A vegan in Uganda…

We’ve just returned from 2 weeks in Uganda.

We had no idea whether we’d be able to continue being vegan or not and so were pleasantly surprised to find that it was actually pretty easy.  We were staying in an area called Masaka which is a large sprawling town 140 km from Kampala.

masaka011

Cooking and eating revolves around the weekly food market that descends on the town every Friday and Saturday.  Local farmers bring their produce in large wheelbarrows to sell and the streets are literally groaning with fresh fruit, veg and spices.  Every stall looks identical and is selling identical produce at identical prices so I have no idea how people decide who to buy their week’s bounty from!  But there are plenty to choose from.

Unused spices

What’s available is obviously entirely seasonal but there seemed to be plenty on offer in October.  Potatos of various varieties, colours and textures, avocados the size of pineapples, passion fruit, jack fruit, sweet potatos, tomatos, green beans of all kinds, pineapples galore, mangos, aubergines, chillies, bananas and plantain absolutely everywhere, oranges, lemons, limes, paw paws – absolutely plenty to keep you satisfied!

jodhpur_skyline.jpg

market

Avoiding meat was very easy as meat is such a luxury that it is actually quite difficult to come by.  The meat that was available was hanging very uninvitingly in the sun from large butchers hooks, dripping blood and still covered in fat, gristle and patches of skin.

Meat on sale. Uganda’s beef industry is facing quality and organisational challenges.

Dairy is relatively hard to come by also.  We didn’t see any cheese for sale in Masaka.  You can get it in supermarkets in Kampala but it’s very expensive so presumably is imported in.  We got long life soya milk in Kampala so we didn’t have to drink cow’s milk.  Vegetable butter is easy to get so that’s not a problem.  When eating out there was almost always a vegan curry option but I confess we had the occasional non-vegan pizza when we were all curried out!

I was interested to know how people would react to our being vegans and was surprised to find that everyone was very accepting and understanding of it.  As soon as we explained that we don’t eat any animal products people just nodded and seemed to understand.  Which just goes to show that you should never underestimate people.

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