how many vegetarians does it take to cook a steak

One of our boys has been vegetarian for 3 years now. My brother has been vegan and/or vegetarian for 8 or 9 years already. Over the years I’ve done some research, created recipes and had many long chats with both these guys. I have vegetarian and vegan friends that I’ve had the most interesting conversations with, and Graeme and I have watched so many documentaries on the subject – from Earthlings to Food Inc and so on. Nowadays, it seems like more and more people are making the switch. Recently, my friend Keri has joined the clan. As more of my family and friends are ‘crossing over’, I’ve started clicking on more links that I would otherwise ignore. Did you know: Noah had a vegan baby shower? My friend Kate is vegan and threw the loveliest shower and even baked vegan cupcakes for the guests, and for me. Kate has always been extremely earth conscious. And what I’m about to tell you could go either which way, but…

Kate is sort of a genius. No really, on paper: she is a genius. My brother is one of the most intelligent guys I know and my son is, well… he’s got the paperwork too. Looking at other vegetarian friends and conversations we’ve had… I have noticed that some of the most intelligent, successful and creative, strong people I know don’t eat animals. And it’s something that other people have noticed too. Worldwide, it seems apparent that veganism and vegetarianism is more prominent in higher LSMs and amongst people with an above average IQ. A bold statement, I realize… but you can’t argue.

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If you’re in to celebrities then you’d be interested to know that Alanis Morisette, Alicia Silverstone (not clueless after all, right?) Ashley Judd, Diane Keaton, Ellen DeGeneres, Ellen Page (can you tell I found an alphabetical list?), Jared Leto, Joaquin Phoenix, Michelle Pheiffer, Paul McCartney, Russel Brand, Brad Pitt, Stella McCartney, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale, Betty White, and more are all non meat eaters. Even Abraham Lincoln was rumored to be a vegetarian and famously said in one of his speeches: “I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being” Albert Einstein also became vegan toward the end of his life, stating: “So I am living without fats, without meat, without fish, but am feeling quite well this way. It always seems to me that man was not born to be a carnivore.” Some of my favourite authors and musicians are also vegan or vegetarian such as JD Salinger and Jack Johnson. Even one of my favorite artists, Leonardo da Vinci, was a vegetarian. Truly man is the king of beasts, for his brutality exceeds theirs. We live by the death of others: We are burial places! – from da Vinci’s ‘Notes’. And yes, even some famous sports stars are vegan too, like Serena and Venus Williams who are both 100% raw vegans.

Now talk to me about how we need to eat meat and animal products to survive. Tell me how it makes us smarter, more creative, stronger, better at sports or more successful. I realize that I am coming on a bit strong right here, because man… it is the silliest statement when people say that vegetarians and vegans are ‘weak’ or malnourished in some way. Jissie. I get cross when people say this, because sometimes (not often) I get kak for ‘letting’ Noah not eat meat. Noah who literally never gets sick and thrives in every way, plays sports and is extremely bright. And people look at me like I am literally abusing my child for not blending and juicing meat and sneaking it in to his meals somehow.

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So I started small. I’ve never been a big meat eater, so to be honest – the switch was pretty swift. I stopped eating red meat, pork and poultry. I still eat fish now and then, which apparently makes me a “Pescetarian.” So fancy. It’s been 3 weeks and I am feeling better. Red meat specifically, is high in saturated fat and cholesterol. I’m also feeling a bit more confident about my health, as there are so many studies linking processed and red meat to cancer (specifically, colon cancer.) I’m sure that there are many other facets of my diet that needs improvement and tweaking (like that neat tin of condensed milk I ate the other day) but for now, I want to do this. I want to feel good about what I eat, I want my digestive system to operate at its best and I want to eat more fruits and vegetables. That is just what I want for myself. Just because I don’t eat meat anymore, doesn’t mean that I am automatically healthier. I am figuring it all out as I go, with loads of help from my brother, and from Keri. You should read her posts.

Do I frown at Ben or Graeme when they’re tucking in to their roast chicken? No. I do not judge, condemn or lecture anyone on what they eat. What other people eat is mostly none of my business (apart from the kids cause that really is my business) but I am not here to change your life or make the world a better place. I just want to make my world better, so maybe I am a selfish pescetarian / vegetarian.

I will say: An educational factor for me, was understanding the meat factory process. Watching footage, reading articles and chatting to friends who have done lots of research. Listening. Learning. These videos aren’t shared as ‘scare tactics’, they’re shared to show people how it works. I guess there’s just no way to sugarcoat a slaughter. I find that hardcore meat lovers are the loudest and also least educated on the matter. I get very anxious talking about things I don’t know about; in fear that I sound like an idiot, but there are so many people who will lambast you for simply not wanting to eat the same food as them. You don’t see heated arguments at dinner tables over chocolate cake VS carrot cake but man alive I have seen people literally un-friend over these type of arguments. I have seen people be verbally attacked over wanting a veggie burger over a bloodied burger.

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I don’t know how long I’ll still eat fish for. I’m putting my body through changes so I am listening to it. I am training it. I am adapting. (Sometimes I pretend that I am stranded on an island and can only eat off the earth and ocean to survive. Like if I can’t decide what to eat for lunch, I am like “What would I do if I was on an island right now” and sometimes my thoughts go a bit Lord of the Flies but that’s a blog post for another day) I am listening to my body. The other day I made a hot dog for Ben and I thought MAN ALIVE I WANT A HOT DOG. Lots of butter, mystery meat vienna (used to love those) – all of it. I was convinced I wanted a hot dog. Instead, I made a hotdog roll with lots of butter, caramalized onions and tomato sauce and I was like HECK YEAH and I think I had three. I wasn’t craving the erm, sausage. So many meaty foods are associated with their side dishes, sauces and condiments. Sometimes it’s not the beef we’re after at all. Well, I find that to be true for me. When we have a braai, Noah and I heat up some veggie patties and lather our burgers with all our favourite things. I still like the meat ‘flavour’ like barbeque sauce and that zesty braai taste, but I’m doing it with protein-rich plant-based alternatives. I’m getting all crazy in the kitchen, like making veggie patties out of beans, chickpeas and peppers. It is so delicious I cannot even explain. Like, tonight I’m making roasted, stuffed butternut with mushrooms, onions, peppers, spinach and tomatoes like a frikkin’ veggie kitchen ninja.

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The most troubling right now is that there are people who do not want me or my son to be vegetarians. We had these horrid people in our neighborhood and when I mentioned that Noah is a vegetarian, the dude straight-up threatened to give him ribs behind my back to ‘cure’ him. At the time, I was a meat-eater but I still didn’t think it was alright. I mean, I wasn’t the one telling my son not to eat meat, he was the one complaining every time he found a piece of it in his stew – no matter how hard I tried to pick it all out for him. He wanted to be respected. He decided from a young age that he didn’t want to eat dead animals or have blood in his tummy and that ‘phase’ is still here, 3 years later. While Graeme and Ben do their own thing and 100% respect (ignore) us, you still get the randoms at dinner parties and in restaurants that want to challenge you on not wanting to be like them. It’s weird. It’s boring. I think I full-on skipped the phase of wanting to debate with people about my lunch. I always say the same thing, which is more or less this:

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So I wanted to tell you why I, ME, PERSONALLY do not want to eat meat. This is my main thing and it’s not about blood or decomposing flesh or the environment or saving the world (sorry). For me, it’s about…

1. The negative energy, hormones and adrenalin that gets transferred to the terrified animals. And like, I’ve heard people say ‘No it’s okay, they don’t feel anything” and I I try remember that not everyone is educated and I just nod my head and eat my ‘happy’ food.

2. The parallels between meat factories and wars (and dictatorships) (and racism) (human rights) (speciesism) (holocaust) (feminism)

3. There are people who make a living off of killing. And we are signing their paychecks every month. It freaks me out you guys.

4. The cowardice. If you had to personally take a baby from it’s mother, kill, shoot, gas, kill, boil alive or beat an animal for your lunch, would you do it? Would it be worth the chicken mayo sarmie or would you settle on peanut butter toast?

5. The heartlessness and ease of the staff that are doing these deeds. If you’ve ever watched a doccie or footage of these ‘workers’ who spend like 8 hours a day slitting throats, hitting, kicking, boiling, gassing animals without a moment’s hesitation or remorse, you would also be like hot dang that’s a serial killer and someone’s gotta call the cops.

(My friend Keri read this draft and added: In “Eating Animals” there is a whole chapter dedicated to the staff at slaughter houses and it is horrific. Basically, whats happening in slaughter houses now is that no one (read working class and middle class Americans) wants to work in slaughterhouses – obviously. Murder is a kak job. So big American slaughterhouses are employing illegal immigrants to do the  dirty work and these guys HAVE to work there to support their families, as its the only work they can get. They get depressed, come home unhappy and shout at/abuse their wives and kids. I mean, it can’t be great to spend your days killing 400 pigs a day as they actually try and run away from you screaming? Jonathan interviews a couple of ex-workers and they explain that they have to swear at, and mistreat the animals in order to dehumanize them and enable the killing to happen.)

6. The greed. In older times (have not done enough research to pin-point century) a family would have meat on certain occasions and sporadically. Meat was a treasure, a sign of wealth and it was sacred. Now it’s in bulk, and probably on special. Consumerism and capitalism has never resonated well with me, and I’m trying where I can to bring some good vibes to the table (see what I did there?)

7. The idea that some people or creatures matter more than others is the root of all wars and evil in the world. Animals do not ‘give’ their lives to us – we take it. Forcefully and brutally. Commercial factory farms do not say a little prayer or partake in any holy or traditional rituals before killing an animal for you.

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So these are just a few reasons why I think people should be thinking about these things, clicking on the links we don’t want to click on and educating ourselves. I am not saying you are a bad person if you eat meat. I am saying that I do not need to eat meat every day to survive or thrive or live your best life. I just want everyone to listen to each other, not judge and to be respectful. Sure, nobody has got angry or verbal with me (as yet) and I don’t get like that with meat eaters either. I am not trying to convert, judge you or change your life. I am asking you to open your mind and learn a little bit more about your world, every day.

If you want to learn something (even if it doesn’t change the way you live your life and cook your supper) then watch just maybe 10 minutes of Earthlings. The whole documentary’s available on YouTube. There are many others, but I’ve watched this one a couple of times. Watch ten minutes, watch the whole thing but (as Kez says) don’t give me kak if you don’t know what I’m talking about. Rather watch it, THEN give me kak. Now that’s a party.

This will be my last post or mention on the matter. Again, I am not obsessed with this discovery, although it’s something that I’m pretty interested in right now.  A few friends and followers have asked why I’m making the switch, so I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned and felt thus far. I have no intention of ever being pushy, and I’m not ‘put off’ or repulsed by meat – I see it and work with it every day. It’s just another thing that people eat, but something that I choose not to. I’ll still go to steakhouses with my friends and family, eat sushi and roast my butternut in the same oven that’s seen a dead chicken. I do enjoy being more aware, and having an open mind. So that’s just where I’m at right now.

PS How many vegetarians does it take to cook a steak? None. Graeme cooks his own. PSS I mentioned that I’m a pescetarian. I know how over fished our oceans are, I’m busy doing lots of research. I’m moving at a hungry snail’s pace over here, and I’m still learning every day.

21 Comments
  • Veronica

    March 16, 2015 at 4:31 pm Reply

    This is so beautifully written and such an honest “report” of your journey. Thank you for sharing it with us. Wishing you loads of luck for the future. Plant Power FTW 😉 xx

  • Jane Kilian

    March 16, 2015 at 5:41 pm Reply

    love this Tashy! Well done for the switch and well done for following your heart
    Love
    xxx

  • Keri

    March 16, 2015 at 5:54 pm Reply

    I’m so freaking proud of you for opening your heart, listening, clicking on those links, asking me questions and making the connection in your own way. Here for you altyd! I see many veggie get togethers in our future 🙂
    Big love xxx

    • Natasha Clark

      March 16, 2015 at 7:31 pm Reply

      Expect many more frantic whatsapps my friend xx

  • Tarah

    March 16, 2015 at 7:42 pm Reply

    Hi. So enjoyed your post. I have also made the move to being a Pesci. I haven’t quite decided on where I stand re when we eat at our friends and family. I don’t feel comfortable asking them to cook vegetarian dishes for me. And I suppose I don’t want to feel like the odd one out…interested to know how you’re planning on handling dinner invites? Tarah 🙂

    • Natasha Clark

      March 17, 2015 at 6:56 am Reply

      Hey Tarah! I make my own dishes at my mom’s house and take ingredients along. Haven’t been to friends for dinner in the past 3 weeks, but I would literally just be like “Don’t put meat in my food” or take my own dish along. If you’re pesci, you can make a mean prawn and avo salad. The only kak thing is that you make this one, well balanced dish for yourself that everyone wants to eat, so take lots!

  • Paul Clark

    March 16, 2015 at 7:57 pm Reply

    amazing! <3

  • hasmita nair

    March 16, 2015 at 9:32 pm Reply

    amazing post, tash! am very much in the same place as you + chicken breast, wish i just liked more veggies so it was easier for me to give up fish / chicken

    • Natasha Clark

      March 17, 2015 at 6:54 am Reply

      Hey babes – Eeek chicken was the easiest to give up, but I DO miss chicken mayo sarmies. Have switched to egg mayo for now. Baby steps. Thanks for reading and supporting xx

  • Zayaan Schroeder

    March 17, 2015 at 6:46 am Reply

    “The most troubling right now is that there are people who do not want me or my son to be vegetarians.” That is always the most shocking thing when people decide to do something “different” from the norm. I’m not a vegetarian and I like the taste of chicken/fish/PRAWNS too much but I hear you on all that you’ve said and it is certainly something to think about. Great post Tash!

    • Natasha Clark

      March 17, 2015 at 6:53 am Reply

      Isn’t that the truth! Thanks for reading my love, and I can’t imagine how much you go through too!

  • Lisa Jacobus

    March 17, 2015 at 7:17 am Reply

    Such an inspiring post. I am also on a journey about being more mindful of what we eat as a family. Its so important for me (especially coming from a family where cancer is rife) that we feed our bodies the best. We have started slowly by cutting out red meat, eating mostly fish and limiting chicken. The next step is to move away from chicken completely. It would be amazing if you could share some of your recipes – especially kid friendly ones 🙂

    • Natasha Clark

      March 17, 2015 at 7:28 am Reply

      Hi Lisa! I use the Pick n Pay website for recipes, as it lets you select recipes according to your needs and they’re always great! Loads of kid-friendly ones too x

  • Surina Myburg

    March 17, 2015 at 9:30 am Reply

    I also ‘converted’ about 2,5 years ago. I must admit, it makes life more challenging. Never finding anything good to eat at restaurants, awkwardness at dinner parties, feeling guilty when people feel the need to cook something especially for you, making two dishes every night (one for me and one for my carnivorous husband), ensuring I get enough protein… For me it was a ‘health’ choice – we have a history of colon cancer in our family and I was never really fond of red meat. I still eat fish. I am a bit worried about the future though – nutrition during pregnancy and also what to feed my ‘future children’… I never want to force a lifestyle on anyone and would like to give them the choice. But I will do thorough research on the matter as I go along. Anyways, really enjoyed your post!

  • Che

    March 19, 2015 at 12:57 pm Reply

    Absolutely love this post! Love the way that you have explained your thoughts, views and beliefs without projecting it onto anyone else. Over the past while I have been eating a veggie/pescetarian diet with lots of dairy substitutes- coconut milks etc but haven’t wanted/needed to label myself as anything- all I know is that this kind of eating makes my body feel cleaner, healthier and makes my digestive system happier. I actually watched a video of a girl who changed to a completely raw diet and her eyes literally changed colour from brown to green/blue- she was so intrigued by why it happened that she went to doctors and they told her that the eyes are a literal window to how clean the body and digestive tracts are- brighter/sparkly eyes for the win! Even my “non-cooking” self has been experimenting (with varying degrees of success) at some amazing veggie quinoa burger patties/sweet potato cakes/smoothies etc. So far I haven’t missed meat at all and I think it’s really exciting to be making more conscious choices when eating because it forces you to be more creative in the kitchen. ANYWHOO! High five for quinoa patties… With ALL the trimmings!!! xx

    • Natasha Clark

      March 22, 2015 at 7:07 pm Reply

      I know exactly what you mean! Yeah I really don’t want to push it on to anyone else. My digestive system is also feeling so much better – trying to work in to ‘healthy’ from the inside-out: lots of water, less red meat, more fruits and vegetables. I don’t think I could ever let go of fish, cause I find if I don’t have tuna / sushi for a few days then I really get in to cheese and carbs, so I am 100% just listening to my body. I might find more alternatives as I go, but I like learning about food and maybe I’m being pretty selfish about it. People are like “oh it’s for the environment” and I’m like erm yeah… okay! Eeek. I watched this documentary on a dude that only juiced for a year. You must watch it. He was super overweight, sick, unhealthy and he lived off just juice. I’ll find out the name. Watch it only to see how his body goes in to shock the first few days – he just throws up and sleeps and freakkks out but then you must see what he looks like at the end. Okay I just looked it up, it’s called Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead – whole thing is here > https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mS0YA465ts and it’s SO your vibe.

  • Chereen

    March 19, 2015 at 7:38 pm Reply

    LOVED this post. I’m also ‘transitioning’ (love that word!) at the moment, and have even gone as far as denouncing all brands that test on animals. My heart just can’t handle it. I’ve been vegetarian for two weeks now and, funnily enough, don’t miss the meat at all. I do miss the Chanel, Lancome, DKNY, etc, etc though! That’s definitely been the most difficult aspect of this journey for me, especially since my whole career up until this point has been in beauty!

    I hadn’t even thought about the workers that are responsible for slaughtering these animals, and I’m absolutely devastated at the thought of what these people have to go through. Thank you for opening my eyes a little more and sharing your story – I know it’s going to touch many lives. Thank you!

    • Natasha Clark

      March 22, 2015 at 7:09 pm Reply

      Flip I haven’t even looked at animal testing. There’s SO MUCH information out there and I love that we’re all learning together xx

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