Name: Khaleeqa Rouse
Age: 26
Location: New Jersey
Occupation: PR and Media Consultant and Founder of

How long have you been vegan? And what inspired your journey?

For most of my life I have been a pretty healthy eater. My parents would not allow us to eat red meat or have much sugar. However in college I had my first hamburger and then I began to open myself up to unhealthy foods. Before I knew it in 2008 I was a full blown (and blown up lol) unhealthy eater. In 2009 I became very active and in 2010 I ran my first triathlon and I became a vegan. Now I am still about 85% vegan and I occasionally will have fish or dairy if I am out or I sense my body needs more protein. My inspiration was the desire to live a healthier life; I went on a really long 40 day detox and when I was done I refused to go back to old eating habits. You can read more about my weight loss story here, the journey has been remarkable and there is no looking back.

Has veganism enhanced your health? Why or why not?

It really has significantly helped my health. I feel my energy level is through the roof. I have not really gotten sick in over a year and my digestive system is amazing. I also lost weight and have been able to maintain my current weight easier then in the past. In general I just feel great I don’t have that “weighed down” feeling I used to have and not to mention my skin looks amazing. One aspect of this life style that is very important is to take supplements for b-12 and iron or plan out your protein sources. As an triathlete this is something I have had to do research on to make sure that my muscles get enough fuel to operate at maximum capacity.

In retrospect, how do you feel about meat? Or do you have any thoughts on America’s meat industry?

I must say the more that I know about meat production the less favorable view I have of it. I don’t feel that people are meant to consume as much meat as we do. Having meat for breakfast, lunch and dinner is excessive, in the past meat was seen as an indulgence and people would only eat it a few times per week. Now with heavy demand it has made meat more accessible and cheaper, and its not good for our health. However, I feel the same way about a lot of unhealthy over processed foods. At the end of the day, though it might sound extreme to some, I feel as though it is our food that is causing most of the diseases people are dying from.

Was there a community of black women that helped you along your meatless journey? And if not, what are you doing to change this for others?

Actually I got a lot of support from my family. In particular my sisters. My one sister had been vegan for a few months before I started and so it was so natural when I started we shared recipes and talked about products that we loved and hated. My other sister after watching a very graphic video about the meat packing process joined the bandwagon and since then we have all been meatless. My parents decreased their meat consumption to a couple times per month and our family as a whole has loss over 200lbs between the five of us. In addition a few of my close friends were meatless so it was very helpful. One of my missions in life is to help people understand that a vegan/ vegetarian /pescatarian can be delicious and easy. I often share recipes and cooking videos to show people that this lifestyle is attainable and fun!

Are you a vegan, vegetarian, or pescatarian? Email if you’d like to be featured in the Black Female Vegetarian Series. Check back every Tuesday and Friday for a new profile! Click to read past profiles here.


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  1. Great story! Glad to see female vegans that look like me! For years we have been taught that we are somehow neglecting our race if we don’t eat “soul food”! Yet the food the really feeds your soul is all natural! Great point about meat being a luxury…and great website too. Keep it up!

  2. Concerned Vegetarian

    FULL DISCLOSURE/Bias Alert: I’m a lacto-vegetarian.

    I have to say this article, despite its positive and uplifting content, concerns me only because it only muddles basic definitions of vegetarianism/”semi-vegetarianism” and inadvertently perpetuates the idea that plant-based diet can’t provide enough protein. Lastly, I think some people will read this article and be left thinking vegans consume animals. They don’t.

    I appreciate the feature, but I have to ask why this is titled “Black Female Vegan” if the woman featured eats fish and diary on occasion? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with consuming seafood, but there is something wrong with characterizing someone as vegan if they don’t adhere to a vegan diet. I understand that some people don’t care for labels, but as far as accuracy is concerned, I think this article should be titled something else. Perhaps it can titled “Healthy Black Woman” instead of “Black Female Vegan,” no?

    Also: Khaleeqa says she occasionally enjoys fish or dairy if she senses her body needs more protein. So, plant based plant-bases sources beans, lentils, nuts or seitan can’t be consumed to boost protein intake? If she’s a vegan, all she’s needs to do is increase her PLANT-based protein intake, right? It’s almost like she’s not fully convicted of the vegan diet. Despite what her intentions may be, I feel like she’s inadvertently characterizing a 100% plant-based diet as insufficient, as a diet that must be supplemented with a animal-based protein to be “complete.” I think that’s problematic and this isn’t the first time I have encountered this attitude.

    My aunt was a vegetarian for 25 years and recently started eating meat, including pork, “to get more protein.” Now, there’s nothing wrong with eating meat again because you want more variety, enjoy the taste, etc, but to say that you’re only eating to get more protein suggests that you couldn’t get enough as a vegetarian, and that, my friends, is ridiculous.

    I hope you Frugivore doesn’t find this comment abrasive. I’m just offering some constructive criticism because misinformation bothers me. Keep the features coming!

  3. @Concerned Vegetarian: I appreciate your concern. I was a very strict vegan for a long time. And when I say my body “senses” that is needs protein this is a very real issue for me. What I advocate is for people do what makes sense for their bodies. I would love to eat Vegan %100 of the time because it is my preferred diet. I do consume plenty of plant based protein tofu and seitan. However in the past few months as I have been training for over 5 hours continuous (biking, swimming and running) for an Ironman I found that my body was under not performing to maximum capacity I was was having issues with the amount of protein my muscles were getting I even had a health scare while training. After consulting with a nutritionist and other triathletes I decided to add the %15 of fish protein into the mix.

    At the end of the day I do believe that a plant based diet CAN provide enough protein because I was doing it for years and was fine. However what I am saying when you endeavor to push your body to the limits by training for events like Ironman where you are completely depleting your body of nutrients you have to reevaluate YOUR nutrition. I will add that there are a handful of Vegan Ironmen and they have perfect the mix of supplements and powders to a science I dont know if I am ready to go the chemical route yet, not really a fan.

    Maybe it would make it would be best to re-lable the article “Black female pescatarian” or as Oprah’s vegan episode suggested “Veganish”. Regardless I hope that it inspires someone to eat fewer animals and change their lives for the better. We are all in this together.

  4. Concerned Vegetarian


    Thanks for the clarification and for offering your perspective on protein. Part of my criticism was more directed toward the editors (or writers) of this online magazine because I believe they are the ones who titled this piece, “Black Female Vegan.” When I first read the article I clicked on the linked about your weight loss journey and noticed that you described your diet as “veganish” as opposed to a strictly vegan diet.

    Anyway, I agree with your contention that people needs to adhere to a diet that works for their bodies. If you find that fish has helped you during your training, then great. I just want to make sure readers know that they can get an array of good, quality, “complete” protein when following a plant-based diet. 😉

  5. Good Article. I have read online that you can be vegan and accomplish your athletic goals, and you don’t have use animal protein sources. Sometimes I believe mainstream society really push that agenda of eating “some sort of animal protein”.

    • @Velma: I agree you can be a vegan and accomplish your athletic goals. I have done lots of research on this, sadly when you get into the upper tiers of endurance events like ironman and you really are depleting your body’s resources you may choose not to take animal protein but the compromise is taking manufactured chemical supplements. I am really not a fan of chemicals and overly processed items so its not for me. Also everyone’s body is SO completely different in how it reacts under high stress situations. I require almost 2 gallons of water daily to feel “normal” but that is me not everyone else. It is easy to read an article about someone who is living the vegan ironman dream 100%, but when you actually go run 11 miles and bike 60miles right after an your muscles go bonkers its quite another story. This is just MY story and MY experience everyone is different. I don’t want to discourage anyone from achieving both because it is possible I just want people to understand they have to be careful and to listen to their bodies.

      • To an extent, I pretty much agree with everyone’s comments above. Frugivore, I think the title of the article does need to be changed to “Black Female Pescetarian.” I truly admire Khaleeqa’s athletic strength and determination, and also that she suggested the title change and gave clarification. In my interactions with the veg community, I do find that some vegans can be very elitist and barn-burning with the nomenclature…and I surely don’t think we need any of that here (hell, we’re already few and far between as it is LOL). Still, I think the clarification is important. Once a person coins themselves as vegan, I’m assuming it’s 100%…which is why I have yet to fully convert myself! (FYI, I’m lacto-ovo veg…)

        Anyway, great work Khaleeqa and Frugivore for continuing this feature.

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