Let’s be honest; you’re not visiting Zambia for the food. More likely, it’s the wild safari walks that have caught your attention. Or maybe it’s the white water rafting that’s rapidly got you booking flights. It could be that you’ve fallen for the beautiful Victoria (Falls) online. Or perhaps it’s a mid-life crisis that can only be solved by cascading down one of the world’s highest bungee jumps. For us, it’s the luxury safari camps with prolific game viewing right from your bed. And whilst we intend to feast generously on game sightings and unbelievable views, we’ve all got to actually eat at some point too.
If you’re the anything-goes type when it comes to food, chances are you haven’t given it much thought. But if you’re a food enthusiast and conscious eater, this may create cause for concern. However, you need not worry. We’ve already mentioned Zambia as one of the most understated African countries and the same could be said for their vegan-friendly cuisine. With plant-powered local dishes such as Katapa (sweet potato leaves) and Chikanda (peanut polony), vegans are in for a pleasant surprise when it comes to new veggie experiences. And with some of the world’s most luxurious resorts, we’ve also found internationally-inspired, vegan-friendly plates that are both packed with flavor and aesthetically exquisite.
Gastronomy may not have inspired your Zambian vacation. But we’re pretty sure you’ll be amazed by how good the food actually is. Yes, even for a vegan foodie.
The 9 best vegan-friendly restaurants in Zambia
- Lilayi Lodge Restaurant
- Govinda’s Sattvik Vegetarian Restaurant
- The Royal Dil
- Mint Active
- Dar Lalla
Lilayi Lodge Restaurant
While surrounded by beautiful wildlife, it’s the culinary experience that sets Lilayi Lodge apart from other luxury resorts in Zambia. In fact, they refer to their elegant dining room as the stage on which they showcase their passion for gastronomy. And in our opinion, they deliver on every front.
As one of our best eco lodges, the luxury hotel is committed to sustainability and social initiatives. And whilst all of the seafood and meat at Lilayi Restaurant is sustainably sourced, they also have some of the best veggie dishes. From their seven-course food and wine pairing to one plate wonders, the cutting-edge restaurant is a paradise for eco conscious foodies. As a strict vegan your choices are slightly more limited with the vegetable coconut curry being a standout. However, as a vegetarian, you are spoilt for choice with things like wild mushroom arancini and their butternut, spinach, and feta ravioli.
Best for: A passion for food—and the planet.
Address: Lilayi Road, Lusaka 10101, Zambia Opening days and hours: Mon-Sun: 7am-10am; 12pm-9pm Price range: $$ Website: www.lilayi.com/foodandwine
Govinda’s Sattvik Vegetarian Restaurant
If you’re spending a couple of nights in Lusaka, we know where to find you every meal. Govinda’s Sattvik Vegetarian Restaurant is one of the only fully vegetarian restaurants in Zambia. It is also incredibly well-priced, making it a popular choice for grabbing food on the go or popping in over lunch time.
Govinda’s Sattvik Vegetarian Restaurant is the antidote to fine dining. And while the setting is humble, the luxury lies in the abundance of flavor. Inspired by Indian cuisine, the heartwarming aromas fill the entire space. And generous portions leave you feeling wholly satisfied. We recommend the signature Govinda Burger made from fresh potato patties. You can’t pass up the authentic samosas. And the Masala Chai is the perfect digestif. Although they call it a vegetarian, almost all of the dishes are vegan too. So you won’t be limited in choice.
Best for: An everyday affair.
Address: 5992 Benakale Rd, Lusaka, Zambia Opening days and hours: Mon-Sun: 9am-9pm Price range: $ Website: govindassattvikvegetarianrestaurant-vegetarianrestaurant
The Royal Dil
India certainly knows how to combat complaints of the lackluster vegan cuisine. And The Royal Dil is case in point. Located in the heart of Lusaka, this Indian restaurant puts its heart and soul into perfectly balanced dishes using authentic spices and traditional techniques. While the elegant contemporary interior with bronze accents adds an air of sophistication to dining out.
Although The Royal Dil isn’t a veggie only eatery, the extensive menu comprises a dozen of vegetarian starters and vegetarian mains, most of which are vegan too. And all of which are just as good (and if not better) as their meat-infused counterparts. Needless to say, eco conscious eaters aren’t limited in their choice. And whilst every dish is incredible, the veg samosas, veg manchurians, veg kadai and paneer tikka masala are our top standouts. However, If you can, try to encourage a shared table where you get to try a couple of dishes.
Best for: Fit for a vegan queen.
Address: 22768 Cacia Park, Thabo Mbeki Road, Lusaka, Zambia Opening days and hours: Mon-Sun: 12pm-11pm Price range: $ Website: www.facebook.com/TheRoyalDil/
The Italian Corner
A little slice of Italy in the heart of Africa—this is la dolce vita you’ve been searching for. Situated in Livingstone—only a stone’s throw away from Victoria Falls—The Italian Corner is the life and soul of Olga’s lodge. And whether you’re staying there or not, the friendly staff welcome all visitors with open arms.
The Italian Corner is set on an outdoor deck under a thatched roof with authentically African tablecloths. The humble setting is relaxed and refreshing as it sets the stage for the main act—the flavor-packed food. Featuring all your Italian favorites, the extensive menu isn’t solely vegetarian but it certainly isn’t short of scrumptious veg options (you can forget the side salad). From classics such as pesto pasta to a hearty veggie ragu, every dish is carefully balanced and perfectly executed. If you’re in the mood for pizza, you can just ask for any of the vegetarian choices without cheese to accommodate a vegan diet. Their pizzas are incredible so you don’t want to miss out.
Best for: La dolce vita—African style.
Address: 4VW4+PF6, Mokambo Rd, Livingstone, Zambia Opening days and hours: Mon-Sun: 7am-10pm Price range: $ Website: olgasproject.com/
A hidden gastronomic gem in the heart of Africa, Mint Active combines wellbeing with comfort foods to create deliciously, healthy plates. The eco-chic cafe is located in one of Africa’s most promising developing cities—Lusaka. While the elegant, contemporary interior could be found in any of the world’s most cutting-edge destinations.
As one of our best restaurants in Zambia, Mint Active is committed to using local, fresh ingredients. Not all of their dishes are void of meat, but the ones that are are worth the visit. We could eat their scrumptious curried lentils and cauliflower rice Buddha bowl every day of the week. The vegetarian taco bowls, burritos and bagels are equally enticing. While their green juices are some of the best you’ll drink.
Best for: Feeling fresh and fabulous.
Address: H8R8+W6W, Lukasu Rd, Lusaka, Zambia Opening days and hours: Mon-Sun: 9am-9pm Price range: $ Website: www.instagram.com/mint_active
We’re singing rhapsodies of praise. And for good reason. Although Rhapsody’s is situated in the center of Lusaka, the neon lights and contemporary interiors are reminiscent of a luxury cruise liner. While the mouthwatering plates further add to the illusion.
Open for brunch, lunch and dinner, Rhapsody’s international-inspired cuisine lives up to some of the finest first-class restaurants but without the price tag. Once again, the gastronomic oasis isn’t strictly vegetarian, but we think the plant plates are the best on the menu. For brunch, we recommend the blueberry pancakes or chia seed breakfast (served with almond milk, naturally). For lunch, the veggie burger with guacamole is a standout. For dinner, the vegan options are more limited. But you can’t go wrong with their vegetarian sushi. And many of their vegetarian dishes can be altered and made dairy-free. The beetroot salad—sans feta—is a winner.
Best for: Receiving rhapsodies of praise.
Address: H8X8+F5P, Nangwenya Rd, Lusaka, Zambia Opening days and hours: Tues-Sun: 11am-12am Mon: closed Price range: $ Website: rhapsodys.co.za/
Fusing Mexican cuisines with an African spirit, Cantina is one of the best places to eat in Zambia. The hanging bulbs and green pot plants give it a contemporary, fresh feel. While the tantalizing dishes are as gorgeous to eat as they are to look at. Ok, they’re better to eat, but only marginally so.
Cantina draws its inspiration from classic Mexican dishes so you can expect a lot of nachos, tacos, guacamole and corn. While the restaurant isn’t exclusively vegan, it’s one of the best spots for vegans to dine in Zambia. We particularly love the beetroot pekora with the house ranch sauce and salsa verde. The veg nachos epitomize guilt-free comfort foods. And the classic cauliflower or butternut squash are also popular choices. Plus, they serve some of the best cocktails so we suggest you make it a full evening affair.
Best for: Mexican cuisines with an African spirit.
Address: 8188 Off Lake Rd, Lusaka 10101, Zambia Opening days and hours: Tues-Thurs: 12pm-2:30pm; 5pm-10p mFri-Sat: 12pm-2:30pm; 5pm-11pm Sun-Mon: closed Price range: $ Website: www.instagram.com/cantina
While Piatto is renowned as one of the best seafood restaurants in Zambia, its veggie dishes are our best-kept secret. From Mediterranean dips and Italian pastas to Indian curries and Japanese sushi, this highly-rated restaurant is truly a melting pot of different cuisines. And whilst a lack of speciality may be a cause of concern for some, each dish transports you to the country it’s from.
Located in Lusaka, Piatto’s red and brown decor is reminiscent of a romantic Italian cafe. While their extensive menu has something for everyone—perfect for big families with many different dietary preferences. For our vegan friends, we recommend the tempered vegetables to start. And between the penne greco pasta and chickpea curry, it’s difficult to choose a main. Although you really can’t go wrong with either one.
Best for: Satisfying all tastes.
Address: G7W9+WGG, Kafue Rd, Lusaka, Zambia Opening days and hours: Tues-Sun: 8am-10:30pm Price range: $ Website: www.piattozambia.com/
Welcome to Zambia’s Moroccan Fiesta—a restaurant where sharing a meal with loved ones is highly valued. All the dishes are made to be shared. While the outside dining area is set upon a wooden deck, surrounded by luscious green gardens.
Good food always brings people together. And Dar Lalla is the kind of setting where you can just picture large families stretching over each other, talking loudly and laughing jovially. While all of the dishes promise to elicit an excited response, the vegan dishes remain some of their finest. The vegetable couscous and vegetable tagine are always a highlight. The smoked eggplant danjal salad and lentil salad are far from being an uninteresting side. While the fresh juices bring it all together.
Best for: Family fiestas.
Address: F401/A8 LILAYI, Lusaka, Zambia Opening days and hours: Wed-Fri: 12pm-9pm Sat-Sun: 9am-9pm Mon: 12:30pm-9pm Tues: closed Price range: $$ Website: dar-lalla-zambia.business.site/
Frequently asked questions about the best vegan-friendly restaurants in Zambia
With a huge global focus on environmental awareness, it’s getting easier and easier to be a vegan in most countries. However, countries such as India are most intrinsically vegan so you’ll be able to eat most of the local dishes. First world countries like the UK are brimming with plant-based restaurants. But you’ll also find many plant-based dishes in developing countries like Zambia and Kenya.
In the past few years, there has been a huge gastronomic focus on veganism in the UK, making it one of the most popular countries for vegans to reside or visit. Australia and Portland, USA are also hugely popular places for vegans. And in any of these countries, you’ll find a plethora of strictly vegan eateries.
Plant-based eating is deeply rooted in Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. So any cultures that have adopted either of these religions is likely to be mostly vegan. This derives from the concept of Ahimsa—which emphasizes kindness and non-violence towards all living things.