Veg Cookbook review: A Guide to Vegetarian Vegan & Jain Dining in South Africa 08/26/12
A review of South Africa tourism's Guide to Vegetarian Vegan & Jain Dining in South Africa aimed at hotels, restaurants and the tourism industry.
South African Tourism, in association with the South African Chefs association, recently launched A Guide to Vegetarian Vegan & Jain Dining in South Africa. Aimed at restaurants and hotels, this compact cookbook hopes to encourage the local tourism industry to cater better for our non meat-eating tourists. Having grown up in South Africa, I am very familiar with the heavily meat-focused lifestyle and general lack of knowledge in the restaurant and tourism industry.
Incidentally, the release of this book coincides with the Veggie Buntch Supper Club that I launched in June and shares a similar aim: to give vegetarians the chance to have a top-quality dining experience. I am very pleased that the South African tourism industry is finally waking up to the fact that plant-based eating is an important part of many people’s lives. Being vegetarian in South Africa shouldn’t mean that you have to miss out on great food.
The book offers useful information for readers, including definitions of the various diets (vegan, vegetarian, jain, flexitarian etc) and what they entail. Hopefully this will prevent common misconceptions including things like vegetarians eat fish. It also includes a shopping guide and general information about vegetarian restaurants and shops around the country.
It includes a variety of recipes submitted by hotels, restaurants and other establishments. The recipes are grouped into sections including: snacks, starters & sides; salads & soups; main courses; desserts and a chapter devoted to Jain cuisine. (For those of you who don’t know what Jain means, it is an Indian religion that follows a path of non-violence toward all living creatures. As a result, Jains don’t eat meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, yeast or root vegetables. Many don’t eat honey or drink alcohol. Very strict Jains also don’t eat garlic, ginger, vinegar or even mushrooms.)
The recipes vary in complexity from simple dishes like nachos with avocado guacamole to ravioli of mushroom duxelles. Look out for vegetarian versions of South Africa classics like malva pudding and bunny chow.
I tested the recipe for a vegan Karoo Bobotie supplied by Mattew Ballenden of the Fresh Earth Food Store. Check out the full recipe and photos.
In general, I think the book provides some great recipes, many with a local twist. Some of the information was a little outdated in the general information section, but I think it’s a great initiative and hopefully it will be helpful to the establishments that do receive a copy.
If you’re interested, you can download a pdf of the book.