Five weeks ago, I’ve been to Namibia with my aunt to attend a friend’s wedding in Windhoek. Wow, what a week! Most of the time we were quite busy preparing the wedding weekend and catching up with all the friends and family, but we also had some time to check out Swakopmund on the coast (where the above picture was taken). It’s an amazing country and one week was definitely too short! So was my food experience, but I still wanted to share my experiences with you.
Ten hours on the plane from Frankfurt – that’s quite some time. Luckily, my lovely aunt arranged some vegan food on the flight for me. We flew with Condor airline and vegan meals cost 15 Euros extra per long-distance flight. It was all delicious though! I had some bulgur salad, granola, lots of fruit and veg, chick pea salad, some dried fruit bars, bread and rice waffles; the two warm meals were a three bean chili and a tofu-aubergine roll with orzo.
The wedding menu at the beautiful River Crossing Lodge (they cooked a vegan three-course menu just for me!) consisted of a three bean chili with potato crisps, oven-potatoes stuffed with artichoke and olives, and homemade coconut ice-cream on fruit. Yum! Thanks again to the wedding couple and the lodge for being all cool about a vegan guest :)
The wedding took place on the porch overlooking the hills around Windhoek. Stunning!
Most of the time we cooked our own food at our friends’ house. I cooked probably the oldest ‘naturally-vegan’ dish for our group of 11 people: pasta with tomato sauce. As I didn’t have any meat substitute or fancy ingredients, I shredded some carrots to make it thicker and added some roasted sunflower seeds. Nobody complained ;) The dish on the left was bean curry on cumin rice with red cabbage and “Mealie Pap”, a Namibian mash made from corn flour and water.
Another really delicious Namibian food was prickly pear jam (Kaktusfeigen-Gelee). I was amazed about all the European/German food everywhere – we had fresh rolls every morning and our hosts got me some delicious hummus and aubergine dip from the supermarket.
The supermarkets look definitely nicer than in Germany, I think. I even found ‘Marathon Sugar’ – I guess I just need to eat a packet to be able to run a marathon ;)
Eating out as a vegan wasn’t difficult, but there was definitely nothing like a big vegan scene with loads of fancy alternative restaurants. I had quite a few portions of chips or potatoes, but that was fine. We were lucky enough to be in Namibia during asparagus season and I had some of the best green asparagus ever in Swakopmund. Unfortunately, in one restaurant they forgot about my ‘no sauce/butter/dairy/egg/meat/cheese phrase’ and served the asparagus with melted butter. Well, I could’ve send it back and ask for a new one without butter, but especially in a country with such big water problems and long droughts you think twice about using up even more ressources. Of course it did taste nice, but it felt weird to actively know that I’m eating something non-vegan. Well, the ‘accidentally-vegan’ dessert at this restaurant made up for it: Spring rolls filled with dark chocolate and sprinkled with raspberry sauce.
Edit: In general, Namibia is quite a ‘meat-eating-country’ with lots of restaurants selling game like oryx and kudu. You can also get ‘Biltong’ everywhere, beef jerky that is eaten as a snack. Lots of places offer you to hunt your own meat or advertise meat from the own farm grounds. There’s also a big market for fur and leather products, especially for fashion and as souvenirs. I tried not to think about the whole topic too much, especially as I thought that most of the animals at least have a ‘normal’ life in the wild or on huge grounds outside. It still made me sad sometimes, but I always try to focus on the positive side and all the vegan options I had :)
Finding vegan snacks wasn’t difficult though: Our friends’ favourite ice-cream parlour had lots of sorbet without milk and there were a lot of dried fruit and nut stores where I got yummy carob coated dates, bananas and cranberries. I discovered a new, very light drink as well: Rock Shandy, lemon soda mixed with sparkling water and a bitter liquor called Angostura.
Almost everyone in Namibia has at least one dog, mostly for protecting the premises. So cute!
Thanks to my aunt and our friends for making our short trip so amazing!
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