Being a super-athlete on veggies

‘The South African Vegan Cookbook 2’, the latest offering by Leozette Roode, contains 80 sumptuous recipes including South African favourites like bobotie and rusks. Supplied

‘The South African Vegan Cookbook 2’, the latest offering by Leozette Roode, contains 80 sumptuous recipes including South African favourites like bobotie and rusks. Supplied

Published Oct 21, 2023


Durban - Endurance sportswoman Leozette Roode has blasted the stereotype that athletes must eat meat to keep up their strength.

Over the past two years, she has participated in four Ironman 70.3 races, the last one was in Rwanda in August, and all on a vegan diet. A typical 70.3 ironman race consists of a 1.9km swim, 90km bike ride and 21.1km run.

When Roode started her vegan journey there wasn't much information or recipes in the public domain but, she says, more South Africans have become aware of the health benefits of a vegan diet, as well as the positive impact it can have on climate change and animal welfare.

“Veganism is becoming more mainstream and more trendy and they see the benefits,“ she said.

‘The South African Vegan Cookbook 2’, the latest offering by Leozette Roode, contains 80 sumptuous recipes including South African favourites like bobotie and rusks. Supplied

Almost 10 years ago, she signed up for the annual Veganuary campaign in which participants are encouraged to eat vegan for January ( and that’s how she ended up developing her own recipes.

“I just wanted to eat with my friends and my family who, at that stage, were mostly meat eaters. I love cooking, I love hosting dinner parties and I didn’t want to miss out on those culinary experiences, so I started developing recipes for myself,” she said.

She has just released her second book of vegan recipes, “The South African Vegan Cookbook 2”, a selection of 80 recipes described as a guide to elevate plant-based cooking in your kitchen.

This follows on the mouthwatering success of “The South African Vegan Cookbook” that was launched in 2018, with at least 10 000 copies sold and which resulted in hundreds of messages of approval and encouragement.

In her latest offering, Roode delivers a veritable feast for the eyes as the dishes look as good as they taste. The book includes exotic recipes like courgette and lemon tea loaf, couscous roulade, mushroom Wellington, seitan burgers and polenta fries. And then there are the “cherished South African classics” like peppermint crisp tart, vetkoek with curried mince, bobotie, and paptert with chakalaka, all turned into delectable vegan treats and, in most cases, even enhancing the original taste.

The chapters in the book include a “Toast to Tradition” (with much loved South African staples), Kid-friendly food for the whole family (pizza, meatballs aka beetballs, choc-chip cookies), and Decadent delights (think cashew cheesecake).

“A lot of people have reached out to me and they say they want to go vegan but they don’t know where to start or feel very overwhelmed and they are worried about whether it is more expensive and very difficult to prepare, and it’s absolutely not. You can make the same recipes or most of the recipes that you enjoy currently in a vegan form and at a very cheap price,” said Roode.

She develops recipes for her full-time employer, Humane Society International’s Green Monday campaign, and does vegan cooking demonstrations for ProVeg.

She says the luxury items in a general diet are the cheeses, meats and free range eggs, and if you eat the luxury items in a vegan diet, like all the alternatives to “normal” products, then it will be pricey. However, the basics like fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables, legumes, grains and seeds are much more cost effective, said Roode.

If you are new to vegan cooking or want to try plant-based cooking for health reasons, “The South African Vegan Cookbook 2” includes a handy guide to vegan products which can be used to substitute regular products. Roode lists some of her favourite go-to products which include plant-based meats, mayonnaise, eggs, desserts as well as dairy-free milks and cheese.

Roode has also challenged those interested in a plant-based diet to sign up for the Veganuary campaign ( or participate in the ProVeg South Africa’s Veggie Challenge ( Another way to eat more plant-based meals is to join the HSI/Africa’s Green Monday movement

For more recipes, you can follow Roode on her blog at

Published by Human and Rousseau, “The South African Vegan Cookbook 2” retails for about R300 and is available online and in bookshops.

Ouma Helena’s seed rusks which has been veganised by Roode in honour of her grandmother who baked rusks almost every day. Supplied.

Ouma Helena’s seed rusks


1kg self-raising flour

10ml (2 tsp) baking powder

5ml (1 tsp) salt

625ml (2½ cups) sugar

250ml (1 cup) oats

250ml (1 cup) All Bran Flakes, crushed

250ml (1 cup) mixed seeds (I used equal parts flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and roasted coconut flakes)

2 vegan eggs (Orgran No Egg or flax egg)

15ml (1 tbs) lemon juice OR vinegar

375ml (1½ cup) unsweetened soy or nut milk

500g vegan butter OR baking margarine


Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Spray two bread tins with non-stick cooking spray.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix together.

Prepare the vegan eggs: Mix 15ml (1 tbs) Orgran No Egg powder with 60ml (4 tbs) water or 30 ml (2 tbs) ground flaxseeds with 90ml (6 tbs) water.

Add the lemon juice or vinegar to the milk and let it curdle.

5. Melt the butter in the microwave. Add the vegan eggs and the milk mixture to the melted butter and stir. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix through. Don't be afraid to use your hands.

6. Divide the batter evenly between the two bread tins. Bake in the oven for 1 hour, then turn off the heat and leave the tins on the oven to cool for a few hours or overnight. Note: Don't try to cut the loaves while they are hot as they will break.

7. The next day, or when the loaves have cooled completely, preheat the oven to 100ºC.

8. Take the loaves out of the tins and carefully cut them into slices of your preferred size. Place them on a baking tray or oven rack and dry out the rusks in the preheated oven for three hours.

9. Leave to cool completely, then enjoy with a cup of coffee or tea.

Vegan bobotie

Vegan Bobotie

(serves 4 - 6)


250ml (1 cup) milk

1 slice bread

30ml (2 tbs) olive oil

1 onion sliced

2 cloves garlic, grated

1 large carrot, grated

800g vegan mince

15ml (1 tbsp) curry powder

10ml (2 tsp) turmeric

10ml (2 tsp) cumin

5ml (1 tsp) garam masala

3 bay leaves, plus extra to garnish

15ml (1 tbs) chopped thyme

60ml (4 tbs) chutney

30ml (2 tbs) lemon juice

125ml (½ cup) seedless raisins

For the custard layer

250ml (1 cup) chickpea flour

5ml (1 tsp) baking powder

2.5 ml (½ tsp) turmeric

2.5 ml (½) kala namak (Himalayan black salt)

250ml (1 cup) milk


Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Spray a 32 x 20cm baking dish with non-stick cooking spray or grease with a little oil.

Make the bobotie: Pour the milk into a flat container and place the bread in the milk to soak.

In a pan, heat the oil over high heat. Add the onion and fry until translucent. Add the garlic and fry until browned and fragrant. Stir the carrot and mince into the onion mixture. Add all the spices and herbs and mix through.

Using your hands, take the bread out of the milk, squeeze the excess milk back into the container and add the bread to the pan. (it will break apart. Mix though.

Fry the mixture until the mince is browned. Add more oil or a dash of water if needed.

Add the chutney and lemon juice to the reserved milk and stir well. Add the milk mixture to the mince pan and mix through. Cook for a few minutes until the liquid has reduced somewhat.

Finally, add the sultanas to the pan and mix through. Scoop the mixture into the prepared baking dish.

Make the custard layer: In a blender mix all the ingredients until well combined. Pour over the mince mixture. Make a few incisions into the mince so some of the custard seeps into it. Place 3 to 4 bay leaves on top of the custard layer, to garnish, and press them down slightly.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Serve with yellow rice.

The Independent on Saturday