From Frugivore Magazine – The statistics are clear: four out of five black women are overweight or obese. Combined with the troubling rates of Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, we have become our worst enemy through poor weight management, minimal exercise, and eating unhealthy. Temporary health solutions will not change our health circumstances; our collective battle with weight and unhealthy eating requires a lifestyle change. There are numerous black women adoptingvegetarian and vegan lifestyles as one solution and rethinking black women’s ongoing relationship with meat. Can a meatless lifestyle benefit more black women? And, how do our perceptions of these eating lifestyles influence our willingness to engage with them?
While vegetarianism and veganism are not limited to one racial, gender, class or age group, the advertised faces of these eating lifestyles primarily are white, skinny, and female. As non-skinny bodies are worshiped within black American communities, how do these stereotypes impact black women’s motivation to pursue these alternative-eating lifestyles?
McDonald’s commercials are saturated with black people, a successful marketing tool for influencing black women to engage with their products. While there are black female vegetarians, vegans, and allies working to racially diversify the public face of these vegetarian and vegan lifestyles, black women cannot afford to wait for someone to market to them. Our children and families follow our eating habits; their health is on the line.
Before you classify this argument as vegetarian or vegan fundamentalism, consider black families’ low access to non-processed or non-genetically modified meats and foods. Our communities are plagued with junk fodder, including fried chicken spots and burger joints that don’t have our community’s health at heart. For cost and production sake, the quality of meat sold in these restaurants barely meets legal health standards and unfortunately, our grocery stores are not much better. If organic meat is accessible, it is high priced and outside the budget range for most black families. With these limited choices, is it smarter to choose a meatless lifestyle for our health benefit or eat what is sold to us?