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Miss Fehintola’s Food Diaries: Meat & Its Qualities

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For us in Africa, meat is a sign of the good life; people who can’t afford to eat meat are believed to be down on their luck. We save our pieces of meat proudly to the end of the meal like it’s our reward for finishing the meal. I know of legendary fights that happened in my household as we were growing up because of meat, which is ridiculous to me now, because what’s the big deal with meat?

You can’t serve an African man food without meat. Are you for real? What would bring that temerity? My dad’s meat used to be in a separate plate, loaded high with the stuff. I also know this was true or is true in many people’s households. And it’s not just the older generation; the men of my generation are fanatics when it comes to meat. We attach a very significant importance to meat; you will hear of people say in a house that there is no food because there is no meat or restaurants telling you they do not sell food without meat.

It’s not just in Africa, in other parts of the world, e.g. America, they are crazy for their meat also. I don’t think any country can come close in mastering the art of roasting/barbequing meat like the Americans can.

What is the big deal with meat? Meat is the most important side dish for us; even a little child knows his meal is not complete without the piece of meat on his food.

Ever been to a ‘Buka’ and see how ‘big’ men are pointing to the exact meat they want. It’s not even a function of being a big man. Men in general are particular about their meat. They know what they want when it comes to meat. They want their ‘ishan’, ‘orisirisi’, ‘shaki’, ‘abodi’ ‘bokoto’ (I apologize to non-Yoruba speakers but these are parts of meat). It’s just amazing.
A friend told me about a wedding she went to once where the food warmers of meat mysteriously ‘disappeared’. She said it created havoc – big men going to harass the small chops and barbecue people to put meat on their food. I feel they could have just had the food with other accompaniments like salads, moimoi or something but no. Meat is a big deal with us.

I went a University here in Nigeria, where meals were provided and these meals were vegetarian. I look back now in amusement. In all fairness, the meals were nutritious and tasty; they even had a ‘meat ‘substitute by giving us TOFU. It’s made from soya bean and fried or baked. It was alright, but it wasn’t meat.
The way we wasted our parent’s money amazes me now, a lot of us didn’t go to the cafeteria except on days that we will be served special meals. The food was just not appealing, if you went to cafeteria, it was out of necessity, and you were probably broke or too hungry to care.

And what was the alternative? Going to town to buy food. The amount of money I spent on eating ‘gbadun rice’ was astounding; Gbadun rice was white rice with the authentic ayamashe stew made from green chillies (habanero). Another alternative was the food the bricklayers that were building used to eat, we called it ’bricks’ (pretty ingenious huh?). This food was not very tasty but we ate it because the appeal was the meat.
I don’t know of people whom passed through my school and adopted it as a lifestyle choice. My baby brother who is still in this same school is a rarity. For some reason, for about three years now, he doesn’t eat meat or fish. I don’t know why. I think he doesn’t know why himself but that his lifestyle. And to understand how we are in Africa, nobody takes him seriously; we are always still offering him meat which annoys the boy. We think it’s just a phase he will outgrow.

So let’s look at the pros and cons. Why is meat good or bad? Also note that I am not really talking about fish. Fish is seen as the good cousin; it’s healthier and cheaper than meat. It doesn’t really come under a lot of criticism. People will tell you to give up meat for fish.
There are all sorts of meat. The popular ones for us in this clime are Beef, Chicken, Goatmeat, Lamb, Duck, Turkey, Bushmeat and Pork. I believe Snail is also meat, but when I ask people, they say I can’t really call snail meat per se, I don’t get it. In other places, they eat frogs, snakes, camel, crocodiles etc. Meat is basically other animal flesh.

Meat is DELICIOUS. That is the biggest and best argument for meat. I can eat my meals without meat on them, I am not really particular but try and tempt me with a sexy beef cheeseburger or meat lovers pizza, I am a goner.
Meat is a rich source of protein. Protein improves the overall health and wellbeing of one’s body; it builds and repairs body tissues. It improves the function of muscles and bones, it produces antibodies that can fight infections and helps the immune system.

Meat is rich in Zinc, Iron and Selenium. Zinc helps in tissue formation and metabolism; Selenium breaks down fat and chemicals in the body and Iron with blood formation. Meat is also a rich source of Vitamins A, B and D. It’s interesting to note that Vitamin B12 is not found in any plant. Creatine, Carnosine, DHA and EPA, also very important antioxidants are not found in plants.

It is amazing that with all these nutrients it boasts of, meat has come under bad publicity for some years now, with more people advocating for a vegan lifestyle. Consumption of Meat has been linked to cardiovascular diseases and certain types of cancers. It’s also said it takes days for meat to digest properly in the digestive system.
So should we give up meat because of the negatives? Why should we do this since God made us omnivorous? We function best eating both plants and animal flesh. In my humble opinion, asking us to totally cut off our carnivorous instincts seems a bit extreme to me, don’t you think?

I will preach moderation in anything we do including the food we eat. I won’t advice giving up a class of food completely; there are people who preach a diet of just protein, ever heard of Atkins diet? I don’t buy that idea. Another thing to do is to go for lean cuts of meat (Chicken is a good example but as tasty as it is, it can get boring, trust me on this, been there, done that), trim off excess fat on the meat we buy and also cook healthier, grilling is a good option.
I believe we should just try our best and be as health conscious as possible.
What do you think? Would you ever give up meat in a bid to be healthier? Are you a meat fanatic? Do you get what the big deal is?

Peace, folks. Love and chocolates.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Anky10 

My name is Busayo, a Food Enthusiast, I love love food, its a huge passion for me and I believe Chocolates make the world a happier place. Feel free to contact me via email, [email protected]

15 Comments

  1. dee

    March 17, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    Ayyy!! Babcockite!! Lol…gbadun was life!…although I had my fair share of caf food and TOFU. I’m a meat lover (chicken and turkey). As much as I want to be ‘healthy’, I don’t think I’ll give up meat entirely. Moderation is key.

  2. @edDREAMZ

    March 17, 2015 at 9:33 pm

    a.k.a EDWIN CHINEDU AZUBUKO said…
    .
    I love meat so much that any little money i have i spend it on suya sharp sharp…..
    .
    .
    ***CURRENTLY IN JUPITER***

  3. Pat

    March 17, 2015 at 9:49 pm

    I love how you composed this write up from start to finish. I want to touch on some points you mentioned e.g “it is also said that it takes days for meat to digest properly in the digestive system” which also makes it rust in the stomach. You further mentioned if we should give up meat because “God made us omnivorous” but God also stated that the “herbs are for the healing of the nation”. And what are these herbs? They are all plant based. At the end of the day like you said we should just eat in moderation.

    • Pat

      March 18, 2015 at 6:22 am

      I meant to say “rot” not rust

  4. Realness

    March 17, 2015 at 10:05 pm

    My name is Realness and I am an addict..

    a MEAT addict!

    I die than sight bloody TOFU! Yuck!
    If I had to choose btwn a bowl of jollof rice with 3 pieces of meat OR a bowl full of meat.. which wud I choose?…..go figure!

    realnessisme.blogspot.com

  5. Banjo

    March 17, 2015 at 10:51 pm

    I can’t give up meat for health sake as well. Though, I have different meal plan I strictly adhere to and it contain meat.

  6. Anon

    March 18, 2015 at 12:51 am

    Meat lover for life. I really don’t understand how people who have eaten meat and fish can give it up. Growing up meat was a reward for eating your food. The older you got the bigger your portion. I am too locked up into that system to give meat or fish up.

  7. precy

    March 18, 2015 at 7:53 am

    Let us all pray we are not compared by circumstance to stop eating this meat we all love. Cos sincerely you would stop if your health (life) depends on it.

  8. Pebbles_GH

    March 18, 2015 at 8:24 am

    this is a nice well written piece. the key well noted; “everything in moderation”

  9. myssmyss

    March 18, 2015 at 9:34 am

    Wulala!!!! I could give up my plate of food just to have your piece of meat… One of the reasons i dont like eatery foods is because u cant buy assorted meat… But if u go to a local joint…..d rest is history…lol…If we have to eat suya together, i am not sure u’ll have up to 10pcs!!!!! lol…. For the love of shapy body and a healthy life, i decided to cut it down! One of my sis wont eat if she is being served with just a piece of meat… She sees it as an insult….trust me, she knows better now..lol….. I still eat meat but moderation is key! Thanks for the write up!

  10. jefka

    March 18, 2015 at 9:42 am

    the essence of meat cannot be ignored……
    during festive periods, sahring food for the neighbours is no longer appreciated, people want meat and drink instead.

  11. Queen of Everything

    March 18, 2015 at 11:12 am

    About fish being cheaper than meat, not here in the UK o (and US too I think)
    meat is cheaper here, especially chicken, i’m talking about a pound for a whole chicken in some markets.
    fish on the other hand not so much, with the varieties available and buying it in bulk, i’m sure you can see why when it comes to feeding a family, meat is the more cost effective option.

    now that i’m older i’m making a more conscious effort to eat fishes and different types of meat
    salmon with all its supposed benefits is so damn expensive *sigh*

  12. peace

    March 18, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    Beautiful write-up! “meat” is still regarded high to most people, the love people have for meat cannot be explained enough… In local bukkas, a person will buy amala #100 only to buy meat up to #1500 *most common to the yorubas*. Also once u place food in front of people, their 1st glance is to look for the meat, while others size it up “is it big or small” others size up d meat in other people”s plate……
    I for one can eat without meat, I remember my uni days,d locals would so extort one dat #500 beef could only be cut in 4 pieces, I resorted to eggs & fish. buh i have a cousins who still jump @ meat like kids.

  13. tunmi

    March 18, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    It’s all in moderation. But we should not try to force those who don’t want to eat meat oh. Stop offering your brother meat, it’s disrespectful. Enjoy your ponmi and shaki and leave him to his own.

  14. MAry

    March 19, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    lovely piece.. brings to mind those days where my elder sister would trade my meet for helping me out in my chores the next day. or when we would attend weddings and the only thing we would eat would be the meat.
    Meat is a very important part of growing up in Nigeria… no meat no food.. the same way Sunday rice was a must…… you cannot afford to eat eba on Sunday after church…. wetin do hot white rice and stew with a piece of meat of chicken.
    but then like u said… moderation is the key to everything we do!!!!

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