Amid an increasing popularity of veganism, Black vegans are growing at double the rate, as they discover the health benefits and cultural importance of this ancient practice.
Black people love their food. The culture is abundant with hearty recipes that feature pork chops or ribs. This is and always has been the soul of Black culture.
So it may come as a surprise to learn that blacks are the fastest growing demographic in the trend towards veganism. While mainstream publications like to highlight celebrity conversions and Veganuary, the truth is that only 3% of Americans are vegan. However, within the Black community, the number is double this. African Americans are embracing plant-based diets as part of their natural heritage and growth. Over centuries we have been convinced that their natural diet is one of fried foods and dairy-laden dishes because it was sold to them. Cheap ingredients like cornmeal and grits had to be turned into gourmet meals. Adding some savory pork or some deep friend chicken was a way of feeling abundant, sated and happy. However, as we reclaim our heritage and health – many are realizing that plant-based diets may be the answer to curing centuries of health issues and poor nutrition. And we can grow it ourselves!
My vegan journey has been a slow one. First introduced to it by my dear friend Billie Lee, a 10 year vegan who began the journey in unison with her gender transformation, I have always been skeptical. Meat was a daily part of my life as a child. A child of a Nigerian immigrant father and Irish American mother, meat was seen as a symbol of abundance and health. I would after only ask for seconds of the chicken or the steak because my tiny little body craved them.
As I have grown and learned the environmental destruction caused by animal farming, is when I really began to consider what it meant to eat meat in such quantities. For me it wasn’t about the animals per say but about the planet as a whole.
Climate action is my primary reason for embracing a vegan diet. Protecting the planet that has housed my ancestors for millenia is my personal responsibility. And conscious eating and behavior is the root of it all.
I began to experiment with plant based meals, asking Billie to make me delicious food whenever I would be over her place. I began to see that plants can be just as flavorful and satisfying as meat – more so even due to the energy they provide.
I am only a part-time vegan – meaning I only eat meat 2x a week and stick to plants and meat replacements the rest of the time. I feel empowered by my choices everyday – understanding that this is a learning process, a healing process – and that every time I choose plants, I choose the planet.