The organization used Google Trends data, which it described as 'a reliable source of big data', to explore the veganism movement on the second largest continent.
Chef's Pencil analyzed searches in the veganism category, looking at vegan-related searches made in any language, including 'vegan' and 'vegan restaurant'.
Vegan in South Africa
"Google assigns a score for each location (broken down by country and city) that represents the level of interest in a given topic by comparing searches made for that topic to all Google searches made in that particular location," said Chef's Pencil.
"While some of these searches are probably made out of curiosity, many types of searches, such as vegan recipes or vegan restaurants, show a strong intent for following a vegan diet. According to Google Trends data, South Africa is among the top 30 countries world-wide where veganism was most popular over the past 12 months. To be more precise, South Africa ranks in 23rd place. It is the only African country with a sizable vegan following.
"Looking closer at South Africa, Google Trends data shows an undeniable rise in the popularity of veganism, peaking earlier this year. The country moved up the global ranks from a global veganism popularity score of 14 in 2014 to 27 in 2018."
The organization says that Google data shows the Western and Eastern Cape provinces as having the highest concentration of vegans, and Stellenbosh, Randburg and Cape Town as the top three most popular cities for veganism.
Chef's Pencil points out that 'some African nations don't show up in Google data', adding that 'even though much of their daily diet is vegan food, it is not recognized as such'.
"As Senait Mekonnen, owner of Addis in Cape restaurant in Cape Town, tells Quartz Africa, many Ethiopians don't eat meat because it is expensive. Other Africa countries suffer from low penetration of the internet, which also impacts rankings," it said.