Becoming Vegetarian in Carnist South Africa

By: George Sedupane  

South Africa is known as the braai (barbecue) capital of the world. South Africans from all walks of life especially those residing in urban areas have made meat their staple. Among Black urbanites meat is eaten not only because it is nice, but as a status symbol. In spite of this prevalent carnist culture, certain Black South Africans still choose to become vegetarian. However very minimal data exists about Black vegetarians in South Africa in particular, and in African in general. This paper presents the processes as well as the contextual and personal factors involved in the development of a vegetarians identity among urban dwelling Black people in South Africa. The cultural and religious sub-cultures of Rastafarianism and Seventh-day Adventism were the most significant influences in the development of a vegetarian identity. This influences was modulated by, and mediated through peer and family relations. The adoption of a vegetarian identity involved more than a change in dietary practice, but also a shift in worldview, which was incorporated into what the participants believed was authentically African.

Vegetarian, African, Black
Food, Politics, and Cultures
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

George Sedupane

Lecturer, Indigenous Knowledge Systems Centre, North West University, South Africa
South Africa