“Why should anyone’s dietary choice make anyone angry?” wonders Chloe Farley, a vegan blogger from Gqberha in the Eastern Cape. Just try coming out as vegan or even vegetarian in a Mzansi household and you will certainly raise a few eyebrows.
Mosa Lietsiso (21) from the Vaal area in Gauteng says disclosing his dietary restrictions and preferences to his own family is always a difficult topic of discussion. “I am always laughed at or looked at funny because I do not eat eggs. They even call me high maintenance when I have to visit family.”
Often, vegans and vegetarians will cite health reasons for their dietary choices. Lietsiso, on the other hand, says his is of a more spiritual nature.
“My reasoning is more about my ancestral beliefs, things like eggs and pork, especially, were not consumed by forefathers. I do sometimes miss bacon, but I follow a vegetarian lifestyle for my ancestors.”
Trauma made me do it
Meanwhile, Zoe Adriaanse (23), also from Gqberha, believes the plant-based life chose her.
“When I was 14 my lifestyle changed,” she says. “My dad is a hunter, and he has been one for as long as I can remember. One day he came home with this buck that bumped into the car on his way home.
“The buck was brought to the backyard as it was badly injured and because of this, he decided to kill it to help take it out of its misery. I remember feeling differently.” The very next day she told her parents she would no longer be eating meat.
Adriaanse is a lacto-vegetarian which means that she doesn’t consume anything whose life has been taken. She also still consumes dairy, but is on the fast track to becoming a vegan.
Her journey into a plant-based lifestyle is about “giving a voice to living beings that do not have one.”
Committing to a plant-based lifestyle was not an easy one, however. “Strong believes and commitment is what it takes. These two things can lead to a healthier lifestyle and not just benefit yourself but those around you as well.”
My diet, my choice
An Eastern Cape-based vegan and lifestyle blogger, Chloe Farley, is passionate about veganism. While plant-based and plant-forward eating patterns have raised significantly, so has the backlash, she says
Veganism has three anchor points: animal cruelty, the environment, and personal health. This can be done by the avoidance of all animal products, including animal by-products such as honey.
Farley became a vegan because it better suited her health needs and steaks, she believes, were associated with too many lifestyle diseases. “Genetics is what loads the gun, and what you eat pulls the trigger,” she says.
For Farley, the vegan lifestyle has had many benefits including increased energy, strengthened immunity, better concentration, weight maintenance and clear skin. It also helped her foster a healthier relationship with food.
“Most people have an unhealthy relationship with food,” she believes. “Through viewing some food as good and bad, feeling guilty after eating ‘bad’ food and viewing exercise as a punishment for what one just ate.
“I know the food I eat now is doing no harm to the environment, or fellow beings. I feel a great sense of pride after I have a meal.”
Since going vegan she has noticed that the vegan options on restaurant menus have also increased. “It is more inclusive and less discriminatory as vegans still want to enjoy a social life by going out with friends and eating. The more options, the easier this is.”