A new vegan restaurant, Conscious 108, recently opened in Greenside, Joburg – we chat to owner Misha to find out what’s cooking.
What is Conscious 108?
Conscious 108 was born out of a philosophy of kindness – a kindness that extends to humans, animals and the world around us. We’ve taken the best of what you love about food and fashioned it into comfortable, gratifying, plant-based treats and meals.
Why a vegan restaurant?
As passionate vegans and involved animal advocates, we had to find a way in which we could get others to relate to the cause – and we thought that food was an easy way to do this. We want to showcase that you needn’t forgo all the foods you love just because you’re choosing to dine at a plant-based restaurant.
Who are the people behind Conscious 108?
Three vegan Buddhists from different backgrounds: Grant Nash, former 5FM DJ and head of radio at Boston Media House, who has a slightly concerning addiction to chocolate and rugby, a brain that absorbs every bit of knowledge it encounters, and compassion beyond measure. Marnus Broodryk, owner of The Beancounter accounting firm, has unrivalled business expertise and is also in the habit of changing people’s lives for the better. Then there’s Misha Dhupelia, former sales manager at 5FM, who is trying to change the world through food.
Where does the name come from?
When a shift in focus occurs, you become conscious about your food choice and about how that choice can impact the planet. The 108 is also significant – most apparent is that it’s our address, but more significantly it links back to a Buddhist concept called Emptiness. The number 1 stands for something, 0 for nothing and 8 if flipped on its side is the infinity symbol, which means everything.
Tell us a bit about the interior design.
Dewald Ackroyd is responsible for the look and feel. We wanted something down to earth, warm, but trendy at the same time. It also had to be easy to adapt if we had to expand and open up other branches! The wooden tables, bar counter and floating shelves were made by Woodlady <link: http://www.woodlady.co.za>. Our favourite part of the interior is the iconic wall art featuring a phrase from John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’. It represents what we believe in and stand for so succinctly.
What should we have for lunch?
I love our Almost Perfect Veggie burger, which has a combination of red beans, carrots, sunflower seeds, almonds and other fresh herbs and spices. The crispy tofu wrap with ginger peanut sauce is also the perfect lunch item. We also introduce new menu items every week, including cupcakes – this week’s flavour is peanut butter and chocolate.
Is veganism a growing trend in South Africa?
Absolutely! We see about 65% non-vegans come through our doors, who leave fulfilled after a plant-based meal. There are predominantly two reasons people turn vegan: moral and health. If you’re from the school of morality, then your choice means you’re benefitting the environment. If the choice is health, then these benefits include reducing saturated fats from your diet, weight loss, increased energy, healthier skin and reduction in allergies. The benefits of eating more whole foods and less processed products and the awareness that comes with knowing what exactly is being put into your body can’t be discounted.
Photography by EmmaJaneNation