How veganism is rooted in black activism and why it’s not just for whites

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Young female friends sharing food during lunch in dining room, high angle view

Unlike who gets visibility within the vegan community, blacks are the fastest growing vegan demographic. With social media influencers like Tabitha Brown reshaping the narrative about the importance of racial representation and diversity within this community, veganism is poised to become more inclusive. However, as veganism gains popularity in the mainstream media, many often forget to recognize the long history of black veganism – which is closely linked to black activism of the 1960s as well as the African roots of diets. plants.

The 2020 Racial Calculus uncovered a much needed conversation about the need for greater inclusion within the vegan community, which has been and continues to be dominated by white women. Even Brown said she thought vegans were “white women doing yoga.” However, the rise of black vegan designers who were previously sidelined in the community has raised awareness of the militant roots of veganism.

The late comedian Dick Gregory was an influential activist in the civil rights movement. Not only did he stand up for the black community, but he also protested the Vietnam War and was very outspoken about his choice not to eat meat – choosing a plant-based diet as a form of activism instead. Gregory denounced the killing of humans and animals in his 1971 food manifesto titled, Dick Gregory’s natural diet for people who eat: cooking with mother nature.

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During an interview on the Studs Terkel radio show, Gregory credited Dr Martin Luther King Jr. with inspiring him to change his diet, and called attention to how veganism and protests nonviolent are intrinsically linked. Gregory’s famous quote, “Don’t wear leather shoes,” has become a rallying cry for social issues, especially not to consume animal products. Many people, inspired by Gregory’s actions, have come to view veganism as a way to combat the oppression of harmful foods that are marketed and oversaturated in black neighborhoods across the country.

I hope others who see veganism as a trend, fad, or something to make their own understand that for our community, food is and always will be linked to identity, culture, struggle, to the resistance and the triumph of the blacks.

The fight for racial justice continues, and plant-based diets are now seen as essential tools in addressing the systemic inequalities that have persisted over generations. At the heart of veganism are African plant-based diets. Before colonization, the diet of our ancestors consisted of yams, green vegetables, vegetables and beans – meals that did not contain dairy products, eggs or meat. Veganism is a return to the traditions of an African plant-based diet, which will have a positive impact on our health and longevity.

Whites have profited greatly from veganism. They can now help uplift black vegans by learning more about the roots of veganism in the black community and finding meaningful ways to give back to these underfunded communities. I hope others who see veganism as a trend, fad, or something to make their own understand that for our community, food is and always will be linked to identity, culture, struggle, to the resistance and the triumph of the blacks.

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