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Wandoo Ityavyar: Would You Give Up Suya to Go Vegan?

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What is the hardest thing you have ever done? Surely being vegan will never be one of them because being vegan is EASY (but maybe a tad challenging in Nigeria). Whether it is dodo and gizzard, suya, nkwobi, meat pie, pepper chicken, amongst others, it’s not easy to escape meat in Nigeria. Not to talk of how disappointed your grandmother in the village will get if you refused to eat the roasted goat she prepared specifically for you.

Why go vegan you might ask? In fact the big argument that comes up in discussions with my friends is that: my grandfather lived until he was 120 and he was certainly not vegan. .It is quite likely that you didn’t inherit your granddad’s exact DNA. There’s always stories about people who lived up to 90 years and beyond who ate a diet of predominantly animal products. However banking on DNA to save you is like crossing a busy street at a red light. If a few people are crossing a busy four way street at a red light, naturally some people will survive unscathed. It is the luck of the draw. However most people will end up as road kill.

According to worldlifeexpectancy.com, Coronary heart disease is the fourth most prevalent cause of death in Nigeria. There has been strong evidence suggesting the correlation between erectile dysfunction and heart disease. Simply put, erectile complications are often a precursor to heart disease. According to Caldwell Esselytn, prolific heart doctor who wrote “Preventing and reversing heart disease,” plant based nutrition offers the optimal opportunity to avoid disease- and to restore erectile capacity. Other diseases like diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease are just as common in Nigeria these days. As Esseltyn suggests, ‘Coronary heart disease need not exist, and if it does it need not progress.’ That holds true for all other diseases of affluence, namely diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease which are caused by over consumption of animal protein. Initially diseases of affluence only plagued people from western cultures. However many developing countries are catching up to America and starting to eat similar diets. Hence the increasing rate of diseases of affluence.
A prime example of someone who has maintained her youth with the vegan life style is Annette Larkins. Annette Larkins is a raw vegan (someone who eats only raw fruit and vegetables) who is 70 years old but doesn’t look a day over 40. She credits her natural good looks/health to her diet. She has been raw vegan for over 20 years. Her husband who is an 80 year old meat eater looks his age or perhaps older. Annette’s husband says people often mistake him for her grandfather when they are out and about.

Veganism is the elixir of life. It’s the closest the human race has ever gotten to immortality. Many an omnivore might counter this argument by saying that they rather live a short and sweet life eating meat than give up meat and live forever. Whatever is worth doing is worth doing well. Since you are already on the planet you might as well still be able to go jogging when you are 100 years old. However life is unpredictable and although veganism ensures a fountain of youth, what made me become vegan was digestive problems. Once I became vegan, everything changed, that was my selling point. As humans, we all have one condition or the other we can alleviate by eating a vegan diet. I have personal examples of people who have and continue to avert disease and thrive on a predominantly plant based diet. My aunt had serious coronary heart issues and I encouraged her to eat an 80% plant based diet. She is off her meds now and hasn’t been to the doctor in ages. My chef sister, who is @abujachef on Instagram isn’t fully vegan yet, but she swears by the raw till four diet. This is the diet where you eat all raw fruits and vegetables before four and eat a cooked starch after 4. Raw till four is an incredible way to transition into veganism.

Whole, fresh, ripe, raw, organic fruit and vegetables are the most optimal food for human consumption. If the Garden of Eden is any indication of how the creator intended for us eat, then by that alone raw veganism gains credibility. The benefits of eating raw are numerous, such as maintaining a healthy weight, turnaround time for digestion will be between 12-24hrs as opposed to the 72 hours red meat takes to digest in your colon. However, if raw vegan sounds too hard core for you, being simply vegan is good enough.

As Nigerians, I know our swag is very important to us. If you are not too cool for your own health, here are some pointers than can help you transition into a vegan life style or just eat healthier.
• No animal products of any kind.
• Naturally deep frying should be banished from your kitchen vocabulary as free oils are the devil on this diet. More favorable techniques are grilling, steaming and boiling.
• Cholesterol and fat in animal products which clog up the arteries and head to other parts of the bodyincluding the penis which can lead to impotence. Eating a whole plant-based diet is more effective than Viagra, Cialis or Levitra for men. As much as possible, cook everything without oil. All plant foods contain fats. Strawberries, 5%; bell peppers, 6%; spinach, 11%; soybeans, 41%. Getting your fats from plants means you will be getting healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats as opposed to dangerous saturated.
• Eat till you are satiated. You don’t need to count calories as long as you are eating complex carbohydrates with no free oils added to them

Photo Credit: Dreamstime |  Paul Hakimata

How do you find the vegan in the room? Don’t worry, they will freaking tell you! Or at least Wandoo will. Wandoo is an evangelical vegan who believes that everybody should be vegan, for the people, the animals and the planet. She is also a material minimalist. When she is not experimenting in her vegan kitchen, she dreams of moving to Thailand and back packing across the globe. Follow her for recipes and more @vegansofnigeria on instagram

26 Comments

  1. AY!

    June 9, 2015 at 10:57 am

    Wanville! You go girl! This vegan diet….we will try it for a week and see?

    • Wandoo Ityavyar

      June 15, 2015 at 3:38 am

      AYYYYYYYYYYY! Girl you just have to try it. #itsaboutthatlife #foreveryoung

  2. babym

    June 9, 2015 at 11:00 am

    How can you give up Suya?! That is blasphemy hehehe

  3. Scared Homosapien

    June 9, 2015 at 11:02 am

    God made animals to be eaten, He also made plants to be used for our consumption. I do not think he will buy that argument of plants being better than animals. The idea is for us to eat in moderation. Kpomkwem!
    *chews on my suya garnished with veggies*

  4. miss Pynk

    June 9, 2015 at 11:03 am

    I was pescetarian for 5 years- seafood in place of meats. When it came time to exercise well- my body needed animal protein. I consulted a Nutritionist & dietician and it was recommended i reintroduce animal protein into my diet . All things in moderation is the key to a full life. So no giving up anything for me, just all things in moderation

    pynk360.com

  5. chi-e-z

    June 9, 2015 at 11:23 am

    hmm. I think heart disease is linked mostly 2 starch in our diets like fufu,garri,rice more than meat though. It’s actually pretty easy to go vegan… until you remember meat pie, suya kai that can be painful but thank goodness 4 veggie jamaican patties. As long as you maintain healthy diet 4 your body, that’s most important thing. Don’t be killing your body like me saying you’re vegan/vegetarian/ on a diet/ wateva oh…eat what’s good 4 you whether vegan or not. preferably vegan

  6. bruno FIERCE

    June 9, 2015 at 11:24 am

    I don’t understand the heading. what is the meaning of
    ” Would You Give Up Suya to Go Vegan? ”

    you’re talking like suya is a staple food of all nigerians. like nigerians eat suya everyday, morning, afternoon, night. when last did I even eat suya? lasy year.

    for me being vegan is for rich people who can afford everything.

    a gweneth paltrow kind of person who has all the time and house helps to do all the grocery shopping and orishirishi cooking.

    how can u be vegan in a poor country like burundi or somalia where food is scarce. in most of these countries they dont even have a choice, anything they see they eat.

    biko I can’t be a vegan. I can’t be eating grass everyday. maybe I can en-cooperate vegan recipes in my diet but to be a full time vegan, HELL NO.

    I LOVE MEAT!!!!! (no pun intended)

    • whocares

      June 9, 2015 at 12:02 pm

      *that awkward moment when you mistakenly “love” a comment instead of “reply”
      It is actually easier to be a vegan in those countries you mentioned.. In fact, in those countries, they rarely eat the cattle they herd as they use it for milk, sell it etc. In Nigeria, it would be easier to be vegan if you were poor and had some sort of garden or a farm. Garri, groudnut (vegan), yam, rice, stew, beans with epo, corn etc. It does not have to be hollywood. Meat is expensive, so is fish. So you will eat your rice and stew without either meat, fish or egg .. see how easy it is?

    • Wandoo Ityavyar

      June 15, 2015 at 3:43 am

      Exactly! Being vegan is dirt cheap. If you want eat basic complex carbs all week- awesome! Rice, beans, lentils, yams cost literally nothing. If you want to go all Hollywood and have raw days or have gourmet raw meals- totally up to you. You are the boss.

  7. whocares

    June 9, 2015 at 11:26 am

    My heart literally skips a beat every time I read an article that suggests that I give up meat and all the terrible yet delicious food that I love on a permanent basis. (it might also be underlining symptoms of a heart disease, who knows?) I kent, I just Kent! However, I do have moments (weeks or even a month) that I have been vegetarian (nope, need dairy) for some reason in those period I dont want meat, and I actually enjoy trying out different vegetarian recipe. It works well for me as it is unplanned. I just dont feel like meat and I dont eat it until I crave it again; when I do find that meat, oh it is not a pretty sight.

    • whocares

      June 9, 2015 at 11:57 am

      *underlying* *sigh*

  8. amy

    June 9, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    Will mix d both….(vegmeat)

  9. Anne

    June 9, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    I had to go vegan to loose all the pregnancy fat. I got to my pre pregnancy body exctly when my baby turned 5months.
    And i dont even plan on stopping anytime soon. Its been a beautiful journey. vegan all the way.

    • Wandoo Ityavyar

      June 15, 2015 at 3:39 am

      Way to go girl.! More plant power to you #govegan

  10. Uvula

    June 9, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    Not to be an oversabi but I think the author has somehow mixed vegan and vegetarian, doesn’t being a vegan also mean that you do not wear leather,wool,silk or any fabric or materials from animals in addition to not eating meat,while a vegetarian as you described simple gives up meat for health benefits and not necessarily because they are ethically opposed to animal slaughter?

    • MC

      June 9, 2015 at 2:56 pm

      Yes, being a vegan does also mean no leather etc. But it also means no diary products or any other product derived from animal. Not exclusive to just meat
      Most vegetarians are opposed to animal eating (i say ‘most’ because like vegans, some pople do it for health benefits) and that is why they are vegetarians…think of vegans as strict vegetarians.

      The diet makes you a vegan or vegetarian. Not your reasons.

    • Wandoo Ityavyar

      June 15, 2015 at 3:48 am

      Hey Uvula, MC is indeed right.. Thanks MC for clearing that up. But I see the question you are posing Uvula. Shouldn’t we all be ethical vegans? I think most vegans are ethical vegans, but people tend to respond better to message when it is from a stand point of health as opposed to ethical reasons. But yes, I am all for the animals as well, the planet- everybody and everything.

  11. Tosan

    June 9, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    I wouldn’t even know where to begin if I decided to be vegetarian…. So no Ham, Frankfurters, BBQ chicken, Greggs Steak pie, Meat feast pizza… Na wa o… I agree with the health benefits but I don’t think I can…
    When I was younger, no one in my family liked to share suya with me because I would just gazzle like 10 while you are still chewing your first one… God help me and my love for good food…

    • Wandoo Ityavyar

      June 15, 2015 at 3:53 am

      Hey Tosan. It does seem overwhelming at first. If you told my mom that I Wandoo would be vegan some years down the road, she would have laughed in your face, but lookey! You just have to find a good enough reason to be vegan, and trust me you will find the motivation. And as time goes on, I will be coming up with a series to help people transition(emphasis on people based in Nigeria because there’s lots of help already available to diasporas).

  12. Mz Brown

    June 9, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    I dont mean to be a spoil sport, but have you read about the downside of being vegan? No i wont type that here, google it. like someone mentioned earlier, moderation is key. And who said being a vegetarian is cheap in nigeria? so i should be eating only carrot and cucumber and pineapple d abokis sell on the street everyday? If im wrong here please tell this average nigerian what other affordable fruits and vegetable are there to be easily gotten around me in the market. so i should cook the regular efo tete,or ugwu or shoko without any assortment and eat bland food abi? what other source of protein is there? I didnt mean supermarket cos those ones make me pay for the AC plus the fruit and veg.

    And also as an ulcer patient believing by his stripes i am healed, kindly also explain the fruits and vegetable i can consume cos well, there are looots i do have to stay away from, the other day pineapple almost took me to my creator because i didnt know any better. and some vegs too. Im open to being educated mind u, but i strongly advocate for moderation and still living life with ur nigerian schedule. Eat vegs and fruits, eat ur goat meat and amala+gbegiri, dinner with well, a thousand options u have. wake up by 5 and take a walk around ur surrounding for about 30 mins or whatever, and dance as long as u can! i already trek to the bus stop sef,so d 5am thing is for when i have my own car!

    • Wandoo Ityavyar

      June 15, 2015 at 4:19 am

      You are doing very well for yourself Mz Brown, managing your ulcer and all. Kudos! Regarding cooking your soup without protein, you can always use tofu which Nigerians call “awara.” Also, did you know that all tastes are acquired? The first day you cook your soup without animal protein, it might seem strange. But as time goes by, the taste will begin to resonate with you and before you know it, bam! It becomes your staple. Whenever I have a craving for Nigerian soup, I cook it without oil, crayfish or any type of animal protein. And surprisingly, other Nigerians like the taste as well. Try it and see. Vegan food tastes awesome!

      About the fruits, we are blessed with a tropical bounty in Nigeria. And to the best of my knowledge, fruits like paw paw, mango, guava, bananas and melons are not or less acidic. Often times these fruits are somewhat cheap or you probably have a tree in your house or have access to one via a neighbor’s house or something. If you feel like, you can even have fully raw days. Fully raw means when you decide for example that you will eat only bananas all day, Eat as many as you care for. And trust me it is healthy to have fully raw days. Lots of people thrive on the raw vegan and raw till four lifestyle. Check out people like Fully Raw Kristina, Freelee the banana girl and Durian rider on youtube.

      Lastly, take the whole process one step at a time. You don’t have to go in and radically change your whole palette. You can stick to the things you usually eat for now. For example if this is what your typical day looks like:
      Breakfast: Cereal or oatmeal with milk
      Lunch: Pounded yam and egusi with chicken
      Dinner: Jollof rice and fish
      On a plant based diet, all you need to do is to have your cereal or oatmeal with soy/almond milk as opposed to cow’s milk. For lunch you can still have your egusi, but just cook it without chicken. When dinner time rolls around, substitute the fish for roasted plantain and have that instead with your jollof rice.
      I sincerely hope this helps like I said to Tosan, I will probably come up with a post or series of posts on recipes and transitioning.

  13. Tru

    June 9, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    Ve-gini? Give up suya??? i’ll swim in Bar Beach first. 😀

  14. Fowes

    June 13, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    Thank you very much Wandoo! You have made me the happiest in the world!! Your post is extremely exciting and encouraging. Not only is it well -written but your information and education is accurate and flawless. More awareness needs to be brought on plant-based eating, it is the most healthiest lifestyle there is right now. I live in the states and I am vegan. I was vegetarian first for years before transforming into full veganism and I love it! I am an avid runner and that was where I started noticing the difference. When I went on my morning runs, i felt lighter, sooner my skin was clearer and compliments such as “you have beautiful skin, you are glowing” and so on followed since I became full vegan. All my Nigerian friends and family still makes fun of me though and they swear up to date that I am the only existing Nigerian-American Vegan in the world, I am glad that I am not, Looks like we have more vegans and potential vegans at home in Naija!

    • Wandoo Ityavyar

      June 15, 2015 at 4:28 am

      Thank you Fowes! I am always in research mode. I have a voracious desire to know every last detail about the whole food plant food diet, so I am always watching documentaries and reading books.
      And I’m just over the roof to know that there’s yet another vegan Nigerian out there. How awesome is that?! Please keep doing what you are doing and being a positive role model. You are amazing! #plantpowered #kaleyeah #friendsnotfood #forthepeople #fortheplanet

      And yes totally. I find that people in Nigeria especially are very receptive to the vegan message, once you give them enough information. It’s a wonderful. Wherever I am, I make it a practice make big meals or bake things and share to reel people in. One day, we will all be vegan. I can see it in my mind’s eye.

  15. Femi Abena

    July 25, 2015 at 10:34 am

    Very interesting article and thoughts . I could give up suya to become vegan for sure. When Nigerians say but what will i eat. You will eat plenty we have such variety of food such as moin moin, ogi, boil yam, cous cous, plantain, ewedu, spinach, groundnut, wheat, gari. The only thing I would miss is fish and prawns. A lot of Nigerians need to give up the addiction of 6 assorted meats with everything that killing them slowly.
    Question is animal protein and extracts seem to be in every product even nail polish. That could be challenge but I understand you can buy vegan nail polish.

  16. Moses Akpan

    November 3, 2015 at 11:51 am

    Great work Wandoo! I am about 6 months now as Vegan. Almost raw vegan here in Uyo, Nigeria. It’s wonderful.

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