Sunday 29 April 2018

Vegan Nigerian Stories: Tomilola

Tell us a bit about yourself.

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. 

Tuesday 24 April 2018

Plantain Social Recap [VIDEO] - Vegan Pop-Up #10

First event of the year was an absolute blast. A "Plantain Social" - can you imagine? An evening of meeting fascinating, creative, inspiring people whilst chowing down on plantain cooked and garnished in different and, dare I say, magical ways.

As far as planning went for this event, Carine and I both agreed that it felt pretty stress-free. The concept was simple, but the dishes packed a punch. The event was laid-back; chatter and good music filled the air, the entire venue carried the gorgeous aroma of fried plantain. It was close to perfection.

Collaborating, I have discovered, does wonders for the psyche. It's having somewhere there to carry the burden of getting everything ready in time. It's having someone to go shopping with and split the risks (and costs!) with. It's having someone to think about tiny details that you may miss when trying to juggle a million things on your own - and vise versa. I'd like to say that the nerves were non-existent this time around because it's my tenth event (and darn it, I should be used to it by now!) But no, collaboration I tell ya. That's the way to go. The same feeling of peace that I had when I planned and executed the Vegan Christmas Feast with my friend Eli back in December is the same that I had this time. Carine and I were linked up through a platform called Tabl which we are both a part of -  Marie with her West-African-inspired (and vegan!) sauces. Me with my Vegan Nigerian cooking classes. The beautiful minds behind Tabl saw the potential of something great happening if we got the opportunity to put our minds and efforts together. Et voila!

Enjoy the little video I put together. It shows you a little behind the scenes shopping action, clips from the event, and feedback from guests. It's fab. And fun.

Thank you to everyone who came along. See you next time? :)

Keep up to date with events and whatnot. Follow me on Twitter + Instagram + Facebook + YouTube.

Tuesday 17 April 2018

Quick Quinoa Stir-Fry

Here's one for the lazy vegans who don't want to spend an age in the kitchen. I had the opportunity to try out a range of West-African-inspired sauces by Marie's Little Jar. Cue a week or so of quick meals put together in 10 minutes or less, but still bursting with tons of flavour. And don't be put off by my use of quinoa in this recipe (if you are so inclined to be put off by quinoa...?) because you can easily substitute it with rice, couscous, or any other leftover cooked grains you've got.

You know the drill. If you haven't already, be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel for these weekly videos!

Tuesday 10 April 2018

Plantain & Mixed Vegetable Fritters

In anticipation of my next pop-up event, here's a quick and easy plantain recipe. A good one if you've got overripe plantains that need using up, or if you're after a fuss-free snack. 

Excuse the inelegant plating of this dish, but this is definitely a case of taste over looks.

Tickets are still available for the Plantain Social coming up on 22nd April. It's going to be a fun night of food and networking with other bloggers, vloggers and creators. See you there!

Tuesday 3 April 2018

Madrid Travel Vlog Part 3 | Vegan Places to Eat

The absolute final part of the Madrid vlog. In this one, highlights of some of my favourite vegan food finds!