HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN VEGETARIAN? AND WHAT INSPIRED YOUR JOURNEY?
I have been a vegetarian for 4.5 years now. A friend gave our family the “Eating, 3rd Edition” documentary from rave diet. The film completely opened my eyes to the negative health effects of eating a standard American diet and the brutal truth about the meat industry.
At that point a few family members and I decided to make major lifestyle changes and switch to vegetarian diets. About six months after going vegetarian, I found out that I was pregnant with my first child. I’ve gone through three pregnancies and breastfeeding on a vegetarian diet and it’s empowering knowing that my children will be healthier because of our vegetarian lifestyle.
Their health is my daily inspiration to stay committed to vegetarianism.
HAS VEGETARIAN ENHANCED YOUR HEALTH? WHY OR WHY NOT?
Yes! After going vegetarian, I was exposed to a whole new world of health. I have been diagnosed with anemia, and before going vegetarian, it never occurred to me that I could use vegetables, grains, and herbs to keep my blood levels normal.
I remember trying to force down massive amounts of meat, because doctors made me feel like that was the only source of iron and protein. My family also has a history of diabetes and high blood pressure; so far I have not had to deal with those illnesses, and eating a vegetarian diet reduces the chances that my kids will suffer from those “genetic curses.”
When my children get sick, I go to the kitchen, instead of the doctor. (Unless it is an emergency) The idea that food can heal you is a concept that I was exposed to in the world of vegetarianism. You don’t get that message from the world of the standard American diet. In that world it’s all about vaccines and medications.
IN RETROSPECT, HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT MEAT? OR DO YOU HAVE ANY THOUGHTS ON AMERICA’S MEAT INDUSTRY?
Even from childhood, I was not interested in meat, but most people do not realize that there is an alternative way of eating. So my mom would force me to sit at the table until I finished my slab of beef. We look back at those times and laugh now that we both eat a vegetarian diet. Sometimes I wish that the concept of vegetarianism hit me when I was younger.
I don’t condemn anyone for eating meat, but I do think that America’s meat industry is out of hand. When the majority of people eat meat with a side of meat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner it’s becomes scary. Now we are at a point where the majority of people are overweight and suffering. America, where do you get the millions of pounds of meat that people consume every year from? It’s just not normal. It’s inhumane. Meat.org has a great documentary about the American meat industry that will blow your mind!
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?
Being able to enter into my meatless journey with family made it so much easier, but I did undergo a lot of ridicule from the rest of my family. For most of our family members, eating meat is a religion. It was offensive to a lot of people to turn down meat at a family event or dinner. I think it’s important to share what you know and make the transition for others easier, in doing-so you may give someone the tool they need to make healthy choices for another day.
At Hebrew Essence, we make vegetarian body products, share vegetarian recipes, and give natural living tips on our website’s Health & Wellness Blog; people can also find links to a lot of useful resources there. Last year we partnered with World Healing Center Community Church to present information about the benefits of vegetarianism and natural remedies to the community. We also provide sample meal plans and take shopping trips with people in our community as they make their vegetarian transition. Everyone can do their part to help people within their reach.
Right now, I love the work that Esosa Edosomwan is doing with her “Raw Girl in a Toxic World” blog; she is so genuine and inspiring. Another inspiration in my veggie journey was LaVerne Jackson, who is the assistant director and co-founder of M.E.E.T. Ministry. I had the pleasure of meeting her while participating in her medical missionary program. These are two selfless ladies who genuinely want to do as much as they can to help people lead healthier lives.
CAN YOU SHARE SOME ADVICE FOR FOLKS WHO ARE TRANSITIONING TO A VEGETARIAN LIFESTYLE?
My advice is to start by making changes you can stick to. It’s okay to start changing your diet and lifestyle little by little, but make a commitment and set goals for yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and if you cannot gain the support of your family members and friends, then find an online community to help keep you informed and encouraged.
I keep myself encouraged by watching documentaries and reading news about vegetarianism, natural health, and the meat industry often. This helps me remember that eating a vegetarian diet is not only a matter of humanity; it’s a matter of health and longevity.
Another fun tip: My husband and I buy vegetarian cook books and cook new meals together to keep our diet interesting.
Are you a vegan, vegetarian, or pescatarian? Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to be featured in the Black Vegetarian Series. Check back every Tuesday and Friday for a new profile! Click to read past profiles here.