Interview with Tammy Fry
You were born vegetarian, at what age did you decide that you didn’t want to eat meat?
From the moment I knew that meat came from an animal, I chose not eat it. I grew up on a farm in rural KwaZulu Natal in South Africa. My dad, Wally Fry, farmed goats. I became attached to the goats and was devastated when they would leave the farm in trucks to be sold to slaughterhouses and for traditional sacrifices. I realised that I was an animal lover and it’s not possible to love animals and still eat them.
How did Fry’s start?
Fry Family Food was founded by my parents, Wally and Debbie Fry in 1991. Wally had stopped trading goats and started a construction business. He built a very successful business and was eventually building large factories. In 1988, he was commissioned to build a piggery. He went back to see the piggery in operation and was so shocked by what he saw, that he became a vegetarian. Being a meat-lover, he really struggled with the vegetarian options available and set out to make a product that looked and tasted like meat in our home kitchen for our own use. Fry’s was never intended to be a commercial enterprise. The products were amazing – they tasted great, had a good protein content, contained no nasties and were a hit with friends! People started ordering from us. And soon, a small home industry was born. From humble beginnings, The Fry Family Food Co has found international success, winning international innovation and taste awards and supplying our products to over 27 countries.
Have you created any Fry’s products specifically for your family/kids?
We create nearly every product we make for ourselves first! The gluten free range was developed specifically for my niece, Isabella who has a gluten intolerance. The ice cream was born after we made a delicious vegan salted caramel for a family dinner one night. We all follow a plant-based diet so as unorthodox as it seems, we always develop the products that we ourselves want and then we share them with the world.
What is your favourite Fry’s product to eat?
Tough question. I really depends on the occasion. I would say we use the Slicing Sausage the most – it can be kept in the fridge and can be used in so many ways (think sandwiches, pizza toppings, sliced and cooked as bacon, mixed with mayo and nori to make a “tuna spread”, and the list goes on!)
When did you transfer to being a vegan?
When I arrived in Australia and saw the incredible variety of alternatives, being vegan was a really simple transition. It really showed me that alternatives and plant based products are crucial in assisting people to transition to veganism. Without coconut yoghurt, cashew cheeses, soy and almond milk, Vego chocolate bars and of course, Fry’s, I am not sure I would have been able to take that final step.
What has been your proudest moment with the brand?
Probably the moment we calculated the number of animals lives we had saved if people eating our products were replacing meat with Fry’s. The number last year: 70 000 animals.
(taking into account the average kg of edible meat from a variety of farm animals – cows, pigs, chickens and sheep).
What exciting things can we see landing in our supermarkets in the future?
Loads more plant meats in various formats and of course, our famous Coconut Ice Cream and our instant cereal/smoothie mix called Kasha.