Our discussion was preceded by a picture-perfect throwback meal consisting of a phaletshe (pap cooked with its bran), morogo wa dinawa (greens from bean plant), letlhodi (a variety of beans) and soya chunks. Our hostess, Mrs Moanei, had affectionately welcomed us into her home in Mochudi, dressed in a housecoat, and proceeding to serve us lunch. Her thirty-something year old son Joe, takes his plate back to the kitchen and comes back looking like the cat that stole the cream.
A big chunk of meat slumps over his plate. While we eat, mother and son begin to bicker amicably, in what seems to be custom, the son moans about being deprived of his much-loved steak and mother disapproves of her son?s negligence of his health.
?Why must you tell people not to eat meat?? Joe rumbles.
?I don?t,? Mrs. Moanei protests, ?I only recommend ways of preparing it.?
During the meal she regards me circumspectly.
?What is it that you want to know?? She finally asks. I explain my task of finding out about Christian faith-based eating. An astute character, Moanei announces, ?The subject is extensive; I simply can?t exhaust it in one sitting.?
After lunch, she retires to her bedroom emerging minutes later with her bible.
?Let?s pray first,? says Moanei, who is a member of the Seventh Day Adventist, and afterwards announces, ?What I do, is deliver God?s message on correct eating.?
?It?s all about what you eat, how you eat it and when you eat it,? she would say repeatedly throughout the interview.
?When God created man, He gave him a diet,? she says, quoting Genesis 1:27 ?So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them,? moving on to verse 29 she continued, ?Then God said, ?I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.?
?That is the self explanatory diet given to man in the beginning of time. In the bush we have mmilo, morula, moretologa and moretlwa (wild fruits) from shops we can have mangoes, oranges grapes and melons. These fruits heal the body, are complete, everything in them including, nutrients, fructose (sugar) and dietary fibres are just right, and all these fruits bear seeds.?
Though scientists may have answers to the make up of these, Moanei is specifically interested in the religious connotations relating to nutrition.
?Because of the vitamin C content in watermelon, one feels refreshed after eating it. The body responds approvingly, God created these to heal and replenish the body.?
Before Adam and Eve sinned, she says, the Bible states that there was no death and trees were evergreen, ?Look at that herb,? she points at a miserably dry thorny sprout planted near her porch, ?Its life cycle has ended this is a result of Adam and Eve?s sin. This is why we cook, because the food we eat is dead.?
And then the people sinned by eating meat without being okayed by God. Moanei explained the scripture saying the Lord then said, ?Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.
?But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it.?
Moanei then explains, ?Blood is the life force of meat, and as blood circulates some is fresh coming from the heart and blood carrying waste being pumped to the kidneys. When an animal dies the process stops midway.?
She looks at me for emphasis, ?What happens when you slice steak?? asking rhetorically, ?You?ll still see blood seeping through it.? She says, according to the scripture, meat must be thoroughly washed patted until no traces of blood remain in it.
Leviticus 17:13 says, ?Any Israelite or any alien living among you who hunts any animal or bird that may be eaten must drain out the blood and cover it with earth.?
?Some people have been known to fry it and some cook liver in it,? she says. ?Meat generally isn?t good for us, many ailments we suffer from a caused by meat and processed foods. By eating meat in this way God will cut you off from his people. This is a sin mind you.
?You know what they say, ?Ignorance of the law is not an excuse.?
There reason Botswana?s youth are falling due to unhealthy diets is caused by us, she says. ?We parents mislead our children. I grew up in a family that farmed; we had a typical Setswana diet of whole foods. Seeds and peanuts were pounded to make oil, which we used to cook greens in.?
Hereditary diseases are heavily influenced by food choices, according Moanei. It is either disease or good eating habit that is inherited. ?In 1966, I knew of only one man who was reported to have cancer and never had to take medication.
?If my children don?t follow the eating patterns I teach them then their kids may inherit diseases I don?t have. It really is a sorry case when a parent and child die one after the other because of so-called hereditary diseases such as diabetes, cancer or high blood pressure.
?There was a drought in 1966 and I finished school at Swaneng. Processed sun flour cooking oil from America which we called fishoil, was being rationed. I brought that to my family who had been using seed and peanuts for oil for time immemorial.
?Go ahead,? she challenges, ?ask some cooks if this cooking oil creates a plastic-like layer in the stomach of a pot. Imagine that layer in your stomach, have you seen a goat that has swallowed a plastic bag.
?Your body is a temple,? she says, ?and it is your responsibility to treat it accordingly, instead of pouring cokes and beers in it, replenish with it food and rest,? says the 60 year-old, who previously suffered from asthma.
?When I changed my diet after being enlightened by the Bible that there are eight laws of health the asthma was gone.? This all happened after her husband passed away.
The Sunday Standard then spoke to The Natural Clinic?s Rose Kedibone Moloi, who also recalled the book of Daniel, where Daniel and his cohorts refused to defile their bodies by wining and dining like kings at King Nebuchadnezzar insisting, instead for veggies, fruits and water.
They emerged 10 days later with alert minds, and glowing skin.
Moloi attributes the majority of deaths, young people?s loss of attention and violent behaviour partly to bad diets.
?In the past we ate food with a lot of bran,? the good-humoured nutritionist said. ?Growing up in the 60s we would deposit a big smoking mound of waste at 3 every morning.? Nowadays, she says people can put back a lot of food and only experience bowel movement every four days.?
Like Moanei, Moloi discusses bowel movement candidly. Moanei had lifted her full plate of food to measure how much waste must come out.