If love is all we need then vegetables are next. Growing up on a farm the vegetable garden was our backyard. That’s where the four of us brothers and sisters would plough through a bed of peas, beans, sweetcorn, strawberries or carrots. The delight of finding a bright red strawberry hiding under a green leaf or stripping a pod to reveal a plump row of green peas smiling up at you is the right of every child. Reds, greens, yellows and oranges these colours that make up a smarty box. Sunlight and fresh vegetables running amok in a garden filled to the brim with living things. Growing like us surrounded by each other uncurling, unfurling and twirling our way to unfathomable futures.
Beyond the garden lay our farm, a private Eden. The horses, the cattle, the crops. How we loved the horses, spending hours at a time holding on to a saddle for dear life as we let them run through fields or dirt roads screaming as we anticipated landing in a heap if they leapt over an unforeseen obstacle and we were too busy looking at the finish line, a gate to open or a tree to duck under. Our hounds in utter heaven as they raced along beside us, tongues hanging out knowing that soon there would be the cool water of a farm dam to relieve us all. A life we thought would be that of our children and their children thinking this would never end. This wonderland.
Cattle – my touchstone. A comfort knowing that when I came home from boarding school the mombe would be grazing. Always the sensitive child with a multitude of questions my father patiently endeavoured to answer each one. When the lorry arrived to load the cattle destined for the ‘cold storage’ and I asked if I could go with, Oscar dutifully took me. There were no apple orchards to take kids to in our part of the world, only abbatoirs. I often look back and thank my dad for his open minded Danish mentality in allowing me to visit a slaughter house! Beef breathed to me, it had an identity and there in lay my decision not to eat it. A dead cow dressed in a marinade after being stunned by a gun then hung long enough to keep the heart beating so her meat stayed tender to cut through it more easily for the simple reason that she was an animal never made any sense to me.
So I stopped eating meat when I started high school and a vegetarian table became an option – thank you India! I had seen enough blood and heard enough bleating to warrant the peace of a veggie garden over the piece of living flesh. Birds and bees could fly, unless they were guinea fowls who generally speaking ran, saving flight for special occasions like roosting or escape. But most of all flowers could bloom and as if by magic turn into a juicy edible something. “Imagine all the people living life in peace – nothing to kill or die for… You may say I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one. I hope some day you join us and the world will live as one”.
* mombe – Shona for cattle
*** Dedicated to the 58 million animals slaughtered every year for food – devoid of sunlight, movement & love. ***
For the best vegetarian or vegan meals in Victoria Falls visit The Kingdom Hotel & Victoria Falls Safari Lodge
Photo by Sandi