I was not planning on writing this blog post but seeing that I went back to my home country for the first time since going vegan, it is definitely important for me to reflect on such a unique experience for me. I do not know where to begin but I know that this is going to be a very long post. There are so many things to discuss such as buying food, cooking food and obviously eating with family and friends so I will try my best to compartmentalize my thoughts in the post.
The one thing that made transitioning into a vegan lifestyle as a Ghanaian so easy was the fact that Ghanaian food is based primarily on whole plant food. Very starch based with plantains, cassava, yam, and grains being the basis of our dishes. These starches are accompanied with hearty and flavourful soups or stews that are either tomato based or contain copious amount of cocoyam leaves, which we call kontomire. The best time to travel to Ghana if you really want access to fresh fruits and vegetables is during the rainy season, which occurs between June to August. During this period, mangos are available at every street corner, bananas and watermelon are sold in large quantities, food is cheaper as there is more rains to hydrate plants, and the colours of even the kontomire leaves are more vibrant and a deeper green. All of this made buying food even more enjoyable because the food just looked so much more nutritious.
If you are looking for fresh produce, there is no need to find a supermarket. Supermarkets are generally far more expensive and the produce does not look that great. Your best bet is in a small kiosk or large outdoor markets. The one my family frequents is a large market called Texpo. Here we bought sweet potatoes (white on the outside and inside and hands down the best sweet potato) kontomire leaves, Ghanaian millet for porridge, a ton of mangos, palm nut oil (which has a red vibrant colour and is full of beta carotene), avocados the size of your head and, of course, a ton of black eye peas.
This was not a problem for me because I had access to a kitchen everyday I was Ghana. Since I was eating Ghanaian food, the family I was staying with did not have any problem. They did ask about what I was cooking and there were the occasional stares concerning my meatless dishes but it was not too much of a problem.
I did bring some food with me but I actually found this quite unneccessary in the end. All I needed was a couple of dates and some almonds for almond milk but non-dairy milks are available in supermarkets in Ghana, so I did not have to go through the problem of making my own milk. I am also a creature of habit so I could have had oats or weetabix every single day and I could be fine or had hausa koko which was pretty much sold at every street corner in the morning.
One neat thing was that I was also able to learn to make some new foods. I spent a few days with one of my childhood friends and I actually even learned some new recipes which I will talk about soon, once I perfect my own recipes
Eating Out with Family and Friends
So this was not really a problem because I cooked most of my meals. But there was one instance where i did have to eat food cooked with fish. When invited to someone’s house, they most likely offer you food and I do not want to be rude so i just ate it and removed the fish. Still unsure if there was egg in the food, but it is what it is.
I had a great time eating my childhood favourites from roasted plantain on the side of the road, or my favourite peanut snacks with my favourite soft drink. I was a happy person and honestly eating a diet little in gluten and processed foods, my body was so happy. I feel like if i lived in Ghana, I would probably be the healthiest vegan. There are a ton of vegan options, a ton of rich plant foods and no vegan cakes, donut or ice cream in site to tempt me. I would have also slowed down on the fried foods and soft drink after a while because it would not have been a luxury for me, since they are not available in Canada. Best believe you will find me back in Ghana permanently, very soon.