Life as a vegetarian in Kenya
Life as a pescetarian in Kenya
to go pescetarian (I have since gone full vegetarian and working on going vegan) in September 2013 for environmental and health reasons that I would rather not get into because for some reason, it always makes for good argument fodder. And I have no pescetarian vegetarian strength left to argue about it anymore.
I have had the strangest questions asked!
- Are you allowed to drink alcohol? This one is the most mind boggling. Although I think it was on a light touch.
- If I used a pan to cook meat, would you use the same pan to cook your food?
- Are you allowed to cook meat?
My answers: YES, YES AND YES! And stop asking if I’m allowed…
If you care about the animals, why are you eating their food?
*PLEASE JUST SLAP YOURSELF* is usually what I’m thinking. Then I proceed to explain the relationship between the demand and supply of meat, and that the life cycle of plants is way shorter than that of animals and other intellectual talk about the environment.
Person X: Sorry, you’re what?
Me: I’m Pescetarian
Person X: Presbytarian?
Me: No honey, PESCETARIAN. It’s vegetarian, with the exception of fish.
Person X: So you only eat fish? Aren’t you worried about mercury? Isn’t it expensive? What about endangered species?
Me: No honey, I do not eat ONLY FISH.There’s a difference between eating ONLY fish, and having fish as an exception within a vegetarian diet.
Most times, I just go with, I’m vegetarian ( I NOW AM). That doesn’t seem to generate too many questions or too much dialogue. Although I do occasionally have to go into a lengthy explanation of the difference between vegans, lacto-vegetarians, ovo-lacto vegetarians, pescetarians, etc. It’s exhausting folks.
My family has been great! My dad initially told me that if I was so concerned about health, I should grow my own food. I was quite stunned by that remark. He later confessed that he wouldn’t mind being on a purely fish diet. LOL.
I do struggle, that I will not refute. Especially because I am still quite new at this no-meat thing.
I occasionally struggle when I see mutura, biltong, nyama choma and boerewors. And you can bet that the festive season in Kenya was not easy on me with all the goat meat every where I turned! I struggle when I’m cooking meat for my family and I can’t taste the food because I fear that it will be a doorway for a relapse into the horrible and barbaric practice that meat-eating is. Hey, I’m kidding! I see myself losing a few meat-eating readers at this point.
I hate it when people think that all vegetarians eat is vegetables. It is maddening! That, and the stupid question about eating the animals’ food. Infuriating!
The other day we were ordering pizza for supper from Pizza Inn, Ngong. I asked them what their vegetarian options were and they said that they didn’t have any. ‘How about a margherita?’ I asked. ‘Sorry, we don’t have it either’was the reply.
They couldn’t even put together a margherita. Why? Because they didn’t have tomatoes?
On Boxing Day 2013, we went to Dari restaurant in Karen. It was buffet. I hate buffet. I asked the waitress what vegetarian options they had, and she was kind enough to let me know that I could eat rice and kachumbari (think salsa). How thoughtful. Well, not in this life, or the next, am I going to have rice and kachumbari for Ksh 2500 (ZAR 250). Thanks. So we walked out of the restaurant in a huff.
Under The Radar had only 3 vegetarian meals on their menu, all of which were vegetables in one shape or form. I got irritated that they were unimaginative with their menu (thinking that all vegetarians eat is vegetables). Lucky for me,
I’m pescetarian (was pescetarian). So I had their fish masala. It was quite good.
I have not had trouble at our favourite family restaurant Tokyo in Karen, since I just usually have sushi or some form of cooked sea food. I’ve never cared to see if they have a vegetarian menu, I should. Although they do have vegetarian sushi.
I have had to carry my own fish to braais because I am not going to stand, looking pretty, eating potato salad, as you all enjoy your ribs, wings, steak and boerewors. No. And grilled fish is really yummy.
Pescetarianism for the win (or not)!
My advice to vegetarians in Kenya to shield oneself from the bombardment of annoying questions is this:
IF you have the patience, explain your reasons logically, most people should respect your food choices and understand where you are coming from.
If you have run out of patience, give them the most ridiculous story when they ask you about your food choice. The more frivolous, the better.
- Tell them that a cow head butted you when you were little and you swore off beef since then.
- Tell them that your religion forbids the eating of meat and that the penalty is (—-insert crazy torture practice here—-)
- Tell them that you are allergic to meat and that you get a horn-like growth on your nose if you eat meat. When they express panic or concern, tell them not to worry, you have an antidote of cow/ goat/ lamb saliva you carry around with you.
- Tell them that you would rather not talk about it, then burst into uncontrollable sobbing.
END OF RANT