I am still jetlagged since returning from lovely Uganda two days ago, but I wanted to share my experiences with vegetarian travel in Uganda.
If being a vegetarian, and even more so vegan, is uncommon in the U.S., it was even rarer in Uganda. Someone who had spent a lot of time in Uganda said I should say I was vegetarian because of allergies, since the other typically listed animal rights, environmental and health reasons would be misunderstood. I told the truth to those questioning my vegan diet: I don’t support the way the animals are treated in the U.S. in factory farms, and gave a brief overview of the environmental and health reasons, and was surprisingly met with little skepticism.
What challenged people more was what to feed me. I spent several days with two Ugandan cousins in their early 20s. The first few times I asked the male to join us for dinner, he refused, finally admitting he did not like vegetables. By the next day, he had harvested vegetables out of the garden he was tending and told me he loved eating them, to my excitement. The female enjoyed experimenting with things she normally wouldn’t make: cabbage, local greens and avocado from their garden, sweet potatoes, beans and rice, and for breakfast, millet porridge.
Bananas are big in Uganda, as well as matoke, cooked banana (not sweet, but filling). Often I was eating too much starch, including pasta, rice, potatoes and so on, but I made the best of it and brought protein bars and vitamins to supplement.
Soon I will reprint an article I am working on for VegDining.com that will include more details on the beautiful East African country and restaurant info for those doing vegetarian travel to Uganda in the future.
Welcome home! I look forward to reading your article.
That is so awesome that you followed your heart to Africa! And the fresh, local produce sounds wonderful. I too look forward to reading your article.
I just read Jonathan Safran Foer’s eye-opening book “Eating Animals” and have sworn off any meat that isn’t wild or from a small, local farm.
Thanks supportive ladies! Rachel that is just great to hear.
Hi I have read your post and I find it interesting. I am Ugandan and was born vegetarian, I am allergic to ingesting all kinds of animal flesh. And I can tell you, I find no problem at all being a vegetarian,in fact I believe it is the easiest place for one to be a vegetarian. This is because vegetables and non meat foods are the cheapest here, you can either pick them from your garden any time of the year or buy them cheaply in the market as they are so readily available, since beef and animal products are expensive in comparison, most Ugandan staple is vegetarian and they only eat beef on special occasions. Most rural families manage eat beef and chicken only on Easter, Idd or Christmas. The restaurants that sell local food also reflect it in the prices, vegetable meals are usually half the price for what one would pay for a meal with beef, chicken, or fish in it. The problem is that most visitors to the country go to westernised restaurants and those will most definitely have animal foods as staple. Your cousins may have been putting up show for you or live like corporates in the city, and also another reason they were anxious to serve you beef or chicken, is custom or culture as people think it is honourable to give a visitor beef or chicken and dishonourable to give them beans, since beef and chicken are commonly only eaten on special occasion, so that they chose to serve that to you was their way of honouring your visit, but usually on average most Ugandans will go months without eating beef or chicken. And we think its normal, we believe eating beef or chicken daily or often is for the well off, or people with western tastes.
Thanks for the comment! This article was written a few years ago, but I am glad you found it helpful.