Tembi Henisi (38) from Cape Town, says that while plant-based, vegetarian and vegan lifestyles can be on the pricey side, a little creativity in the kitchen can help you cut costs.
Henisi became a vegan due to her love for animals and Mother Nature. She tells Health For Mzansi that it was difficult to adjust at first especially given her love for local restaurants. “Being vegan is expensive,” she says.
Finding your groove
To cut costs she had to minimise the restaurant visits and turned to her kitchen. “To find balance you need to be present in the kitchen,” she says. She discovered her love for cooking healthy and balanced meals.
“Let’s say you want to start your morning with porridge, and you soak your chia seeds overnight in coconut milk with your berries and other fruit. If you can’t afford chia seeds, try oats, which are high in fibre and iron. Read the label to see what the benefits are in each meal you prepare; it’s simple to know what vitamins you had earlier and what you’d need to eat throughout the day to balance your lifestyle,” Henisi says.
A little stomach bloating in the beginning was among the side effects of her vegan transition. But seeing her skin glow, her hair growing thicker, and having no cravings kept her committed to the lifestyle.
After a while, she also noticed improvements in her body, especially in her metabolism.
Maintaining the lifestyle
Registered dietitian Michelle Hawksworth says there are ways to make plant-based meals affordable. “To have balanced nutrition in any plant diet, it’s all in the portions. This can be done by having half of your plate filled with fruits and vegetables, a quarter of whole grains, and a quarter of plant-based protein,” she says.
Hawksworth adds that seasonal fruit and vegetables, and wholegrains, like lentils, beans and chickpeas, are the most cost effective and won’t break the bank on your plant-based journey.
“Veganism is a way of life and excludes animal products such as meat, dairy, eggs, wool, and leather. A plant-based diet only excludes animal food products such as meat, dairy, and eggs. Switching to veganism is a personal decision with many reasons. These include: to improve one’s health, to support sustainable living, personal preference and to reduce animal suffering,” says Hawksworth.
Hawksworth adds that there are some side effects including bloating, and constipation caused by the increase in fibre, as well as tiredness, weakness, lightheadedness, and anxiety caused by iron deficiency and vitamin B12.
Get creative on a dime
Siphokazi Mdlankomo (47) believes vegetables and pasta are far easier to prepare.
“Vegetables require care to prepare so that the nutrients they contain are not destroyed, they are meals that can be prepared before and after a busy day,” she says. “It takes creativity to prepare any nutritious meal, but at the end of the day, you need to have tasty, appetising meals to maintain your diet,” says Mdlankomo.
“Anyone can eat garlic, red kidney beans, carrots, peppers, sweet potatoes, and soya mince daily. These vegetables can be served with quinoa or rice.”
Try Jason’s easy meatballs
Vegan chef Jason McNamara shares his vegan meatball recipe that is easy to make and the perfect alternative to the much-loved dish.
McNamara (Jay Mac) is the founder of The Kind Kitchen, a vegan comfort food café in Woodstock, Cape Town.
To him The Kind Kitchen is not only the name of his restaurant or his recently published cookbook – it is a way of life. “We don’t have a Planet B to call home! This one is all we have, and we have the power to change the way we treat mother earth through the foods we choose to eat.”
Try his easy vegan meatballs in marinara sauce.
‘Meaty balls’ in marinara sauce
- 1 cup (250ml) white quinoa or brown rice
- 2 cups (500ml) water
- 1 cup (250ml) beef-flavoured soya mince granules
- 1 cup (250ml) raw rolled oats
- 3–4 Tbsp nutritional yeast (‘nooch’), plus extra for garnish, optional
- 1 Tbsp Marmite or vegan beef stock
- 1 Tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 Tbsp smoked paprika
- 2 cups (500 ml) hot vegetable stock
- ½ cup (125ml) chickpea flour or cake wheat flour
- 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
- 1–2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 tsp dry Italian herbs
- 3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 4 cups (4 × 250ml) Marinara sauce
- 1 Tbsp freshly chopped basil, parsley or origanum, plus extra for serving
- Place the quinoa or brown rice in a pot with 2 cups (500 ml) cold water. Bring to the boil and cook for 10 minutes, then drain and set aside. The grains should be al dente, not fully cooked.
- Place the soya mince granules, oats, nutritional yeast (‘nooch’), Marmite, Worcestershire sauce, mustard and smoked paprika in a large bowl. Add the hot stock and stir to combine. Cover with a plate or cling film and set aside for 20 minutes to allow the soya mince and oats to rehydrate and soak up the flavours.
- When the soya mixture is ready, sieve in the flour (to prevent lumps), then add the onion, garlic, dry herbs, quinoa or rice, 2 Tbsp oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Using damp hands, mix until everything is well combined. Place in the fridge for at least 1 hour, or up to 24 hours, to firm up.
- When the mixture is cool, scoop tablespoon-size portions and use wet hands to shape them into balls (roughly the size of a golf ball).
- Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a nonstick pan and brown the meatballs in batches. Return all the meatballs to the pan and add the Marinara Sauce and fresh herbs. Bring the sauce to the boil then lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through. (If necessary, add small amounts of water to the pan, to prevent sticking.) Serve with spaghetti or your choice of pasta.
• Instead of serving with pasta, use the meatballs in sauce to make a kickass sub.
• Replace the homemade marinara sauce with your favourite ready-made pasta sauce.
• Soya mince (textured vegetable protein) comes in a variety of flavours and is both inexpensive and quick to prepare, making it a great standby for busy weeknight meals.
• Ina Paarman liquid beef stock sachets are vegan.