By Hello Hungry Vegans
Editor: Marcelle Jordaan
WHAT IS A VEGAN DIET?
Those who follow a vegan diet, also called a plant-based diet, do not consume animal products. This includes meat, dairy, eggs, honey, and gelatine. But veganism expands further than diet. Per the Vegan Society, the definition is as follows: “Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.” For instance, vegans don’t wear clothing made with animal materials (like leather and wool) or support entertainment that relies on the exploitation of animals, like bullfighting or SeaWorld. The extent to which an all-around Vegan approach is taken depends on the individual itself.
Making the decision to go vegan/live a plant-based lifestyle is easier than you think. Yet, the commitment needs to be sincere. Whether your decision was supported by moral values, health benefits or a more sustainable lifestyle, your life will be changed for the better forever. We can certainly vouch for that! With our society becoming more accepting of the vegan lifestyle, naturally more and more supermarkets, restaurants, coffee shops, hotels etc. are starting to cater for our needs. And we are delighted. We live in a world where a restaurant without vegan options is not only rare, but also might sabotage their own business’ future and success. South Africa is well known for its love for meat, cheeses and animal-based products. No doubt it has been imprinted into our DNA over the generations, shaping our lifestyle habits and eating preferences. We get that. We were a part of that. Yet the human body does not need that excess amount of meat daily & quite frankly we have become so used to high cholesterol counts that we consider it normal. Just because it’s our culture/tradition, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily healthy & will support the survival of the planet for generations to come… ultimately the future and our very own lives lie in our hands. And we do have the power to change it.
“If we had a mostly plant-based diet we could increase the yield of the land,” as the iconic, David Atterborough states, who has seen the deterioration of our planet over decades. Beatles frontman McCartney famously said, “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian.” Now the 77-year-old rockstar is vegan and still a vocal advocate for the lifestyle. In a short film called “One Day a Week,” which encourages people to eat less meat, McCartney said, “[If] we all join together in this effort, we can help improve the environment, reduce the negative impacts of climate change, and even improve people’s health.”
Veganism has made its mark in the sporting world, too. Formula One champion Hamilton says his plant-based diet has helped him feel “the best I’ve ever felt in my life.” Wesley Woodyard, line-backer for the Tennessee Titans, experienced increased energy levels after going vegan, because he began putting “good fuel” into his body. Quarterback for the Carolina Panthers Cam Newton credits his vegan diet for his quickened recovery. “I’m loving how I’m feeling,” he said.
Other high-profile vegan names include: A$AP Rocky, will.i.am, Alan Cumming, Ne-Yo, Ruby Rose, Ted Deutch, James Cameron, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jenna Marbles, Kyrie Irving, Nathalie Emmanuel, Natalie Portman, Craig Robinson, Eric Adams, Sia, Mayim Bialik, Tia Blanco, and Kevin Smith.
Overall, having a plant-based diet is known to increase energy levels, increase brain function, boosts metabolism and gut health, supports a healthy immune system by removing all inflammation in the body by eliminating meat/animal products. Here are a few scientifically tested benefits of living a plant-based diet.
Scientifically tested benefits of a Vegan lifestyle:
1. A Vegan Diet Is Richer in Certain Nutrients
2. It Can Help You Lose Excess Weight
3. It Appears to Lower Blood Sugar Levels and Improve Kidney Function. Indeed, vegans tend to have lower blood sugar levels, higher insulin sensitivity and up to a 50–78% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes
4. A Vegan Diet May Protect Against Certain Cancers
5. According to the World Health Organization, about one-third of all cancers can be prevented by factors within your control, including diet.
6. It’s Linked to a Lower Risk of Heart Disease with up to 75%
7. A Vegan Diet Can Reduce Pain from Arthritis.
8. Following a Plant-Based Diet Long Term May Help You Live Longer. The Journal of the American Heart Association study found that a plant-based diet lowers the risk of all causes of mortality by 25%.
9. Ramping Up Your Plant Intake May Keep Your Brain Strong and ultimately slow down the progression of Alzheimers.
No one expects you to convert to a vegan lifestyle overnight. Sometimes baby steps are a more sustainable way of making a difference in the world and in your health. Skipping meat one day a week has benefits for our planet, health, and wallets. For starters, the blog Counting Animals found that following Meatless Monday for one year would spare an average of 3.5 animals a year per person. Multiply that by the entire South African population and it comes out to around 206 Million animals spared annually, per the Humane Society’s estimates. Saving animals would, in turn, lower the emission of greenhouse gases by the equivalent of ten billion charged smartphones, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
SO WHAT ABOUT MY LOVE FOR CHEESE? And the famous words Vegans all over hear far too often: “HOW DO YOU LIVE WITHOUT BACON??”
Let’s take you through some of our favourite alternatives available all over SA.
– Fry’s Plant based products
We love this brand, because it’s affordable and widely available, nearly every PicknPay, Checkers and Spar stocks their range of meat alternatives and other plant based products. Our personal favourites: their spicy sausage and breakfast bangers, crumbed schnitzels and definitely the rice protein and chia nuggets.
One of our favourite online shops and now stocked at selected PicknPay stores! Their plant-based burger patties are one of our top picks as well as their vegan mince. Check out their website for the full range. https://www.herbivore.co.za/
– Urban Vegan
A proudly South African artisanal vegan food brand with a beautiful story. This brand was born in the kitchen of husband and wife, Winston and Angela. After Angela was diagnosed with cancer, Winston began a period of intense study. As a practising surgeon, Winston learnt more real medicine than in all his years of practising the profession. He came to realise that a plant-based diet, free of refined foods & animal products, could not only prevent, but even reverse the course of illness. Our pick is for sure their country style boerewors and Smokey bacon! https://www.urbanvegan.co.za/
– Spice Journey
Their main goal was to create a variety of mock-meat alternatives which satisfy cravings and ensure you don’t feel left out at social or cultural gatherings. All of their meat alternatives are Seitan based. Seitan is a high protein, mock-meat which is approximately 71% pure protein, 2% carbs and almost 0% fat. It is completely soy free and much healthier than soya meat alternatives! A weekly favourite for us is definitely their sticky ribs and be sure to try the vegan Braai Packs at your next dinner party. https://www.spicejourney.co.za/
– On The Green Side
By far the closest to chicken you’ll get as a vegan! They special in protein rich, plant-based meat alternatives that look the part and taste like the real thing. https://onthegreenside.com/
VEGAN CHEESE ALTERNATIVES:
– VIO LIFE
Available at most Food Lovers stores, selected checkers and PicknPay stores.
Their 200g Mozzarella block is perfect for melting on your pizza or lasagne and is also one of the most affordable options due to the size.
Available from most Checkers branches and also one of the most affordable vegan cheese alternatives. Our favourite is definitely their Gouda style cheese block.
– Irene’s Gourmet
Another local favourite. Irene’s gourmet has a range of plant-based products from cheese to vegan basil pesto! Check their website to find a stockist near you. Their smoky provolone cheese is a favourite on our cheese platter and we don’t eat pasta without a sprinkle of their vegan Parmesan. https://irenesgourmet.co.za/product-category/cheeses/
– Evergreen Vegan Deli
This is one of our recently discovered favourites. The ingredients that form the basis of their products are sourced from local small farmers. Their variety of cheese spreads is a must try, and your salad will miss their creamy feta! https://egvegandeli.co.za/
WOOLIES ALSO DESERVES A MENTION WITH THEIR NEWLY LAUNCHES VEGAN CHEESE RANGE. Affordable and of course widely available.
VEGAN SWEET TREATS:
– Woolies has a great variety of vegan sweets.
– Yumm Bakery offers a variety of vegan baked goods.
– Nova sugar free chocolate bars (Available at clicks, their peanut butter chocolate slab is a must try.)
– Herbivore Earthfoods has a whole range of sweet treats, including peanut butter cups and the best mylk chocolate bars.
FAVORITE VEGAN RESTAURANTS IN GAUTENG
– LEXIS HEALTHY EATERY Sandton, Rosebank, Modderfontein and Hazelwood
– Kaylees Eatery Bedfordview
– The Fussy Vegan Greenside, Blairgowrie and City Rock
– LET’S VEG PIRATES CLUB PARKHURST
– Restaurants with great vegan options include, DOPIO ZERO, LA COCO C SILVERLAKES, HUDSONS, MOMO EATERY, MORNING GLORY JHB, SIMPLY ASIA, SAIGON SUZY, NICE ON 4th.
We hope that this quick information packed post can help you in any way possible. Maybe getting some insight on living a vegan lifestyle or just some tips on some of our favourite vegan products. Our goal, as the Two Hungry Vegans, are to have fun & to explore all the amazing plant-based foods the earth has to offer. Going plant based is only as inconvenient as you make it to be, ultimately it becomes second nature. You’ll be surprised how well your body, mind and soul will respond to a fresher more sustainable lifestyle.
Cheers from us,
The two hungry Vegans
Follow their journey on Instagram @hellohungryvegans