NAME: Jai Hooker
AGE: 34
OCCUPATION: Record Evaluator
LOCATION: DC/VA Area

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN VEGETARIAN? AND WHAT INSPIRED YOUR JOURNEY?

I stopped eating red meat and pork in 1999 but just recently stopped eating chicken and turkey in September 2011 so I am now a pescatarian. Initially, I stopped eating meat because I read a book called The Tao of Sex, Health and Longevity: A Modern Practical Guide to the Ancient Way by Daniel Reid. When I stopped eating chicken and turkey it was because I read Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin. Both books were very intriguing and informative on what meat does to your body and how the meat industry is, respectively.

HAS VEGETARIANISM ENHANCED YOUR HEALTH? WHY OR WHY NOT?

Very much so! Not only have I lost weight but I feel better and look better! My energy level is the best it’s ever been and I’m living a very active lifestyle now. Also, I’ve suffered with acne for what feels like forever and now my skin is great! I often joke with people and say that I suffer from ‘Benjamin Button’ disease but my husband says that I look younger now than when we met 8 years ago and I know it’s because of my healthier lifestyle.

IN RETROSPECT, HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT MEAT? OR DO YOU HAVE ANY THOUGHTS ON AMERICA’S MEAT INDUSTRY?

I try not to knock anyone’s lifestyle but I feel like ‘Ignorance is Bliss’ and if you don’t know then it’s “ok” however, now knowing what I know about how animals are treating in slaughter houses and what is done to these animals before being shipped to our local grocery stores is frightening and sickening and I can’t stand to put that in my body! The saying goes “you are what you eat” and I cannot fathom the idea of eating stress, fear or worry which are the emotional states that these animals are in when being slaughtered!

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?

Unfortunately, my meatless journey was on my own (and I still don’t know too many black women that do not eat meat) but now my friends and family do come to me for insight on this lifestyle. I’ve even gotten my sister and husband to stop eating pork and red meat for the most part so my main goal is to lead by example and show others how beneficial this lifestyle is. I truly think its mind over matter and my new mantra is: Don’t Say That You Can’t, Just Admit That You WON’T!

DO YOU HAVE ANY ONE OR TWO TIPS ON TRANSITIONING INTO VEGETARIANISM?

I’m a ‘cold turkey’ girl myself and normally have the mindset to stop immediately however I did start my transition by weening myself off of pork and THEN red meat so I would suggest that for those who find the change difficult. Also, when I stopped eating chicken and turkey, I substituted it with fish so maybe that’s an idea also. Reading the books I named above gave me a real reason that was bigger that losing weight so it made is easy to stop so I would also suggest checking them out. They’re great books in their own right and a good place to start in my opinion.

Are you a vegan, vegetarian, or pescatarian? Email shane@frugivoremag.com 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.

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16 Comments

  1. Wow! Y’all find the most beautiful vegetarians. Inspiring story Jai

  2. She looks like me :-) Love the vegetarian series ;-)

  3. Where they make vegetarians like her. Seriously, many vegetarians look so much younger than what they’re real ages are. Congrats on healthy living

  4. I’m proud of you ! I’ll be doing the same thing from this day forward!

  5. Good for you, your story is similar to my mines. It’s good to hear that people can leap out on faith.

  6. good article, no meat but fish and vegetables only? does she exercise?

  7. she’s not a vegetarian and says so. but, she’s still referred to as vegetarian and the questions are like – how has vegetarianism enhanced your health. huh?

    it also seems like every comment i make on this particular column gets deleted just because i point out something that is factually incorrect or express a simple idea.

    touch touchy…lol.

    • @<a href="#comment-5@omfg:
      I have the same problem on facebook rofl. I think the problem is not with us but with the gargantuan tasks faced by us as african americans and our pure stubborn adherence to verbs, and ideas/ideals that dont necessarily serve us any longer. So we need to be more understanding and aware of the general ideas being put out rather than jumping on people (for lack of a better description) for the inaccuracies we come across. I seriously thought the very same thing. This lady could not have been much of an acting vegeterian all off a year ago! But I commend her for taking the first necessary steps to becoming one. I myself am in my 40′s and call myself a vegetarian but I know Im not. I just really want to be one and have been on and off since I stopped eating beef and pork at 15 yrs old. However I cannot maintain a vegetarian diet during pregnancy. I eat chicken, turkey, and fish. However while I havent been a practicing vegeterian in total there are large spans of time where I have been. I was completely vegan for approx 4/5 yrs. from 2004-09, got pregnant twice lol and have been slowly making my way back to cutting out the meats entirely. Its a difficult beginning but an extremely rewarding journey. Esp when you live in a supportive community. African americans as a whole are not very supportive to this particular change. Ad have been downright ugly about it. Especially family and friends. You have to have a peace within yourself above and beyond to persevere against the onslaught of derogatory comments, silly questions, and just downright meanness for something they do not understand!!!

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