Is there any reason why you should not buy roadside meals when traveling in Nigeria? In this post, I will be giving you strong reasons why you should not eat roadside meals when traveling in Nigeria and a list of food items you should avoid while traveling in Nigeria.
When it comes to traveling in Nigeria, road transportation is one of the most common means of transportation here in Nigeria.
Traveling by road is not just the most common means, it is also cheap and can be easily accessed, which makes it one of the best choices the best choice for an average family Nigerian family when traveling back home.
There are more than 250 car parks in Lagos alone, with cars ready for the journey. Most people in Nigeria make it a tradition to visit their home time during festive periods. Before I go into the article in detail, I’ll be sharing a first-hand experience.
I usually travel with my parents and siblings and before these travels, my mum would prepare a meal and store it in a food flask/cooler in case we ever got hungry so I thought.
It’s not a bad idea to prepare your own food just in case of emergencies right? Since you’ve been sitting on a bus for close to six hours and don’t know whether the next stop will have something that appeals to you.
But you’d be surprised to know that MOST of these cuisines you decide to “taste” when traveling can cause serious damage to your health and in a worse scenario, kill you. Getting sick while traveling is an awful thing, so why risk it?
But some years ago, I traveled to the east, Awka to be specific and on my way home our car broke down in Edo state. Lucky for us, we were close to the car park at Ore, Benin City.
We came down from the bus for minor repairs and in that advent, my fellow passengers got hungry and bought a snack and other food for launch.
I am not a voracious eater, so I looked around for something appealing to eat and saw a fellow passenger eating what seems to be wrapped in newspapers. It was suya.
That was around March – August 2017, there were a series of disease outbreaks in Nigeria i.e. Lassa fever, etc. So, I was not willing to take that chance.
I approached him and asked him “what are you eating?”
“Na meat”- he said.
“which meat be that” – I asked.
He was silent. The complete event is stated below. He did not know if he was eating beef, pork, or monkey. This was sad.
There is a tendency that we get hungry during long-distance trips (stress eating) and would love to try delicacies and cuisines of local indigenous tribes but try to avoid eating what you don’t know.
Here is a list of 8 food, items, and drinks you should avoid eating when traveling in Nigeria.
Table of Contents
Barbecue steak is popularly known as locally known as suya in Nigeria. Suya is usually grilled meat sometimes fish. Barbecue steak is served everywhere from hotels to the roadside, beaches, and close to popular markets.
It is usually prepared along the roadside to attract their customers. But some of the meat sold along the way are roadkill. Yes, your meat was probably just running over by a car.
We were still at Ore for about 30 minutes waiting for the bus repairs to be completed. Then three men entered the park with a dead dog (which looked like roadkill), 3 cane rat (bushmeat), and a monkey (these looked like they were hunted).
These items were sold to three suya sellers in the park. And I saw them skinning these animals, so it can be used for suya. Not a lot of people have this experience when traveling; because most buses and van that stop at the park do not stay longer than 20 minutes before they head off.
We were there for close to two hours and I witnessed the whole ordeal between the Suya men and the hunters.
This is an unethical business practice, worse it’s dangerous if consumed. These “meats” are not even washed with hot water.
Hot water would make the meat tender and give it a pale look. Since it’s not washed with hot water, chances of parasitic pathogens in the muscle tissue and skin surface are retained.
Undercooked meat often tastes really good but you should consider avoiding it, at least when you’re not 100% confident about its method of preparation.
The CDC also advises against eating “bush meat”, undomesticated games, and wild animals. Raw bush meat has been suspected of transmitting dangerous viruses like the Ebola Virus, rabies, and other infections animal-to-human viruses.
Cooked meat can still be problematic for travelers and other people whose bodies are not well equipped to fight local bacteria. This makes it dangerous for consumption. Instead of buying suya, prepare pepper soup or make your barbecue steak before you travel. How good does that sound?
2. Roasted Plantain
Roasted plantain is popularly known as Bolle is another popular snack you should not eat when traveling in Nigeria. No, Bolle is not roadkill but can be equally dangerous. When traveling you get to see more than roasted plantain, you’ll also see fried plantain, plantain chips, and unripe plantain being hawked along the roadside.
Since they have to run after buses when there is traffic, they don’t carry all their wares. They hide them in nearby bushes, hawking only a dozen or two so it doesn’t fall when they run after moving vehicles.
Let’s be honest here, it may be healthy but their method of storage and security is bad. And do note these roasted plantains are prepared from home and carried to the roadside in nylon bags. This can lead to a series of illnesses if consumed and even if the food has been on display for some time, it is susceptible to contamination.
Instead of buying hawked roadside Bolle, buy Banana from any of the women selling bananas there. Inspect the banana and wash it with cold sachet water before you start peeling it off for consumption.
If you do travel, there is a tendency that you will get thirsty and if you forgot to pack your water before your journey, it can be problematic. Water sold along some major highways in Nigeria poses a very serious risk factor. Some of them have been left under the sun for too long and the exposure to excess UV rays makes them unsafe for drinking.
If you want to get a drink, purchase one from a store, shop, or vendor in a park where the water is decently protected from sunlight rays or stored in a freezer. Even better you can remember to bring along your own bottled water when traveling.
Please don’t say that this is Nigeria nothing go happen na normal thing. If you get cancer, the whole country won’t share the health condition with you.
So stay safe.
Some weird sets of people even drivers are ok with buying alcohol along the way for consumption. Ogogoro as it is known in Nigeria is a local brew, gin, or beverage that acts as an elixir or medicine for some illness or just taken to sharpen the senses.
I don’t believe that drinking these local beverages will make your vision stronger and you shouldn’t too.
Most of these local beverages are sold along highways where interested parties can stroll for a taste of their local brew.
If you’re trying to stay healthy while traveling, do not wander into the potentially deadly world of ogogoro, palm wine, moonshine, rotgut, hooch, and Igbo. Questionable water, storage chemicals, and mixtures used to make these beverages can lead to serious illness, especially for uninitiated non-locals.
You should avoid taking Ogogoro while traveling for your safety and the safety of others.
Agbo is a local home-made brew/medicine usually made with herbs and other substances “used to treat certain illnesses”. Nigeria is a country where we believe that Agbo is a cure for every illness and a lot of people have taken advantage of this.
It is even believed that bitter Agbo does bigger and better jobs to strengthen the immune system and fighting germs and diseases than most modern pharmaceutical drugs. The bitter the substance the more effective it seems.
There is an Agbo for everything HIV, Diabetes, Covid19, Malaria, Ebola. My uncle nearly lost his life because he was taking Agbo that was recommended for his health condition. He learned the hard way, I pray you don’t.
The vendors simply mix herbal concoction stored in a can and sell it for consumption without any question. Yes, Agbo is quite cheaper compared to other modern medicine, but it’s no reason to put your life at risk.
This is wrong and it’s even more dangerous to consume while traveling. You don’t only put your life at risk, you also endanger the lives of other travelers. If you ever feel funny or sick be sure to take your medicines before you travel. Bring along your inhaler, meds, and other items you might need.
6. Fruits and Vegetables
For a vegan or dietitian, fruits and vegetables are better than meat and other junk foods. But when purchasing your favorite fruit and vegetable, make sure that that fruit is properly washed with clean water.
You should avoid fruits that don’t come with thick outer layers. Fruits with thick peel are protected from tainted water and soil and are considered safe to eat just about everywhere.
Bananas, mangoes, pineapple, and papayas, Cucumber, garden eggs, oranges, etc. are among the delicious fruit protected by their tough peels.
The World Health Organization advises against green-leafed vegetables, they can contain dangerous microorganisms that won’t necessarily wash off with water. And in places where the water is of questionable quality, washing can be a problem.
For maximum safety, peel the fruit yourself, and make sure any cutting equipment is clean and dry before you start peeling the skin of the fruit.
Snails are usually sold close to the Niger bridge buy hawker in Asaba, to be sincere they look good and tasty but I won’t recommend them for consumption in certain conditions. They are exposed to flies and other airborne bacteria, which are harmful to your health.
They can also be the source of some truly gnarly illnesses like anisakiasis and seafood poisoning. Anisakiasis is a raw-fish-based invasion of worms that infects the human gastrointestinal tract.
Seafood poisoning also has worse symptoms like vomiting, stomach ache, chest pains… If the roasted snails on sticks are not properly cooked or preserved, they can lead to serious health complications.
8. Assorted Drinks and Milk
You should avoid locally prepared drinks like Kunu, Zobo, Soya Milk, unpasteurized dairy products, or snacks when traveling. Food and drinks might cause stomach upset because they were poorly prepared and unfit for consumption.
According to the FDA, some drinks like these are 150 times likely to cause a foodborne illness. So, when traveling always get yourself ready. Especially when it comes to food and money, remember health is wealth.
This is our shortlist of foods you should think twice about before eating while traveling in Nigeria, especially if you’re in a place with questionable water quality.
Before you start eating the local cuisines, remember that you haven’t spent time to train your immune system to withstand the local bacteria and germs in that region.
This list was not made to destroy anyone’s business, instead, you can choose to change your bad business practice if you indulged in anyone I mentioned and take good care of your health and those of your countrymen.