet, sweet taste of Karoo lamb, or all the sushi in the world, but I’ve been surprisingly gastronomically satisfied by this new diet.

Apart from my first week of post-carnivore-hell, I’ve been feeling rather good. I’m not sure whether it’s just because my body has detoxed for the first time ever, or if it’s specifically a vegan diet that’s the cause – 30 days is too brief a time to understand what the long-term effects may be. Perhaps another reason for my newfound vitality is my much more varied diet. I’m eating things I would never have gotten round to trying before, and it’s really exciting!

The challenge of dining out

Now to get down to what this week’s blog is about – eating out. Admittedly, due to a few financial constraints this month, I’ve luckily not been able to eat out much. But the times I have have been pretty challenging. Why? Apparently vegan meals aren’t popular with chefs around Cape Town. Granted, I have not specifically sought out vegan-friendly restaurants, just the usual haunts of my friends and I.

One disappointment after the other

My favourite local restaurant in particular did not serve me well this month, apart from its multitude of heavenly craft beers. With only three vegan-friendly meals on the menu, two of those salads, Banana Jam didn’t leave me with many appetizing choices. They cater fantastically for vegetarians, and even serve free-range chicken. But alas, no matter how free-range the eggs they use in their burgers are, they are out of bounds for a vegan.

I was thoroughly disappointed by a High Tea at the prestigious Mount Nelson - the buffet was like a vegan desert save for the watermelon pieces and strawberries, and of course the teas. It was pretty unpleasant watching everyone stuff themselves while my belly squawked in agony at me.

Even the Neighbourgoods Market on a Saturday is a vegan’s nightmare. After seeing and smelling all that crafty food I had to settle for a falafel pita and a mushroom kebab. Don’t get me wrong, they were delicious, but I was not exactly spoilt for choice.

Fast-food giants a vegan stop??

Surprisingly, there are often vegan choices at some of the giant (and perhaps ‘evil’) fast food chains – although as a vegan you would want to find out whether the food is fried in the same oil as non-vegan meals. Or even question the ethics of buying from a chain that likely supports mass-produced industrialized meat in the first place.

Choosing means convincing

Your best bet if you’re after vegan dining is Asian restaurants. And of course, Google can come to your aid – a search of vegan-friendly restaurants yields plenty of results. The website is a good starting point, but the list is far from comprehensive.

Dining out is possibly the biggest challenge I’ve had to face during this month of veganism. Turning vegan may require you turning away from the restaurants you frequent with friends or family. And this will not only mean leaving your beloved fuelling-station behind (until they become more vegan-friendly) – you’ll also have to try and convince your friends to change too. If they’re open-minded then the prospect of trying new food joints may appeal. But it may be a hard sell if your friends resist your seemingly radical lifestyle change.

Next week I will be talking about the all-important issue that everyone asks vegans: What about vitamin B-12?

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