Plant Café in Cape Town

The new vegan quick-stop making ethical eating both easy and affordable

Any Cape Town vegan worth their soy milk will have heard the buzz about Plant, the new city centre café that opened its doors on Wednesday, 12 February 2014. The charming grab-n-go haunt is the first dedicated vegan kitchen in the Mother City CBD to conjure up quick takeaway-style food, and for a community largely forced to stomach the bog-standard Greek salad (hold the feta) at most eateries, this news is just short of the second coming.

Sure, there are a few restaurants out there that understand the nuances of this kind of ethical eating, but most are sit-down venues that demand not only a certain amount of patrons’ time, but a certain amount of their money too. Plant, on the other hand, is on a mission to make vegan food readily available, convenient and affordable, without sacrificing taste.

“I moved from Los Angeles where there are so many choices [for vegans], from hole-in-the-walls to fine dining restaurants,” explains South African-born founder Adien Aggenbach. “I came up with the idea for Plant out of sheer frustration with the limited options in Cape Town.”

An engineer by trade and a vegan for nearly five years, Adien championed the new city centre breakfast, lunch and brunch spot as a passion project, but also as an extension of her quest to educate meat-eaters and vegetarians alike about the implications of their choices.

“It’s a great way to get people interested in veganism,” she enthuses.  “We’re thinking out of the box here – we’ve come up with some really interesting recipes.”

Indeed, the Blackened Tofu Taco, a fiery California-inspired mix of spicy grilled tofu served on a corn taco filled with coleslaw and corn-radish salsa, and the Mushroom Burger, a Portobello grilled in barbeque sauce and served with greens, tomato and caramelised onion on a ciabatta roll, sound mouth-watering enough to have even the most fervent of carnivores converting.

Though, the energising freshly pressed juices and the handful of breakfast and lunch options, some of which are even raw or gluten free, didn’t come together without a fair degree of trial and error. Chef Jess Lahoud, an energetic vegetarian who confesses to having strong vegan tendencies, played around in the kitchen for months before cementing the wholesome, preservative-free menu.

And along the way, brownies hard enough to break teeth and mayo that tasted like apple cider gave way to the current selection of uber healthy and equally delicious eats, all of which are made from scratch on site.

“We make everything here so we at least know what’s in our products,” clarifies Adien.

Aside from ensuring no harm comes to animals during the cooking process, she’s adamant that none of the fare is made with palm oil and that as little damage is done to the environment as possible. Thus, all of the cleaning products are environmentally friendly, many of the ingredients are organic and sourced from community producers and even the takeaway containers are made from vegetables and are compostable.

Most importantly though, the 100% plant-based food wreaks next to no havoc on the human body. The cuisine is healthy by default, a fact that Adien, who’s in the midst of training for a triathlon, can readily attest to.

So, whether you’ve committed to the vegan lifestyle or not, if you’re up for a city centre meal that’s easy on the pocket, the diet and the palate too, pop into Plant for a quick and affordable bite.

Tip: Plant delivers to businesses in the CBD for no extra charge between 11am and 3pm. Deliveries usually take about 30 minutes to arrive.

The Bill: Prices are on par with Kauai’s: diners can expect to pay as little as R29 for a breakfast special or R35 for a lunch special, which typically includes a choice of daily salads or a salad paired with a soup, half of a sandwich or half of a wrap.  

Opening Hours: Monday – Tuesday: 7:30am – 7pm; Wednesday - Friday: 7:30am - 10pm; Saturday (brunch): 8am - 11:30pm.

8 Buiten Street | Cape Town | +27 (0) 21 422 0239

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