Are you on a permanent Ponmo diet? Each time you look into a cooking pot do you imagine everything in there was Ponmo?

When the federal government announced that it was going to ban ponmo(cow hide) in 2014, the defiance against the planned ban was deafening.

Some took to social media to protest the ban with the #BringBackOurKpomo campaign, for a delicacy that is a regular sight at parties, and completes the “assorted” combination of ‘dead animals’ found in stews and soups.

Nigerians were not moved even by the plea of the then minister of Agriculture Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina.

He pointed out that livestock farmers stood better chances of making high dollar returns if the hides and skins were tanned into leather.

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But Nigerians will prefer to savor the fluffy, peppered taste of ponmo and damn any consequence, associated with this cow part.

Even though there have been no health benefits associated with the meal, Dr Yemi Osinaike, a consultant Pediatric Dermatologist who heads the Accident and Emergency section of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), and  Lauren Osewezina a health coach have built a  case against ponmo.

Lauren  told Bounce News that stress and poor eating habits lead to things like stroke and depression, and  the ponmo obsession of many Nigerians form part of the problem.

“Eating red meat is a no-go area, it contains high cholesterol, and too much consumption of it, could lead to stroke, hypertension and other heart related diseases.

"People say chicken is healthier, but you have to remove the skin, because like in the case of ponmo, the skin may still contain the chemicals that were used to preserve them, and this is unhealthy for the body.

"All these, combined with stress will definitely lead to health complications," she explained.

Dr Osinaike also confirms that hard meat contains toxins and warns Nigerians never to eat meat from animals killed that same day.

“The harder the meat the more the toxins.

Which is the reason why in certain countries when you go to their abattoirs they don’t give you meat from animals killed the same day, they leave the animals out to hang, and let the blood drain out naturally, and the muscles relax.

So, those of you that like to say 'just give me the hard one', you are eating toxins. It does not develop the muscles of your cheeks, they grow naturally.

"There is no muscle in your teeth, so you do not need to exercise it, so the best beef to actually eat is one killed the day before. It’s the truth. It’s to reduce the toxins", he advised.

One of the reasons you might see ponmo in the cooking pots of almost every home in the country is because it is cheap, and the cut sizes are bigger that of any other type of meat available in the open market.

Ponmo has been in the average person’s  diet for years, so why would Nigerians care now?

Dr Osinaike believes everyone should care.

 “Just last week, in just one day in a space of 12 hours, we had 4 stroke patients all less than 40-years-old.  Also, we get a lot of younger hypertensives at the emergency unit, so Nigerians should really care.” He noted.

Alhaja Riskat told Bounce News that she makes 60, 000 Naira per day from selling ponmo, while Mary Maduka, who operates a bar parlour on Shaha road said her customers prefer to drink their beer with ponmo, garnished with pepper.

Lauren knows that telling patrons of Mary Maduka’s beer palour or Alhaja Riskat’s customers to ‘repent’ from their ponmo ways will be hard, so she suggests the ‘add and drop method’ for people who are willing to change.

"It's not easy, but the add and drop method is the best way to go about doing these kinds of things. You drop one bad lifestyle and pick up a good one.

"For example, you find alternatives for protein other than red meat, like soya beans or red beans, or you drop eating ponmo and pick up dancing.

"Dancing will not only keep you fit and help you tone your body, it is also good for your mental health” she said.

Until Nigerians find an alternative to their  ponmo diet, they will continue to miss out on the  global leather market that is valued at $75 billion annually, from its non-export of cow hides that has been converted to many edible things, including that peppered steak next to your chilled bottle of drink.

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