I Gained Weight as a Vegetarian, So I’m Back to Eating Meat

June 9, 2022

As Told To Steffi O.

In May 2022, I decided to check my weight for the first time since 2020. Yes, I’d been running away from the consequences of eating like a thief. And the numbers were the most gut-wrenching reality. I was too embarrassed to admit how much I currently weighed to anyone. 

While I worked through those unresolved feelings, I decided to find a solution. I went through a labyrinth of blogs. Keto talked a lot about healthy fat options like avocado, and they remind me of semo because they both look squishy, like baby food. Intermittent fasting seemed like deliberate torture, so I was down for the vegetarian lifestyle. Little did I know that in a bid to find a fit-fam mentor, I’d connect with someone who gained weight on a vegetarian diet. 

Illustration credit: gmast3r, stock

Quite a shocking revelation for me because I’d already envisioned fitting into my old jeans by October. Well, here’s how Paul* went back to the meat life.

Eating animals always irked me out. A moment that stuck with me was when my mum took me to a fish market for the first time. I was 12, and I can’t forget how irritated I felt walking in. I knew we had to kill animals for food but seeing it in real-time seemed incredibly brutal. They smashed stones on the poor fish heads and cut them up. I hated the sight. It looked unethical and void of consideration for the animals. I couldn’t eat the pepper soup my mum made afterwards.

When I talked to her about hating the idea of killing animals for food, she wasn’t bothered. She also didn’t mind me not eating meat or fish at the time. So I paused for a while. That didn’t last long because, at some point, she roped me back into forcing myself to eat meat again. But I got tired. 

RELATED: Every Nigerian Child Hated These 9 Annoying Things About Food

When I was 18, I decided to read some books on the vegetarian lifestyle. One book that struck me was Deep Vegetarianism by Michael Allen Fox. He reaffirmed my position on the cruelty of killing animals, and I decided to push back on eating meat again in 2016.  Of course, my family didn’t take me seriously. My mother still bought suya for the house, and my grandmother never acknowledged the fact I no longer ate meat. Everything at home was still cooked with either meat or fish. 

Since no one was adjusting to my diet, I had to learn how to prepare my own food. The only good thing was having my parents cover the cost of groceries. And since I was eating the typical rice and spaghetti, I didn’t have to stress with anything too extra. The first thing I learnt to cook was definitely some kind of pasta. It was the easiest thing to handle on my own. I lived in Bayelsa and eating out was a chore. You’d think there’s absolutely no meat in the food, and boom, they used crayfish to garnish the whole thing. 

RELATED: Interview With Crayfish: “Igbo People Need To Release Me”

The most annoying part was always ending up with the worst options on any menu. I couldn’t even casually hang out with friends. The worst time was when we were having a barbeque party in 2017. Of course, the options for me were very slim. The only thing I could eat was chips, and I came in too late to get some. I practically left that party licking sauce off a plate and eating a slice of cake. My friends had a good laugh out of it. After all, I chose the vegetarian lifestyle. 

I think my biggest misconception was how healthy I’d probably be by staying away from meat. And that’s what a lot of Nigerians think when they hear “I’m a vegetarian”. But I was loading up on more carbs like rice, bread and pasta every day. I began to notice the weight gain in early 2018. Also, when I started taking anti-psychotic medication that year, one of the side effects was weight gain. But eating 90% carbs wasn’t helping.

I considered buying replacement meat options like tofu, but they didn’t fit in my budget. I also saw the price of protein powder and knew there was no way I could afford it. So I stuck to my carb diet until 2020.

RELATED: 8 Practical Ways to Reduce the Calories in Your Food Before Eating It

My breaking point on being vegetarian was in November. I wanted to apply to culinary school because I wanted to understand food better. But I’d have to work with ingredients like meat as a chef, at least before working my way to becoming more specialised with alternative meat options. Plus this is Nigeria and as a chef, versatility is important. I can’t be picking and choosing so early in a career. It was difficult to think that I’d have to deal with meat again, but my health had also been on a steady decline since 2018. So I decided to try working on my distaste for meat. I made sure I prepared everything myself because it was easier for me to eat. 

RELATED: The #NairaLife Of A Struggling Chef Who Hates Working For People

Looking out for the macros and weighing how much carbs I paired with meat really transformed my health in a year. I didn’t hate trying meat again but it was weird. I tried eating sausages recently, and I was genuinely surprised by the taste and texture. Some part of me had forgotten how certain types of meat tasted. Half the time, it’s been me going “huh” in my head. I’d missed out on all those flavours for four years, so don’t blame me.

I guess if I had to sum up the experience of eating meat again, I’d call it a nostalgic time travel because of the memories each bite brings back.

ALSO READ: You People Are Spending This Much Money on Gym?

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

January 31, 2019

It’s a new year (and it’ll continue to be till at least March). And with new years come resolutions you only intend to keep for a couple of weeks. One of those resolutions for me was to eat healthier.  Turns out many Nigerians had the same plan. But what does it mean to eat healthy? […]

July 11, 2019

A lot is currently going on in the country. Then again a lot is always going on. There is no light, traffic is insane and public office holders are going around slapping tax paying citizens. Reading about how you can help make this tiny corner of the planet we live in still livable in the […]


Now on Zikoko

November 29, 2022

A member of Nigeria’s first family is trending on social media over the mistreatment of a young Nigerian over the past few days. The attention she’s got has come with various taunts, public outcries, and even different forms of body shaming against her and the Nigerian government.  The person in question is none other than […]

Recommended Quizzes

April 1, 2020

Everyone has a Nigerian bank that matches their personality. You could either be as likeable as GTB, as efficient as Access or as mature as First Bank. Either way, all you have to do is take this quiz and we’ll let you know with almost 100% certainty. So, go ahead:

April 9, 2020

At some point in life, we all learnt that someone can be very intelligent and still lack common sense. That’s the difference between being book smart and being street smart. If you’re not sure where on the spectrum you fall, well, that’s what this quiz is here to tell you. Take it:

how much of an ajebutter
February 12, 2020

Are you an ajebutter or not? Well, if you’ve gone through life blissfully unaware of its harshness, then you probably are. Now, we want to know just how high you rank on that ajebutter scale, using your food preferences as a (very accurate) measure. Take to find out:

November 22, 2019

It can be very stressful when you’re trying to find the love of your life, but you only keep meeting people that are exactly like your yeye ex. To help you be more aware of that problem, we’ve created a quiz that lets you know the kind of people you are attracting. Take it to […]

November 19, 2019

Regardless of what society has tried to tell us, enjoying sex is not something to be ashamed of. So, in a bid to celebrate our generation’s sexual agency, we’ve created a quiz that will accurately (again, keep your complaints to yourself) infer how many people you’ve spelt with. Try it out: 11 Quizzes For The […]

More from Chopist


Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

September 13, 2022
Vs The World is a Zikoko original video series that follows best friends Astor and Hassan as they take on the world.
August 23, 2022
Zikoko Ships is a Zikoko Original series where we invite two people who share a relationship to play the Zikoko card games
December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.