Ethiopia is probably the most vegan-friendly country on the African continent. That has been my experience over the years, though I should offer the caveat that my experience of Ethiopia is limited to the capital, Addis Ababa. The reason it’s so easy to eat vegan food is because of the Ethiopian Orthodox church tradition of fasting. On fasting days (which are twice a week, plus many additional holidays), consumption of all animal products is prohibited: meat, egg, butter, milk, and cheese, anything that contains these products. Whereas the concept of being vegan (or even vegetarian) is not terribly well understood in many places throughout Africa (and the rest of the world), in Addis, you simply asking for a fasting meal.
To me, as a non-member of the Ethiopian Orthodox church, the word “fasting” seems a bit of a misnomer since it still involves eating extremely delicious food. The picture above is traditional injera (a fermented pancake made of teff flour) with two kinds of lentils and a potato dish. That plate, at a small canteen, cost less than US$1. I had a more glamourous Ethipian meal with about 6 or 7 different fasting dishes on an enormous tray of injera, but of course I forgot my camera for that one. Sorry.
And speaking of goodies, these delicious “fasting” baked goods were part of the breakfast buffet at the hotel. Vegan carrot muffins, croissants, popovers, danishes, etc. Yum! Generally I keep away from refined flour and sugar, but I simply had to try these. And I mean all of them (not on the same day, of course).
In keeping with my new tradition, here’s a picture of the delicious fruits they served at breakfast. Not quite as exciting as some places, but not bad. And they had a great selection of fresh juices too–kiwi, mango, guava, orange and all sorts of cominations.
It being Ramadan, the hotel was preparing some more Middle Eastern dishes for the breaking of the fast. And lucky for me, they were serving them during the day as well. So in addition to lovely fruits, delicious fresh juice, soy milk with the coffee(!) and amazing fasting cakes, I got to enjoy hummus, pita and foul medames, a fava bean dish. What a treat! The foul was not as good as I’ve had in Sudan (or even at the Schwarma Co in Norwood, Johannesburg), but it was a nice surprise.
As a good-sized capital city and the diplomatic hub of the African continent, Addis has plenty of other cuisines to choose from as well. There are Chinese, Lebanese, Italian and many other types restaurants. But this was a short visit, and Ethiopian food is one of my favourites, so I kept it pretty simple. More vegan travel posts coming soon!