From Frugivore — With copious notes and copies of VegNews and PETA Vegetarian Starter Kits, I entered in the room prepared to give my lecture on vegan living. I was very excited about the opportunity to speak to women of color who had survived domestic violence. I reached out to this transitional shelter about coming to speak to the ladies about the alternative ways of eating with a focus on veganism. I wasn’t quite sure how I would be received, as the ladies were unaware about the focus of this particular health class. However, I was prepared for any resistance that could possibly come my way.
I must say that I was pleasantly surprised that I was not met with stares as if I was wearing celery stalks growing out of my nose. Instead, I was met with a mix of intrigue and excitement. Their curiosity was piqued and I was pleased. None of the ladies resembled the usual picture of veganism, but they wanted to know how they could do it and I was there to help be their guide.
I stumbled upon vegetarianism back in 2001 and fought my way through my cheese addiction to become a full vegan in 2006 and have never looked back. It is definitely one of the best decisions I’ve made in my adult life. By embracing the vegan lifestyle, I did have to accept all of the judgment and questions that often come along with it. I had to be comfortable and confident in my choice and be ready to defend this eating lifestyle among family, friends, co-workers, and even strangers.
I must say that it still does baffle me that a plant-based diet is strange to some, but eating processed meat that is treated with ammonium hydroxide is normal. However, I do believe that a vegan diet is gaining momentum within the African-American community, but we have a long way to go. We still do not see Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s in certain parts of town and the quality of produce available at most conventional grocery stores leaves much to be desired and organic choices oftentimes are not even part of the equation.
What I work to do is remove the stigma associated with veganism and promote it as a satisfying eating choice among people of color. I started with my family and make it a point to prepare healthful and delicious vegan meals whenever I go home for a visit. I believe that vegan food is often thought of as boring and lacking flavor and that could not be further from the truth. Unfortunately, many of our food traditions are heavily laden with fat, salt, grease, and white sugar. What good are collard greens without the flavoring of a ham-hock? Plenty!
We are dying slow and painful deaths all in the name of fried chicken and it needs to stop. There is too much information available these days about the risks associated with the consumption of meat, most specifically in our community.
According to an article in womenshealth.gov, “Of all minority groups, African-Americans have the most, and many times the largest, differences in health risks when compared to other minority groups. African-Americans have more disease, disability, and early death as well.” This can easily be prevented and many conditions such as heart disease and diabetes can be reversed by changing what you put on your plate. I understand that not all people will adopt a vegan diet, but if you can just make a few changes and cut back on overall animal consumption, this act alone can make a huge difference in the long run.