African vegan foods you should try at least once

Falafel. Picture: Pexels/N Voitkevich

Falafel. Picture: Pexels/N Voitkevich

Published Jul 11, 2024


African cuisine is splashed with a complex array of influences, ingredients, and inspirations. But, as with much of history, the contributions of some groups are under-appreciated, or overlooked.

Over the last few years, Africa has seen a steady growth in people going vegan. While it is true that many African cuisines have a strong tradition of meat-centric dishes, there is a delightful surprise awaiting vegans who venture to the continent.

There are even chefs like Nicola Kagoro, also known as Chef Cola, who is on a mission to make veganism accessible. Kagoro is a woman on a mission to make the vegan lifestyle more accessible in Africa.

In 2016, Kagoro founded African Vegan on a Budget, inspired by her growth in the culinary industry and her mission to inspire people to follow healthy vegan and plant-based diets without breaking the bank.

One of her primary aims is to spread awareness of vegan culture across Africa and give people the tools and knowledge to actively integrate plant-based eating into their lifestyles.

When asked why spreading veganism is important to her and how it is changing people’s lifestyles, she said working alongside rural communities in Zimbabwe showed her that unfortunately, people do not have access to meat and fresh products as compared to city-centre individuals.

Below we look at some of the African vegan foods you should try at least once.

Falafel. Picture: Pexels/N Voitkevich

Puff puff

This famous street food is sweet fried dough. It can be served two ways in Nigerian cuisine and that is sweet or savoury. There are too many versions of puff puffs out there to count. It can be eaten for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner or dessert.

It can be eaten in various ways. In Ghana, it is eaten as breakfast where it is paired with fermented corn pudding, or akamu in Nigeria.

Puff puff can also be eaten as a dessert when paired with custard, smoothie, yoghurt, condensed milk, chocolate sauce, caramel and different flavours of jam. Others sprinkle powdered sugar on it to give it a sweeter taste.


Even though these protein-packed chickpea fritters are listed as one of Israel's national dishes, and are a staple in many Middle Eastern countries including Palestine and Lebanon, it is often suggested that falafel might have evolved from the Egypt dish known as ta’ameya.

By the 1950s, to earn a living, Yemenite immigrants in Israel started making falafel in the streets, selling it wrapped in paper, which eventually transformed this ancient dish into an early form of Israeli fast food.

As an alternative to the Israeli version, the Egyptian ta’ameya uses fava beans instead of chickpeas, while the mixture is typically flavoured with parsley, coriander, cumin, and onions.

Today, both in Israel and other Middle Eastern countries, falafel fritters are most commonly enjoyed in pita or laffa flatbread sandwiches, topped with fresh or pickled vegetables, and coated either in hummus paste, tahini dip or a zesty, garlic-flavoured yoghurt sauce.

Falafel. Picture: Pexels/Michael Burrows

Gomen kitfo

Ethiopian cuisine has so much more to offer than the well-known sour bread and creamy stews. This lesser-known dish is made with collard greens, vegan butter and spices. People often enjoy gomen kitfo on Meskel, a popular holiday.