Name: Toyin Akinbuli
Occupation: Recent MBA Graduate
Location: Worcester, MA
How long have you been vegan? And what inspired your journey?
For roughly two years, I have been vegan. I like to say that I did not become a vegan; veganism became me. As a six-year-old kid living in Lagos, Nigeria, we had a big Sunday breakfast. It was the one time a week that we ate a big family meal together. I never could eat the scrambled eggs, as it irritated me. As a replacement, my mum would make a stew sauce, which I ate with potatoes and yams. Additionally, I was not a big fan of milk either, so I hardly added it to my teas.
From age six to seventeen, I pretty much cut out eggs in life until I started college. I would go with my friends to these dreadful weekend brunches and order what my friends ordered, trying not to throw it up later. My body was rejecting it (even worse when cheese was melted on top of it). By senior year, I seldom ate eggs and switched to organic milk, only drinking it in moderation. On New Year’s Day of January 2004, I decided to become a pescatarian, switched to soymilk, but thought I could not give up cheese, as it was a perfect complement to wine.
A year later, I also gave up fish but went to Nigeria for volunteer work. While there, I visited my parents, who did not understand my new meatless lifestyle. My mum insisted that I needed to eat flesh, so I returned to being a pescatarian. It felt tolerable rather than attempting to bridge my cultural views and explain the reason I chose a meatless lifestyle. Plus, most fish stews were cooked separately than meat stews at restaurants, so that helped my decision.
Nigerians see the act of consuming meat as a sign of wealth and the ultimate source of protein, so why would anyone make a decision to not eat meat? As an African female, even if you make a personal decision not to eat meat, you’re still expected to cook meat for your spouse and/or your in-laws when they visit your home. Although I date all kinds of people, most African men are not vegetarians or vegans. If dating one, I am expected to switch my eating “habits” or get comfortable with the repercussions of my being vegan. Maybe I’ll eventually find that holy grail of a partner who is Nigerian vegetarian or vegan, or someone open to living in a foreign country. I feel that I am stuck in two worlds and I don’t fit neatly into either.
Has veganism enhanced your health? Why or why not?
Even as a kid, I was always a healthy eater. You could not bribe me with a candy, as I would tell you it’s too sweet and I’d rather eat something else. During graduate school, I embraced a vegan lifestyle and noticed that it helped with clarity while studying. I also did not gain weight from sitting and studying for hours on end. Veganism helped me understand the impact of detoxing and eating the right foods. I am still a work in progress, but I enjoy eating a lot of vegetables, especially kale in its most raw form to achieve its fullest nutrients.
In retrospect, how do you feel about meat? Or do you have any thoughts on America’s meat industry?
While my switch to vegan life was health inspired, it’s also enhanced my spiritual connection to all that is natural and pure. I’ve embraced a holistic way of living and discovered through that connection humanity and nature. Veganism ties to the impact of our choices in consuming animal products and its dire effects on our environment. Not to mention, meat’s impact on the Black community is astronomical. We have record high levels of obesity, diabetes, heart attacks, and much more. It’s important that we comprehend the adverse effects of our food choices and the cumulative effects on our health, families, and community as a whole. We need to adopt healthier food choices.
Was there a community of black women that helped you along your meatless journey? And if not, what are you doing to change this for others?
There was no community, but I started this journey with one of my closest friends, Breeze Harper. While life took us on different paths (and she embraced it with more zeal and gusto than I did), I knew I had to get there on my own. And Breeze was always a reference point! Where I live, there aren’t many minorities, but I do try to get talk about my food choices. I try not to force it, but it’s especially harder in the African community to get people to understand the importance of veganism and what it represents. Not only does veganism have health benefits, but it also offers abundance spiritually and saves our environment.
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Thanks for the awesome story! That really makes me take into consideration how easily I slip into different lifestyles (pescatarian, vegan, raw vegan) without any social/cultural repercussions but clearly that’s not the same for everyone. I don’t know if I could have withstood the pressures of my family and culture and I applaud Toyin for standing by her convictions! Kudos!! You are clearing the path for other men and women who may choose similar lifestyles!
Thank you for the kudos- but like you said its definitely tough, and I know what I am getting from it and try to navigate myself as much as I can- without stepping on any one’s toes or denying myself; but its hard 🙂
I was delighted to read this..congratulations Toyin.pls keep up and keep fit.
IVU Africa Regional Coordinator.
Nice to hear that we have some Nigrians who are vegans. I have been a vegan for 12 years and I wish to meet Nigrians who vegetarians/vegans from all parts of the world. I live i London Please call me on 07958107847/07589502298. Thanks. Ade
From a fellow Nigerian Vegan: We may be few now; but I know with time, many more will join this healthy lifestyle. You should be prou that no more animals are dying so we can feed our faces!!
I have been a vegeterian 4 5months now and i have not found any other person apart from on internet.i live in lagos.i am currently 17.my phone number is 08188867816.AND ALSO I WILL LIKE YOU TO JOIN THIS GROUP ON FACEBOOK ‘Naijaveg’.i look forward to meeting you.
I have been a vegeterian 4 5months now and i have not found any other person apart from on internet.i live in lagos.i am currently 17.my phone number is 08188867816.AND I WILL LIKE YOU TO JOIN THIS GROUP ON FACEBOOK ‘Naijaveg’.i look forward to meeting you.
Hi Toyin. I’ve been a Lacto-vegetarian for about 3years now. I’m 28. I evovled slowly into becoming one when I discovered I had egg allergies/ love for mother Earth. Found dis blog cos its quite finding someone to Marry dat isn’t a Veggie. And also make new friends. I like d part U said Veganism became U. So true.
Thank you and much love for sharing your stories. Your story resonates with the Universe. Now let me add some ancestral and historical points for more clarity. Plant based nutrition, otherwise known as vegan (ism) has been on course for thousands of years. If you are becoming a vegan, you are only returning or remembering part of yourself that’s been dismembered for a long time. You are now reconnecting to the higher self of your nature and resonating with Mother Nature. Even after the original fall of man (woman), people still holding on to plant based nutrition for sustainability on all levels. I concur with your expression that vegan lifestyle gives clarity. I know this for my own experience.
Eating animals for protein is a myth. In my humble opinion, eating animals is a fallacy, and is part of the package which accompanied the fall of original man. When you research about world cultures pertaining to nutrition, science, religion, human history, spirituality and others, the truth about animal consumption is hidden and revealed at the same time. Seek within and intuition will guide us. As for finding vegans, the world is still incredibly vegan. Direct your energy to finding vegan friends, including potential soul mate, the Universe got your back.
Vegan/plant based nutrition is one of many things that need to be done in reconnecting to our ancestral root and Mama Nature.
Sorry for the expressions of mine.
I have some works geared toward remembering ancestral vegan roots on omoagbametala.wordpress.com, omoagbametala (youtube) and on my website: http://www.wamikampt.com
Thank you for your experience and the will to share it.