How to make a Nigerian Meal Without Meat or Fish

There are not many Nigerians that are vegetarians or vegans but we consume lots of foods that are of plant origin. As a matter of fact, the manner in which we consume plant-based meals has contributed to a significant population experiencing malnutrition related to calorie deficit or too much of calories, inadequate protein and micronutrient deficiencies all over the country; among the young and old and it is more evident in the northern part of the country and more so worsen by crisis. One of the reasons is the lack of variety, inadequate consumption of some foods, overconsumption of others; basically an imbalance in food quality and quantity.


Does this mean that plant-based meals cannot be meet dietary needs? They can but they must provide enough calories and must be varied to get what you need. I wrote this in a previous post.


So, how can we make a varied plant-based meal? Let us look at food groups that constitute a plant based diet:


Cereal Grains:

Examples of cereal grains are Rice, Sorghum, Corn, Millet, Acha, Wheat, Oats, Teff

Roots and tubers:

Examples are Cassava, Yam, Sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes, Coco yam, Beetroot

Pounded Yam with Groundnut soup


Examples are Beans (cowpea), Green peas, Soybeans, Pigeon pea, Kidney beans, Lentils

Nuts and Seeds:

Examples are Groundnut (a legume), Cashew nut, Egusi, Ogbono, Almond seeds

100g of Roasted Groundnuts


Examples are Banana, Plantain, Mango, Oranges, Papaya, Watermelon, Pineapple, Avocado


Leafy vegetables, Garden egg, Tomatoes, Cabbage, Cucumber, Pumpkin, Onions, Okra

Plant oils

Some oils from plants include olive oil, palm oil, coconut oil, soybeans oil, groundnut oil, canola oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, melon oil.


Examples of plant-based meals would be: Rice and Beans with vegetables, Pounded yam with Groundnut soup with vegetables, garden egg sauce containing dawadawa (iru) with cornmeal, Banana and groundnuts, wheat with eforiro and Tofu (soybeans cheese), Akara/Moinmoin and Pap, Garri with Egusi fortified with Dawadawa , Acha porridge with milk, Oat ‘swallow’ with Okra soup and mushrooms. These foods should be consumed with fruits and vegetables to ensure access to more micronutrients.


If you are on a budget and animal protein (meat and meat products; fish and fish products) has become too expensive for your pocket, you can try some of these options and you can enhance the nutrient compositions by adding the little animal proteins that you can afford like sprinkling dried shrimps in your pot of Egusi soup fortified with Iru.


So, if you are eating the different varieties of foods mentioned above (and others not mentioned) in the right quantities then you are eating a varied plant-based meal. But you must ask yourself the following questions:


Can the plant-based meals I eat or intend to eat provide me with enough bio-available iron to meet my body requirement?


Will I be consuming vitamin C rich fruits and vegetables along with the iron-containing foods to maximize the opportunity to get more iron from my food?


How am I going to get vitamin B12 into my body because it can only found in foods of animal origin? Are my planning on taking supplement?


If you cannot answer these questions convincingly, and cannot ensure that your meal is varied, then it would be best that you include foods from animal sources to ensure that your meals are well balanced.


Like I mentioned before, you do not have to add huge chunks of meat or fish if they are too expensive, see this post for some cheaper protein alternatives.


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