FEATURE: Itua Iyoha (Naija Vegan Chef)

My journey to veganism started 3 years ago when I started to become more aware of the link between my diet and my health. It started with an article I read about red meat consumption increasing the risk of heart disease – I stopped eating beef. Then I started to investigate the rest of my diet with the goal of cutting out anything unhealthy. My research led me to documentaries like Food Inc., Cowspiracy and Forks Over Knives which showed me the ugly truth about the modern food system. When I realized that eating animal products was harming my health, causing the deaths of countless animals and destroying the planet, I lost my taste for them. I went fully vegan after watching Earthlings; it was like taking the red pill and leaving the Matrix. It was then that I fully understood the scale of humanity’s exploitation of animals, and I immediately wanted no part of it.

My transition to a vegan diet was bumpy at first; there was no shortage of recipes online, but I couldn’t find any that worked for my locality. Ingredients like quinoa and kale were just too elusive and expensive in Nigeria. So I started to create my own vegan recipes using local Nigerian food items like okra, beans and plantains. I decided to put the recipes online to help other vegans in Nigeria who might have the same struggle, and that’s how my blog was born. In the year since I started the blog, it has become a vehicle for my ‘cooktivism’, a way to bring others to the vegan path in the same way that I found it – dietary health awareness.

There’s a lot of misinformation about our food that promotes harmful eating patterns. Along with increased consumption of animal products as a source of protein amongst the middle class, we are seeing higher rates of heart disease and cancer in Nigeria. My hope is that by educating Nigerians on the health benefits of a whole foods, plant based diet while showing them that meat-free meals can be delicious and familiar, my blog will help people move away from this harmful meat-centric food culture. 

I strongly believe mainstream veganism is the answer to so many of the problems the world is facing today. Seemingly daunting environmental issues like freshwater shortages, species extinction, deforestation, ocean dead zones and climate change would be drastically diminished if the scale of industrial animal agriculture could be minimized. We would live much healthier, longer lives. And we haven’t even got to the psychosocial benefits – a world where people have respect and empathy for animals would no doubt be a much more peaceful, nonviolent world. It’s hard to imagine a person who would not hurt a chicken, raising a gun to kill another human being.

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Blog: Naija Vegan Chef
Instagram: @naijaveganchef