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Mofe Awala-Ale: Here’s what I Learnt From Being a Vegetarian for 1 Month

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I woke up one morning and decided to become a vegetarian for 1 month. To be completely truthful, I did read about being a vegetarian and my attempt to become one was not fueled by a desire to do right by the animals. It was not for spiritual reasons and  I was not trying to save the environment. It was not even for health reasons.

My decision to not eat meat or fish for 1 month was not reasonable to anyone I told. I planned to eat eggs occasionally and take out beef, chicken, fish and any other form of animal flesh. Honestly, I felt it would be easy. I felt this way because, as a Nigerian, the meat or fish is not the meal. It is just the part we eat last in a meal (or first for some people).

However, I learnt some valuable lessons during my 1 month stint as a vegetarian:

A meal plan is essential
The easiest way to keep the temptation of consuming meat or fish at bay is to have a meal plan. This way, the desire to eat out is reduced and the temptation or ordering a dish with meat or fish is brought to a stop.

Furthermore, by having a meal plan, you become more aware of the ingredients you need to prepare your meals. It was during this process I discovered I would have to eliminate crayfish and periwinkles from soups.

Eating out is tricky for a vegetarian
If indeed you decide to eat out, I have come to realize that vegetarian restaurants are not popular in most Nigerian states. I doubt there is one in Delta or Edo state (I could be wrong). For this reason, if you are a new/temporary vegetarian, I recommend purchasing a simple meal that does not have pieces of minced meat, ham, seafood etc. Fried rice is the usual culprit, but I once purchased some coleslaw and saw little pieces of ham in it.
On the brighter side, you can still buy sweet pastries; they may include eggs and milk, but not meat or fish.

The awkwardness of leaving meat or fish on your plate when visiting or eating out
When eating out or being hosted by a friend, leaving perfectly good meat on your plate is usually accompanied by an odd feeling. It helps to have someone who does not mind helping you consume the meaty parts of your uneaten meal.
It is usually better that you inform your host of your dietary choices before they serve your food.

Willpower is Key
As with every major life change we make, eating a vegetarian diet requires willpower. After the first week, I began craving meat. I could eat egg, but it was not the same, OBVIOUSLY!

By the second week, that small part of eating a Nigerian meal became a huge part. I initially felt meat was just the item that accompanied the food but by the second week, my views changed. Peppersoup and yam without meat or fresh fish was just plain wrong. Egusi soup minus meat did not feel right.

That said, I did not feel bad, nothing was wrong with my health. I just had a craving. It did not help that I lived in a hostel or that my best friend had a great love for fried turkey laps. By the fourth week, the craving had reduced, though.

Not everyone will understand
The final lesson I learnt is that no matter what your reason is for becoming a vegetarian, some people will not understand. My friend’s roommate thought I decided to become vegetarian because I was broke. She did not voice her opinion out loud until we went to an eatery to get some food.

I requested for my food without meat and she chose that time to shout out her thoughts by asking very publicly ‘Are you broke?’ Even after explaining the benefits of vegetarianism, there was no convincing her.

Did I experience a life change while eating a vegetarian diet? No, I did not. Did I lose weight? No, I find this to be a common misconception. Will I be going on a vegetarian diet again? No.

Are you a Nigerian vegetarian or vegan? I would like to know. If you aren’t, would you be willing to give up eating meat or fish?
Leave your opinions below as I am quite curious to know if we a have a large vegetarian or even vegan population in Nigeria.

Photo Credit: Mimagephotography | Dreamstime

Mofe is a writer and self-taught baker with a growing interest in product photography and she just acquired a Masters degree in International Relations. She is a writer, recipe reviewer and amateur food photographer on ThisBaker I am @This_Baker on Instagram.

14 Comments

  1. Ololade

    August 24, 2017 at 4:06 pm

    love it Mofe…Thank you for keeping it real. will love to read again from you sometime…You talked about vegeterian diet. But i learnt one or two lessons about life. cheers

    • Mofe Awala-Ale

      August 25, 2017 at 3:58 pm

      Thank you very much and i am happy you enjoyed it.

  2. Ephi

    August 24, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    ‘Are you broke?’
    Hahaha. That is so hilarious.

    As for me, I like my meat too much to ever consider going veggie, but I make sure I eat lots of vegetables and fruits. Balance is key.

    • Mofe Awala-Ale

      August 25, 2017 at 4:00 pm

      Now that i think about her outburst, it is funny but that day, it was embarrassing. I love meat too but i want to try a full vegan diet next and see how that goes.

  3. AVI

    August 24, 2017 at 7:43 pm

    Really enjoyed this article. Information and laughter! Well done

    • Mofe Awala-Ale

      August 25, 2017 at 3:58 pm

      Thank you very much.

  4. patty boo

    August 24, 2017 at 9:24 pm

    Nice write up, I just wished you tlkd about the changes you noticed in your body too.

    • Mofe Awala-Ale

      August 25, 2017 at 3:47 pm

      I would to love tell you that i noticed a dramatic change while on a vegetarian diet but honestly i did not notice anything minus a craving for meat in the later weeks of the vegetarian diet.

    • Someone Naughty

      August 26, 2017 at 8:29 pm

      Interestingly a vegetarian diet if not well thought out or planned can be very full of carbs and fat eg rice, potatoes, bread, etc. So just like any other diet, it has to be planned well for you to have a balanced diet

  5. MzA

    August 25, 2017 at 11:12 am

    Bhet if you ate food made with meat or fish stock (when you left meat out after eating) then you pretty much wasted your month

    • Mofe Awala-Ale

      August 25, 2017 at 3:49 pm

      While on a vegetarian diet i did not use meat or fish stock when cooking. I did not mention that and that was an oversight.

  6. MzA

    August 25, 2017 at 12:46 pm

    Bhet if you ate food prepared with meat or fish stock (assuming this because you mentioned that when you were offered food at peoples’ homes you ate the food and left out the meat), then you practically wasted a whole month of potential meat/fish enjoyment. it’s the same 10 and 10 pence.

    • Mofe Awala-Ale

      August 25, 2017 at 3:57 pm

      Useful Observation. While on a vegetarian diet i was hosted by a friend during the first or second week (No longer sure). I felt it would be unfair to give her a guideline of my dietary requirements as i was not the only guest shewas receiving.
      If i were living a vegetarian or even vegan lifestyle the case would be different. However, i saw no reason to inconvenience her over my experimentation with a different dietary choice.

      The other times i ate out was at eateries where i ordered sweet pastries like i stated above.

  7. Ruhamah

    August 25, 2017 at 9:26 pm

    I really love my fish oh. I think balanced diet is the way sha oh.

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