Name: Aby Rhys
Age: 55
Location: Richmond, VA
Occupation: Cashier

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

Years ago, I converted to Judaism through the Conservative/Masorti Movement. When I heard my Rabbi speak well of vegetarianism from a Jewish aspect, I was surprised and thankful. During Passover/Pesach, I ate only veggies with my matza and drank plenty of water. I noticed a lightness in my body, my mind.

I wanted a way to keep kosher that would be beneficial and easy. Voila, veggies! My spiritual, mental, emotional, and working lives have taken on new meaning.

Has vegetarianism enhanced your health? Why or why not?

Yes, my dietary verse is Genesis 1:29, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.” I call it the Torah Diet and it works for me. I can breathe better. My body doesn’t feel heavy. And I see myself moving as a vegetarian into a vegan lifestyle that fits me.

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

Do I dislike meat? No, I love meat too much to eat it…same for milk and eggs. I simply love and respect life. Judaism is about living fully and I desire to live a kosher, healthy life while on this planet.

My late mother, of blessed memories, told me that people dig their own graves with their forks. She was a nurse for almost 30 years and I have found that she was spot on!

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 want to give my kudos to Sister Vegetarian. She has been my friend and mentor throughout my good as well as bad times. She has supported me in spirit and words, so I credit and thank her for sharing her wisdom with me.

All I ever read of and saw were white men and women living this lifestyle. While I took the information that they offered, I never read of or saw a heavy representation of black men and women. Now I know of Breeze Harper, Evelyn Parham, Shayla, my Facebook friend and former neighbor, Bryant Terry, Tracye McQuirter of By Any Greens Necessary, Urban Raw Food Goddess, and Black and Into Green.

Black women, we must begin to help ourselves! No other person can do this for us. And a nation is only as strong as its women. Let’s create a new reality for ourselves first. Then take it to our men, children, and families. Let’s finally have a real revolution in our lives.

Are you a vegan, vegetarian, or pescatarian? Email 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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  1. Thanks for sharing your story! And ya your blessed mother was correct when she said “that people dig their own graves with their fork.” I’m hoping people of color…all people recognize that eating the wrong food(s) can be the death of them! I’m also hoping they read more stories like yours and be inspired to make a change.

  2. Aby – you are an awesome example of empowerment and staying strong through the vegetarian and vegan journey. I am proud of you!
    Love you my vegetarian sister!
    ~ Donna “aka Sister Vegetarian”

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