What it is like to be vegan in: Zimbabwe
In this first article in the 'Vegan in the World' series, in which vegans from all over the world explain what it is like to be vegan there, Chef Cola tells about her experiences of being vegan in Zimbabwe. She talks about her awesome initiative African Vegan on a budget and her aim to inspire people in her country to try plant-based meals. She also shares her favorite meals and talks about some of the challenges she faces as a vegan entrepreneur in Zimbabwe.
Interview with Nicola Kagoro from Zimbabwe
Do you know how many vegans there currently are in Zimbabwe?
Zimbabwe has approximately 16 million inhabitants. It is hard to say how many of them are vegan. The vegan community is very small due to the costs associated with it. There is not a large vegan market yet in Zimbabwe.
If you have a vegan business or work at a vegan business, can you tell us something about it? What is the business, when did you start it?
African Vegan On A Budget started in 2016.
Why did you decide to start African Vegan On A Budget?
I started African Vegan On A Budget in 2016 to inspire more people in my country to try plant-based and vegan meals and lifestyles.
About Chef Cola
Nicola Kagoro, a.k.a. Chef Cola, is a pioneering female Zimbabwean vegan chef at the helm of the in 2016 founded African Vegan on a budget. She set up the company to showcase her cuisine and culinary development as well as to actively promote the reality that people can thrive on a healthy vegan and plant-based diet on a budget.
Chef Cola aims to spread awareness of vegan culture across Africa and give people the tools and knowledge to actively integrate plant-based eating into their lifestyles. Her cooking is African-inspired with elements of Western cuisine as well. Chef Cola spent her childhood in New York City and was introduced to veganism when she began to train in plant-based cooking in Cape Town.
“I want my brand to be experienced not just by plant-based and vegan people but every one.”
- Chef Cola
What are some of the challenges you face in your daily life as a vegan? What do you do when you go out with friends or visit family?
Owning a vegan brand in Zimbabwe the challenge I face is operating in a small market. I want my brand to be experienced not just by plant-based and vegan people but by everyone. Another challenge is the cost of ingredients in our economy. It makes it hard to sometimes get quality products.
Can you describe what you eat on a normal/average day?
At African Vegan on a budget, our meals are versatile, affordable, and nutritious with something for everyone.
Tell me a little bit more about your family. Are they vegan? What do they think about you being a vegan?
My family is not vegan, however, they are open to plant-based and vegan meals. When I started African Vegan on a budget they were very supportive in all aspects of my business.
Is it difficult to be a vegan in Zimbabwe? Why (not)?
Yes and no, you just have to find the vegan community which is very small, and join it. The vegan community in Zimbabwe usually shares information via WhatsApp groups.
What is your favorite vegan dish from your country?
Collard greens and peanut butter.
Chef Cola's other ventures
Chef Cola has also launched a line of customized African-inspired Chef's jackets made in Zimbabwe. A portion of the proceeds is donated to underprivileged, young African women in Zimbabwe and Cape Town to help improve their sewing skills.
She also works with the pioneering vegan conservation program front International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF) and AKASHINGA “Back to Black Roots”. AKASHINGA is a community-driven conservation model empowering disadvantaged women to restore and manage a network of wilderness areas as an alternative to trophy hunting. The program is a vehicle for building strong, respected ambassadors to drive a plant-based movement from the community level of rural Africa.
Learn more about this amazing project and help support the women.