Being Black and Vegan
November 24, 2017 | Briana Gregory
This is a question I get so much, about what it's like to be black and vegan.. And honestly, this topic is such a set up (lol)! It's too easy to go into this rant. It's too easy to tell people about how the typical black family will throw their hands up at the family gathering and act as if they can't fathom one dish without meat or dairy. It's too easy to tell you how many times my friends would reconsider going out to eat with me because "they don't know what I eat" or how many times I've heard "black folks don't eat like that". People ask the question because deep inside, they know the answer. Being a black vegan is difficult. Seeing your family eat every dish laced with meat and having them not understand why you don't want that is difficult. Hearing the ignorant comments about your diet is difficult. Withstanding all the corny lettuce jokes is difficult. Sometimes being vegan around black people is a CONSTANT FACEPALM. But that's why people ask, so that you can share with them that you love your diet but other people make it miserable for you sometimes. Here's where the set up comes in... although being a black vegan has its pitfalls, there is a thick silver lining. While it's so easy to share the negatives that are assumed anyway, I really enjoy sharing the positives. And there are many! Inspiring someone to change their diet is a feeling like no other. To be the person to make someone feel capable of making a change that they've been scared to make for so long, is a truly amazing feeling. Being a role model among people for whom you care so much, is heartwarming and humbling. For all the ignorance I've encountered, I can say that I've experienced ten fold curiosity and the will to improve. By simply upholding my convictions and applying my nutritional knowledge to my life, I've encouraged so many others to take responsibility for their health, and that's one of my favorite parts of being vegan! The extra energy and improved immunity and weight control is nice; however, as a black vegan I have a platform and a duty to encourage those around me to be more cognizant of their nutritional habits. As a minority group with so many health disparities and high prevalences of diet-related illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity, hyperlipidemia, stroke, etc., it's so important that each one teach one. And I am fortunate enough to teach many. Therefore, with every pitfall has been a victory. "Hey Bri, I ate broccoli instead of bacon with my grits this morning. It was good and I felt better". Or, "I've cut out red meat and I've been eating a few meatless meals. It's really not bad after all". Do I expect everyone to go vegan? No, but I do expect people to become aware and make improvements. And as a black vegan, when I do that for my people, my heart does a little happy black vegan girl jig.