Wednesday, 19 May 2010 23:36

Vegetarian in Sierra Leone

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This may seem like an odd post, but it stems from a friend who wants to know how her friend can be vegetarian while living in Sierra Leone. She asked if I could recommend a simple cookbook, but before I could answer I had to look up what food is available in the country.

About Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone is a tropical country on the Atlantic Coast of West Africa. It is best known for its blood diamonds that were mined and sold for high prices during the civil war. (Wikipedia)

"Traditional Sierra Leonean cuisine is often adjusted to fit lacto-ovo-vegetarian demands. Although meat plays an important role in most Sierra Leonean dishes, it is possible to find excellent vegetarian cooking in Sierra Leone." (Wikia Lifestyle)
  • The food markets have a very limited selection of “western food”, but there are outdoor markets with fresh produce and bread. (Sierra Leone blog)
  • Rice is the staple food
  • Root vegetables like cassava and sweet potato are popular, and nuts (especially peanuts) can be easily found. (Sierra Leone blog)
  • Tomatoes, corn, beans, cabbage, carrots, eggplant, radishes, and onion can be found too (Sierra Leone blog; Every CultureWikia Lifestyle)
  • Tropical fruits like mango, papaya, plantains, pineapple, and cashew fruit are available depending on the season. (Sierra Leone blog)
  • Ginger beer is a popular drink
  • "Kola nuts are highly valued in and of themselves, and are often associated with greetings, diplomacy, provisions of respect, religious rites, and initiation ceremonies. High in caffeine concentration, they are also used as a stimulant, a clothing dye, and even in the preparation of medicines." (Every Culture)
  • "Stews are a fundamental part of Sierra Leone's cuisine with groundnut stew having been called the country's national dish" (Wikipedia 2) "Mushroom stews and mashed potatoes are among the most common Sierra Leonean vegetarian dishes" (Wikia Lifestyle)
  • Doesn't seem like cheese is easy to come by (Sierra Leone blog)
  • Pescatarians won't have any trouble in Sierra Leone - seafood is predominant, especially since the country has one of the biggest harbors in the world. 
Cookbook Ideas
Restaurants with vegetarian options
Other parts of Africa
My friend Carolyn Scott (aka The Healthy Voyager) traveled to Africa and easily found vegan options. Check out her posts:

Do you have any experience as vegetarian in Sierra Leone, or another part of Africa? If so, please comment below and share your advice.
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