Black Vegans – Are More Black Americans Going Vegan?

| 02/01/2014 | Reply

Afya Ibomu is a vegan. She is one of a relatively small, but growing, number of African-Americans who have given up animal-based food products.

black vegansHer decision to convert to veganism was motivated by poor health; she suffered from asthma, allergies, irritable bowel syndrome, and chronic dehydration as a child. “I became a vegetarian at age 15,” says Ibomu. “My health improved somewhat, but it did not completely get better until I became a vegan.”

Are more African Americans embracing veganism?

In fact, despite African-Americans traditionally being known as meat eaters, a number of black A-list celebrities have become advocates of the vegan lifestyle, including the likes of Erykah Badu, Tia Mowry, Russell Simmons and Mike Tyson.

Even Oprah Winfrey recently highlighted the veggie cause, by going on a 21-day vegan cleanse. In her blog, chronicling the ups and downs of the diet, she wrote, “I am, for sure, more mindful of my choices.”

“I’m eating a far more plant-based diet,” Winfrey continued. “Less processed food. Thinking about sugar and fat consumption not in terms of calories, but in terms of what happens to my well-being.”

Ibomu, author of The Vegan Soul Food Guide to the Galaxy, and who at one time was the personal nutritionist for Erykah Badu, says high-profile vegans are making plant-based diets and healthier eating options “more visible” in the black community.

Traci Thomas, founder of the Black Vegetarian Society of Georgia, which organizes the annual Meat Out-Vegetarian Food and Holistic Health Fair in Atlanta, says attendance has trebled in just five years, with more vegetarians and vegans coming through the doors.

Princess Dixon, is owner of Healthful Essence, a black owned Atlanta restaurant which specializes in Caribbean style vegan cuisine. She explains that, in her 20 or so years of running the eatery, there’s been a huge increase in the number of people sampling the menu, such as André 3000, Boris Kodjoe and retired NBA basketball player John Salley, who all want to “embrace the vegan diet.”

About 3 to 5 percent of U.S. adults are considered full-fledged vegetarians, and about 1-3 percent of people are vegans, says the Vegetarian Resource Group.

“Back in the 1970s, people didn’t even know what the word vegan meant,” says Charles Stahler, co-director of the organization,” In those days less than 1 percent of the U.S adult population was vegetarian, and less than half a percent vegan.”Vegetarians avoid meat, fish and poultry, whereas Vegans eat no meat, fish, poultry, eggs, or dairy products. “The vegan diet is the most beneficial to maintain and restore health,” says Tracye McQuirter, author of By Any Greens Necessary and co-founder of the New York Black Vegetarian Society.

McQuirter, who went vegan 25 years ago, says there is a clear connection between food, diet and health. Many people are aware it is good to eat fruit, vegetables and whole grains but most are not aware of just “how unhealthy meats and dairy products can be,” she says.

Order your copies of these vegan cookbooks below. Read the full text of this article on The Grio.

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Category: Veganism and African Americans

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