So, I am tackling a subject that has been on mind for quite a while one that I have discussed with friends and other vegans. This is a topic that I hope will start an intriguing dialogue here concerning the vegan movement among African-Americans.
As we have heard many times before and as I myself have addressed here, we are disproportionately affected by a plethora of preventable diseases most often linked to meat consumption. Unfortunately, even with the alarming statistics consistently on the forefront, many still refuse to take closer look at their plates and make significant changes. I often wonder though, beyond not wanting to give up burgers and steak, are there other reasons why many of us are shying away from plant-based diets?
I have often surmised that one reason might be because, upon looking at the landscape of veganism, you see mostly female Caucasian faces spearheading the movement, thus perhaps making it undesirable or instilling a feeling of this sort of lifestyle being “not for us.”
But, upon further examination, while looking at many of the African-Americans who are embracing this lifestyle, there seems to be certain types of people that you see on the forefront as well.
So, it makes me inquire: do African-Americans feel that if they don’t fit a certain mold that there is no room for them to embrace or promote the lifestyle? I know it may sound silly to even suggest, but we live in a society where many strive to “fit-in” and be “accepted,” so are people afraid of the stigma that can often come along with veganism?
Do people feel that if they have a weave instead of locks or prefer designer clothing over cultural accessories that there is no place for them in the movement?
Or are people using that as an excuse to continue eating meat?
I would like to believe that anyone pondering a plant-based lifestyle would do so based solely on the health and environmental benefits and not based on where they may be able to fit in within the movement. However, I just can’t get beyond wondering if the social aspect to vegan living is one that makes some pause before jumping in, whether looking at Alicia Silverstone or Erykah Badu.
It is my hope that people embrace their own identity and not concern themselves with labels and feel they have to fit a certain mold to become or promote vegan living. I think it’s important to move beyond looking at veganism as a “white” or “afro-centric” thing; it’s a “green” thing and is about using whole foods and plant-based living to promote optimal health.
I understand how one may want to know where they fit within the vegan community. It can be challenging, however, if you feel the scope is limited. On one side you have a group of people that don’t know how to embrace and include you properly, and on the other, a group that seems to promote specific ideas or an approach that you may not understand or agree with, but feel you should.
To get beyond this I believe it’s paramount to be true and authentic to who you are. How you choose to present yourself should not be part of the equation when deciding what’s best to feed your body.
It’s important to remember that within any movement there are always opinions and judgments attached to it by those on the inside and out, but it is vital to move beyond the chatter and create your own destiny and define what works for you. There will always be some individuals out there you can relate to and feel comfortable with that can help you learn and grow as you embrace a new vegan lifestyle.
Now it’s on you, have you contemplated veganism but are more turned off by the images and rhetoric attached to it than tofu? We want to hear your thoughts and experiences.