By Antonia Krauss
Cape Town is famous for its natural beauty, vibrant culture, and rich history. But did you know that it is also making steps in terms of sustainability? From reducing its carbon emissions, to incorporating responsible tourism in its ethos to supporting local businesses, Cape Town is becoming an eco-friendlier destination. Not forgetting the numerous vegan-friendly options popping up across the city, from vegan restaurants to markets selling vegan products.
As for me, I’ve always been a travel enthusiast. After finishing my translation studies, I moved to Cape Town from Munich, Germany, 18 years ago. Being surrounded by Cape Town’s beautiful landscape, I easily connected with nature and began to live a more health conscious life. In 2010, I decided to leave out meat from my diet, and went fully vegan three years later. I love Cape Town for its culture and scenery, but also for its continuous efforts to make it a more eco-friendly city to live in. I love exploring the city by eating my way through the many vegan-friendly restaurants.
Let me introduce you to some sustainable initiatives and vegan-friendly spots to try for your next trip to the tip of Africa:
Markets in Cape Town for sustainable food and products
“Local is lekker” (“Supporting local is great”), as South Africans like to say. One important stride towards sustainability is supporting local businesses. It is no secret, that Cape Town, with its thriving local economy, is a hub for many small businesses and artisans producing handmade and sustainable products. Visit my favourite local markets:
The Oranjezicht City Farm Market in the Waterfront
This market takes place every Saturday and Sunday, and is my favourite place to hang out and buy fresh produce from local farmers and stock up on artisanal food products. This farm-style market forces you to slow down, whilst listening to the country music in the background, and smelling the scent of fresh fruit and vegetables. I recommend also slowly browsing the food stalls and trying at least one of the endless vegan options. If you are lucky, you might even get a place to sit close to the sea.
The Vegan Goods Market at The Range, Tokai
It takes place every first Sunday of the month and is a welcoming and inclusive space where people can shop for vegan, eco-friendly and cruelty/free food, drinks, home and beauty products. For an even more sustainable shopping experience, they’ve started a collaboration with the Thrift Fest to host joint markets.
Where else in the world can you enjoy a meal or a coffee at a farmers’ market with stunning ocean views? If you visit Cape Town in the summer, check out their night market on a Wednesday night.
6 Vegan-Friendly Restaurants in Cape Town
South Africa is generally a meat-loving country and everywhere you go in Cape Town, you will come across the smell of a traditional braai, the South African answer to a barbecue. At the same time, Cape Town is the vegan mecca of South Africa and there is a steady rise in the number of vegan-friendly restaurants. More and more eateries are also using locally sourced and organic ingredients.
As I have a lot of favourite vegan restaurants in Cape Town, it is difficult to decide which ones to mention, but here are my top-6 vegan-friendly restaurants in Cape Town.
15 Bennett St, Green Point
You cannot visit Cape Town without experiencing Gold Restaurant. Yes, it may be a bit “touristy”, but I promise you, that you won’t be disappointed. An evening at GOLD is an immersive experience that will take you on a 14-dish taste-safari, paired with traditional Mali puppets and great entertainment.
Gold Restaurant also recently introduced a plant-based tasting menu, and your tastebuds will burst with excitement with all the different African flavours. The restaurant has taken quite a few steps towards sustainability. Some of these are: no longer stocking plastic straws, minimising food waste by daily preparation of the set menu and donating any leftovers to a shelter, cooking with biodegradable cooking oil by a certified company, using organic and seasonal produce and implementing water saving procedures.
The Fussy Vegan
23 Wandel Street, Gardens
This funky eatery is by far my favourite vegan “junk food” takeout. Think plant-based cheeseburgers, vegan nuggets or for the more adventurous, the Smokey Jalapeno Burger. Not forgetting their legendary Mac and Cheese and Buddha Bowls. The takeaway style restaurant loves creating plant-based alternatives and comfort food, and their aim is to support local suppliers of ethically produced plant-based ingredients.
117 Kloof Street
Want to mingle with the locals? For a laidback brunch I highly recommend visiting Our Local on trendy Kloof Street. This unique eatery is situated inside an antique store and nursery. I love this place because it brings all kinds of people together around one table, and it is the perfect spot to grab a bite. So what can you expect from this food experience? Tuck into fresh flavourful food such as vegan shakshuka, fancy avo on toast or Mediterranean style pasta dishes.
4 Bree Street
For the sushi lovers out there, you need to try some of the culinary delights at Aiko Sushi. This modern Asian-style sushi eatery in the heart of Cape Town is well-known for its creative vegan options. Order the mushroom bomb and the sweet and spicy. You will thank me later. Check out their “vegan” all you can eat’ specials, and enjoy their extensive vegan menu.
Grumpy & Runt
22 Dunkley Street
This female-owned vegan donut shop deserves a mention. This ethical indulgence is the vegan dessert you deserve! Come here to enjoy mouth-watering and hand-crafted donuts. Each week, the team makes a unique selection of 8 different flavours. Yes, Tuesday has become a favourite day of the week as I impatiently await the weekly flavour drop. The donuts are hand-rolled, cut and fried fresh each morning and as far as possible, the women produce everything themselves, including vegan butter, pastry dough and cookies!
119 Kloof Street
Let’s end on a sweet note. After a long day of sightseeing, everyone can do with some dessert. Situated on trendy Kloof Street, you can enjoy delicious plant-based waffles with ice cream made from oat milk produced by Oh Oat. Their efforts include recycling office paper, re-capturing water, offering a returnable bottle and glass deposit system, creating local employment, and paying staff a living wage. I wish I could recommend a favourite waffle, but all flavours are just amazing.
Ready to explore Cape Town?
The best way to explore Cape Town is to use the MyCiTi bus, which offers efficient, affordable and easy-to-use public transport options. What I personally like about the MyCiTi bus is that you almost get a free sightseeing tour on some routes.
I recommend taking the bus to Blouberg Beach and after a lovely walk on the beach with magnificent views of Table Mountain, you can go back to town by bus and will be rewarded with more stunning views of the Mother City and Table Mountain. With a bit of luck, you might even see lots of flamingos on the way!
Visit Cape Town and enjoy all of what the Mother City has on offer: mountains, beautiful landscapes, long beaches, wildlife and a rich culture and history. Remember to travel responsibly and help us to make Cape Town an even greener city.