Vegan Basket (Kenya): An Awe-inspiring Feature
Updated: Aug 7, 2021
Vegan Basket is the first 100% plant-based restaurant in Kenya, located on Bofa Village Road, Kilifi. They offer restaurant dine-in as well as delivery services for their delicious, ethically and sustainably sourced foods. Their story is quite captivating and inspiring and it was an honor interviewing Gitaari, co-owner of the restaurant.
According to Gitaari, who’s been vegan for 16 years, they started the restaurant with his wife out of necessity. There were no vegan food options in restaurants around them and they always had a hard time eating out. They would find themselves stuck with carbs and vegetables and would miss out on the abundance of plant-based protein such as beans, lentils and more. For them, eating vegan is a spiritual experience and practice. It’s all about the energy of the food they’re consuming and not eating food that is trauma-based. Practicing compassion by eating food that doesn’t fight for its life is what they live by and want their customers to experience at their eatery.
Gitaari shared his vegan story with us and like every vegan story, it was one of great awe and admiration. Growing up, he was not vegan, in fact, he grew up on his family’s farm where they kept livestock for sale and produce. He says that whenever animals were slaughtered when he was younger he couldn’t bear to watch. Eventually, he had to take over the family business and found that the more he killed for food, the more aggressive and hostile he became and the less compassionate he was. At some point, he noticed the world around him had become so nasty, aggressive and selfish and began to introspect about his contribution to this collective energy he was experiencing. That was when he made the connection that human beings are aggressive to animals first, and exploit them and thus feel like we can step on and exploit one another and get away with it as well.
From this passionate lifestyle change and evolved mindset, they set out to start Vegan Basket as a way to express themselves through healthy, wholesome and delicious plant-based food cooked with love and compassion. To keep that same vibe of self-expression, they designed an a la carte menu so that customers can be free to experiment and choose foods without limitations. Vegan Basket leads by example, introducing and raising awareness about plant-based living while staying affordable.
Initially, as a very unique venture in a meat-centric society, Vegan Basket faced a lot of skepticism and requests from customers to accommodate their meat-eating behaviors. However, their passion and ethical values were strong; they stick with their values and serve only plant-based foods. This consistency allowed them to attract a niche market of people looking to adopt healthier eating habits as well as people who are compassionate and are trying to get positive energy from what they put into their bodies. Looking to the future, Vegan Basket envisions a more vegan Africa and sees their brand bringing ready-made, wholesome, tasty plant-based meals to communities across the continent.