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Hitting Home Series: Nyancho NwaNri on being vegan in Nigeria

Nyancho NwaNri is a continental treasure. A Nigerian by birth, Nyancho stays constantly on the move, travelling around Africa and using the power of her photography skills to capture the diversity of African peoples and cultures. Nyancho has also been able to balance a busy work life with healthy living and we are totally in awe of that. In her interview with Engage Africa Foundation, Nyancho takes us through her experiences as a vegan in Nigeria, gives tips on some of her favourite places to get healthy, vegan-friendly foods and highlights her passion for supporting Nigerian farmers. Enjoy:

Please tell us a little about yourself

I am Nyancho NwaNri, a Gamgerian (Gambian-Nigerian) filmmaker and Photographer currently based in Lagos, Nigeria. An African cultural enthusiast who loves to travel and embark on adventures around the continent discovering and investigation our cultures, traditions, history, spirituality and identity. 

For people on a tight budget (eg. students), where are some places in Lagos state or elsewhere in Nigeria, that they can do affordable grocery shopping for vegan dishes?

From my experience, when leading a strict vegan life in Nigeria “affordable” is quite relative/subjective. However, if you possess a strong spirit of haggling, you could work out a good deal by going directly to farmers and vegetable sellers for a supply of fresh produce. Falomo under-bridge is a very good source, Sunday market in Ogba is also a good place to shop, Mile 12 market is wonderful for fruits. There are also some health food shops that stock good produce like FIG in Lekki but I personally prefer to buy from markets or directly from farmers.

Can you share any positive experiences of being vegan in Nigeria?

Being vegan in Nigeria pushes me to go the extra mile to ensure I keep my diet clean and healthy. To do this I have to engage with farmers, food sellers, and producers. This, even with all it’s inherent challenges, brings a sense of fulfilment knowing that I am patronising and promoting local businesses and production, and in my own little way helping the growth of the agricultural sector in Nigeria. I am able to know where my food is coming from and choose the healthier organic sources. I also love having to create vegan versions of our traditional recipes.

Are there any negative experiences? If so, please share.

Unfortunately, there are very few options for eating out if you are someone like me who is always on the go. You have to contend with the crayfish in the moi moi, the meat stock used to cook the jollof rice and tiny little things that easily cancel out the menu options at restaurants, and this can be very disheartening -sometimes frustrating. Man cannot live by salad alone, you know.

Cost and availability are also things to contend with, which is why I mentioned earlier that “affordable” is relative/subjective. Obviously, kale and broccoli are not as cheap and as readily available as ugu and quinoa is several times more expensive than white rice.

It can also be quite difficult to find fun healthy protein substitutes like vegan burger patties, vegan sausages and so on.

Can you list a few restaurants in Nigeria that have a vegan-friendly menu?

I love Thrive in Lekki as it’s a purely vegan, alkaline restaurant. Their meals are gluten-free, soy-free, sugar-free, and strictly non-hybrid organic. Veggie Victory at Freedom Park is also quite good with many options from vegan burgers, vegan shawarma, vegan ofada rice and their vegan chocolate ganache is heavenly. I love So Fresh in Ikeja (Opebi) and Ikoyi for fresh juices and smoothies and I just recently found Dreamfield on Allen Avenue in Ikeja for vegan-friendly sandwiches, paninis, salads which you can actually customise. Lulu Bowls at Mega Plaza, VI offer dairy-free ice cream and other luscious offerings.

How can people connect with you?

I exist in cyberspace at nyanchonwanri.com where some samples of my film and photography work can be viewed and even purchased or my services booked by reaching out through the contact form. I am also annexed on Instagram @nyancho_nwanri. I look forward to connecting with you!

Thank you, Nyancho!

 

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About the Author

Chiamaka Mogo is the Hitting Home Series Manager at Engage Africa Foundation. She is a public policy scholar and President/Founder of the Initiative for Inclusive Dialogue in Nigeria: http://www.iidnigeria.org

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Fighting non-communicable diseases in Africa through the voices and creativity of everyday people

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