Hi, my name is Kgoshigadi and I don’t eat meat anymore, by choice. I woke one day on the 31st of December years ago and decided this is it. Next year I no longer want to eat meat and I never looked back. I’ve spoken about this journey so many times, I’ve spiced up the story a bit because the truth is “too boring” for a story at a dinner party or hang out with people I just met. The true story has however inspired many and equally shocked many. So here it goes…
The last time I had a steak (or any meat for that matter) was 6 years ago. I read a book by Robin Sharma, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, which had tools on how to improve your energy and life in general. Amongst other tools was meditation, consuming less media, and letting go of meat. The idea of quitting meat had been on my mind for a while before I read the book but I never really got around to acting on my intuition because meat is delicious, right? I had consumed meat every day of my life for as long as I could remember and I couldn’t imagine going a day without eating meat. The book suggested you go 21 days without eating meat and notice the difference in your energy. It further suggested that if you crave meat, eat it in small portions.
I tried it and noticed a huge difference in my energy after a meal. I was lighter and more energized rather than tired. After the 21 days, I tried to eat meat again and it just didn’t taste the same and that was the last time I consumed red meat. The following year, chicken followed, and soon after that I stopped eating fish as well. Mind you, I did this restaurant review thing where I tried out the salmon and gave reviews on social media for a while. I enjoyed salmon that much, but here I am now on a plant-based diet.
I literally went from being easy to please with food to being very pedantic. All of a sudden I was that friend you needed to consider with a separate plate of food on the side at a braai. It wasn’t easy to adapt to this new journey because there was no one around me at the time who was on this journey. I relied on “cyber friends” to encourage this new journey but that still wasn’t enough. It’s always better to have someone within close range to guide You.
When I first started on this journey, for a while, I ate cereal for breakfast, lunch, and supper because I didn’t know any better and it eventually took its toll on my body. Then I was forced to really educate myself on making wholesome vegetarian meals. But, not once did reverting back to eating meat cross my mind. And no, I don’t crave it either.
Friends and family support
It took my family years to accept that this was not a phase, it was/is my new way of life. In the beginning, my family would buy takeaways and forget about me. I would laugh and make a plan. They eventually remembered their dearest plant-eating daughter (and sister). My sister ventured into this lifestyle partially before she eventually went in fully. This helped my family to finally view this as normal. Her transition was easier because I was there to guide her where I could.
My friends also got used to it eventually. I remember times where they would find the perfect restaurant but left because there was no vegetarian offering available. That kind of consideration always made me appreciate them even more. There’s also a perception that vegetarian food is boring and tastes like cardboard. I’ve cooked and shared meals with my friends and those who were brave enough to eat it loved it. My goal is to not convince anyone to change their diet, nor do I preach the plant-based diet. I believe that “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear”.
A colleague asked me what I do when I attend mmereko (functions at home where they slaughter). Well… I go to all events with a full belly because I know salads like chakalaka and green salad will be considered food.
It’s always tricky when I meet new people though. They are honestly shocked that I don’t eat meat, by choice. That somehow, if my back was against the wall, I would have the liver curry meal if I had to. I remember being on a date where all I could order was a bowl of chips because that’s all this restaurant had for me. The guy apologized throughout the night and promised to check the menu first on the next date.
The health benefits
Spiritually and physically, this journey has been good to me. I’m not part of the vegan community that condemns people who eat flesh, I mean meat *laughs*. Live your best life. But what I can tell you is that I can feel more and do more throughout the day without feeling sluggish as compared to when I did eat meat. It has also heightened my intuition and my relationship with my body. Those close to me will tell You how much I am care-full with what I eat in general because if it doesn’t add on (energy and quality of life), I feel it takes away.
Restaurants that make amazing vegetarian food are far and between. Some restaurants don’t even make an effort. I remember reading an article in the newspaper of a journalist and she did a fast food restaurant review. One of the fast-food joints replaced the patty (of a burger) with a pineapple slice. She had the photo to prove it. I’ve learned to keep my expectations moderate. Three restaurants that exceeded my expectations so far are Fumo in Pretoria, Mr. George in Melrose Arch, and Buns Out in Linden. They had the perfect balance of taste and wholesomeness. If that makes sense. I think I’ll start writing reviews to help others who are starting on this journey.
The question I get asked all the time, don’t you miss meat?
Absolutely, not! I don’t even crave it! When I cook meals for my family, I cook a chicken stew without tasting it. I just trust that if the pot is empty, it means I got it right. And yes, there are times when I get it wrong. One other thing I will confess is how it took a while to get comfortable with this journey and to have a balanced diet. Proteins and all. I’ve had to take supplements and shots while I figured out how to make this work when I was training for races and marathons. Runners need more protein and carbs than usual so that complicated my life even more but I eventually got it right. I’m more comfortable and stable now.
So there it is, I hope I made sense of this journey. It’s been one of the best decisions I made, hope it inspires you to try something new.