Our top ten tips on hosting the ultimate vegan braai

This National Braai Day, let’s squash the perception that eating off the braai means eating meat. In fact, it’s perfectly possible to host a Heritage Day meal leaving meat off the table – without comprising on taste or even texture!

From vibrant veggies, to sizzling skewers, make your flavourful, plant-based braai one to remember! All you need is a touch of imagination, a sprinkle of good company and a few delicious recipes to knock up tasty, meat-free meals.

Uniting around a fire each year for Braai Day symbolises our shared heritage. Heritage Day is a fun and interactive holiday that aims to strengthen nation-building and social cohesion. While the ingredients may differ, the one thing that never changes is that when we have something to celebrate we light fires and prepare ultimate feasts.

Hosting a meat-free braai, or reducing the amount of meat on the grill, means you are turning your fork into a powerful tool for peace by withdrawing support from industries that harm animals. Indeed, celebrating Heritage Day doesn’t have to start and end with humans; we can still create a cohesive society that works towards the well-being of all its members, animals included.

So choose to gather around a braai of plants on fire and see how easy, versatile and delicious vegan food can be! And if you’re worried that you’ll end up only eating red pepper and onion skewers, grilled corn, or a baked potato, you can rest assured that there are many more plant-based braai-approved options. From dairy-free potato salads to chargrilled cauliflowers, and to our Chicken-Style Burgers, Traditional Burgers and Braai Style Sausages, there is something for everyone!

Not only do these plant-based meat alternatives have the same taste and texture as meat, they are ready within minutes on the braai and are low in saturated fat and naturally cholesterol-free, unlike animal products. Indeed, as stated by the American Dietetic Association, an appropriately planned plant-based diet may aid in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases, including: heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, obesity, and Alzheimer’s. Leaving meat off your grill is not only good for your health, but with well-prepared veggies and convenient meat replacements, you don’t have to worry about missing out on taste!

Keen to give a vegan braai a go but perhaps a bit unsure of where to begin, how to braai veggies or how to keep guests happy, here are a few tips you may want to follow:

  1. Consider hosting. Sure, hosting your own vegan barbecue is more work, but it guarantees you’ll have plenty to eat! It’s also the perfect opportunity to show friends and family that you don’t need to eat animals to have a yummy braai!
  2. Marinate marinate marinate! Often it’s the herbs and spices that people love rather than what is actually being marinated. Dress up your veggies in your basting sauce overnight and throw it over the grill the next day. Our go-to? Our Traditional Burger marinating in a BBQ sauce.
  3. Give your braai a good scrub. Ideally, you want to scrape off any visible meat chunks and keep the vegetables on a different part of the grill to the meat.
  4. Serve lots of appetizers! Your friends are going to be drinking and talking so they will probably eat more than you think they will. Plan accordingly but don’t overextend yourself. These Chicken-Style Skewers with a Peanut Satay or this Veggie Platter with Prawn-Style Pieces and Tzatziki are definite winners! Chargrilled to perfection with a hint of smokiness, mushrooms are also one of our go-to vegs on the braai. Served with our Polony, these Mini Mushroom Pizzas make for a great starter.
  5. Keep it fresh. Prepare a fresh salad, like this Raw Superfood Broccoli Salad with our Nuggets. If you haven’t tried the Nuggets on the braai, you’re in for a good surprise!
  6. Think about veganising side dishes. Use vegan mayonnaise in your faithful side of potato salad. B-Well is a great alternative.
  7. We know bread is crucial for burger staking and hot dog rolling. Some vegan options include rye bread, ciabatta rolls, baguettes, tortillas or wraps, sourdough, burger buns and hot dog rolls (without the egg wash glaze) and sandwich breads. Always read the ingredients list first though just to be safe.
  8. Dessert anyone? Since you’ve already got the grill going why not grill some fruit?
  9. Leave paper out of it. Pay a visit to a thrift or secondhand store and buy a few mismatched reusable dinner and dessert plates. The crazier the patterns, the better! They’re more fun, a great conversation piece, sturdier than paper, and you’re not contributing to the landfill.
  10. Have fun! Set a good example by having fun! Friends and family are much more likely to take veganism seriously when they see that leaving meat off the grill still means you can have a great time and eat to your heart’s content!

We encourage you to leave the meat off your braai grill this Heritage Day for your own health and for the nation. It’s perfectly possible to have a memorable and flavourful Braai Day that everyone will enjoy. So what are you waiting for? Gather some friends, light the coals, concoct a punchy marinade, baste, sizzle, and unite!


Choose heart smart: Improve your heart health in ten steps

By Dr Paul Palmer – Plant-Based Nutrition Consultant and Musculoskeletal Occupation Health Specialist

Have a change of heart this Heart Awareness Month by making small but significant adjustments to your overall lifestyle to reduce your risk of heart-related diseases and improve your overall heart health. 

Remember when doctors prescribed “healthy” cigarettes and smoking as something that was “good for you”? Luckily, much has changed over the last few decades. Preventative care is fast becoming an approach to health for many people. Yet heart disease – which can be prevented – is still one of the leading causes of death in South Africa.

Once thought to only be a disease for the elderly, more than half of heart-related deaths now affect people under the age of 65 years, while over 17 million people die every year from cardiovascular disease, according to the American Heart Association and the World Health Organization. It’s a staggering number when one considers that 80% of these premature deaths can be prevented by eating better, moving more and avoiding smoking.

As this month is Heart Awareness Month in South Africa, and with World Heart Day falling on the 29th of September, I encourage you to make a few changes to your diet and lifestyle that will increase your longevity and improve your overall happiness!

So for this month, I ask you to take the pledge to commit to your heart by going plant-based!

Why plant-based? By choosing to go meat-free, you reduce the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol, the leading cause of an increased risk of heart disease.

Are you ready to make heart-smart choices? Here are my top ten tips on how to get wholeheartedly healthy!

  1. Eliminate Saturated Fats with Plants

Overwhelming scientific evidence links the consumption of meat and animal products to numerous diseases. According to medical experts at the American Heart Association (AHA), eating saturated fat increases the amount of cholesterol present in the blood which results in an increased risk for heart disease and stroke (1). By replacing animal foods and highly refined carbs with whole plant foods is a proven way to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.

  1. Eat Fruit and Veg to Instantly Boost Your Fibre Intake and Lower Your Cholesterol

A well-rounded diet should be abundant with veggies, leafy greens, legumes, beans, nuts, whole grains and fruit. These foods are rich in dietary fibre which helps to lower LDL cholesterol (AKA “bad cholesterol”). Fibre interacts with the bad cholesterol in your digestive tract and helps to remove it quickly from the body, decreasing the amount of LDL cholesterol absorbed.

Dr Michael Greger M.D. FACLM states that 97% of Americans are deficient in fibre (2). On average, we get only about 15 grams a day. The minimum daily requirement is 31.5 – so we get less than half of the minimum! The question shouldn’t be “Where do you get your protein?” but rather “Where do you get your fibre?” Low blood cholesterol levels can be achieved by replacing animal protein with plant protein like legumes, soy and oats, and with monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats found in avocados, nuts and seeds.

  1. Take Your Omegas but Cut Out the Middle Fish

Essential omega fats are important for a healthy heart, reducing the risk of diabetes and helping to support normal cholesterol levels. They are called “essential” because our bodies cannot make them and as such, we need to get them from our food. And we don’t need fish to help us out. Plant-based sources of omega 6’s include hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts and soya-based foods. Get your omega 3’s in the form of chia, hemp and flax seeds.

  1. Use Heart-Smart Alternatives when Cooking

Too much oil in one’s diet is not as heart-healthy as the media likes to suggest. According to physician and nutrition expert, Dr John McDougall, MD, foods rich in monounsaturated fats like olive oil may be healthier than foods rich in saturated and trans-fats like animal protein, but just because something is “healthier” does not mean it is good for you (3). Pouring oil over your food means you’re consuming a lot of fat. And eating a lot of fat, including “healthier” ones, means you’re eating a lot of calories, causing weight gain, and leading to an increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, cancer and heart disease.

When cooking at home consider using a Philips Airfryer instead of a deep fryer, stove or even the oven! An Airfryer is a nifty kitchen appliance that uses hot air to cook, roast and bake food with minimal to no oil, thereby eliminating saturated and hydrogenated fat, without compromising on texture or taste.

  1. Eat the Rainbow for a Nutritional Boost

A plant-based diet is rich in a host of nutrients that are heart-protective. Eat the rainbow and consume a colourful array of fruit and veggies that are rich in antioxidants, plant sterols, phytochemicals, iron and potassium, all thought to reduce the risk of heart disease. And if you crave meat, opt for one of Fry’s meat replacement products, such as the Chicken-Style Burger (my personal favourite) or the Golden Crumbed Schnitzels.

  1. Eat More Soy-Based Foods

Soy ahoy! Soy plays a role in keeping your heart healthy as the protein found in soybeans has been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels. According to a study, soybeans contain additional components, such as isoflavones, lecithins, saponins and fibre that may be beneficial to cardiovascular health by improving blood pressure, glycemic control, obesity, and inflammation (4). Got Nuggets?

  1. Increase Your Cardiovascular Fitness

Any movement is better than sitting still when it comes to improving your heart health. Increase your cardiovascular fitness by running, cycling, circuit training or with high-intensity interval training. These kinds of exercises cause the blood to pump much harder which forces the arterial wall to stretch, improving the elasticity of the arteries. Alternate between intensity and between upper and lower body exercises with minimal rest periods for maximum results.

  1. Strength Training for a Strong Heart

Weight training is as important for building muscle mass as it is for building a strong heart. After all, your heart is a muscle! Lifting weights or using your own bodyweight is effective in burning fat, improving bone health and strengthening your heart. Yoga is also great for strength and muscle toning. Different styles of yoga like Ashtanga or Power Vinyasa keeps your heart elevated throughout the class, giving you a combined strength and cardio workout!

  1. Reduce Smoking

The chemicals in tobacco smoke harm your blood cells, the function of your heart, and the structure and function of your blood vessels. This damage increases your risk of atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease, leading to raised blood pressure, chest pain, heart attack, heart failure, arrhythmias, and death. Quitting smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke can help reverse heart and blood vessel damage and reduce heart disease risk.

  1. Cook for your Heart with Your Heart

By eating a plant-based diet, or reducing your meat consumption, you are not only eating a diet that is good for your heart, but it also means you are making a powerful ethical statement. By avoiding animal-based products from your diet, you withdraw support from cruelty to animals. Choosing to back the production of cruelty-free foods means you are not only cooking for your heart, but also with your heart.

Take a moment each day to take some deep breaths, acknowledge what you have in your life and to create positive affirmations. Slowing down and taking moments to be grateful have been linked with better health, greater well-being and longer, happier life!

If you know of someone who you think may benefit from reading this article or who suffers from a heart-related disease, please share it with them! It may just save their life!

Download the Fry’s Love Your Heart Cookbook that is filled with heart-smart and heart-loving recipes and enter the Love Your Heart Competition to stand a chance to win a Fry’s food hamper and 1 of 50 Philips Air Fryers, all to the value of R3000! Follow us on Facebook to enter. For competition details, click here.