Name: Jeanine K. Valrie
Age: 33
Occupation: Activist, Doula, Lactation Education Specialist, Natural Living Advocate
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Website: It’s Better At Home

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

I did not begin my road to veganism for any ethical reasons. This journey began in 1998 after a serious bout of food poisoning. After leaving the hospital, I knew my diet had to change. I began doing research on food justice and ethics, gradually cut things out of my diet. I went from pescatarian to vegetarian in 2000 (actually starchitarian), to vegan, back to pescatarian, vegetarian, and then to vegan again. The transition just became a huge part of my lifestyle. I have a healthy, vegan family, which includes my partner and a 10-month-old daughter, named Ahimsa.

Has veganism enhanced your health? Why or why not?

It has! I used to dance in a company, and would struggle with my breathing. I had very bad asthma as a youth, which would get triggered with seasonal changes. Once I cut out the dairy, I no longer was bound to my inhaler. I felt and feel great. I feel stronger and my mind is clearer. My periods are lighter and painless. I also know that my spirit and energy are enhanced when I ingest foods from the earth (i.e. plant-based diet).

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

I could never go back to eating meat. I don’t trust it. As meat production damages our world and environment, I could never go back to contributing to that system. I really try to encourage my friends and loved ones to reduce their consumption, while being conscious of where they are getting their meat, as well as other foods. The entire food production industry is devastating, and I know it’s also about everything I use and consume. I’ve begun to look at how I can become more self-sustaining and reduce my contributions to these industries by growing food and making non-food products. I’m not perfect in my veganism (I still don’t always know the origin of my food) but I try to be conscious of the CSAs, market, and stores that I support.

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?

In 2000, when I became a vegetarian, I was working in South Africa. I was (and still am) very good friends with some like-minded sisters. We got our hands on Sacred Woman, and it really solidified veganism for us. I learned true eco-feminism. We used to go to each other’s homes and make delicious vegetarian and vegan dishes, some of which I still cook today. Back in the U.S., I have been fortunate to meet more and more sisters on this journey. The internet has been my best friend in finding other communities of black vegan and vegetarian women. There are tons of bloggers and resources (like SoulVegMama and Sistah Vegan) that I rely on daily for guidance, advice, and encouragement.

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. This is a very inspiring interview! I love this woman! does she have a man? hook me up! ooh la la! lol

  2. She is a true inspiration. After reading this article, i threw all my hog head cheese, pork rinds, and chicken wings away This has changed my life.

  3. So proid of you sister! You’ve gotta keep helping me along. Actually, we tried to introduce beef again last week and boht were killed over for two days. that just helps me think about the other stuff i eat. keep sending me good info and introducing me to some foods! love you

  4. Yay Jeanine!!! OUr diet is getting cleaner everyday. My littel Selah is currently pretty much a vegatarian. She has only had meat a ciuple of times. I am redusing my intake greatly as she follows my lead. The backyard is being prepped as we speak to have a garden planted in it. I cannot wait to get my hands in the soil and the sun on my back! Happy eating, we love you. Kye and Selah

  5. Yvette Newell

    Beautiful interview my SiStar!!! Such beauty and intelligence! Big hugs!!!

  6. Thanks for sharing, excellent source of encouragement…..Stay beautiful!

  7. Jonina you are a star, a star international! Go ahead and lead the way.
    @Walter, she said she had a partner. Why do you assume she looking for or wants a man? She did not indicate a gender preference.
    @KW go on and dig in that dirt, embrace your gardening lineage.
    @Sylvester, I know it must have been challenging to give up the hog head cheese. The flavor is so subtle and delectable.
    Best wishes to Frugivore and to all of us who are trying to live well and eat right.

  8. Peaceful Salutations! Such a wonderful interview you gave here. Yes the food industry (primarily the American) is devastating. From one Sistah Vegan Mommy to the next, keep up the good work. We are changing our generations as we speak.

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