Review: GEOFF DALGLISH
The South African Vegan Cookbook, by Leozette Roode (Human & Rousseau)
Picking up this vegan cookbook wasn’t exactly a huge leap of faith as I’ve been treading a middle path for almost two decades, embracing vegetarianism with occasional lapses into being a pescetarian.
Eighteen years ago I had my eating epiphany when I bit into a piece of peri-peri chicken and gagged. Rather than the mouth-watering flavours I’d been looking forward to, I vividly tasted the pain of the creature.
“Don’t tell anybody that,” a friend urged after hearing my confession. “They’ll think you weird!”
But the truth was that in the space of a single bite I went from enthusiastic carnivore to mildly confused vegetarian. And no, the roof of my world didn’t fall in, although I feared that abstaining from biltong might be too great a sacrifice. I also joked that I might have to declare bacon an honorary vegetable.
When after years of devout vegetarianism I did finally succumb to temptation and stuffed some lean beef biltong into my mouth, I was appalled and had to spit it out immediately. It tasted of blood!
So fast-forward to 2018 and I’ve been experimenting with veganism for some months. While at the celebrated Findhorn ecovillage in Scotland I delighted in scrumptious vegan meals, and it ticked all my boxes for living a more ethical life without contributing to the horrors of factory-farmed beef and dairy. It was a culinary celebration and it felt great.
But on my return to Cape Town I realised I had little clue how to prepare satisfying vegan meals myself. Simply deleting meat and dairy from my diet without replacing sources of protein wasn’t the answer … I needed some inspiration. I needed a culinary lifeline.
This book is it, offering a bridge to the nutritional value, improved health and increased energy that a life with botanicals promises. It makes sense to me and the book is beautifully and logically presented with quality photography, helpful lists of ingredients, seemingly easy-to-follow recipes and an explanation of what veganism is all about. There’s even a section entitled “Let’s Have a Braai” that could bring huge comfort to many South Africans fearing the loss of a traditional way of life.
It’s early days for me as an aspirant vegan although I feel I have in my hands an invaluable tool in veganista and animal activist Leozette Roode’s cookbook. And it’s heartening that an Afrikaans girl with a love of springbok fillet could make the transition to veganism so seamlessly, thanks in part to the animal-rights documentary Earthlings. (It’s a shocker that we should all see and especially those unaware of what the factory-farming industry is doing to the animals, the planet, climate change and our collective future).
I have absolutely no doubts about the health advantages of a plant-based diet – for myself, the animals and the planet. And now, in the weeks and months ahead, I look forward to exploring this book further and discovering the yummy potentials of a plant-based diet. It resonates with me on all levels.
In recent months I’ve learned that eating vegan can be both delicious and nutritious – and there was never any doubt that it reduces animal suffering and environmental impacts.
So The South African Vegan Cookbook gets my thumbs-up and Leozette Roode my gratitude.