Name: Bryanna Leigh
Age: 24
Occupation: Non-Profit Organization Program Coordinator and AmeriCorps member
Location: New Jersey
Website: My Tumblr

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

I have been a vegetarian since October 2010. In January of the same year, my mother and step-father did a fast with their church where they ate a strict plant based diet. They do it every year and I decided to do it too. It wasn’t difficult to do and I felt great so I started to research the benefits of vegetarianism and veganism and how to do it the right way. It just took me some time before I committed to it. I also don’t drink milk or eat some dairy products.

Has vegetarianism enhanced your health? Why or why not?

It has definitely enhanced my health, I just feel a lot better. Even before I stopped eating meat I couldn’t eat certain types because it made me physically sick. I ran track in college and since I graduated I have transitioned from a sprinter to a long distance runner. I completed my first half-marathon five months after I became a vegetarian and felt great during my training.

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

I don’t miss meat at all. A lot of people don’t really know how the meat industry works and where the food that they eat comes from or what is put into it. 99% of meat comes from a factory farm, where horrible conditions and handling practices are the norm. Originally I did not feel that I needed to eat animals to be healthy or eat well. After watching documentaries and reading books and articles about the meat industry and factory farming it was just another reason not to eat meat.

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?

Not really. My mother, who is multi-racial, was really supportive of my choice and has been great with helping me. She bought a bunch of vegetarian and vegan cookbooks and now my family observes Meatless Monday. They also don’t eat much meat outside of dinner and my mom goes to a local farmer’s market a few times a week to keep the house stocked with fresh produce. Other than that, I keep up with different blogs, websites and Twitter accounts and I have a couple friends who are vegetarians. I am super open to talking to anyone about why, and how, I changed how I ate. I just started a Tumblr account, and although it is not all about how I eat I will have different posts about vegetarianism in the future.

Are you a vegan, vegetarian, or pescatarian? Email arielle@frugivoremag.com 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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5 Comments

  1. umm why the need to state her ethnicity? whats the point of that? how about she’s just a vegetarian or whatever else?..

    seems pointless to me.

    im waiting for the white female vegetarian post though…and soon the martian pink alien post as well……….. since apparently there’s a need to consider the ethnicity of the dieter

  2. Dear ummm why,

    While I completely understand the source of your annoyance – that there is no difference between a black/white/pink alien vegetarian – I believe the intent of these articles is to contradict the stereotype that says there are no black vegetarians in the world. They show examples of black woman (and men) who have successfully transitioned to a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle as a way of providing hope for those who feel they would never be able to do such a thing. In the Black community, healthy eating in general is a rarity. So sometimes people need to know that someone else has walked in their shoes before they can make the choice to leave the fried chicken, ham hocks, and chitterlings behind.

    If you want to learn specifically about white vegetarians then you could look at any resource on the web because they’re everywhere. Your comment reminds me of the debate about why schools have black history month and not white history month – well, white history is taught every single day so there’s no need to create a special time for it.

    I would like to note that I do not speak for FrugivoreMag.com and I am not affiliated with the site in any way, but IMHO it was designed to educate about and encourage healthy lifestyles. So maybe you should think about that next time before you leave such a negative comment. Also, if you happen to be a white vegetarian (or live a healthy lifestyle in general, regardless of your race) then why don’t you tell your story on the site?

  3. I agree with Ash – sometimes, people need to look outside of their “color blind” bubbles and recognize that there is a real need to educate about these issues in communities that are not as exposed to vegetarianism and other ideas as they are. I am a black woman who is a vegetarian, and it is always surprising to me that it is still considered very odd and foreign in some parts of my community. I was really happy when I saw it, because it shows that it is not strange, and that there are healthy, vibrant, women of color who lead this lifestyle. It’s called providing role models & encouraging people who might not otherwise even think it was something that they could do.

  4. I wish you the best, Bryanna. I was a vegetarian until about 2 months ago and I miss it. I consider myself taking a break for convenience purposes but I hope to return.

  5. I agree with Ash 100%. I was a vegetarian for 12 years and sometimes (especially since I was so young, 7 years old when I changed my diet) it was a little hard not seeing other people who look like me who were also vegetarians. I wish these profiles had been around when I was still a vegetarian, because it makes a world of a difference to have this sense of community. Yeah, colour doesn’t matter, but community does and every time I went to a family reunion and got asked “Why you ain’t eating no meat?” it was a little discouraging as well as annoying to have to constantly qualify to my family that yeah, I know I’m black, but I’m still not going to eat meat. I’m so glad I found these profiles because when I graduate from College and go back to my vegetarian diet, this will be a great resource as well as community for me.

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