An exclusive interview with Tammy Fry, leader in plant-based diets, Director at The Fry Family Food Co. and local founder of Meat Free Mondays

I have taught so many young girls and women martial arts and self-defence and I love seeing them find that strength within and without.

I have taught so many young girls and women martial arts and self-defence and I love seeing them find that strength within and without.

Published Jan 13, 2021


Tammy is not only a leader in the way forward on living a vegan lifestyle, she is an accomplished athlete, a self-defence coach, public speaker, and mother of two boys.

I recently attended her annual SEED workshop where she shared some of her insight on how a plant based diet is the healthiest way to live.

We chatted to her about her thoughts on plant-based diets, health, business and her passion for empowering women. The Fry family are truly inspiring and have gone beyond the impossible to make plant-based foods both accepted and accessible in South Africa.

Watch her video and read her interview below:

In South Africa and many other countries diets are often primarily meat based as you mention in the video - do you think Veganism as an alternative to a meat based diet will become a new norm?

I have no doubt. With lifestyle or non-communicable disease now affecting 1 in 2 people, we have to re-consider our food choices. Ultimately, we are as healthy as the food we eat and the soil in which the food is grown. The Western world currently consumes double the recommended amount of meat.

Very simply, how does a plant-based diet assist you in becoming stronger during training?

It won’t make you stronger when training, but a well-planned plant based diet can support quicker recovery after sessions as plant foods are less inflammatory and alkaline, whereas meat is acidic and increases inflammation. Plant proteins, such as NON GM soy, contain all essential amino acids which help build and repair muscle after hard workouts. Digesting plant foods is much easier and quicker than digesting meat, thus requiring less energy. This helps you to feel lighter and more energetic during workouts.

Here’s one of my favourite, really affordable, recipes - it’s a heart-warming cottage pie - great for Winter!

Watch the video below to see Tammy’s recipe for Heart Warming Cottage Pie:

Nutrition aside, how important do you believe mindset is when it comes to building strength and stamina?

Mindset and nutrition go hand-in-hand. You need to train self-discipline and a strong mind, but you also need a healthy body to support that mindset.

What do you think are your best qualities and how does this contribute to your success as both a female entrepreneur and athlete?

I think I am a dreamer, an eternal optimist and a hard worker. I am not afraid of the “hard-yards” or the “long-haul” or the “epic-fails”. Success takes time, effort and a lot of visualisation and dreaming. My father is a phenomenal entrepreneur and he has always respected women – in fact most of the leadership team at Fry’s are women. He had 3 daughters – myself and my 2 sisters – and he taught us to be strong.

In your video you mentioned that you are fighting for change against the prejudices you faced growing up, what message do you have for the younger generation who are aspiring to do the same?

Over the past 80 years we as a world have encountered our fair share of global challenges but the world you step into in 2020 is unlike anything we’ve seen in those eight decades. When I see what this generation has already accomplished and their fervent commitment to a better world I am given hope. I see their love of the planet and its inhabitants. I see their dedication to finding solution. I see them stepping up and taking responsibility for the world they have inherited.

Remember, it’s good to dream, but action is as important, so take action. Be bold and stand up for what you believe in. And most importantly, be kind – the world needs more of that!

As an entrepreneur and ambassador for plant-based products, what advice would you give to smaller businesses who are struggling to advance in this particular market?

It has taken our family almost 30 years to build a business. Success does not come overnight. If your passion is strong, you can endure anything - so don’t give up, be authentic and keep adding value to people’s lives through your great products.

You mention in your video that you are looking to empower and inspire women, what drives this passion?

Being a woman is the epitome of strength. But sometimes, with the world what it is, women have to be shown how to match their inner strength with their physical strength especially when they might be facing opponents who are bigger than they are. I have taught so many young girls and women martial arts and self-defence and I love seeing them find that strength within and without.

Globally feminist issues are still a battle ground in 2020. With August celebrating Women's Day in a country with real issues around GBV and equality, what message would you leave your sons in order to help them be catalysts of change?

In order to teach, you need to lead by example. Keep violence out of your home, speak respectfully to each other, teach and reiterate the core values that your family subscribe to. When your children feel proud of the family the come from, they will live by the values you have taught them.

We have a values board at home with these core values:

  • Love all, serve all.
  • Show kindness to everyone.
  • Speak the truth, always.
  • Have good manners.

How important do you think your maintaining physical health is to maintaining your mental health?

Your body is your temple – ask someone who is suffering with illness or pain. It is very difficult to be mentally strong when you are suffering. When your physical body is strong, your mental state can soar! I liken the relationship between the two to that of building of a pyramid. The physical body is the foundation, and the mind the tip. The tip will be unstable if the foundation has cracks or crumbles.

What advice would you give to someone who may be thinking of going more plant-based, but is not sure where to start?

In order to make change you need a fairly strong motivator, so watch documentaries like What the Health, Cowspiracy, Meet your Meat, Game Changers to name a few, and then find people who inspire you that follow the same lifestyle. Keep it simple and do not strive for perfection – it is your journey so enjoy the process. Invest in your health now, and spend the money on good food now. Most plant based foods can be very affordable – beans and brown rice are probably some of the most cost effective foods you can buy.

As you stated in the video, you were born vegetarian. Growing up were you not curious as to what a meat based diet would be like?

No, never. When I realised that meat, sausages, bacon, ribs actually came from a animals, I was totally put off eating them. I was born on a farm with goats, pigs and our pet dogs, but I never saw how one differed from the other. They were all sentient and equals in my mind.