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South Africa

We are planning to go to South Africa for the summer (it will be winter for them, since it is the southern hemisphere).

I have been watching travelogues, and am stunned by the amount of meat on the videos - first they ate ostrich, then selected a live lobster and killed it, then slit the throat of a goat, then had beef stew  :o

Then I heard that my meat-loving brother-in-law felt totally glutted on meat when he got back, and was amazed by how much meat they serve.

Am I going to starve? Please help. We will mainly be in Pretoria (in the north, near Johannesburg) I am vegetarian, trying to be as vegan as possible.

Also, I am wondering about any animal rights type issues if we have a chance to visit a game reserve. Are these humane institutions? I have hated zoos since I was a kid because it felt like I was visiting animal prisons. Are game reserves okay, since the animals are in their habitat? Or should I be concerned?

Thanks so much :)

I'd check to make sure game "reserve" doesn't mean there are people out there hunting and killing the animals.  I think game "preserves" are the ones where the animals get to live unmurdered (except for poachers) and the purpose is to save them from extinction.  Those would be cool.  The other kind not so.  I've never like the term "game" for animals.  It kinda implies that they're not living, breathing creatures but just something there for the amusement of hunters.  Wildlife is a better term, I think.  Just my opinion, though.


You make some excellent points!

The places on the travel videos were all places to visit, not places for hunting. Some were national parks, some were expensive private parks. I never thought about them having hunting-based parks still - I thought that was from a bygone era - that's kind of a creepy thought.

I may have just used the wrong term without thinking - I have heard them called "game reserves" for so long that I never even thought about what the term meant - but when you say that, it does make sense. "Wildlife preserve" does make more sense.

I don't know if we will even have the opportunity to go to one, anyway. They are several hours travel from where we will be. But, if the opportunity does present itself, I would like to have thought thru the implications before it comes up.

I remember when visiting Thailand, I was one of the few of our group who did not go to see the snake and mongoose fight (much like a bullfight in Spain, it's one of things tourists thing they just "have" to say they've done). Of course, that is a much more clear-cut case, but I was glad that I had thought it through before the "opportunity" arose - it was much easier to just opt out.


Cool, i am going to south africa this summer too! See ya there?! 8)  So i've done a little research...
As far as food goes, you should have no trouble at all adhering to a vegetarian diet. Vegan might be another story. African meals are starch-based as opposed to the typical american meal which is obviously centered around the meat. Cassava, yams, plantains, and cornmeal are staples. Puddings  made out of these, called foofoo or pap (cornmeal), are similar to those in the southern U.S. states. There are a lot of stew-type dishes that have a starch, and veggie, meat, or both. The word "Efo" might help you when looking at menus, as it is a multipurpose name for greens, including cassava, sorrel, mustard, collards, chard, and turnip. Umngqusho is a dish made from semolina and black-eyed peas. Luckily they use a lot of palm, coconut, and corn oils rather than lard or butter.  The best news is all of the fresh fruit you'll find, especially watermelon and bananas (not that those are too exotic to us these days). If you don't care to eat traditional african fare,  Indian food is very popular in south africa due to immigration, so you'll be able to find plenty of vegetarian food there, and there are also plenty of other eateries featuring cuisines from around the world, just like in any big city. Besides that, Johannesburg has a bunch of veg restaurants you can check out at: If you get to visit capetown, i've seen Lola's, a vegetarian restaurant recommended in multiple travel guides- not specifically for veg folks- for its cool atmosphere.
Unfortunately some of the safari camps do somehow get away with actual game hunting, such as this one:, where they state that, "Safaris are conducted in an ethical manner based out of traditional, luxury, tented camps or lodges for the discerning individual in huge concessions providing fair chase hunting with highly skilled professional hunters, trackers and skinners..." Ethical?!  >:( I'm staying at a couple of camps where the only type of shooting being done is by cameras, and the animals are kept wild with the exception of a few pet elephants that the camp rescued. This is the one that i can remember off the top of my head:


Oops, i wasn't done yet! Make sure that if you're traveling with non-vegetarians, you don't let them eat "bush meat," which is the meat of exotic animals sold in off-the-beaten-path areas. Native people catch these wild animals, often illegally- sometimes they even offer the meat of endangered species. Also it is less likely to be sanitary and safe to eat than at an established restaurant.
If you come across any other information, i'd appreciate it if you posted. I'll do the same.  :)
Have a great time!


Thanks so much, Lindsay!  :) I really appreciate the help!

The blackeye peas should help a lot - the traditional starchy foods (cornmeal, cassava, and yam) are all exceptionally low protein, unlike their American counterparts (potatoes, wheat, rice) - so I was a little worried about where I could get good vegan protein. I suppose the peanuts should help, too. Altho I am not strictly vegan, I also don't want to live on cheese and eggs- I just don't feel good when I do, and am am trying be my "veggiest" best.

I was very concerned when my sister said my brother-in-law was so overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of meat he was served there.

We will be in Pretoria (a working vacation, rather than a vacation-vacation) - if you're going to be there, I'd love to meet you!


I never thought about them having hunting-based parks still - I thought that was from a bygone era - that's kind of a creepy thought.

Here is some info about SA's canned hunt industry.  This is lion-specific, but it concerns many breeds, especially the "big five."  Lions, Leopards, Rhinos, Elephants and Buffalo.


Oh, my goodness - I had no idea. I remember hearing the classic story when I was a kid - how President Teddy Roosevelt (hardly a vegetarian, but an honorable man and avid environmentalist - he created most of our national parks)  refused to shoot a bear on a canned hunt- he stated it just was not an honorable or noble thing to do-  and people were so touched by his response that they created the Teddy Bear. I thought that had pretty much ended it. It amazes me that the practice is still around!  :-\


I thought that had pretty much ended it. It amazes me that the practice is still around!  :-\

Yes, canned hunting is still around. The sport of sissy's and wimps worldwide! Not only do they have them all over South Africa, I have one a few miles down the road from the upscale rural sub division I live in! Yup, grown weaklings pay thousands of dollars to go shoot deer and other animals that are used to humans and that have a set feeding time and place everyday (some of the "other" animals come from zoos, either as new borns or elderly animals to make way for younger ones). I want nothing more then to close the place down.  >:(  I  have been told that in the State of Georgia that will NEVER happen. Nearly every legislator hunts!


There's a lot of canned hunting going on here in South Texas too.  My supervisor was telling me that they breed and hormone-enhance the deer to be bigger and have larger horn racks.  Then the "hunters" pay to go into the pastures where the deer can't escape and shoot them.  It's not tracking and hunting.  It's shooting hand-raised deer who have no fear of people.  >:(  Evil, in my not so humble opinion!


Wow - that is just stunning. What enjoyment could anyone possibly get out of doing something like that?  :'(


I am here in South Africa! Yay 8)

There are lots of vegetarian choices here - two of the three restaurants we've been to have had vegetarian items starred or otherwise marked on the menu. The grocery has many items marked "V" for vegan or "suitable for vegetarians"- with the little logos they use in Europe.

The grocery also has lentils, peanut butter, soy flour, soy milk, soya mince, veggie burgers and many other traditional veg*n foods (haven't seen any tofu yet, but I'm hopeful).

Vegans have the same challenges as in the States (vegetarian food may be cheese or egg based, and you have to ask about hidden ingredients) - but so far, I've found that South Africa is at least as veg*n friendly, and possibly more so than is the USA!  :)


Good to hear from you and that things are going better than feared, foodwise!
I was reading this thread and remembering waaay back in the 70's when I read my first-ever Harlequin Romance novel (Mills and Boon to Europeans). It was set in Africa, Masai country I think. It was called "The Bride Price" and it was pretty awful, because of course the person who wrote it had probably never actually been there, or if she had, probably on a very expensive "safari holiday".
Anyway, the girl and hero get lost (of course) in the bush, and the local people give them a millet porridge called "posho". The next day the girl wrinkles her nose at another bowl of posho and says, "They must really like this, we had it yesterday too."
It made me throw the book across the room, then, and it still makes me roll my eyes--obviously that was all the people had to eat, since the law of hospitality means you offer your best!! Ah, 1960's authors...I remember all the prating about the "inexhaustible resources of the sea" and how "nature heals itself" etc.--as an excuse for industrialisation and profit mongering.
Nature may heal herself if she's allowed to, and left alone. But it's not going to happen right away, and certainly not if human depredation is still going on...


i live in south africa, johannesburg
it's easy to be vegan here
see the SA vegan society websight


In case anyone reads this thread for their next trip, I spent 20 days in SA and had no problems at all. Recommendations include:

Moyo (ate at two locations in Johannesburg):

Ivory Tree (in Pilanesburg game reserve): - they had a brand new chef who was super sensitive to dietary concerns, and they even had soy lattes with breakfast! Although a fancy place, they do a bunch of awesome composting, grow their own herbs, have water conservation practices, and the highlight of my visit was a "village tour" that wasn't cheesy or privledged like I expected and had a well-thought local museum where people genuinely wanted to share an authentic history with visitors.

Ozmo Cafe (in Rosebank, in the Design Centre on Jan Smuts): the butternut squash/chickpea/tahini salad was the envy of my omnivore friends.

There was some greek/japanese tapas place in Johannesburg that I can't remember, but we ordered about 10 different dishes - including an awesome beet dish that everyone loved (I was the only vegan in the group).

Other than that, I was pleasantly surprised whenever I'd go to major grocery stores. More soymilk flavors and soy cream desserts than you could shake a stick at. So go and enjoy the incredible scenery and the people and the history and the animals!

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