The diet of a Nigerian has long been meat-centric. However, a new vegan community is emerging in the country, thanks in large part to growing Internet access. An increasing number of Nigerian citizens are tuning into the world around them, learning about environmental issues and joining the important global discussion about protecting the planet. Documentaries such as “Cowspiracy”, have pushed many to make the lifestyle change.
“Sometimes I feel silly that I made a huge lifestyle change after watching a documentary,” Aisha Modibo, a research officer at Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Foundation, told Ynaija, an online Nigerian newspaper. She continued, “Cowspiracy detailed the damage livestock farming does to the environment and it was truly the most convincing pro-vegan argument I’ve ever heard.”
The Lagos Veg Fest, which was held for the fourth time in the largest city in Nigeria back in November of last year, helps many new vegans and vegetarians to connect with like-minded people. The Veg Fest is hosted by Veggie Victory, the first ever completely vegan and vegetarian restaurant in Nigeria.
Whilst the vegan message is spreading in the country, vegan food on offer is still sparse, and online inspiration for vegan Nigerian food is not commonplace. Yvonne Iyoha was struggling to satisfy her palate and knew others would be feeling a similar way, so she started her own website, Eat Right Naija. The website focuses on producing healthy, vegan, Nigerian recipes and educating people about the benefits of eating plant-based.
“There’s a lot of misinformation about our food, harmful eating patterns are promoted,” Iyoha explained to Ynaija. “My hope is [to educate] Nigerians on the health benefits of a whole-foods, plant-based diet [and show] them that meat-free meals can be delicious and familiar.”
With hope, the growing vegan movement in Nigeria will continue to strengthen, and Ioyha and other passionate vegans in the country will carry on inspiring others to join them in the lifestyle.
“I honestly feel like a new person,” Iyoha said. “I have more energy and my immune system is in top form. I hardly ever fall sick and going vegan makes you acutely aware of everything you put in your body.”