My name is Tomilola and I am a budding filmmaker and a content creator. I spend most of my time caring for my son, creating and editing videos and reading books.
How long have you been vegan and what inspired the change?
My journey began during my NYSC year when I decided to make healthier choices and cut out red meat from my diet, It made a huge difference and I have been on a health journey unconsciously since then. I always leaned towards going vegan but I didn't know how I was going to make the 'drastic' change and how I was going to sustain it. September last year, I watched the documentary "What the Health" and I made the decision to go vegan, which I think was the first step for me. I have been transitioning since then. I would say I am about 90% vegan if there is anything like that.
How did your family/friends react to you going vegan?
They all just accepted it. Although my mum makes fun of me sometimes and is of the opinion that I can eat anything I want in moderation. But I also said that I wasn't going to try to explain my journey to anyone yet because I am doing this first for me and as I go along in the journey maybe I would be able to explain it better.
What benefits have you noticed so far?
The first thing I noticed was that cramps disappeared. I meeaaaan. It was huge! I have never had a painless period in my life. Before, from 2 days before my period, I would start getting warning pains. Now, getting to a point where I don't even know until the actual day is really great. Second thing is that it has made me conscious of what I am actually eating, I now check labels, read about ingredients and experiment with food. Lastly, I now actually think of the animals. Although I started this journey for my health and not necessarily because of animal cruelty, it has made me think about the process of it all and what seemed normal to me before now grosses me out.
What is the hardest part about being vegan?
- The fact that it is hard and expensive to get fresh food in this Lagos - It is available, yes, but when you think about the work it takes to get it and how you have to get it more often because of preservation, you'd realise how hard it is to eat clean.
- Cooking for non-vegan people in my house. I am constantly tempted. It has taken a lot of discipline to be 90% vegan, now you understand where my remaining 10% is -_-
What has been your experience of veganism in Nigeria?
There are now 2 fully vegan restaurants in Nigeria, which is great. I haven't tried either of them yet but I definitely will soon. I attended the Lagos VegFest and it was great to discover some of the plant-based treats, and meet more vegan people in Nigeria - who are very supportive.
For a while I was too shy to say "Oh, I'm vegan" as I thought everyone would look at me weird, and I didn't really have answers to the natural questions the typical omo naija would ask me, so I only ate meat when I was outdoors. But now I have stopped and am learning to own my journey and be okay with giving answers like "Just because I want to be vegan" as my explanation, without feeling weird or left out. I don't have to eat what I don't want to eat to please anyone.
Give us an idea of the kinds of meals you eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Any tips for fellow Nigerians/anyone looking to go vegan?
- To manage cost, buy in bulk and store in the freezer (If PHCN allows).
- Eat before you go to Owambe.
- If you have non-vegans that you have to cook for, pre-plan your meals and make sure you have a vegan day where they try out your food too.
- Not everyone will understand your decision and that is very OKAY! You really don't owe anyone an explanation.
- Don't beat yourself up if you do fail. Just press the reset button. It is doable.
- There is a vegan version of every meal - Ask Youtube!
- Don't stock up on what you don't want to eat.
- Enjoy when the compliments about your skin and body start rolling in.