How long have you been vegan? And what inspired your journey?
I’ve been vegetarian for 20 years and vegan for the last 15 of those years. I’m lucky – I never really liked meat. My parents would not let me be vegetarian in high school because they thought it was unhealthy. When I left home for college, I became vegetarian. I also felt that it was my spiritual duty to take care of my body, and being vegetarian would make me more mindful of that. I became vegan when someone told me that eliminating dairy would get rid of the mucus and allergies I experienced when I moved to a different part of the country.
Has veganism enhanced your health? Why or why not?
Definitely. I don’t worry about cholesterol or high blood pressure and I always have healthy reports from the doctor. I tend to be an eclectic eater – eating with my cravings and when I feel like it. Since I believe my body craves the nutrients it needs, I don’t worry much, but a daily multivitamin helps me make sure I’m getting everything I need.
In retrospect, how do you feel about meat? Or do you have any thoughts on America’s meat industry?
If we all hunted for our own food and used every part of the animal, I might be 50% okay with meat. I think some kind of connection to the animal and an effort not to waste would make a difference. Now, I’m terrified of meat. The movies Food Inc, Forks Over Knives and Super Size Me really affected me. I’m convinced that we could reduce (if not eliminate) world hunger, if we reduced our meat consumption. I also have a lot of concerns about how the treatment of animals and the meat people eat affects our health – especially the health of girls and women. I would not give my children meat or dairy.
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?
My high school friend (a black woman) and I went vegetarian together (she’s now an omnivore though) and that made it easier. My mother became vegetarian after I came home cooking vegetarian. After that, I lived in a vegetarian co-op during college and that helped a lot, but I was the only black woman there until my senior year (when two other black women moved in). As someone who lived in the south and as minister in black churches, I’ve actually been ridiculed for being vegan. Over time, I’ve taught church mothers how to cook for me, and I enjoy having people over for vegan dinners – people who would not ordinarily eat vegan. Now, I feel more passionate about the connection between vegan diet and women’s reproductive health, and I have a black women’s health group around this. I also feel a greater sense of community with online connections like Breeze Harper and Sistah Vegan.
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