Tag Archive: vegetarian

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 saw this picture of a giant stack of bacon on Facebook the other day:


And fortunately someone hadn’t yet shared this particular piece on my wall [although give it time] but it still made me a little angry. It had the message “Tag someone you know who would eat this” and fortunately no one had yet, because you know what? i would not eat that much bacon.

Gasp! Shock! Horror! WHAT? Surely you jest? No, no i don’t jest.

You see, i do enjoy the taste of bacon, but i am not as obsessed with it as you think i am. When it comes to raiSINs, yes then i am as obsessed as you think i am – KEEP THEM AWAY FROM ME, evil little creatures [why do you think they have the word ‘SIN’ firmly entrenched in the name, and don’t get me on to the ICK of Pickles!] but even then, every single time someone finds a meme, a joke or a picture with raiSINs in and posts it on my wall, it loses it’s funny after about three. i started the ‘I Hate raiSINs’ group on Facebook for a reason, people. Stick your pics there.

But back to bacon. i have allowed the impression to be had that i am this absolute bacon fiend, but i never intentionally set out to do so, and it’s getting a little bit old. So politely please quit it! Thank you.


i have a fairly large group of friends who are vegetarians and i have come to understand what a dick i was when i met someone who was vegetarian years ago and then thought how funny it might be if i tried to convince them to eat meat or why their reasons for vegetarianism didn’t measure up to how good meat is or something. The answer is not very much at all and now i cringe when i see other people do it for fun or even sometimes for realsies cos of not being able to comprehend a world where people choose not to eat meat.

i was hugely inspired and challenged by the number of stories that were shared in my Taboo Topic series piece on Vegetarianism and if you haven’t read them yet, then seriously go do so now. i have been well humbled by how gracious and patient and polite vegetarians seem to be, especially when meat eaters can be a bit of a rude unthinking bunch at times. But for the most part, the vegetarians i have encountered and know are people who have made a choice or a series of choices for a number of reasons, but generally don’t feel the need to make everyone make the same choices they have [which i’m not sure i fully understand even, but i am grateful for it].

But that series made me think [and at least one other person it seems as i received a message from a friend of mine saying the series led to her doing some research and moving to a journey towards vegetarianism and even veganism] and tbV and i chatted a bit about it on our recent Americaland trip and came up with some ideas to work some change into our lives.



Two of the main reasons people tend towards vegetarianism seem to be the cruelty committed to the animals that we eat and the effect cattle have on the environment. In terms of the cruelty side of things, tbV are doing our best to source meat and eggs from places far more likely to treat their animals well [a former Improv buddy of mine lives on a farm and makes regular treks into Cape Town to sell some of the meat from the animals he is raising and i know they will be being well treated].

In terms of the environmental effect, tbV and i are trying something new with our eating. We don’t think we particularly eat a huge amount of meat as it is, tending to create a lot of meals with just vegetables, but starting last week we did a whole week of veg meals at our place and then the idea for this week is to eat the same amount of meat we would normally eat in a week so maybe two to three times. Then next week will be purely veg again. And so on. Theoretically, this should reduce our meat-eating by 50%, which, while it may not lead to huge changes in the bigger picture, feels like a great start, and if we can encourage others to give it [or something like it] a try, then pretty soon we will be starting to have an effect.

We looked back at the end of this week and both realised we hadn’t particularly felt like we had missed meat at any time during the week. Because there are so many good veg option meals out there. And maybe this is a great opportunity to ask our various vegetarian friends to put together some good recipes for us and help us to make more fun and exciting dishes. How about it, vegetarian friends?


So what does this all have to do with you, you ask, and i’m so glad you did. Do i want you to become a vegetarian? Absolutely not. Well, you can if you want to, but that’s not the purpose of this post.

ASK THE QUESTIONS. If you do nothing else, then at least ask the questions. Take a look at what you eat. Do some research on what effect it has on the planet or be lazy and ask one of your vegetarian friends to tell you [cos chances are they know!] Experiment with some vegetarian meals. Try a no-meat Monday as we did a couple of years ago or join us on one week of no meat, one week with meat, just for a month and then report back as to how it was and if it didn’t feel any worse then let it become a regular rhythm. 

As a follower of Jesus, i know that collectively we can get caught up in the life-after-death scenario and totally live for it at the expense of anything that happens before death. We can also get caught up in the focus-on-people focus as if the environment was not our concern. Yet, i believe that we serve a holistic God who entrusted the whole of creation to us and asked us to look after it. We have not done that one so well. And so giving time and attention to what and how we eat as well as how pro we are for all types of life feels like part of what we have been mandated to do.

What are your thoughts on this topic? If you are a meat eater, have you ever given it any kind of thought? 


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]


10 things vegetarians are sick of hearing / your vegetarian friends want you to know

I became a vegetarian on my ninth birthday. This usually elicits shock and the assumption that I am vegetarian because of my family / culture / religious beliefs. But, no – I was just a child who was interested in where my food came from and when I knew the facts eating meat (read meat, fish, poultry) didn’t make sense to me, even at nine.

Having been a vegetarian for so long the biggest thing I’ve learnt is that you cannot convince someone to change what they eat. It is a personal journey and people will either get there or they won’t. So I will not be doing that. Instead, I’d like to use this opportunity to appeal to my meat-eating friend to think before they say any of the following things to the next vegetarian they meat…I mean meet.

1. Why are you vegetarian?

Firstly, you probably know the answer before you even ask. But I’m not saying don’t ask – I love sharing my beliefs about food with people who are genuinely interested and like many others who have written his week I strongly encourage people to educate themselves about all the food they are eating (meat and otherwise). What I am saying is please don’t ask if your plan is just to argue with me about the answer I give you.

This happens to me all the time…so much so that my first response to this question is usually “do you really want to know or are you just making polite conversation?” Most people think they really want to know. So I explain. And then the “debate” starts, or I get accused of trying to make someone feel guilty, or told that the conversation is “not cool” while people are eating meat. But, um, you asked??

I’m going to start ranting soon so enough said on that point.

2. But how do you get your protein / isn’t that really unhealthy / don’t you have a poor immune system?

Again, do your own research. But I can honestly say I don’t know any vegans or vegetarians who struggle to get enough protein in my diet. We have been brain washed into thinking that protein only comes from meat, when in actual fact it is one of the least healthy sources of protein. I heard a dietician describe it like this once – I have spent my career (of over 20 years) treating patients with cholesterol, gout, kidney problems, etc, conditions that we know are associated with a high-meat diet. But I have never treated a vegetarian or vegan for protein deficiency. Pretty interesting if you ask me.

3. Do you eat fish? And chicken? No meat at all??

Fish = still an animal (and that would make me a Pescetarian)

Chicken = also an animal

Yes, I really meant no meat at all.

4. But BACON

I have a pet-hate of the recent bacon craze that appears to have spread throughout the world. Firstly, pigs are really intelligent, affectionate animals (just youtube search “clever pig” if you don’t believe me) who know when they are being taken to slaughter. They literally scream when they are being killed. Secondly, even if that doesn’t bother you and you make the decision to continue eating pig products, what you are doing by supporting the “bacon-with-everything craze” is celebrating and glorifying the fact that an animal has died so that you can eat it. It is excessive, insensitive and barbaric.

5. Ja, but you eat eggs and cheese – what about the poor chickens and dairy cows

Don’t make your guilt my guilt. By being vegetarian I am not proclaiming that I am perfect and superior to all others. I have a real conflict with the fact that I still eat eggs and cheese and going vegan is something I think about daily. It is something I am trying to rearrange my life towards. But at least I’m doing something.

6. But our bodies are designed to eat meat, and paleo, and banting and stuff

No, they aren’t. Watch this TED talk for some pretty convincing arguments from an Archeological Scientist. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMOjVYgYaG8

7. Vegetarian food is boring

Again, not true and a pretty strange comment coming from a non-vegetarian. Have a look at the wide range of veggie cookbooks out there. I will happily share recipes with anyone who is interested.

8. You don’t know what you’re missing out on

Yes, I do. I get this from my dad all the time – even all these years later he still seems to think I’m a vegetarian because I don’t like the taste of meat. (Although after all these years I probably don’t). I don’t miss or crave meat at all anymore but some vegetarians do and this kind of statement is not very encouraging to them. (For any new struggling vegetarians reading this – it gets easier, I promise!)

9. Sorry for eating this meat in front of you

I think different vegetarians have differing opinions on this, but I personally am not bothered by the sight of someone eating meat. My philosophy is very much – it’s a personal decision – so as long as I don’t have to pay for it or eat it myself you are not offending me. I love enjoying meals with my friends and take pride in the fact that I can braai better than many of the men I know.

10. Yes this dish is vegetarian.

It might seem shocking but I have been told a number of times by friends and family that a dish is meat-free, only to take a bite and taste immediately that there is definitely meat inside. The explanation is usually “Oh well I just used some for flavor”. Please don’t. Just be honest – I’ll be happy bringing my own dish or eating the side dishes.

[For a number of other great stories relating to people choosing to go vegetarian, 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]


Why I’m [kind of, mostly] a vegetarian.

Let me start off by saying that I like eating animals. In my early university days, I probably ate a bacon sandwich at least four times a week. This was on top of my regular meat-with-every-meal intake. I come from an Italian family. Growing up in South Africa, these two cultural combinations meant that meat was always very high on the meal priority list. But it has been a while since I last had a bacon sandwich.

Now, I still like eating animals. Yet, I am [kind of, mostly] a vegetarian. I’ll get to [that part] in a bit. Firstly, let me try explain why I, a meat-enthusiast, choose to abstain from this age-old human practice. No, it’s not because I think we shouldn’t eat animals at all, which I’m sure you’ve gathered by now (although there are many who do believe this, for valuable reasons, and I have immense respect for such an ideal). Initially, it was also not because of how our fast-paced, profit and efficiency-driven society tends to treats animals (although, this naturally became a strong cornerstone to my continued no-meat commitment, as I have found it cannot actually be separated from my first reason).

My initial, and foremost reason for quitting meat was this:

* Curbing the world’s huge and increasing appetite for meat is essential to avoid devastating climate change… The global livestock industry produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all cars, planes, trains and ships combined, but a worldwide survey by Ipsos MORI in the report finds twice as many people think transport is the bigger contributor to global warming. The Guardian

* Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation. Fao.org

* Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction. Richard Oppenlander

I could go on, but I know that it is likely you skimmed over those and rolled your eyes a little. Just like we did when we were first told about global warming, or that the earth was round, or that smoking causes cancer. Its uncomfortable. And it’s certainly not the easiest conversation to have at dinner parties. It’s long-winded and almost always sounds just that little bit pretentious. But, for me especially, it’s undeniable.

It started when I watched Graham Hill’s TED talk, Why I’m a Weekday Vegetarian, back at university. I was deeply compelled by his argument, and, aghast at the very idea of giving up meat altogether, I began with the ever popular ‘Meat-free Mondays’ and ‘Vegan Wednesdays’. However, the more I researched, read, watched, listened and discussed, the more I knew that simply eating less meat was insufficient. Before I start to sound like one of those “annoying environmental hippies” (although I am tempted to break out into an entirely separate argument about everything that is wrong with that statement), I do not lead the perfect ‘green life’. I smoke (ugh). I probably still use way too much plastic. My job requires that I do a lot of traveling. My carbon footprint is, sadly, still very much existent and a work in progress, which often feels quite overwhelming.

Especially when I read about 21 year olds in New York who haven’t made any garbage for two years. But, although not disregarding other ‘green actions’, which are still vitally important, I determined that the biggest impact I could have on reducing my environmental heaviness was through monitoring the food I bought and ate. In fact, quitting meat altogether has a greater impact on reducing one’s carbon footprint over and above anything else. I have seen that this is an action that is becoming increasingly undeniable to many the layman, not just those ‘annoying environmentalists’.

In a lot of my conversations, many people have asked me why my commitment has to extend to chicken or fish. The problem lies with those big lumbering cow things that fart all the time, doesn’t it? If only. Fish are a no-brainer. The depletion of our oceans and the very nature of the fishing industry today are having dramatic consequences for our future planet. And, no, not our far-off future planet, but our immediate one. And chickens? It’s a much larger web of interacting factors. Most chickens are mass-produced in disgusting conditions – whether this offends you or not, this kind of care is not environmentally friendly. Mass production means mass transportation, excessive consumption and waste, and much more. This sadly means curbing my desire for a cheeky Nando’s (which, if I’m honest, has been a stumbling block for me). The hard fact is, if you cut out red meat for environmental or moral reasons – well, chickens and fish pretty much have to follow.

But, why the [kind of, mostly] bit? Well, because I do still like meat. I just have a problem with how it is produced and consumed. And so, when I am able to access meat that is a) entirely organic (I mean really, really organic), b) locally produced, c) has come from an animal well taken care of, and d) as a result of a, b and c, has limited environmental impact, I will happily (if not ecstatically) eat it. But, believe it or not, this is actually a rare opportunity. Woolworths ‘organic’ simply does not cut it. Also, the problem has gotten so bad that in order to make an environmental difference, we need to go back to eating meat like we did many years ago – where it is something special, a treat rather than a regular part of our meals.

I could go on and on about the facts and figures, but I am a firm believer that “bible bashing”, if I may borrow the term, gets you nowhere. People have the right to choose. That being said, there is nothing I struggle with more than people who make uninformed choices. I will respect almost any decision, if it has been backed it up with thought, research and accountability. Mine led me to a certain path. But I also know many amazing individuals who have responded to these findings differently. The point is to respond. How you chose to do so lies with you. But not responding, well that’s a choice too.


The arguments…

* Graham Hill – Why I’m a weekday vegetarian

* Oppenlander, Richard A. Food Choice and Sustainability: Why Buying Local, Eating Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work. Minneapolis, MN : Langdon Street, 2013. Print.

Red meat…

* Cowspiracy

* Guardian: Eating less meat essential to curb climate change

Food (in general)…

* Food, Inc (full online documentary here).


* The End of the Line (full online documentary here).

* TED ideas, Interview with Sylvia Earle, Should you stop eating fish?

[For the story of Amy Benn who was a vegetarian and then wasn’t and may be again, click here]

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