World Vegan Day: South African Activist Shares Pros of Veggies Path
17:12 01.11.2023 (Updated: 17:15 01.11.2023)
World Vegan Day is a holiday that began on November 1, 1994, when the Vegan Society celebrated its 50th anniversary. Veganism is a way of life characterized by eating and using only plant products, i.e. completely excluding components of animal origin.
As the world celebrates Vegan Day on Wednesday, Vegan Society chapters and other activists in many countries are organizing various educational and charitable events and information campaigns dedicated to the theme of the holiday.
In honor of the occasion, Sputnik Africa sat down with the South African climate activist Mpho Nyamathe, Green Ambassador at the Humanitarian Affairs in Asia, to discuss her journey to veganism, how it has affected her life and what drives the idea of giving up animal products.
Her first step toward veganism was dictated by her health: faced with lactose intolerance, she gave up milk. But then Nyamathe went further, first becoming a pescatarian and then giving up fish when she realized "how much damage animal agriculture does to the environment as a whole."
Looking back, the activist emphasized that her inclination toward veganism had to do with finding benefits for the climate and animals.
"As much as I started my veganism with the health benefits in mind, the more I became in tune with just how much you do for the animals and for the climate and the environment," Nyamathe remarked.
At first, the activist consumed a lot of soy products such as vegan sausages, but later started leaning towards raw veganism.
The activist said that after giving up meat, she noticed an improvement in her health
, no longer experiencing indigestion and the heavy feeling of heartburn or a full stomach. It also made it easier for her to work and exercise.
"It was almost as if my body was more receptive to my efforts because of my diet," Nyamathe noted. "We only have one body. We don't have many, we are not granted a few bodies every five years."
Nyamathe's transition to veganism has not only made her love cooking even more, but has also been well received by both her family, who have grown to love her meatless dishes, and her friends. She noted that a vegan diet includes many alternatives to meat, and even the protein that people get from meat is plant-based, since cows eat grass.
Such protein sources, according to the activist, are mushrooms, beans, chickpeas, arugula, and sweet corn.
"So most of veganism is research and just figuring out what works for you, figuring out what kind of vegetables have the proteins that you need, and how to make little replicas of dishes that you love, or finding dishes that you love," Nyamathe explained.
Nyamathe also revealed that she is trying her hand at being a climate activist
and educator, dispelling the myths and stereotypes associated with a vegan lifestyle. However, she clarified that she teaches with respect "because the reluctance that people have towards veganism is something that has been with them for a really long time."
She cited a practice in the dairy industry where in some cases a calf is killed as an infant and when its mother notices the absence of her offspring, she is sometimes so affected that she is unable to produce milk. Then, in order to get the cow to produce milk, the company stuffs what looks like the calf's skin with hay to give the mother the false impression that the calf is still alive, and the mother can continue to produce milk.
Nyamathe also lambasted dairy and meat producers, noting that it is their information campaigns that are to blame for portraying a positive image of meat and dairy consumption.
"I blame the meat and dairy industry for the spread of misinformation and disinformation that makes people think that their consumption is humane and that their consumption is ethical," the activist said.
Nyamathe also noted that veganism is becoming increasingly popular "in a spiritual sense." However, speaking about South Africa, the activist noted that vegans face a challenge in terms of the uneven distribution of products for this category of people in the country's stores.
Wrapping up, the activist gave advice to South Africans who want to go vegan. She advised them to first do some research on the foods they might like to eat. The second piece of advice was the importance of phasing out meat and going at your own pace. Finally, she recommended remembering your goal of giving up animal-based foods and "being unshakable."