Plant-based diets in a plant-rich country

Woman washing apples

Nigeria is a tropical African country home to various many varied plant species – about 7,895 across 338 families and 2,215 genera. Hence, it is no surprise to find people who subsist on strictly plant-based diets. Many of the soups cooked in Nigeria are majorly plant-based, such as the famous Egusi (melon) soup, made from a base of oil, onions, Egusi, and pepper. While some might argue that adding the stock from animals or stock cubes is essential for increased quantity, substituting with boiled mushrooms, herbs, and local spices, such as locust beans and Opei (fermented seeds) in water as stock works just as well. Soups are tasty, aromatic – and healthier –  using this method, helps to avoid monosodium glutamate (msg) present in most other stock cubes.

I realized this when I decided to go plant-based in January 2019 due to dysmenorrhea, and I have never looked back. Not only have I found plant-based living to be an adventure, but I have also found a strong community of strictly plant-based eaters. This community includes reformers in Jingre- Plateau, Adventists in Abia, and animal rights activists in Lagos, Abuja, and Port-Harcourt. I found this community in my early searches for answers on what to eat and whether I would get enough nutrients and the affordability of a plant-based lifestyle. My search led to a support system of vegan friends turned family. Most are nature lovers, are involved in gardening, and have a minimalist lifestyle. We are also of a calm and temperate disposition. Most are married or live together in communities, and a few are nomadic. It takes a lot of will and logic to go plant-based, so we are deep and meticulous thinkers. The best part of this shared experience includes uncovering the variety of plant-based Nigerian foods neglected due to popular flesh-based options. For instance, have you tried cooking coconut millet porridge and knowing its positive effect on your body?

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