Diaspora Ask Is Vegetarian African Food or Plant base Suitable?

The question, ‘Can Africans be vegetarian?’, is a popularly searched topic. Some people become defensive, quiet or recoil. Some offer an optimistic ‘yes!’ to this question. Here’s the thing, I went through 11 stages of grief when removing meat, fish, and eggs from my foods. So I can share insight on this question and more on how to change your relationship with food.  Regardless of the year-round fresh fruits and vegetables, some Africans doubt plant protein or vegetarian African food as a source of nutrition. This article clarifies why some people are defensive about keeping meat in their diets. We would like to help persons who find themselves at a crossroad about where to get their protein. Just because we publish food in Liberia and authentic African food inspirations, does not mean this insight will hammer you with recipes for African food.

Also, my experience is basically based on food in Liberia; one of the fifty-something nations in Africa. I’m not interested in vexing you about how to change your relationship with food. I simply want to answer this question about vegetarian African food based on my experience.

Why Some Resist No-meat in Traditional Recipes for African food?

An African can be vegetarian or plant-based. But some resist because it is unfamiliar socially and not tolerated (behaviorally). Other people think learning new things is hard or impossible. At the time, the idea of not eating meat as an African felt foreign and wrong! I got upset at people for even suggesting no-meat food to me. I thought: How do I live? This is the first phase of the grief process: the mental battle where we think, think and think. In fact, my explanations and reasons for eating meat and fish seemed stuck in cultural social identity. Also, I knew that no meat or no fish would be difficult for the people around me to understand.

POV on vegetarian African food and how to change your relationship with food.

I remember they said that society associates meat and fish with a “good body.” Whereas salad is what you eat when you don’t want to have “fine, fine, body”; salad is diet and poor man food. There is also the reality that when a person fills their pot with all kinds of animals (goat, pig, fish, cow, chicken, snails, etc), it implies they are rich and are doing very well financially. Authentic African food like Liberian Dry Rice or Gari & Sugar Poor Man Food got their names from this fact. Some Africans resist vegetarian African food or the plant-based lifestyle because they think no meat or fish equates to poverty. Or they fear their friends will laugh at them if they are not plump and don’t have a king’s belly. Spoiler alert: Plant protein and constant red palm oil can do that. 😊

An African Remembers More than they Think

Five years into the plant-based lifestyle I remembered there were vegetarian people that lived among us in Monrovia, Liberia. Of course, food in Liberia is 95% vegetables, herbs, and fruits. Animal products make up a small percentage. Why? Meat and fish are expensive! I think people who left villages and settled in cities understand that authentic African food entails what they pluck from their farms and put on their tables. They helped me remember how to change your relationship with food to accept vegetarian African food. Nowadays, it seems like people want to outdo each other in their recipes for African food regarding how many kinds of animals they can fit into a pot. No one talks about bad relationships with food.  To answer simply, yes, Africans can be vegetarians or plant-based. Because we know that lifestyle like we know the back of our hands.

Doubt Authentic African Food Won’t Taste ‘Good’ without Meat

This was me. I wondered about it a lot when I was at the ‘meat versus no-meat/fish’ crossroad. Keep in mind, ‘good’ implies flavor, smell, and a good feeling. People are generally nostalgic about things, and food is a big part. I doubted that palm butter would be the same without smoked turkey or fish. Or, that Jollof rice would taste good without chicken and sausage. In reality, the mouthwatering feeling I had for these authentic African foods had nothing to do with the animal ingredients.

For example, fever leaves are what make Yassa (Cassava leaves) sing. And kablai (palm butter leaves) in a soup is what gives that mouthwatering feeling I fondly remember. Pinto beans stew or Attieke with all its mere plant ingredients tastes divine with the usual seasoning. There is a skip in my steps when I’m about to make Gari Yorkor; it’s because of the smell of red palm oil, fermented yucca, and raw onions. As I said, this is a rebirth journey, for the first time in this life, I am able to experience authentic African food involving only the plants. Shocking how it is consistently delicious! Dammit, I cried when I was eating some of them! Tears of Joy. 😊

Vegetarian African food shows how to change your relationship with food starts with authentic African food, general recipes for African food or explore food in Liberia.
Red oil on gari yokor

Bad Relationship with Food Is Rampant

Now, I’m not one to point fingers but how to change your relationship with food is a course parents & schools skipped. The screenshot below is proof that some folks have bad relationships with food. Sure, food in Liberia is plenty and some of us have wondered if adults tried a tactic like this parent is trying to do. I think recipes for African food remain delicious. Whether they are authentic African food (hard-to-find ingredients) or simple vegetarian African food. Some give over-rated credit to goat, chicken, or crawfish. When, in reality, the palm oil, leaves, greens, salt, and pepper are what make the meal sing. 

vegetarian African food explores how to change your relationship with food observing authentic African food with recipes for African food starting with food in Liberia.

Dah it there oh! I nah say my own. What are your thoughts? Comment below. And if you are interested, I am on a journey to learn about different African countries through plant-based food. Join the journey by subscribing and you’ll get a monthly notification. I will bring you recipes for African food as well as vegetarian African food. Meat and fish-eaters, you are welcome to join.  Zanzibar, here we come! Virtually, of course. 😉 Curious about a no-meat food lifestyle? Check out our Instagram page for real-life inspirations 😊.

Suggested Recipes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *