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What it’s really like being a vegan

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Thinking of the suffering animals go through before they reach the dining table as food contributed to lawyer Jessica Ndanu’s eventual decision to stop eating all types of meat.

The same thoughts drove human rights activist Paul Omondi into being vegan. Since 2018, he has not consumed any type of meat and has kept off animal products like milk, eggs and honey.

He believes humans are being unfair when they take away animals’ products or kill them for food.

Ms Ndanu told Lifestyle: “It was animal cruelty that motivated me at the beginning. How we have to slaughter animals or shoot pigs in the head just seemed like such unnecessary cruelty to get food.”

And according to Mr Omondi, animals around us should enjoy their rights just like humans.

“My belief is that animals too have their rights, and their rights should be respected,” he said.

You are likely to come across multiple messages echoing Ms Ndanu’s and Mr Omondi’s perspectives today, which is World Vegan Day. On the Internet, there are numerous pro-veganism groups that have been and will be pushing the vegan agenda.

On Facebook page ‘Vegans For Life’ for example, such messages abound.
One posted in February reads in part: “We speak for animals. We will (expletive) show you the abuse occurring on factory farms, the horrors of dairy farms and what actually happens to ‘free range’ chickens.”

Another one posted on Wednesday says: “If you love animals, stop eating them: Dogs, cats, pigs, chickens, cows. All feel pain, fear death and want to live. All lives matter. Go vegan.”

There are also initiatives like the Kenya Vegetarian Club which, through its website and offline activities, is trying to “increase the number of vegetarians in Kenya”.

Its founder Vaishali Kamal Shah writes on the website: “I have always been a vegetarian, having been born into a traditional Hindu Gujarati family. In the early days of my life, whenever I used to see animals going to the slaughterhouse, it used to make me numb and really helpless.

“I always knew when I would be in a position to make a difference in society, this (running a club that promotes vegetarianism) would be the first thing I would like to do.”

In the conversations on whether or not to eat animals and their products, the vegan and vegetarian schools of thought emerge. Vegans, like Mr Omondi, avoid any product that comes from animals.

Vegetarians like Ms Ndanu avoid mostly meat but consume some animal products. Ms Ndanu said it is only cheese that separates her from the vegan world and the vegetarian one.

Below are the perspectives of Ms Ndanu, Mr Omondi and a young woman who was raised on a vegetarian diet and adopted it wholeheartedly.

Jessica Ndanu Mutemi, 24

From as far back as 2013, Jessica was pondering about leading a vegetarian lifestyle, and she made the bold move in 2015. Today, she does not eat red meat, pork, fish or any other kinds of white meat.

Being lactose-intolerant, a condition that makes her allergic to most milk products, abandoning meat worried her mother.

“She felt that I’d be missing so much protein intake in my diet,” recalls Ms Ndanu.

But she had crossed the Rubicon. That line of thinking had been sparked by a Krishna devotee friend she had, who would tell her about their lifestyle and their attitudes to meat.

“I also used to hang around a lot of Rastafarians (who cherish a vegetarian lifestyle),” she says, laughing.

That thought of the cruelty that animals face before they land at the dinner table troubled her for a while. Also propelling her decision was her perception of nature.

“Generally, I believe in a balance of nature. Animals exist in the ecosystem with their own food chain, and human beings have choices that are much bigger than a meat-based diet,” she says.

“Personally, being vegetarian feels like a way through which I can be respectful to the things around me,” adds Ms Ndanu.

So, are there animal products she compromises on? She says that if it were not for cheese, she would be fully vegan.

But being vegetarian is not a walk in the park. The menu options she has in most restaurants are limited, which she says has an advantage because she doesn’t take much time to select what to eat.

“I don’t take as much time ordering my meals. But it quickly became irritating, to a point that I joked about considering opening a plant-based restaurant by myself,” she says.

And whenever she attends parties where everyone is stuffing him or herself with meat, she has found a way of avoiding it.

“At barbecues, for example, I make sure to eat at home prior. Then I snack, drink and socialise at the party. Alternatively, I’ll eat lots of carbohydrates, which I love, while avoiding meat. It took a lot of adjusting, but I got the hang of it after a while,” Ms Ndanu says.

And would she want her children to adopt a similar lifestyle?

“I’d let them decide that for themselves. I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with eating meat. It’s something personal and I wouldn’t impose my lifestyle on anyone else,” says the lawyer.

To get iron, which is plenty in red meat, she says she goes for greens like broccoli, parsley and spinach. “I try to incorporate lots of superfoods like moringa into my diet to supplement what I could be missing. I also do lots of nuts, quinoa, soya, chickpeas, a variety of lentils and beans for protein,” says Ms Ndanu.

Paul Omondi Mbasa, 37

We found the rights activist through a Facebook search. On his profile description, he says he is “vegan for life” and his profile photo has numerous pro-vegan messages, among them: “I’m a friend to animals.”

Mr Omondi says he began seriously considering the vegan lifestyle when he was 15 by interacting with a friend who had been raised to avoid animal products.

“Later, when I finished high school, I started working as a human rights activist in Kisumu and we were fighting for the rights of the common mwananchi. And then I had this feeling of: ‘What about animals?’”

The older he got, the more he got drawn to the idea of stopping the consumption of animal products. Then in 2018, his friends in Germany and India convinced him to take the plunge, which he did.

They formed an online group called Vegans for Life, and he says they are planning to “storm slaughterhouses and even go to court” to advocate for the fair treatment of animals.

Last year, he says, he participated in the posting of a series of messages on social media under the hashtag #AnimalsNotForFood.

But why should they preach against milk, for example, that cows often produce more than their calves need?

“Why should you milk a cow?” he shoots back. “And if we are to milk a cow, why can’t our mothers or wives be milked too? Because I think even our wives at times have surplus milk.”

He eschews honey because bees make it “to feed their young ones”.

A Christian, Mr Omondi is aware of the biblical provisions about animals that can be eaten that those that can’t. But he argues that the Bible is there to guide us, and that humans need to stand up for some things.

Mr Omondi is married with two children, and the rest of his family is yet to follow his lifestyle of keeping off animal products. He hopes that more Kenyans can go vegan.

“I would wish to invite more people so we also take care of the animals that are here with us. We are also planning to build a recovery centre for animals,” he said.

“Vegan foods are very sweet and very healthy. Hazina damu (No bloodshed involved). You don’t kill to eat,” says Mr Omondi.

Chetu Monyonko.

Chetu Monyonko, 23

She serves doses of goose bump-inducing Adventist hymns on her YouTube channel “Chetu Ours”. What many who admire her angelic voice might not know is that she has not eaten meat for pretty much all of her life.

“I was born into a vegetarian family and so my introduction to food was vegetarian,” she tells Lifestyle. “It is both a religious and a health choice. My parents didn’t let me choose. Meat was just not an option.”

As she grew up and got freer, she would try some types of meat.

“Even when I was young, I would always try to sample different kinds of meat. Even as a grown-up, I’ve tried. But my taste buds don’t like the taste of meat. So, it has just not worked for me,” she says.

Chetu says if she were to start a family, she would teach her children the vegetarian way of life.

“If they want to have animal products, they can do it when they are grown up and can make their own decisions,” she says.

To get minerals like iron, she says, she counts on vegetables like spinach and kale, which she blends and drinks raw.

“Spinach has a lot of iron. Kale has iron. And soya beans have iron. There is also broccoli. It is also a good source of iron, and some nuts: Cashew nuts, chia seeds. They are also really good for iron. So, when you eat those in plenty, you’re good to go,” she says.


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Health

Shock as man ‘resurrects’ in a Kericho mortuary

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There was drama at Kapkatet sub-county hospital in Kericho on Tuesday night when a 32-year-old man who had been presumed dead and taken to the mortuary regained consciousness close to three hours later.

Mortuary attendants were getting ready to embalm Peter Kigen’s body when they noticed some movements.

Kigen, a resident of Kibwastuiyo village in Bureti Constituency, is said to have collapsed while at home before his family took him to hospital.

His younger brother, Kevin Kipkurui, said he was present when Kigen collapsed. With the help of their cousin, they took Kigen to the hospital at 5.30 pm.

“When we arrived at the casualty department, we met a doctor who asked us to register the details of the patient at the reception while he attended to him,” Kipkurui, who was still in shock, told The Standard.

After registering the patient, Kipkurui said he was again asked to the National Hospital Insurance Fund desk for further documentation of his brother.

Kigen reportedly suffers from a chronic illness.

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“When I went back to the casualty department at around 7.45 pm, I learnt my brother was dead. A nurse told me that he died long before we arrived at the hospital,” Kipkurui said.

He added: “The nurse later handed me a document to take to the mortuary attendant before my brother’s body was moved to the morgue.”

However, at 10.30 pm, Kipkuriu said, as they were waiting for embalming of Kigen’s body, they were informed that in fact, he was not dead.

Mortuary attendants who mummified the body told them that Kigen had regained consciousness.

“The mortician called me into the morgue and we saw him make movements. We were shocked. We could not understand how they could move a person who is still alive into the mortuary,” Kipkurui said.

Kigen, who spoke from his hospital bed yesterday, said he was shocked to learn that he was thought to have died and even taken to the mortuary.

“I cannot believe what just happened. How did they establish that I was dead?” he said.

Kirui, who donned his light-blue hospital uniform, was nevertheless happy to be alive and vowed to dedicate his life to evangelism once he’s discharged from hospital.

“I did not even know where I was when I regained consciousness, but I thank God for sparing my life. I will serve him for the rest of my life,” he said.

The hospital’s medical superintendent Gilbert Cheruiyot said Kigen was in critical condition when he was brought in.

Dr Cheruiyot said: “His relatives presumed he was dead and did not even wait for certification of death. They moved him to the mortuary, on their own.”

He said the clinical officers at the casualty were busy attending to other critically ill patients when Kigen was brought in, including an epileptic and a diabetic patient.

“They asked Kigen’s relatives to give them some time but they accused the clinicians of taking too much time and decided to take him to the mortuary. It was while the mortician was getting ready to embalm his body that she noticed some signs of life,” said Cheruiyot. He said the mortician informed the team at the casualty department which took Kigen back and begun resuscitating him. The process took three hours before the patient was stabilised.

“The patient was later taken to the ward and is responding well to treatment. We hope to discharge him in a few days,” Dr Cheruiyot said yesterday.

He added: “I advise those bringing their loved ones to the hospital to follow the laid down regulations. Before a body is moved the mortuary, it has to be certified by a clinician. In Kigen’s case, we can only say he was lucky, especially because of our qualified mortician who checked him before making any move,” said Cheruiyot.

The bizarre incident saw local MCAs, led by the Majority Leader Hezron Kipngeno, storm the hospital. This is after Chelanget MCA Hezborn Tonui demanded a statement from the heath committee over the incident that shocked the county.


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Health

Janet Mbugua shares her Covid-19 scare

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Media personality Janet Mbugua has shared the tale of the time she faced a scare as thought she had contracted Covid-19 last month.

In a video she shared on Instagram, the former Citizen tv news anchor said she experienced Covid-19 symptoms which escalated quite quickly.

The video shows her being taken through the nasal swab test for Covid-19, which is known to very uncomfortable.

Luckily, the result for the mother of two came back negative.

Janet Mbugua said that her scary experience motivated her to fight the fear and stigma related to Coronavirus, and will use her platform to advocate for a vaccine.

This comes as Covid-19 cases continue to rise sharply in Kenya amid a rush by various pharmaceutical companies globally to come up with an effective vaccine.

By NN


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Comedian Flaqo opens up on rare condition he has been battling

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Popular Kenyan comedian, Flaqo born Erastus Ayieko Otieno has for the first time spoken about a rare condition that he has been struggling with for some time.

Turns out that despite the funny man the Kenyan audience and beyond has grown to know as Flaqo Raz, he has his fair share of battles behind the cameras.

Flaqo opens up

The Internet sensation shared a photo showing red, itchy welts like a form of skin reaction on certain parts of his body.

Depending on the reactions, the welts appear and fade repeatedly and vary in size.

The YouTuber shared his condition with fans in the hope that maybe one or two can relate to what he has been going through and maybe work out a solution on the same.

“Anyone with this condition, how do you go about it?” he posed.

Comedian Flaqo rare skin condition

“Sometimes I have to postpone my shoots because they are unbearable. Zangu zilipotea for 6 months straight. Now they are back…” he replied to a fan who shared a similar experience.

Funny enough, soon as he had put up the post, he got so much feedback, with so many individuals able to relate to his skin condition, to his amazement.

“So far: try staying in the sun for a bit, bathe with warm water after taking antihistamines. To understand your condition better, make a point of seeing a dermatologist,” Flaqo shared with fans battling a similar condition, after gathering responses from his fan base.

Wrapping up urging fellow victims to take plenty of water, work out more often and avoid proteins since hives get triggered by things like particular foods, medication and stress.

By Ghafla.com


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