Category: Food and foodlike things

With the Meat-Free challenge just a week away [Can you go ONE whole week without eating meat?] i posted a series of food plan ideas and recipes for those of you who were left shell-shocked by the mere suggestion… but on the off chance that that was not enough – and for those of us doing regular Meat-Free Mondays or like tbV and myself at the moment alternating weeks with meat on and meat off [Mr Miyagi style] – here are even more ideas to help keep you colourfully and cuisinely creative through that week and beyond.

So here are some more exciting meal plan and recipe ideas from a bunch of my friends:

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The other day i stuck up a short video clip on the net inviting people to the challenge of ONE week with no meat.

And a lot of you put your hands up and said we can do this [one of you said he thought he could manage a week without veg!]

So the challenge is to join us in a week’s time [Week of Monday 24th August] when tbV and i enter our 4th week [one on, one off] of going meat-free. And seriously, if you can’t do one week without meat, you should seek some kind of help.

But i wanted to make it as easy as possible:

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I used to be a vegetarian

Back in 2013, I decided to become a vegetarian. I followed a meat-free diet for a solid year. I didn’t stick to it because I never had a good reason for becoming a vegetarian in the first place.

There were circumstances that lead me to the decision, but none of them were strong convictions.

1. It was my fourth year in res and I was tired of figuring out the mystery meat on my plate.

2. You can only live off so many cans of tuna before realising you can go without it.

3. I wanted to lose weight.

4. Not eating meat made me feel good (healthier, like I had more energy).

5. I didn’t miss meat.

During this brief stint there were a few reactions I observed from people (omnivores/ meat-eaters). They were always curious about why I decided to stop eating meat. Some would jump to conclusions like: animal lover, religion or eating disorder. Well, I love animals regardless of whether I eat meat or not. I think Jesus ate meat and high school is over. Of all the things that people should be outraged about, I didn’t think vegetarianism would be met with negativity.

There were positive responses here and there, mostly from vegetarians. I think it’s because they were so excited to meet other vegetarians. That was the fun part, meeting other vegetarians to exchange recipe ideas, because curried lentils become monotonous after a while.

There were also amusing encounters with people. This one girl insisted I eat fish, after I told her I was vegetarian. I ended up explaining what pescetarianism is, and she learnt something that night. I did too – people don’t know the difference between vegetarianism and pescetarianism. Also, people would expect me to dish out vegetables cooked in the same pot as meat (face palm).

Socials were really challenging. I avoided braais/barbecues. Once we had dinner at a family friend’s place. My mother forgot to tell her I was a vegetarian. I ended up eating rice and green salad. It was awkward for the host… It was awkward for me to pretend to like rice and green salad.

I would go out with friends and we’d have to pick out a restaurant that would have vegetarian dishes. That ruled out many places my friends would have preferred. I must say it was easy to decide what to eat. Some places have like three vegetarian dishes max. It was annoying to keep eating cheese with everything too. FYI to the restaurants out there: you can cook vegetables without cheese.

I really liked that I was eating more vegetables. You learn so many different ways of cooking vegetables. The only downside is that I had to take a number of vitamin supplements and iron tablets. (I don’t know how the other vegetarians do it, and it would be interesting to find out how they get all their vitamins and protein).

So I started eating meat again near the end of 2014. My parents insisted, and I had no good reason not to. Ironically, I live with a vegetarian now, so this meat-eating diet hasn’t gained much momentum.

I’m considering going vegetarian again, but I want it to be purposeful next time. I have been reading up on why some of the other bloggers decided to be vegetarians. Their reasons are radical, and it’s a good thing. I want my values to motivate me like that too.

[For a whole range of stories relating to different aspects of vegetarianism, click here]


My journey into vegetarianism started how I imagine it did for many other people. I sat (in my case in my school’s hall) watching a documentary on chicken farming. I was horrified. I had always suspected that this sort of this was happening to the animals we eat but I had never seen it first-hand. After watching this movie I went home and told my already over-worked parents that I was now a vegetarian. They said they were happy for me and that they weren’t going to be cooking two suppers every night so I needed to start feeding myself. That abruptly ended my journey into vegetarianism, at least for a year or two.

After a while, and with a constant nagging on my conscience I decided to venture into the world of vegetarianism once more. This time with more success. For me it was never about health choices (if I can choose, I choose pizza, the couch and lots of junk food). For me, it was about the fact that we were given this beautiful planet and told to look after it. And as such, it never sat well with me that we treat the animals God created so poorly, that they live a hard and lonely life only to be horrifically slaughtered, and treated as though they were not loved and cared for by the most powerful being in the universe. And so, as best I could I cut out meat from my diet – never an easy thing for anyone to do, especially someone who really enjoys roast chickens, and McDonalds burgers, and pizzas with lots of ham on them.

Although it may be easy for others, being a vegetarian was never easy for me. Partly because people think being a vegetarian isn’t and like to make jokes about it (I’ve even had people try shove meat in my mouth). Yes meat tastes good, smells good and it’s everywhere so it’s not a small feat to give it up (clearly because much of the world doesn’t give it up). And so I became a vegetarian that looked a lot like a struggling alcoholic or drug addict, I’d stay ‘clean’ for a few months and then my folks would have a braai or cook the most delicious roast chicken and I’d say: “just this once”. I had an on again off again relationship with meat.

And then I went to university. That place changed my life. I thrive on learning new things and new ways to think, on forming and changing my opinions. University turned me into a researcher. And because of this I began to research how farming in South Africa and the world worked, how we slaughter animals, what kind of impact it has on the environment, and the regulations regarding poultry and livestock farming and abattoirs in our country. I also researched humane farming, hormone-free farming and farms that were TRULY free-range. I realised that yes, God had given us the animals and the planet to care for but he had also given us them to rule over (and eat). For a lot of people it’s just a process of finding out how we do both, and do them well. And so for me, my journey into and out of vegetarianism changed what I eat, where I shop and how much meat I eat.

For every human I think eating meat should be something we’ve considered doing, we’ve researched. In the same way I did research when I stopped eating meat and learnt about how we treat animals. If you’re making the choice to eat meat you should probably do some research about where your meat comes from, how it lives and how it dies. So often we seem to live our lives where if we follow the norm we do it without consideration. Only when we go against the norm do we think more deeply and ask why. Why do we eat meat?

Having said all of this I am submitting this after reading some of the posts already up about vegetarianism and I may well be venturing back into the life of a veggie after this…

[Mary shares 10 Questions Vegetarians are tired of hearing]


I was always taught to show love to animals, dogs, cats, cows, pigs, horses, etc. But never was I really challenged to think about the meat that was lying in front of me to eat. Meat was different than those cute animals we would see in someone’s yard or pasture. Or at least I thought.

I made the decision to switch to being a vegetarian 12 years ago. Being born and raised in Texas it was a shocker to my parents and everyone else. They thought I had gone crazy, which was probably true. After being posed with the question “how can we love animals but eat them too?” by the punk rock community, I made the decision.

Fast forward a few years, I began to take the Christian faith more seriously. And when it came to what I ate it made more sense to not only be a vegetarian but to remain a vegetarian because I was a Christian.

Lots of people are not all that familiar with how factory farms operate. Not only the miserable conditions for chickens, cows and pigs, but the enormous toll it takes on the environment and the human body. There are up to 400 types of gasses released in the air, water near factories contaminated with antibiotics from animal waste, amongst other issues. Odors from gasses released by factories are known to cause respiratory problems, nausea, and allergies in residents nearby. These are just a few of the issues with factory farms. Please, research more of the issues.

There was a time when I first made the change that I was arrogant about it, tried to make people feel bad for eating meat (I am really sorry to those people!). Now when I am presented with the question of why I am a vegetarian I bring up the issues above but they are usually ignored with jokes, or just plain shot down by the comment “but God gave us animals to eat”. After so many years of living this way, it is just exhausting when people try to debate me or convert me. I have come to the point to where I don’t want to bring it up because I want to avoid the criticism that comes along with most conversations.

In Genesis 1:26 (NRSV) God is quoted saying, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth”. God has given humanity the responsibility to rule the world with compassion, and we are accountable with how we treat God’s creation.

So I believe it is our duty as Christians to learn where our food comes from and be guided in the prayer Jesus taught us “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven”, to decide whether a diet containing animals, a diet that is supported by cruelty not compassion, is in line with making way for the Kingdom of God to enter the world.

[For more stories shared by people about their vegetarian choices, click here]


As you all know by now, Pearls Before Swine is my favourite comic strip and if you ever have some time to enrich, you can take a look at a whole bunch of the cartoons i have shared over here. And usually he is just random or clever or biting cynically silly fun, but every now and then he draws a strip which makes you stop and go, “Wo!” and maybe even think for a minute.

i had saved this first strip to comment on some time and then he came up with the second one and i thought they worked quite well together so here they are. Appreciate them. Stop for a second and go, “Wo!” But also take a moment to think about your relationship to meat/killing. Because it is probably something that, unless you’re a vegetarian or more, is something you don’t think all that much about.

i have thought about it a lot more over the last couple of years and think our Americaland experience and some of the people we came into contact there definitely impacted my thinking in a number of ways. But here are three that come to mind:

[1] When it comes to people i am pro life, but perhaps not in the traditional way that that phrase is used. i believe that if you’re pro life you have to be pro all of life, so from babies that are still being formed to old people, from those suffering from disease to those who are going to be born with some kind of disability we have to be pro it all.

i do realise this is a tricky, sticky and potentially controversial opinion to hold. And that sometimes there might be an individual case by case scenario where some tough decisions need to be made. There might be a situation where a doctor has to choose between saving the mother and saving the unborn baby and i think probably the doctor in that scenario is going to be the best person to make that decision after consultation with the husband/father. While i disagree with the terminology [at the very least] of ‘assisted death’ i do think there are situations where we perhaps artificially help people ‘to live’ where it is not really living at all and so i do think we probably could rethink some of our artificial life preserving methods and be okay with allowing people to die when it’s their time to do so, although again i imagine these are really difficult decisions and should be taken situation by situation.

But we should hold life preciously, and the idea that someone would consider killing a child [because that is what it is!] because tests show it might be born blind or disabled or down syndrome actually sickens me. i cannot get my mind around that.

i absolutely believe the death penalty is wrong and don’t understand how so many christians are okay with their thinking that it is right. To kill someone to prove to people that killing is wrong just seems like the most ridiculous thing ever. Much more needs to be said about this.

[2] i came home from our time in Americaland with a greater appreciation of life. Now i have no doubt that i have vegetarian and vegan friends and possibly others who think i am way too far away from where i need to be. But i am definitely better than i was and i really like the change in myself. i have no idea what specifically caused it and again it might be simply from being around a lot more people who thought and lived a certain way.

The way i have seen it manifest is particularly with insects or bugs. Not that i think i would have gone out of my way to kill them before we went to Americaland. But i now have a mindset that says, ‘If i can avoid killing a bug or insect, then i will do that.’ i realised the extent of the change in me the other day when i carefully [this is going to blow too many peoples’ minds] removed a cockroach from my house and set it outside in the road as opposed to killing it. Before i wouldn’t have thought twice about killing a spider and now i will do my best – if it needs to be moved – to get it on a piece of newspaper or in a bag or on my hand and move it to a safer place. i will avoid stepping on ants if i see them – again, a really small mindset shift and a massive one as well.

Mosquitoes? Sorry, the change has not extended there. So maybe there is still some work to do. Or maybe that’s just ok.

The change can probably best be described as don’t go out of your way to hurt or kill a living creature. And if you are able to save/protect/rescue one then go for it. In some situations i probably will still kill ants and cockroaches and possibly even spiders, but i am now leaning more strongly towards avoiding it if possible. So that might not seem particularly significant to anyone, but it feels good to me. Small steps.

[3] Bacon. i imagine this one will seem silly to people on all sides of the spectrum, but i’m okay with that. i enjoy bacon as much as the next person and yet somehow i have gotten this reputation of being the number 1 bacon appreciator of the world. i am aware to some extent how i have helped create this impression and so it’s not completely surprising, but i don’t think it’s true. i mean i really do like bacon, just not THAT much. And one way it has been propogated is that any time anyone sees a t-shirt or a meme or a bacon-salad picture they immediately think of me and post it on my Facebook wall and so it helps build up the picture.

But it’s not particularly true. To be absolutely honest i think i could never eat another piece of bacon again for the rest of my life and be totally okay with that. i wouldn’t particularly choose to, cos like i said i do enjoy it. But it doesn’t feel like a need for me.

The weird point i wanted to make about bacon though is this. i’m not sure when or where it started and don’t even know why. And i don’t particularly do it with any other kind of meat although i do try to be grateful and appreciate all the food we have an eat. But particularly with bacon i started in the last couple of years, taking a moment to stop and be grateful and in a sense thank the pig. To some this will be ridiculous, to others maybe hypocritical and maybe it’s just me cashing in my senility chips earlier or something. But i think it might in some ways be linked to tradition of first nation people of celebrating the life of the animal they kill before they eat it. A real sense of gratitude and appreciation. A moment of stopping to give thanks and thank the pig for its sacrifice that was made, giving me an opportunity to eat. Maybe this means absolutely nothing and makes no difference at all, but for me it is an extra moment of gratitude and appreciation and i think that’s a good step in the right direction.

i imagine most meat eaters don’t take any time whatsoever to think much about their eating of meat. Perhaps if we did there would be more vegetarians among us. So maybe take a moment to think about your meat-eating-ness or not. If you’re happy with it, then by all means keep on. But maybe even within that we can find better ways to do it…


[For a range of other Pearls before Swine strips, click here]

My friend Nkosi has written for me a number of times on this blog and so it was a great privilege to have him around for a special meal on Friday night with some friends, that i wrote about over here, and i asked him to share some of his impressions from the evening: 


Conversation is an integral part of transformation. It was for this reason that I went to Brett's house together with Monde Nonabe. It was a very short notice that I invited Monde to come with me and I was so happy and glad that he responded to my short notice invite. I was glad because I respect Monde's heart and passion for change in the black people's situation. I have only known Monde not for a very long time but one thing I knew is his heart for the Lord and his heart for transformation in the lives of the majority of this country. 

During the story telling, I was moved by Monde's story of course because mostly I could identify with his story. Our conversation with Monde began on our way to Wynberg which I was already learning a lot from his knowledge about our fallen heroes in Biko and Prof Sobukhwe. Monde has a speacial ability of linking today's problems with yesterdays happenings and hopes (should haves). 

When I listened to stories from the white brothers and sisters who were there I must say that I came to realisation that they themselves are victims to a system that even though they may not necessarily love but they are beneficiaries of. I listened to one white brother with teary eyes who said that he is aware of his white previlege yet he doesn't know what to do with it. Even though I myself was moved by that sincere heart but I knew that I can't lie about the fact that there is nothing much this brother could necessarily do except to join hands with blacks in dismantling and destroying the white power structure which is the cause of every pain in South Afrika and Afrika in general. 

I was moved about the story of Jan who has been living at a black township Kayamandi in Stellenbosch for many years. He is the only white in that area. As moving this story is but it had to be made clear that for him it was a choice that he went to live and stay in Khayamnandi unlike the blacks living in that area. 

I was also moved by the story of a brother from England who moved in to Mannenberg which is one of the hardcore areas in the Cape flats. I was moved that this brother was making moves and courageous, intentional actions that were to bring about change in Mannenberg. This brother told us a story about privilege on how he managed to raise up funds from contacting few friends in a short space of time for him to be able to own a house in Manenberg. It went more touching when he told a story about how was he a victim of robbery and his house being broke into and still he had a choice to either stay in Mannenberg or to live in a white surburb. This still proves that privilege gives one choice which the black majority of this country don't have. 

Conversation that was in Bretts house was so transforming. I think it was a safe space for such a conversation rather than the social networks. It was in that conversation that I was able to look into peoples' eyes and allow them to be broken and hopeless and hopeful with all the roller coast of emotions. I think these kind of conversations can be more progressive if they could be happening all around the country. These conversations could be more progressive if they could be taking place in the workplace. I do think that conversation like prophecy did to Israel in bring about God's view to the people, conversation puts the different world views into one. The Western Worldview which is most likely to be found amongst the whites and the Afrikan worldview which could possibly be found amongst blacks. 

I must thank tbV for her delicious spaghetti and mince and I would also like to thank Brett and tbV for opening their house for such hard and uncomfortable talk.

[For another post by Nkosi where he speaks about first steps for South Africa, click here]

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