Vegans of Color

Because we don’t have the luxury of being single-issue

Win a Signed Copy of Sistah Vegan! March 13, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 7:01 am
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Breeze is giving away one signed copy of the new Sistah Vegan book.

She’s gonna make you work for it: in 250 words or less, write something about the following topic in the comments of her post:


Sistah Vegan project was created to tackle the question of the racialized experience within veganism, with an emphasis on people who identify as black women. Give an example of how issues of race (racialization, anti-racism, ‘whiteness as the norm,’ racial formation or colorism) and veganism intersect(ed) in YOUR own lived experience.

The contest ends 1 April, with the winner being announced on 5 April. I’m sure it will generate a lot of thought-provoking comments!

 

Soul Food For Thought: Vegan Black History Month Event in San Francisco March 10, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 3:03 pm
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I recently stumbled upon this writeup (it’s a PDF linked from that post) of Soul-Food-For-Thought, a benefit in San Francisco for the International Fund for Africa. The event was sponsored by Go Vegan Radio, The San Francisco Vegetarian Society, and In Defense of Animals, and the extensive lineup included the Haitian singer King Wawa (a vegan — the writeup doesn’t specify if all the performers were vegan).

Speakers included IFA’s president, Dr. Anteneh Roba, who envisioned the event after being inspired by “the vitality of the African vegan movement” (says the article), and Dr. Milton Mills from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, who spoke about the relevance of vegan food to African Americans.

And, uh, the celebrity co-hosts included a former star of Baywatch.

Anyway — did anyone go to this? What did you think? It is all too rare to see vegan events with any awareness of race, much less geared specifically towards POCs, so it’d be interesting to hear more about how it all played out.

 

The Complex Issues Behind Obesity and Children of Color April 7, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alicia @ 1:53 pm
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Below is a recent article by the Associate Press. I think it is one of the rare articles that points out the unique set of problems that are facing children of color in the United States and how this is affecting their overall health. I thought this article to be especially important because, although we often discuss the disparities between Hispanic and African-American children and adults  versus our white counterpart in terms of obesity rates, rates of heart disease, type II diabetes, cancer, etc.  a group that is often overlooked is the Native American population which is highlighted in this article.

As a nutritionist and cultural anthropologist I am horrified at the growing number of obese and overweight children of all colors but especially that of “minority” children because it points to so much more than just poor food choices it points to the social and political barriers that are keeping our children from succeeding at the very basics of life – health.  I’m interested to hear/read your thoughts.

Study finds 1 in 5 obese among 4-year-olds
Apr 6, 2009  11:29 PM EST
CHICAGO – A striking new study says almost 1 in 5 American 4-year-olds is obese, and the rate is alarmingly higher among American Indian children, with nearly a third of them obese. Researchers were surprised to see differences by race at so early an age.

Overall, more than half a million 4-year-olds are obese, the study suggests. Obesity is more common in Hispanic and black youngsters, too, but the disparity is most startling in American Indians, whose rate is almost double that of whites.

The lead author said that rate is worrisome among children so young, even in a population at higher risk for obesity because of other health problems and economic disadvantages.

“The magnitude of these differences was larger than we expected, and it is surprising to see differences by racial groups present so early in childhood,” said Sarah Anderson, an Ohio State University public health researcher. She conducted the research with Temple University’s Dr. Robert Whitaker.

Dr. Glenn Flores, a pediatrics and public health professor at University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, said the research is an important contribution to studies documenting racial and ethnic disparities in children’s weight.

“The cumulative evidence is alarming because within just a few decades, America will become a ‘minority majority’ nation,” he said. Without interventions, the next generation “will be at very high risk” for heart disease, high blood pressure, cancers, joint diseases and other problems connected with obesity, said Flores, who was not involved in the new research.

The study is an analysis of nationally representative height and weight data on 8,550 preschoolers born in 2001. Children were measured in their homes and were part of a study conducted by the government’s National Center for Education Statistics. The results appear in Monday’s Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Almost 13 percent of Asian children were obese, along with 16 percent of whites, almost 21 percent of blacks, 22 percent of Hispanics, and 31 percent of American Indians.

Children were considered obese if their body-mass index, a height-weight ratio, was in the 95th percentile or higher based on government BMI growth charts. For 4-year-olds, that would be a BMI of about 18.

For example, a girl who is 4 1/2 years old, 40 inches tall and 42 pounds would have a BMI of about 18, weighing 4 pounds more than the government’s upper limit for that age, height and gender.

Some previous studies of young children did not distinguish between kids who were merely overweight versus obese, or they examined fewer racial groups.

The current study looked only at obesity and a specific age group. Anderson called it the first analysis of national obesity rates in preschool kids in the five ethnic or racial groups.

The researchers did not examine reasons for the disparities, but others offered several theories.

Flores cited higher rates of diabetes in American Indians, and also Hispanics, which scientists believe may be due to genetic differences.

Also, other factors that can increase obesity risks tend to be more common among minorities, including poverty, less educated parents, and diets high in fat and calories, Flores said.

Jessica Burger, a member of the Little River Ottawa tribe and health director of a tribal clinic in Manistee, Mich., said many children at her clinic are overweight or obese, including preschoolers.

Burger, a nurse, said one culprit is gestational diabetes, which occurs during a mother’s pregnancy. That increases children’s chances of becoming overweight and is almost twice as common in American Indian women, compared with whites.

She also blamed the federal commodity program for low-income people that many American Indian families receive. The offerings include lots of pastas, rice and other high-carbohydrate foods that contribute to what Burger said is often called a “commod bod.”

“When that’s the predominant dietary base in a household without access to fresh fruits and vegetables, that really creates a better chance of a person becoming obese,” she said.

Also, Burger noted that exercise is not a priority in many American Indian families struggling to make ends meet, with parents feeling stressed just to provide basic necessities.

To address the problem, her clinic has created activities for young Indian children, including summer camps and a winter break “outdoor day” that had kids braving 8-degree temperatures to play games including “snowsnake.” That’s a traditional American Indian contest in which players throw long, carved wooden “snakes” along a snow or ice trail to see whose lands the farthest.

The hope is that giving kids used to modern sedentary ways a taste of a more active traditional American Indian lifestyle will help them adopt healthier habits, she said.

By LINDSEY TANNER     AP Medical Writer

 

Recent Study: A vegan diet is easiest to maintain and lowers blood sugar better than traditional diabetes food plan February 8, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alicia @ 6:54 pm
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According to the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse a national survey done between 2004 and 2006 found that in people 20 years or older the incidence in diabetes in the U.S. was as follows:

·         6.6% in Whites

·         7.5% in Asian Americans

·         10.4% in Hispanics (of which 8.2% were Cuban, 11.9% were Mexican and 12.6% were Puerto Rican)

·         11.8% African-American/Blacks

 

As you can see the prevalence of Type II or what used to be referred to as “adult onset” diabetes is affecting people of color at an alarming rate. Blacks have almost double the incidence of Type II diabetes than whites and Hispanics are not far behind. The principle culprit behind this lifestyle disease is what we eat.  As an African American woman who grew up in California I had the distinct advantage of growing up with two different types of “soul food” – traditional Mexican food and dishes inspired by the deep south. While both cuisines are delicious they are also laden with fat, cholesterol,  and excesses of sugar and salt which, if eaten in excess (as they usually are) leads to overweight and obesity and can lead to a host of lifestyle diseases one being Type II diabetes.

 

A well written article in the Globe and Mail discusses findings from a recently published study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. The study showed that patients following a low-fat vegan diet were able to lose weight, lower their blood sugar, lower their LDL (bad) cholesterol and reduced the need for diabetes medication.  The study also showed that a low-fat vegan diet was easier to follow long term than the traditional diabetes food plan.

 

Check out the article here: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20090204.LBECK04/EmailTPStory/

 

Humane Society Endorses Obama September 24, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — A Random Life @ 3:02 pm
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Source

Here’s an exerpt of HSLF President Mike Markarian’s blog entry dated 9/22/08:

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has been a solid supporter of animal protection at both the state and federal levels. As an Illinois state senator, he backed at least a dozen animal protection laws, including those to strengthen the penalties for animal cruelty, to help animal shelters, to promote spaying and neutering, and to ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption.  In the U.S. Senate, he has consistently co-sponsored multiple bills to combat animal fighting and horse slaughter, and has supported efforts to increase funding for adequate enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act, Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, and federal laws to combat animal fighting and puppy mills.

In his response to the HSLF questionnaire, he pledged support for nearly every animal protection bill currently pending in Congress, and said he will work with executive agencies such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Interior to make their policies more humane. He wrote of the important role animals play in our lives, as companions in our homes, as wildlife in their own environments, and as service animals working with law enforcement and assisting persons with disabilities. He also commented on the broader links between animal cruelty and violence in society.

(emphasis mine)

I have many thoughts swimming in my head over this issue, but no words to express them so far…What is your take on this?

 

Whitening Veg*n History August 2, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 10:15 pm
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The July/August issue of VegNews contains the following letter to the editor:

I just finished reading “From Hippie to Hip” [a history of veg*nism in the March/April 2008 issue] and was appalled to find that virtually everyone mentioned and interviewed was white. A passing mention of “civil rights advocates” and “the segregated South” doesn’t even qualify as tokenism. Have you really never heard of human-rights activist and vegetarian Dick Gregory and his pioneering 1973 book, Dick Gregory’s Natural Diet for Folks Who Eat: Cookin’ With Mother Nature? And have you honestly never heard of Soul Vegetarian restaurants, started in 1983, with 14 locations around the world? I guess the vegetarian movement hasn’t come as far as you thought after all. – Tracye McQuirter, Washington DC

I’m not familiar with the article being critiqued, but I would add that there are numerous traditions of veg*nism within other communities of color as well, which could have also been included in the article.

 

A Few Links: Black Veg*ns; PETA’s Race Problem (Again) July 4, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 7:40 pm
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Blackvegetarians.org has an interview up with Kristin Candour & Tashee Meadows, founders of a group called Justice for All Species, a group “of people of color with the mission of providing resources to communities of color to promote a vegetarian diet and a harmonious relationship with humans, fellow species and the earth we share.”

Both Candour & Meadows find useful the comparison of nonhuman animal exploitation with slavery, something I am not comfortable with; Meadows did add an interesting comment on the issue:

However, I am concerned about who is not being compared to animals. When the comparisons made by animal rights groups focus solely on communities that have been “treated like animals,” read Blacks, Women and Jews, the chance of white men, often the architects of such systems, being compared to other species is rare. This leaves them in a class unto themselves, and may unwittingly reinforce an existing hierarchy of oppression.

Dani at The Vegan Ideal gives us thoughts on PETA’s targeting of people of color street vendors in LA, written about here. Dani highlights an important point:

In a society built on white supremacy and capitalism, people of color, especially those who work on the street, make easy targets. Molyneux notes that if the PETA volunteer had harassed a rich white man, say one who owns a meat packing plant that exploits both workers and nonhuman animals, the volunteer might end up in jail. However, by targeting people of color working on the street the same volunteer has all the support of the institutional racism and classism, including the LAPD.

 

What Does “Veggie Pride” Look Like? May 18, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 3:43 pm
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A little while ago I just returned from the Veggie Pride Parade, about which I was a little dubious previously. Comments on that post expressed concern about the concept of “pride” being appropriated from queer culture.

That honestly hadn’t occurred to me (even as a queer person) earlier, but I was reminded of it now partly because of the issue of whether or not vegans themselves are oppressed — discussed recently on this blog here & here, & also from VoC readers on their own blogs here & here. I come down more on the side that vegans are not oppressed, for the reasons delineated in some of those links.

Anyway, given that, my unease with the idea of veggie “pride” grew. I actually think the idea of the parade is really neat, & a fabulous way to get a lot of people thinking about these issues. I saw numerous people actually looking at the literature being handed out, & I witnessed at least one conversation about veg*nism — although the person was defending her use of happy meat. (I did, also, see some guy walking by sort of chanting, “Meat! Meat! Meat!” — so I called him an asshole, because clearly I am a Mean Vegan. But I’m getting ahead of myself.)

But “pride”? The concept of GLBT pride grew out of years of cultural & historical violence & repression, not to mention religious & cultural hatred. Like, hey, I’m gay & it’s okay, or even better, something to be proud of! The concept of ethnic pride (& you know I’m not talking about “white pride”) runs along similar lines.

The concept doesn’t work for me for veg*ns, though. Hey, call the parade New York Goes Veg Parade or New York Veggie Day Parade or something. But, yeah, I’m not on the “veggie pride” bandwagon. This doesn’t mean that I’m not, actually, proud of being vegan; I am. But culturally & politically, the idea of pride parades & that history being appropriated for a group such as veg*ns does not sit right with me.

Anyway — the actual parade. I was at the corner of 8th Street & Sixth Avenue, & when the parade (finally) came into view, all I could hear was “Go veg! Go veg! Go veg!” over & over. I’m glad they switched in some other chants later on, because it was a little silly to be chanting that for a minute straight. Another thing I thought of was that, sheesh, in future marches they really need some music. There was one guy shaking maracas but that seemed to be it. I know, from dealing with the NYC Pride Parade bureaucracy, that getting a permit for a car or truck (that could support a sound system) is costly, but with all the corporate sponsors they got, surely a few hundred bucks could’ve been spared? Or recruit folks for a veg*n marching band or something! Every parade needs music!

All this sounds very cranky, I know. But I was actually touched as the parade went by. I think they took about 10 minutes to walk by, which was pretty impressive in my view. I was expecting a lot of the stereotypical tattooed hipster veg*ns (because, hey, NYC & especially Greenwich Village has been known to have a lot of them), & there was a contingent.

However, I was pleasantly surprised to see more POCs than I expected (not that the tattooed hipsters weren’t sometimes POCs of course!) — although to be frank, my expectations were, of course, low. But there was one quite large group that was predominantly (East) Asian (I think, based on a conversation I had with one of their members, mostly Chinese). Although it turns out they were from Supreme Master TV. Which seems a bit, er, confusing & odd to me. Their group did have a ton of neat pro-veg signs, though, & I can’t tell you how excited I was to suddenly see a big bunch of Asians in the parade!

Here’s a photo:

Supreme Master TV contingent

There were also a lot of kids in the parade, including these folks:

POC veg*n kids at Veggie Pride Parade

Yay for POC veg*n kids! Even though I still despise the whole “Miso ___!” thing.

I followed the parade to its end in Washington Square Park, made a quick tour of the exhibitors in order to score requisite free stuff, & managed to come home before it really started raining. And thus ends my combo report/critique. I’ll leave you with a shot of the Meat Eater’s Colon, as seen in the parade (love the colostomy bag, don’t you?):

Meat Eater\'s Colon

 

MySpace for Black Veg*ns March 18, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 6:28 pm
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SoulVegFolk is for “Black folks who are vegans, vegetarians, fruitarians, raw foodists, etc. to share the joys, pains and crazy of their diet/lifestyle.”

(hat tip to Elaine Vigneault for the link!)

 

vegan soul food February 1, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 2:31 pm
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I saw this article from the Washington Post a while ago & forgot to post it: “Vegan Soul Grows in Anacostia”. It’s about Levita Mondie-Sapp, a black schoolteacher who became vegan after her mother got cancer. She now has a catering business, Vita’s Eatery, & has won multiple awards for her chili in the local farmer’s market cook-off.

“People say it wouldn’t fly in Anacostia,” she says. “But the bottom line is that black people want their food to taste good. And I can make that happen.”

Awesome. Let’s keep showing folks that vegan food can be fabulous & doesn’t mean exclusion from cultural traditions either.

In my previous post, I mentioned that it seems like vegans motivated predominantly by health were more likely to fall off the wagon. It would appear that Mondie-Sapp could be an exception (neither the article nor her website makes mention of animal cruelty issues, although of course that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have any stance on them).

 

 
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