Organic Leaves is a vegan food stall on the Village Green that is run by Georgia-born chef Ahmeets Rahm and his wife Thanyani Nelwamonod. He has specialised in vegan cooking for the last 18 years. His personality is infectious. I don’t know whether it is the American accent or his exuberance for cooking and people. Perhaps both.
He reflects on his past, “I used to weigh 513 pounds (232 kg) and was very obese”. He says the lifestyle change was necessary, and calls it ‘the transitional diet’. Since converting to veganism he has dropped all the excess weight and is back to a healthy size. He noticed that he had more energy since avoiding meat and meat byproducts. He also explained that people don’t seem to understand that the human body only needs a 6% intake of protein; minerals are more essential. Vegetables are full of protein too. You don’t have to consume animal protein.
He made me a vegan steak wrap from scratch. He rolled the dough and browned the wrap over heat then filled it with crunchy salad ingredients, his famous chilli sauce and strips of crunchy seitan steak. I was really impressed by the size of it considering the wrap sells for a mere R40. His prices are extremely reasonable compared to the rest of the food stalls I have seen at Fest. I also savoured a few sips of their homemade pineapple wine. Surprisingly all his gluten-free goodies were sold out, but I managed to get my hands on a a muffin- like cheesecake.
The cheesecake plays on your emotional strings (so be warned), because they are super addictive. The base is made from cookie dough and chocolate chips. The white cheesecake center is citrusy and delicate. It is honestly delicious. Also try the chickpea burger and chips for R45.
Just next door is the Pranayum food stall that also boasts vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free food. Isabella and Nico Smook are from Paarl, and this is their fifth year at the National Arts Festival. They believe that it is possible to eat yummy vegetarian food that is full of life. I tried the sweet potato cake with satay sauce. Unfortunately it was dry, but this may be due to microwaving. The sauce was the best part. I got the sense that the food was generally a bit pricey and quite carb-heavy. They need to watch that their food is not drying out on the Village Green, because it leaves one with an unpleasant taste and texture in the mouth.