Statistics have confirmed that the demand for meat-free food increased by 987%Opens in a new window in 2017, according to the Vegan Society. This is encouraging, given the fact studies have shown that if the world went vegan, we could save 8 million human lives by 2050 while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by two-thirds. More countries like South Africa, which leads the number of vegans in Africa, are embracing veganism. Being vegan ranks as one of the most conscious decisions you can make in this century. It allows you to fight against animal exploitation while improving your health and protecting the environment. However, even with the number of benefits veganism has to offer, it can still prove difficult to find the right foods to eat with adequate nutrients for vegans who have allergies. This should not dampen your vegan spirit when visiting South Africa, as there are a number of ways to navigate food sensitivity.

Dismantling the Myth of Limited Options

Photo by Anna Pelzer on UnsplashThe reason most vegans struggle to find what to eat is that the market creates the impression that vegan food options are limitedOpens in a new window. This is reinforced by restaurants which refuse to acknowledge the rise in popularity of plant-based diets and hence don’t offer satisfactory vegan meals on their menus. This myth proves further daunting to those with food-sensitivity who feel that a vegan diet would further constrain their food choices. While allergies can easily be triggeredOpens in a new window by a number of things, such as mold or even dust, we are most concerned with allergies that are a direct result of substances in food. We will focus on 2 of the most common food allergies and how you can still keep a broad vegan diet in spite of them.

The Peanut Problem

Nuts are a key source of protein for anyone on a vegan diet, and peanuts rank as some of the most affordable and readily available nuts on the market. You may have felt the occasional temptation to indulge in a peanut butter sandwich but considered the consequences and reigned yourself in. However, you don’t have to worry as there are a number of equally healthy (and equally vegan) alternativesOpens in a new window to peanut butter you can comfortably indulge in. Walnut butter is a prime option for those with peanut butter allergies. It boosts omega-3 fatty acids and is said to improve blood vessel, heart, and lymphatic function. You can also try almond butter which is said to reduce blood pressure and levels of bad cholesterol in the body. If none of these are to your liking then try sunflower seed butter as it is the closest to peanut butter in terms of texture and flavour. If you’re wondering about places to eat, you can look at The Greenside Cafe or Col’Cacchio, which are both located in Johannesburg.

Circumventing Soy Allergies

An allergy to soy can be very disheartening for those on a vegan diet. This is mainly due to the fact that soy has been found to have the same nutritional value as meat. However, this should not daunt you as there are alternativesOpens in a new window that can grant you more or less the same nutrients as soybeans. Seitan is a good alternative that can replace soy in your recipes. If you find it a bit pricey, it is possible to make it yourself at home by following simple homemade recipes saturating the industry. You could also use coconut milk or almond milk if you are searching for alternatives to soy milk. If you are around Cape Town and are looking for a quick bite to eat, we would recommend The Hungry Herbivore and Raw and Roxy.

The trend towards a vegan diet is at full momentum and shows no signs of slowing down. As you live your best vegan life, don’t let food allergies get you down.

Written by Sally Perkins

The post Being Vegan in South Africa: Beyond Food Allergies appeared first on Vegan SA Blog.