A CONSCIOUS FOOD REVOLUTION: JANE NSHUTI’S PLANT-BASED AFRICAN MEALS
Meet Jane Nshuti, a Rwandan refugee pioneering the food revolution of plant-based eating.
Plant-based chef, Jane Nshuti is a remarkable woman who has overcome great adversity to make a positive impact by helping families eat healthier meals. Her company, Tamu, delivers nutritious plant-based Sunday lunches. Tamu, meaning “delicious” in Swahili, is everything Jane’s business is about – and it all started when she fled Rwanda in 1994 and learnt to cook in a refugee camp.
Jane shares her story, saying, “My love for cooking began when we got to the DRC. When we arrived it was just me and my siblings. We found ourselves in a position where we didn’t have parents. It was just the four of us. The eldest among us was just 17 and we needed to eat. We didn’t have much. My older siblings would go find whatever they could get. I had to learn how to cook very quickly.”
Today, Jane is a recipe developer, content creator, and food stylist; creating dishes for individuals, restaurants, and brands.
When it comes to plant-based African cooking, Jane explains, “Most people assume that African cuisine is made from a lot of meat, but that’s actually not true. If you look at it, most people only eat meat on special occasions. I grew up on cassava leaves, pumpkin leaves, even sweet potato leaves. I enjoy plant-based African food and I believe we have a lot of variety to choose from as well.”
Tamu was launched by Jane and her business partner, Thandi Mpompo, as a way to introduce people to the different flavours of African in a plant-based format. Jane shares, “It was also a way of taking people through my childhood. It’s basically giving people a piece of me.”
Thandi explains, “There seems to be a very vague understanding of the word ‘plant-based’. It’s actually a diet that mostly consists of plant-based. It flexes between veganism and vegetarianism.”
To show The Insider SA the range of plant-based cooking, Jane whips up an incredible three course plant-based lunch.
For the starter, Jane creates a peach and basil bruschetta. This interesting flavour combination is something Jane swears by and resulted from a recipe mishap. She explains, “Most recipes come out of mistakes! That’s how you realise things actually work together. So don’t be afraid to go into the kitchen and make mistakes – they could turn out to be masterpieces.”
The main course is a hearty, protein-packed salad. It’s Jane’s goal to prove that a protein-rich diet doesn’t have to include meat. With avocado, black beans, greens, and quinoa, you’re certain to get all the nutrients you need. By adding herbs and spices, you’ll also enjoy your kick of flavour.
The star of the lunch is dessert. The plant-based chocolate tart has a nutty base of walnuts, cashews, and almonds. Jane adds cacao, cinnamon, pink Himalayan salt, and dates for an extra touch of sugar and spice. The filling is decadent with 75% dark chocolate and will leave you wanting more and more.
Enjoying Jane’s meal is Thandi and Jane’s brother, Jacques Sibomana. Jacques proudly reflects on his sister’s achievements and shares, “Jane’s cooking is really different. She’s bringing something totally new. We always grew up thinking that if you don’t have meat, that means you’re broke; but Jane has taken plant-based cooking and made it exciting. Jane shows that it’s affordable and you can do it.”
Thandi and Jane plan to take Tamu to new heights by incorporating education in their plant-based meal revolution. Tamu’s contribution to conscious living has made the lifestyle more accessible, inclusive, and above all, delicious!