Cape Town has a strong but stubborn food culture, and nowhere do opinions vary more than the meat vs no-meat battle. Between hippie tree-huggers set on saving whales and finding spiritual connections, and strong hearted rugby, beer and braai loving boer manne, the Cape sure has it all. But the question is, who’s getting it right?
Variety, the spice of life
We’re spoilt by our choice for food in Cape Town. With the highest grade meat, the freshest vegetables and full to the brim with world class wines, it’s a food lovers paradise. But there is a gradual divergence in food choices in the Cape. The long standing culture of braai’s and their manliness are being greeted by a culture of fresh, healthy food, full of vegetables and other raw produce. Even with all these choices, we as a nation continue we continue to predominantly be meat lovers.
South Africa is a meat culture
After Mandela, braai’s are the next biggest iconic symbol of South Africa. Our national day of celebration goes by the name of Heritage Day – which is basically a day for braaing! Our braai’s are what showcase our manliness. We stand around with our beers as the flames rise up to welcome the dripping boerewors fat, and we smile and laugh through the smoke, Hugh Bladen’s voice rumbling in the background. Perfect.
The veggie-lovers have it hard
Recently my girlfriend went full veggie*, and since then I have explored this avenue a bit. And I must say I am impressed by the diversity of food and the ease with which it has been available. But what is most noticable is the stigma that is attached to this life choice. Statements by vegetarians such as “I don’t eat meat” or “please take the meat off that sandwich” are met with ridicule, or just general confusion. Also, can you imagine waking up in a house of four meat eating males to the smell of eggs and bacon? That would end me. Tofu just isn’t a worthy substitute.
Not all rainbows and butterflies
The initial switch from meat to a non-meat diet can wreak havoc on your system. It can result in seriously uncomfortable gas build ups for weeks on end. Iodine, a big role player in our metabolism can suffer when meat is cut from your diet. It is recommended to continue eating fish or at least dairy to get your necessary intake. A lack of zinc which is most easily absorbed through meats could result in your immune system not functioning correctly. Missing out on Vitamin B12, which occurs naturally in animal products alone, could go as far as causing neurological damage if not detected.
All these problems of course can be avoided by taking vitamin supplements to counteract the missed out nutrition. And for some, this is a very small price to pay to not have the blood of animals on their hands.
So why choose ‘organic milk’?
There are a whole bunch of reasons. Some people do so to improve their health. Some merely for taste and texture. Others have chosen this path due to the way that these animals are treated as they are ‘prepared’ for our consumption. My girlfriend has asked me if I like to live in ignorance of these facts. It seems like something we have been brought up to do. Is it time we made a change?
I acknowledge that their are atrocities in this world, especially when it comes to food preparation. We are fortunate in Cape Town and South Africa that we still have companies like Woolworths who are extremely particular about where our food is sourced. We can buy free range eggs. But apparently even there, the males are killed off as they won’t be making anymore eggs.
I feel we could find reasons not to eat anything. But we have to eat something. And I don’t feel we evolved to only be be herbivores. But agriculture has driven us to a new form of farming which is inhumane. Check out Food, Inc. if you want to see how fucked up the food industry is in America. We’re a lot better off here.
Whilst the selection on most restaurant’s menus is still rather small regarding vegetarian options, they are slowly changing and becoming more accommodating. Even Gourmet Boerie has a vegetarian option. This is definitely signs of positive things to come.
You should drop the boerewors
Firstly, you will have more energy. Without your body spending time to digest the chunks of meat you just devoured, you will have a quick-onset of steady energy, and feel far less lazy when it comes to the work day 3pm slump. Additionally, the flavour in correctly prepared vegetables is incredible. There are so many to try, they’re quick to prepare, and they are far cheaper then meat. Check out Fry’s Vegetarian meals if you want somewhere to start. This family business makes a whole lot of great veggie food disguised as braai treats. If you want to try some new recipes at home, try these 50 Healthy, 10 Minute Meals.
It’s unlikely the day will ever come that I turn down a fillet steak for a salad at a restaurant, but for every day meals, the vegetarian menus are seeming more and more appealing. And bacon, I can’t stop bacon. But for there ease of prepareation, the decrease in support of corporate agricuture, and it’s many health benefits, being a part-time vegetarian could be a new way of life.
* my girlfriend has now cut back to a pescetarian (she dabbles in the fish and chicken)You should follow me on Twitter or sign up for my Weekly Email.