Danisa Mwaera and his wife Phindile have lived strictly as vegans for more than three decades, meaning that during this time, the couple has not consumed any animal products.
All four of their children have never tasted meat.
Now aged 63 and 60, Mwaera and his better-half based in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare have switched to producing their vegan food in their backyard.
Their children, the eldest 32, claimed they have never even felt tempted to stray from their vegan lifestyles and hope to pass on the culture to their own families.
“It’s good and healthy to be a vegan and we rarely fall sick and it is my hope that we would also pass the same lifestyle to our own families,” Mendisi Mwaera, 25, told Anadolu Agency.
Agricultural officers like Hillary Chinowaita, who works for the Ministry of Agriculture, said: “Organically produced food taken systematically by vegans prolongs life and it’s very true.”
Unmarried yet, the younger Mwaera said like his parents, he would set up an organic vegetable garden at his home and ensure his vegan family eats uncontaminated foods.
A pattern the couple claimed they have abided with for years, they have made sure they maintain their organic vegetable garden in their backyard, meaning they do not have to buy from anywhere.
Instead, the family has become the vegan gospel spreaders in their community and now more and more people like 43-year-old Dheliwe Zamani have joined them after envying their lifestyle.
“I tell you, the Mwaera family members just look stunning in terms of their health, all so fit and youngish from the mother, the father and the children. The vegan lifestyle is good and I don’t regret joining it,” she told Anadolu Agency.
Vegetarianism is gaining traction in Zimbabwe at a time the world celebrates World Vegan Day which comes every year on Nov. 1.
Global Vegan celebrations are attributed to Louise Wallis, who proposed the idea in 1994 as Chairman of the Vegan Society in the UK and now Vegan Day is celebrated in different parts of the world to advocate veganism and its way of life.
World Vegan Day has become an annual event celebrated by vegans like the Mwaera family and their vegan converts.
Veganism saving environment
Zimbabwean nutritionists and environmentalists have teamed up to hail the benefits of veganism for humans and the natural environment.
“Vegans are the true practical example of what people should do when they want to lead healthier longer lives. They hardly contract diseases like cancer, diabetes and many others,” Tynos Muhalaphe, a Harare-based nutritionist told Anadolu Agency.
For Zimbabwean environmental experts like Doson Hamandishe, vegans are helping to save the environment.
“They plant fruit trees for their fruits which is part of their diet, and this means trees are safe with vegans as they practice afforestation. They also don’t eat meat or any animal products, meaning wildlife is safe in the hands of vegans, this as they grow their own vegetables throughout the year,” Hamandishe told Anadolu Agency.
Now, as typical friends of the environment, the Mwaera family together with colleagues who have converted to vegetarianism, have switched to celebrating World Vegan Day through activities such as planting trees as they commemorate the day.
Rising vegan business
Yet as vegetarianism gains fame across Zimbabwe, vegan restaurants are emerging in major cities like Harare, Masvingo and Victoria Falls.
In Harare, there is the Chisipite vegan restaurant owned and run by Mikaela, who is vegan.
As more and more people turn to veganism, Mikaela stepped up to the growing demand for vegetarian foods, offering weekly changing menus using fresh and seasonal ingredients, at times providing even fresh or frozen vegan food for vegans wanting to stock up.
Entrepreneurs like Mikaela have seized on the opportunity to also grow their business, with many affluent clients coming to the restaurant and Harare’s high-profile residents eager to change their life around with a plant-based diet.
Veganism scorned by the poor
But for residents from the low-income suburbs of Harare, like 24-year-old Elina Chuma, nothing is fascinating about eating vegetables because she said vegetable-eating is a sign of poverty.
“In my family, we rarely have meat, not because it’s by choice, but because we can’t afford it. Yet we also would love to eat meat every day if we could afford,” Chuma told Anadolu Agency.
As poor Zimbabweans crave meat even as vegetarianism gains fame, health challenges have also forced many Zimbabweans to switch to vegan diets.
“I battled high blood pressure as a teenager and after getting advice on diet from a close friend who is a vegan, I said let me give it a try and here I’m now with zero blood pressure,” said Chuma.
Yet, she has always been one of many Zimbabweans who have shunned vegetarianism.
After being afflicted by high blood pressure, Chuma has become a staunch advocate for vegetarianism, this as many Zimbabweans like her struggle to lead healthy lifestyles.
For Chuma, vegetarianism has become the way to go.
“That’s my way of life now and vegan I shall remain,” she said.
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