Some people who've returned to a natural diet may bristle at the sound of anything like vegetarianism, but semi vegetarian is a fitting and concise description of the African diet. In some cases it is because of economic necessity, but even those who have plenty of money and their own farm would say that it's just good sense.
You can get more protein from a live cow, goat, or chicken than a dead one. Well, the female ones anyway. Besides, older animals have more fat. If you treat an animal well, and only slaughter him/her when they are actually suffering from age, you can get many years of work and care from them.
In African and aware diaspora culture, we understand that non humans are still living beings. Many conscious farmers can't even kill their own animals that they raised "by hand". They will trade them for others they didn't raise because they understand that the animal will feel betrayed and more trauma if the one who took care of them is the one who kills them. Some from animist cultures even thank and apologize to the spirits overseeing animals they eat or utilize.
Also, we eat lots and lots of green vegetables and fruit. If you eat fresh eggs, drink fresh or fermented whole milk, eat lots of vegetables and enough grains, meat is great to have when you have it. You're not lacking protein or most B vitamins, so it doesn't take much to do the job of getting protein. The highlight of meat is the fat.
So this is why even in prosperous African cooking, you'll see many dishes that are mostly vegetables and/or legumes and tubers or grains with little meat and what might seem to the average westerner, extreme amounts of fat. Day to day, we're quite pleased with our meat course for dinner being a lentil or bean stew with maybe one chicken breast worth of actual meat in the whole pot. It's not just about the economy. It's about the flavor.
The Basics >