Elle Deco had a chat with James Knaap, the owner and founder of Lekker Vegan, Cape Town’s first vegan gourmet junk food joint about being a quinoa bitch and not having to sacrifice your taste buds when switching to a plant-based diet.
Who is behind Lekker Vegan?
12 amazing cooks and hosts work a combined total of 500 hours every week to serve our food quickly with consistent quality and awesome vibes. It is a Dutch family company. I came up with the concept and brought it to fruition.
What led the way to establishing a vegan eatery?
I worked as a cameraman and lighting technician in the film industry for 10yrs but didn’t like the superficiality that world brought. I wasn’t making a change in the world and I want to experience that. From becoming ill and curing myself with natural foods, I became a foodie, turned vegan and turned vegan chef. The market is finally ready for veganism and there are still plenty of exciting opportunities to explore in that market. Doing something I love, while changing the world for the better was the goal.
We love the idea of vegan gourmet junk food. Please elaborate.
Most people think of carrots, wheatgrass and hummus when they think about veganism. It has a very boring image like we’re all hippies and rabbits. I believe it doesn’t have to be like that at all. There are so many ways to mimic and transcend non-vegan food experiences. So instead of aiming for health foods on which most vegan places focus, we chose to focus on experience. When I go out to eat, I want to be treated. I want to taste something great and I’m less worried about the health aspects. Don’t get me wrong on most days I’m a green smoothies and quinoa bitch, but sometimes you just want to indulge in fried food with great sauces and stringy cheese. Our food is definitely much healthier than their animal-based alternatives
What is the food revolution you want to see happen globally? Do you see Lekker Vegan as a part of this?
I’d like to see a global shutdown of all animal farming practices and for big food companies switching to 100% plant-based food products. Only the people can make this change happen. A massive change of consciousness is necessary for that. Lekker Vegan wants to prove to the people first and foremost that you don’t have to sacrifice your taste buds when switching to plant-based, which is the #1 concern for most people considering veganism.
Are the farmers you source ingredients from and products used at Lekker Vegan organic? All locally produced?
We use the products of many local manufacturers, but not everything is local. Not organic currently, because of affordability of the burgers to a wide demographic
Is your packaging and disposing of waste as environmentally aware and sustainable as the food?
We use eco packaging for almost every, we avoid plastic as much as we can. Only our coffee lids and take away sauce cups are plastic, haven’t found alternatives there. Straws and everything else is biodegradable.
In the current Cape Town water crisis, is adopting a vegan diet a better alternative water-wise than meat?
Which areas do you deliver to and through which sites/apps?
We are on OrderIn and Mr D. Not 100% sure how wide the range is, but most of the city bowl is covered.
Is this a one-store concept or set to grow nationwide?
World domination of vegan fast food! Haha but let’s start with covering Lekker Vegan Cape Town and the continent of Africa first.
Who oversaw the interiors and branding of Lekker Vegan?
I made the concept of the restaurant in 3d, did the interior design and all of the branding. My mom helped me out with picking materials and painting.
Photography and production: Lauren Brits @laurenbrits