Vegan travel: Nigeria

'Nuff said

With a population of over 10 million people, Lagos is the second largest city in Africa. It’s a city of extreme contrasts, with some of the largest and poorest slums on the African continent (shanties built on sticks and piles of rubbish over the city’s lagoons) and some of the wealthiest individuals as well.

Fancy yachts in the posh part of Lagos

The city is notorious for its traffic jams. Because it has grown so quickly, the roads struggle to deal with the numbers of cars, motorcycles and other assorted vehicles.

Strangely quiet for a Lagos road

I must admit that I didn’t spend much time in Lagos on this visit, so I can’t even begin to rate its restaurants or market offerings for vegan-friendliness. What I can say, though, is that the city has all sorts of cuisines on offer, including Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Thai, Lebanese, etc. While I was there, I enjoyed traditional fried plantains.

fried plantains... delicious if not exactly healthy

Other meals included tabbouleh, which was missing the bulgar wheat (though I think I actually liked it better this way… more greens), and a very decent if slightly too oily foul medames (fava beans).

tabbouleh salad

foul medames

I also had a rather mediocre stir-fry.

Vegetable stir-fry with noodles

After Lagos, I went to Abuja, Nigeria’s capital for the past 10 years (it used to be Lagos, then Abuja was purpose built in the 1980s to become the capital). Because it’s so new, it feels a bit artificial. The relative calm compared to Lagos is nice, but it’s all a little soul-less. Bizarrely, even the flowers sold by the side of the road in Abuja are fake!

Fake flowers for sale, with national church in background

Much of the architecture is very grandiose– the national church above and national mosque below are just two examples.

Nigerian national mosque

As the seat of the federal government and thus the home of many bureaucrats and diplomats, Abuja is also a very expensive city. However, once you accept the crazy prices, there’s plenty of good food to be had. For instance, the Salamander Cafe has great coffee, vegan options on the menu (even tofu!) and a nice little bookshop attached.

the bar at cafe salamander

Tofu scramle with a side of greens and spicy potatoes

fresh squeezed juice

the bookshop at salamander cafe

I also went to a Lebanese restaurant called Al Basha, where I had another very nice tabbouleh, and a decent baba ghanoush (apologies for the bad picture quality, I took them in the semi-darkness on my phone).

tabbouleh

baba ghanoush (with a bit too much oil)

I even saw soy milk for sale in the grocery shops. Sadly, I didn’t get to try out any akara (patties made from black-eyed peas, fried of course). Maybe next time. Of course, when all else fails, I always have my raw vegan energy bars on hand to fill in between meals or to take the place of meals if there’s no time to eat.

raw vegan energy bars

Any suggestions for vegan eating in Brazil?

 

 

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