words and photos by Tebby Maritim
Eating vegetarian is often perceived as boring and basic. But my experience as a vegetarian for the last 10+ years tells me otherwise! Nairobi is home to some incredible spots with delicious vegetarian and vegan menus. First, let’s get into the difference between being vegan and vegetarian.
a person who does not eat any food derived from animals (including eggs, cheese and honey) and who typically does not use other animal products (such as leather).
a person who does not eat meat or fish, and sometimes other animal products, especially for moral, religious, or health reasons.
Eating Less Meat
I became vegetarian because, quite frankly, I don’t enjoy the taste of meat. Unlike most members of my family, I prefer the taste, textures and nutritional value of vegetarian meals. Aside from this, the case for eating less meat continues to grow. From farming practices that prioritise production efficiency over animal welfare to the excessive use of land and water resources on farms – reducing your consumption of meat is hugely beneficial for animals, humanity, and the planet. It’s also a way to save money!
Don’t know where to start? Here are three steps you can take:
- Nominate a Meat-Free Day: Dedicate a specific day each week to savor plant-based proteins. If you have to eat meat, source from high welfare farms. Let your taste buds guide you on this culinary journey.
- Choose Better Meat: Investigate and select meat from higher welfare farms and producers. Support ethical and sustainable farming practices that prioritize the well-being of animals and contribute to a more humane food system.
- Reduce Meat Portion Sizes: Gradually decrease the amount of meat on your plate, focusing on increasing the proportion of vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Opt for balanced and nutritious meals that explore alternative proteins and unleash your creativity as you move towards eating less meat or choosing meat from high welfare sources.
Sign the petition to #EatLessMeat here.
The Best Vegetarian Restaurants in Nairobi
Barista & Co
Keystone Park, Sarit Centre and Westgate Mall
Barista is the kind of coffee shop you go to when you want something a little extra special. I love their very adventurous menu – so many interesting items that you won’t find anywhere else in Nairobi. The sweet treats are a personal favourite! From the lemon cookies to the quirky croissant range – everything I’ve tasted has been so delicious! Barista has a fully vegetarian menu and many of the items can be made vegan upon request (look out for a little [v] indicator).
Bila Shaka Taproom
I randomly found out about Bila Shaka Taproom on TikTok and ordered in from them that same day! I didn’t know they had a fully vegetarian menu until I made an in-person visit with my sister in December 2022. I’ve had 2 of their paneer dishes and they were outstanding both times! Very rich Indian flavours and generous servings. Haven’t tried the beer yet but I will be back for that (and more of the flavourful food!) very soon.
Kileleshwa and Westlands
Chowpaty was one of the first places I learned of in Kenya with a fully vegetarian menu. I remember going there for the first time while I was in high school and absolutely loving the variety of chips. I have since been back for paneer dishes, meals with mushroom and, of course – more chips! They are truly excellent at their craft. I’ve never eaten food I didn’t like at Chowpaty. 10/10 restaurant!
Shokupan has had me by the neck since they opened in 2021. I love everything about the restaurant but their service is particularly exceptional. I’ve been there a couple of times (both with and without my toddler) and the service and food is consistent. I once had a complaint about a drink and the swiftness with which my complaint was handled kept me going back. So far I’ve tried: Pad Thai, Cheza Tofu, Veg Dumplings, Halloumi Wedges, Nutella & Oreo Croffles and the Sesame & Nori Croffles along with a bunch of their drinks. A great place to explore new flavours and combinations.
Ikigai, Village Market and Waterfront
For the most filling and flavourful food – stop at Roro’s! They have branches at Village Market, Waterfront and at the Ikigai in Merchant Square, Riverside. They also deliver. I have never visited Roro’s and left feeling disappointed with my order. My go-to’s are the warm rice bowls – bbq tofu & mushroom – perfect! They also have a great range of healthy drinks and guilt free snacks including brownies and muffins.
Other recommendations I’ve received are:
- SoulVeg at Fedha Plaza in Westlands make vegan (+ gluten free!) glazed doughnuts and pizza
- Order in ravioli from Fat Italian via Greenspoon or directly via their instagram account – their delicious pasta comes frozen so you’ll always have something delicious/vegetarian in your fridge ready to go after just a couple of minutes in boiling water
- Healthy Kajuju falafel – falafel is a popular middle eastern food item made of chickpeas. The frozen version produced by the Kenyan brand Healthy Kajuju can be used in many ways such a in wraps, in a sauce (like you do with meatballs) or just on its own as a snack with a dip
Any other vegetarian restaurants you’d recommend? Let me know in the comments below!
Tebby is a food and motherhood content creator who loves animals. She’s been vegetarian for over 10 years now. Tebby is always on the lookout for new food to try – especially innovations on all things plant based! She is raising a vegetable lover and loves to bake fruity cakes & pastries. She creates food and motherhood content on Instagram and TikTok.