Being Vegan in the Black Community
Summers for me were spent picking collards and shelling peas. My watermelons had seeds. Fatback was a thing. Hell, I could get pork rinds “skins” from the gas station. I took out the trash on the back of a pickup. Thanksgiving featured two turkeys and my mac and cheese was always baked. Would you believe me if I told you I was vegan?
In the black and Latino communities, high blood pressure and diabetes are prevalent and animal products greatly contribute to this. I decided that I no longer wanted to contribute to extreme animal cruelty and I wanted get healthy at the same time. I made up my mind that I would ignore the stereotypes that being vegan was something that rich white people do. Lifestyles are about consistency, and I wanted to live in such a way that made me feel good. If you've ever thought about going vegan, here are some easy ways to take the leap for your health and your planet.
I started slow and made smoothie bowls that were simple, quick, and colorful. Frozen bananas, mango, and almond milk are all great components for smoothie bowls. My favorite part is topping it with so many power packed goodies. Coconut flakes are light and add great texture. I'll add fresh granola clusters, a handful of the almighty antioxidant blueberries, and boom, I’m ready to dig in. Also, consider plantain and banana chips, which are a nice crunch and add a sweet and salty flavor.
Revamp Your Spice Cabinet
Growing up in a black household, flavor is a must! I revamped my spice cabinet and played with flavors. I was recently at the Dekalb Farmers Market in Atlanta and I had never seen so many inexpensive spices. It’s safe to say I went a little crazy. Turmeric is such a vibrant color and so versatile. You can use it to reduce inflammation and it’s also delicious when making the anti-inflammatory Turmeric milk. Paprika, cumin, coriander are also excellent in peanut butter. Basil and chili powder can add a great flavor boost to your meals. Experiment with spices to make your meals delicious and flavorful.
Stock Up on Superfoods
Superfoods are literally brain food! They give off amazing energy, can help with a better night’s sleep, and even help reduce inflammation. Examples of superfoods include matcha (an excellent substitution for coffee), avocados, cacao chocolate (an almighty energizer), goji berries (great for blood pressure), pitaya (also known as Dragon Fruit), and acai. This website offers great resources for how to use pitaya and delicious recipes.
Also, remember to substitute protein and healthy fats where meat would normally take precedence. Supplementing is so important and incorporating seeds and different oils such as flax seed, sunflower, safflower, and coconut oil in your diet can help with your protein intake. Fun fact: chia seeds carry just as much protein as meat!
Do Your Research
Do your research on vegan products and the benefits of veganism. YouTube is my best friend. I discovered a love for Square Bars through YouTube and they have become my go-to vegan protein bars. Check out fun ideas for ways to play with these bars on through their Instagram account @squareorganics.
Also, check out these videos by Sweet Potato Soul and Apples & Amandas to help answer any questions about going vegan, recipes, and tips and tricks to help you along the way.
Sweet Potato Soul
Apples & Amandas
You Can Still Indulge
You can still indulge in your favorite junk foods, just be smart about the ingredients. For example, I LOVE ice cream and Coconut Bliss has been my go-to for indulgent ice cream. The point isn't to take away things you love but to give your body things that are gentle and healing.
Stay true to what you love when eating. Be open to the new and you may be vegan in no time.
Still Not Convinced?
Check out this amazing documentary Forks Over Knives, in which nutrition experts explore the possibility that people changing their diets from animal-based to plant-based can help eliminate or control common medical maladies and diseases.