Name: Yroko Marie
Age: 34
Occupation: Freelance Writer & Blogger
Location: Bay Area, California
Website: Mom. Me. Three.

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

In 2011 when I was pregnant with my daughter, for whatever reason, I couldn’t eat meat. It made me physically ill to eat or cook it, or even smell it cooking. During that time, I began to research vegetarianism and how to have a healthy vegetarian pregnancy. I also began learning about a plant-based diet.

After my daughter was born in December 2011, I made the decision to give up eating meat because I felt better without it. My daughter also had a bad reaction to dairy that she received through my breast milk, so in January of this year I also eliminated dairy. I have been mostly vegan since then however, like many vegans before me, I have had occasional slip-ups with dairy.

Has veganism enhanced your health? Why or why not?

As soon as I gave up meat I felt better, and the severe morning sickness that plagued me from the beginning of my pregnancy was vastly improved. After going vegan, I noticed increased energy despite having a newborn that slept no more than two hours a time.

My skin also had a glow to it and people started to ask if I was getting facials or if I had a new skincare regimen. My nails are stronger and both nails and eyes are a lot whiter. I haven’t really gotten very sick this year. Even when I had a case of Strep Throat, it was not nearly as bad as cases of Strep that I have had in the past.

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

My initial reasons for giving up meat were because my body felt better without it, but as part of my vegan journey I have learned just how terrible America’s meat industry is. We eat too much meat and the meat we eat is pumped full of chemicals and processed under very unsanitary conditions, all of which are bad for us. Additionally, animals are living sentient beings and can feel pain, fear, and so on. It’s kind of ironic that people love their pets, but don’t think twice about how the animals they eat for food are treated. The animals we eat live in nightmare like conditions suffering daily cruelty and ultimately die early painful deaths.

The meat industry contributes to damaging the planet at an alarming rate. There is also an obscene amount of resources going to feed and house these animals; resources that could go to people who are starving and living in poor conditions. I could really go on and on. At this point, I can no longer in good conscious eat meat and am working hard to avoid the use of all animal products in any shape or form. It is the single best thing that I can do not only for my body, but to help the environment and live by my ethics.

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?

I was raised in a community of health conscious black folks eating whole unprocessed foods. My parents have friends who are vegan or vegetarian and at times my mother has been vegetarian or pescatarian. None of my friends are vegan and I only have one friend who is vegetarian, however, my family and friends are very supportive of my lifestyle.

I try not to judge those who eat meat and my older children and significant other consume meat. I share what I have learned (and continue to learn) about this lifestyle with my family and friends. I am always happy to answer questions people have and don’t mind being asked for the one millionth time, “Where do you get protein from?”

The biggest thing right now is whether the baby will be vegan. I would like her to be, but her dad worries about how he’ll feed her when I’m not around. I think the best thing any vegan or vegetarian can do is to lead by example and inform without being preachy.

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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