8 Healthy Vegan-Friendly Restaurants To Eat At Without Any Guilt

Eat out guilt-free.


Jessica Kotlowitz |

The Green Dietitian, Jessica Kotlowitz, recommends some healthy vegan-friendly restaurants in Cape Town and Johannesburg that you can eat out at without ruining your meal plan.

Vegan-friendly restaurants in Cape Town

Prashad Café

Prashad Café is a traditional Indian-style restaurant that is 100 percent vegetarian and has plenty of vegan options on the menu. As with most Indian cuisine, there are many healthy options and a couple of more decadent options (such as naan breads, poppadoms and fried samoosas). However, I love that the food at Prashad is a lot less oily than most Indian restaurants and that the oil used is of high quality and not re-used. My favourite dish is the butter beans curry as it’s packed with health-promoting legumes and doesn’t contain any cream or high-fat sauces.

Nourish’d Café & Juicery

Nourish’d Café & Juicery is the ultimate spot to be seen in Cape Town and is famous for its Instagram-worthy smoothie bowls. I love that every menu item is made from whole-food ingredients and that the menu focuses on plenty of fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables. My favourite dish is the Star Sandwich made with sourdough bread, smashed avo, cashew-nut cream cheese and fresh rocket and tomato.

READ MORE: Super Quick And Easy Meat-Free Lentil Bolognaise

The Poké Co.

The Poké Co. is by no means a vegan restaurant, but its “build your own bowl” system makes it the perfect place to go to create a healthy, balanced vegan meal. With healthy “base” options, such as brown rice, quinoa or kale and cabbage, and plant-based protein options, such as edamame and tofu, you can’t really go wrong. Their Garden Gate bowl, which is made with tofu, edamame, beetroot, carrot, coconut flakes and shoyu dressing, is a favourite of mine.

Mary-Ann’s Emporium & Eatery

Mary-Ann’s Emporium & Eatery offers a daily plant-based buffet-style breakfast and lunch. All menu items are made using whole-food ingredients and are all gluten-free with a large focus on fresh vegetables and fruit. I love that you can make up your own plate to suit your individual nutrition needs and that the buffet changes daily so that you never get bored. Go at lunchtime and fill your plate with lots of salads, veggies, dips and house-made seed crackers. While you’re at it, try one of their delicious hot bean dishes and a slice of their gluten-free pizza with house-made cashew cheese.

Vegan-friendly restaurants in Johannesburg

Lexi’s Healthy Eatery

While not a fully vegan restaurant, Lexi’s Healthy Eatery promotes the idea of eating more plants and less animal products and most of the menu is vegan-friendly. What’s great is that I can take the most sceptical of meat-eaters there and know that they will be absolutely blown away by the food. My favourite dish is the Farmer’s Breakfast Bowl, which comes with tofu scramble, sautéed veg, vegan hollandaise and roasted potato wedges. You don’t get a more balanced plant-based meal than that.

The Greenside Cafe

The Greenside Cafe the OG plant-based restaurant in South Africa and its menu provides an abundance of whole-food vegan dishes. There are whole-grain options for all of its grain products and it puts a healthy twist on vegan comfort food classics, such as pizza, burgers and sandwiches. Just don’t expect these to taste like their traditional counterparts. My favourite menu item is the classic burger served on a wholewheat roll or wrapped in nori for a low-carb option.

READ MORE: “I Turned Vegan And Was Finally Able To Lose Weight”

Free Food

Free Food is a small cafe run by owner, Ariel, who healed his own illness with a whole-food, plant-based diet. Ariel only uses whole-food ingredients and makes everything from scratch (down to his own coconut milk). He also refuses to use microwaves for re-heating food and is fastidious about food hygiene in his kitchen. His milkshakes are made from almond milk, dates, cocoa and essential oils and are guaranteed to keep you coming back for more. The menu changes seasonally, but the Big Bamboo Bowls are a must-try: they’re filled with whole-grains, legumes, veg and a range of delicious house-made, dairy-free cheeses, pestos and sauces.

Leafy Greens Cafe

Leafy Greens Cafe is located on a farm in Muldersdrift and boasts a daily lunch buffet filled with a variety of raw and cooked vegan options. I love that the food is made from fresh farm produce and that commonly under-utilised sea vegetables tend to feature in the daily buffet offerings. Everything on the buffet is outstanding so be sure to try a taster of every item.

READ MORE ON: Eating Out Vegan Vegan Tips Vegetarian