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If Wally Fry never met Debbie who gave birth to their daughter—Tammy, a born vegetarian; maybe Fry’s—a successful plant-based food business, wouldn’t be a thing in South Africa.

Wally Fry sold goats for a living then he met Debbie, a vegetarian.

Somehow, call it love or magic, or the power of a woman; the farm boy started to really see things from her perspective when it comes to eating meat and selling livestock for a living.

For Wally Fry at the beginning, it was really about survival:

“It was far from ideal but I was just trying to make us a living. As a meat eater I didn’t know any better. I didn’t realize animals could suffer. For me it was just about the money. After seeing the inside of the piggery I’d built, I couldn’t stand by anymore. Everything Debbie and Tammy stood for became clear: All life was precious and I could live without sacrificing the life of another.”

However, it took a while to switch from that person that sells and eats animals to not just becoming a vegetarian but an actual vegan businessperson in a time where few persons or nobody in South Africa would dare to visit a vegan eatery.

But when Wally Fry witnessed thousands of pigs overfilled into concrete pens, ready to be transported to a slaughterhouse; he said something inside of him broke.

And that very moment marked the beginning of his entrepreneurial journey in South Africa pioneering the plant-based food business called Fry’s—named after the family in the 1990s.

The Family Kitchen 

What has come to be popularly known as Fry’s in South Africa all started in a small kitchen experimenting and creating protein alternatives for his own consumption.

I knew I had to create an alternative that I enjoyed, otherwise I may not have been successful in remaining vegetarian.

It turned out that both his family and friends enjoyed his food and later it was the country that wanted it.

As of the time of writing this article, Fry’s produces about 35 tons of food in a day and prefer to work with humans rather than entirely machines.

We’ve chosen staff over total mechanization of our process, purely because we love the fact that we can employ people that really need the income—Fry’s

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By Elijah Christopher

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Elijah Christopher is a lifelong creative artist and a journalist for “A New Touch Of Africa”, an American news media and magazine focusing on Africa-related issues, fashion, new technologies and innovations. He has contributed to several published works, most notably a collaborative poem celebrating Scottish poet Edwin Morgan and in 2021 was the winner of the DIAJ Award for his photo-artistry.

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