black vegans get no love?

December 6, 2006 at 3:00 am | Posted in Black Folks, Culture, Vegan | 17 Comments

the article below is almost 4 years old, but i found it (only recently) relevant. i’ve truncated it to highlight certain points, but you can read the whole article (and other cool ones) in this sister’s online column. enjoy! update: check out soulvegfolk – a social network for healthy & food conscious black folks. black vegans get love here.

The Soul of Holistic Health02.01.03 – by: Nicole D. Sconiers  

Black vegans get no love. We’re shunned at dinner parties, given mistrustful glances on buffet lines and never asked to contribute to the church potluck. I’ve been told more than a few times that my eating habits are “bourgeois,” as if the deletion of meat and dairy from my diet has somehow placed me in a culinary caste system.

… A good friend hipped me to the “Fit for Life” nutritional principles and I adapted a strict vegan regimen to lose fifty pounds. As soon as I took charge of my health, a state of wholeness–physically, spiritually and emotionally–set in.

Once I embarked on this journey into nutrition and wellness, I became hungrier for more knowledge. I went searching for kinship and community and I found both in Dr. Nathan Rabb, a naturopathic doctor and trailblazer in the holistic health field…He caught my attention because his theme song is the psychedelic Curtis Mayfield classic “Junkie Chaser” …But I would soon discover that junkie chaser is an apt description for the work Dr. Rabb is doing in his neighborhood–trying to rid it of the dietary monkeys riding the backs of many blacks.

“Our community suffers greatly because of slave mentality diets,” Dr. Rabb tells me. I’m sitting in his Inglewood office and we kick holistic ballistics for a few hours. A Huey Newton of natural health, Dr. Rabb is passionate about educating people on nutrition. One of the main things we mull over is why blacks seem so reluctant to embrace alternative ways of eating.

“We hold on to traditions,” laments Dr. Rabb. “We still want to eat chitlins on New Years, and we attach that with something that’s supposed to be good luck. I don’t know how it can be good luck when you’re eating waste”.

…A lot of this waste has translated into higher incidences of illness and cardiovascular disease, which is the number one killer of African-Americans. …I’m all for more soul in this holistic health movement. Maybe once African Americans start revolutionizing our dietary habits will we experience a greater level of wellness. Who knows? Maybe even Trader Joe’s and Wholefoods will start opening up shop in our neighborhoods. Maybe the term “black vegan” won’t be viewed as an oxymoron along the lines of “military intelligence.” Whatever the outcome of our mobilization, as Dr. Rabb points out, “the ultimate goal is to eradicate ignorance, illness and disease. Ignorance is number one; it makes more people sick than anything.”

peep the rest of The Soul of Holistic Health and other articles by Nicole D. Sconiers at [Dysfunctional Diva Diatribe]

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  1. hey maurice,
    this article is very interesting and true. alot of people who do not understand the concept of being a vegan or vegetarian (non-dairy, non-meat) feel that you are crazy. but once you get to taste the variety of food choices available to you, then and only then will you began to understand. i know that i am in between now, but i have given up alot of foods and food preparations from back in the day. and to no suprise – the food has tasted better. i used to be concerned about you and what you were eating – especially getting in enough of the essential and non-essential aminos. i am proud to see how you have educated yourself to give your body all that it needs to survive – what to eat before a sports event. wow! oatmeal has been eased aside (smile). i love brown, which i never imagined i would say; that and cooking with 75% less margerine ( including soy garden) i am watching sodium, fat, protein, carbs, fiber and sugar as never before. and james is reading about more health issues and bringing them home for me to read – this is a man that only knew sweet peas as a vegetable now he knows that is a starch veggie.

    i keep shaimiq aware of how much sugar intake he should have and i’m using more brown sugar. i am trying to work with crystal on not using white bread with shaimiq. something is happening because she finally found a whole wheat bread she likes honey oat. maybe now shaimiq will start to get some brown bread (smile) – you know your sister, if she doesnot like she will not give it to shaimiq smile. but you know me, when he is with me i am boosting the wheat not enriched either.

    i am seriously baking vegan sweet potatoe cheese cake this weekend. i will go to the healthfood store on the junction to see if they have the vegan cream cheese, ok?

    mommy is getting tired. i will e-mail you later. oh yeah, i sent auntie von the website info. look out for her anytime. i told her she can leave a comment. my son – the vegan man. mchana!

  2. Great post! Great blog. Glad I found it cuz I thought I was the only one. 😛

    • i would REALLY like the change the way i eat. i believe i should start with the way i think . ive read over and over by any greens necessary, by tracy mcquirter, very good book, i still need more help if some one could email me truly grateful then i can ask my questions. sexysuejay@yahoo.com

  3. thanks for visiting blok…you are not alone…lol

  4. As a new convert to veganism I feel enlightened and calm. I am satisfied with less food and can and don’t have the fuzzy thinking I used to. 32 days vegan and still counting.

  5. great site….an important issue that is all too often overlooked in our community. reassuring to someone is talking bout this and practicing…

  6. PEACE!

    I love your blog and the whole concept of a Blactivegan! Love. It.

    I feel you on the shuns…it’s sad. I actually had a random convo with a Black bodybuilder about the association between colonization, race, love and food. We agreed that it’s part of our history; the beauty of sharing to show love…to put one’s heart (and foot!) into what we offer our friends and family. We have such good intentions when it comes to community and food-sharing, but often times we overlook how the things we are offering up aren’t necessarily contributing to the best quality of life for the ones we love. In that regard, he sympathized with my issues around other folks distrusting my eating habits, food politics or feeling shunned by my genuine appreciation of their offering but polite decline of their food. He felt bad for the ways I find myself outside of things at times…

    Though he was really excited about another Black person understanding what it means to be heartbroken while watching our family, friends and community in general break their bodies down with low-quality foods, when I talked to him about my interests in vegan body building, homeboy was lost. The disconnect was crazy (you know what I mean?!) that he could understand eating “wrong” but thought something was really incongruent about me living a vibrant life with fruits, veggies, beans and whole grains. That made me kind of sad, but I take refuge in folks like you and the fact that brother was living his life right on the fitness tip anyway!

    Black vegans don’t always get love, but I’m here to show you and the other Blactivegan fam some!! Best of luck with your awesome blog!

    PS I thought this thread would be about how hard it can be to date as a Black vegan (regardless of your sexuality). Maybe you have a different experience in NYC but here in the Chi, it is nuts in these streets AND extra cold 😦 But it’s alright! It’s alright 😉

  7. Nice. I just decided to do a random google search and found your blog. Thanks!
    I am a vegan (seven months and counting), and actually just finished talking to my “meatatarian” cousin, LOL. I do agree that our culture is reluctant to veganism and it sets our friends and families up for failure. I had to educate myself a great deal before I made the transition and I was astonished at the things that I learned. My dad was the only one to completely support me, my mom still tries to convince me that I “need meat” and won’t be able to “find a black man that doesn’t eat meat”! Good to know they do exist, LOL.
    Thanks again, I will definitely continue to check your blog out!

  8. The discrediting attempt to paint vegans or vegan dieters as “bourgeois” is quite common, and needs to be addressed.

    Here is the rebuttal, share it widely:

    *******************************************************
    The attempt to discredit vegans or vegan dieters as bourgeois or spoilt, bases on the “logic” that vegans don’t eat everything what “normal” eaters eat, hence they are choosy. And choosy can only be who can afford it, just as if ethically motivated vegans were on the same level with a “gourmet”, who enjoys only the finest of all like truffels and caviar.

    This is a classical naive fallacy.

    Because if you look more closely at this objection to veganism, you’ll quickly discover that the exact opposite is true. It’s factually the average diet of the “normal” eater which reeks of bourgeois affluence.

    The huge variety of animal based products in supermarkets and other food outlets is economically a gigantic waste of resources, since multiple amounts of weight in plant foods like soy or wheat are needed to have one amount of “meat” or “milk”, ethical concerns aside. And such a huge waste of resources can only take place in a society of extreme affluence. For vegan nutrition this wealth would not be a prerequisite, because plant based foods do not take a wastful detour through being compacted into animal bodies since they are consumed directly. It takes about 9-14kcal to produce just 1kcal of animal based foods. Most of the worlds agricultural surface is occupied just for that purpose, to produce feed for the victims. This is why the same investment of agricultural surface for a plant based nutrition can feed many more people. And this is why the ecological impact of the vegan diet is so little compared to other nutritional systems.

    So exactly the reverse is true. Not vegans who avoid things what others eat are “spoilt or bourgeois”, but the normal, average eater, who wants to have everything and not abstain from anything, is; no matter how many resources are wasted, not matter how much of the environment is destroyed and no matter how many animals have to suffer and die!

    Another variant is, that a “poor hungry African” (you know the type) who has to focus on sheer survival can’t think about animal rights, and because vegans can, they are bourgeois. This is also nonsense. Even though it is true, that if you are faced with sheer survival you aren’t likely to think about things outside of that struggle, this not only affects the vegan diet or animal rights. In such an emergency situation, a person would also not think about the freedom of speech.

    However, no one in their right mind would claim that this is proof that people who fight for freedom of speech are therefore spoilt or bourgeois.
    *********************************************************

    • I totally agree with this post, and I wanna say it in a simple way:

      – You get a lot more protein and calories for your money by eating peanuts, beans, pasta, and other non-animal foods.

      – Meat and eggs are basically second-hand foods. For every pound of meat you eat, an animal needs to eat 20 pounds of food. This is why meat is more expensive. The government tries to make it cheaper by subsidizing meat farmers, but either way we pay for it in taxes.

      – Going vegan will save you money, as long as you still eat processed foods. You don’t have to be bourgeois.

  9. I googled “Black Vegan” and this popped up, pretty interesting including the comments. The vegan vegetarian lifestyle is BEYOND complex, especially when your surrounded by ppl that aren’t open-minded and supportive of the transition. I’ve endured A LOT of negative criticism and ridicule from friends and family but I’ve remained strong in my beliefs of treating my body and mind with much LOVE and I intend to do that until the end of time. Now all I need is a cute vegan bf lol

    Peace & Light

  10. just wanted to come to this website and get sum knowledge

  11. Oh goodness the price you pay for caring about this world, others and yourself is high. There is no way that I can take a life just to eat a meal. I feel that others are in fear/envy of the level of self control and morals Vegan’s possess. That’s when the labeling starts like with any other fear complex. Yes (black) African (we are so much more than just a colour label that was given to us in the neo-colonialist West) Vegans have a hard time in society – but it’s better than compromising your spirituality, morals, principles, health, wellness and self-love. I’d rather feel good about myself and connect with others that do the same. “Better to be alone, than in bad company” George Washington.

  12. Iam so glad to know that there are other blackvegans going through it . Family members , co workers and friends are constantly telling me to eat meat and that Iam not eating enough when in reality its not how much you eat but what you eat. Eating dead flesh and drinking milk that is meant for baby animals doesn’t equal good health nor does cleaning your plate until the last crumb is gone. Half of my family on my dads side has high blood pressure, diabetes and other diet related illnesses which is one of the main reasons I decided to switch to veganism. Not to mention, veganism has completely changed my outlook on what I put in my temple and the horrific treatment practiced on animals just so that we can stuff our faces at the next bbq. Now , Im not trying to be self righteous which vegans are often accused of but my people need to open their minds and realize that being a slave to scraps the master didn’t want to eat only hold our body hostage . We are free now and free to make better decisions.Eating healthy is not a white thing as if being Black means being unhealthy . Furthermore, I hate when people say that being a vegetarian or vegan is expensive because thats is a load of untruth. I have actually slashed my grocery bill in half and thats good considering that Iam a struggling college student .

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