1. Tell us about yourself.
My name is Ema and I work as an advisor at a university. I enjoy relaxing, travelling and the gym (well I’m trying to).
2. How long have you been vegan and what inspired the change?
I have been vegan since January 3rd 2016, i.e. this is my 3rd year. My most influential vegan inspiration was a girl who I met on a trip to China in summer 2015 and she was the first vegan I had actually met and chatted with and I asked her questions about veganism, which she answered. I am very open to trying out new things so when I returned home, I started to eat a more plant-based diet, and would eat meat on occasion and also at Christmas due to lack of planning. When the new year came, I decided to try veganism strictly and see how long I would last, and well, here we are :). I also had several epiphanies whilst eating prior to this, where I would be eating a piece of meat and think, ‘oh crap! that was once alive’ and would be really grossed out for a moment, but carry on eating anyway.
3. How did your family/friends react to you going vegan?
Well my parents thought I had joined a cult or something, and often said that what I was doing wasn't right since God said we should eat meat. The ‘V’ word soon became some sort of taboo in our house and I kid you not, we once had a family meeting where I was accused of rejecting the right upbringing I had been given, all because I went vegan. One would have thought I was a murderer or something.
They are slowly easing into it though, because 3 years in, I am still alive and healthy and strong. My siblings support me 100% and they are all very pro-vegan, though they are not vegan themselves.
My friends have mostly been supportive, except the ones that become nutritionists when you talk about being vegan. Some made statements like, ‘I’m sure you will soon eat chicken’ and ‘but bacon…’ Quite frankly, such comments have kept me going, as well as the feeling that comes with being vegan i.e. I feel good after I eat, I don't feel heavy, I have a lot more energy and have been inspired to get fitter.
4. Thoughts on being vegan in Nigeria?
I haven’t been to Nigeria since going vegan and I slightly dread the trip because I know how animal products are incorporated into most foods.
5. Give us an idea of the kinds of meals you eat.
6. Any tips for fellow Nigerians/anyone who wants to go vegan?
a) Just do it!
b) Your body is a temple, not a graveyard, so treat it like one!
c) Be more open minded to trying out new foods and new experiences.
d) It's okay to not get it right straightaway. Just try and try again.
e) Planning is the key to getting it right, especially when you first start.
f) Do a lot of research. There are a lot of Facebook and Instagram groups for support and inspiration.
e) Just because it's vegan, doesn’t mean it’s healthy.