Joburg’s New Vegan Eateries

Joburg’s New Vegan Eateries
Food feasting at Lexi's

Joburg diners have enjoyed beloved neighbourhood vegan cafés for many years, but they often cater to a niche crowd. Restaurants like Conscious 108, Free Food, Greenside Cafe, Leafy Greens, and Fresh Earth are where the vegan community hang out.

With the increasing demand for vegan options in mainstream dining, Joburg has seen a shift in restaurant menus across the city. Chains like Doppio Zero and Col’Cacchio have added vegan salads, pastas and pizzas to their menus, and almost every café offers almond milk cappuccinos.

The new wave of vegan eateries, run by young entrepreneurs, have become the trendiest places to eat in Johannesburg. A greater moral awareness, and the prevalence of documentaries like What The Health, have accelerated the adoption of a plant-based diet. Joburg diners crave unique, thought-provoking vegan dishes, such as vegan smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels.

The Fussy Vegan

At just 22 years old, Kaylee Gottschalk runs Kaylee’s Eatery in Bedfordview. The creative vegan menu, developed with Chef Joshua Simon, features their signature dish: lox and cream cheese. The “smoked salmon” is thinly sliced papaya which is marinated and dehydrated. Amazingly, the slices of papaya bear a strong resemblance to smoked salmon, and liquid smoke lends a warm, smoky flavour to the fruit. Cashew nuts are used to create the rich velvety “cream cheese” topping.

People are becoming more health conscious earlier. They’re realising that you look like what you eat,” says Lexi Monzeglio, owner of Lexi’s Healthy Eatery in Sandton. When Monzeglio moved out of her parents’ home, she couldn’t cook at all. This resulted in an unhealthy diet of takeaway and processed foods, leaving Monzeglio feeling awful and sluggish and gaining weight.

She started a food blog as a way of educating herself on how to cook and how to eat better.

You can live a healthy, balanced life without depriving yourself,” says Monzeglio. Her food journey led her to develop a food stall, pop-up restaurants, and eventually Lexi’s Healthy Eatery.


Monzeglio was strictly vegan for two years but has incorporated a few ingredients back into her diet, like organic eggs. She believes in eating what makes you feel good and healthy. For Monzeglio, that means a 90% plant-based diet, but relaxed when it needs to be. She explains: “If I’m in Rome, I’m gonna have some pizza. I believe in not depriving yourself.”

Monzeglio’s menu is mostly plant-based but does include some non-vegan ingredients such as cage-free organic eggs, free range grass-fed beef, and sustainably-caught salmon. The most popular dish on the menu is the Glow Bowl which includes sweet potato, baby spinach, roasted cauliflower, spicy chickpeas, avocado, carrots, pickled radish, tahini dressing, and black sesame seeds. The vibrant meal is an expression of her approach to food: “Healthy food can be engaging, beautiful and nourishing, and leave you feeling full and happy.”

Beyond Burger, The Fussy Vegan

Veganism is not this big scary concept. Vegan food doesn’t have to be intimidating, it can be comfort food, it can be what makes you happy,” says Werner Prinsloo, owner of The Fussy Vegan in Blairgowrie.

Prinsloo opened The Fussy Vegan in January 2018. At the time, he ran the whole operation by himself and sold just one meal of the day. Since then, friend David Sampson has joined as a business partner and the busy eatery now has 10 employees.

The small food spot serves “grab and go” vegan food for busy working people. Their pre-made snacks include tofu mayo and bacon sandwiches, seitan biltong, and vegan croissants and cinnabons.

Prinsloo, who develops all the dishes himself, takes pride in creating hearty vegan comfort food that satisfies both vegans and meat eaters. Meals like the Seitan Cheesesteak Sandwich have an intensely meaty flavour which is aimed at satisfying all customers, including people who eat meat. “We want to humble the concept of veganism and show that it’s for everyone,” says Prinsloo.

The Fussy Vegan has gained a loyal customer base through their honest and unpretentious food: they’re not trying to convince you that a quinoa salad is more comforting than a big burger and chips. Their menu shows customers that vegan food can be tasty and satisfying without dairy or meat; like their Mac and Cheese smothered in a rich cashew-based cheese sauce.

Both Kaylee’s Eatery and The Fussy Vegan now serve the Beyond Burger: a plant-based burger that looks, cooks, and tastes like a beef burger. The burger’s primary source of protein comes from peas, and uses beets to give the patty a red-meat appearance. The burger is a gamechanger for the vegan community because it’s soy, gluten and GMO free, and has a remarkable meat-like taste and texture.

Sampson and Prinsloo believe more people are turning to veganism in an effort to reduce their footprint on the planet.

The forefront of environmental awareness is diet. It’s where your food comes from three times a day,” says Sampson. “It’s the easiest switch we can make. We can’t all get electric cars tomorrow, but we can shift our diet in one minute.”

Whether you’re trying to eat healthier, or looking for a comforting burger on Meatless Monday, there’s a Joburg vegan eatery to cater to your needs. DM


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