Vegans of Color

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

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/

 

Chinese Vegan Denied German Visa July 29, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 10:35 pm
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Via Animal Person: Xie Zheng — an officer of the Chinese Vegetarian Union, a rock musician, & a founder of the organization Don’t Eat Friends — was an invited delegate (the only one from China) to the International Vegetarian Union’s 38th World Vegetarian Congress, which began on July 27 in Dresden & is running until August 3.

However, the German embassy denied him a visa — it doesn’t seem to be clear why — & despite letters of support from noted veg*n activists in several countries, they refused to budge.

The Vegan Social Club of Beijing blog criticizes Germany’s decision:

After all, how often do idealistic young Chinese vegetarians get invited to Dresden by hundred-year-old European institutions to meet “the world”, play music and exchange ideas on peace? How often do Chinese individuals get portrayed positively in the European press? How often do European media have the chance to report positive, accurate stories about progressive areas like vegetarianism, non-violence and animal advocacy in China?

Let me make a wild guess: Not as often as a sort of faceless, impersonal “China” gets portrayed negatively and (almost always) inaccurately for a very narrow range of stereotypical “bad news” items.

And yet, when a real live Chinese idealist of impeccable ethics is invited by a venerable, century-old European institution, you’re not interested in enabling the world to hear that “good news” story.

 

Two Quick Links July 26, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 7:59 pm
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I have two or three posts that have been bubbling away in my brain for a while — hopefully I’ll get to writing up at least one of them soon — but I just wanted to pass on these links:

Via Noah, Dani at the Vegan Ideal has a sharp critique for the recent call for proposals about queers & AR. They bring up some really important points about the ties between the AR movement & the prison-industrial complex — probably not the ties you might expect — & how this impacts POCs & the poor.

Via Joselle, a post on Feministing about being a veg*n of color (which links here — thanks, Grace!), which also talks a little about Seoul in particular.

 

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

 

What Will the Hipsters Come Up with Next? March 21, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 4:31 pm
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Ugh, this is from the NYC events list Nonsense NYC:

XXXXX THURSDAY, MARCH 27 XXXXX

New York City Chinatown Garbage Tour

Did you know you could make art out of dead animals? Artist Nate Hill is going to show you how to collect dead animals from the garbage in Chinatown to make your own personal taxidermy. This is the first NYC Chinatown Garbage Taxidermy Tour. You will learn how to dig in the garbage for dead animals. You can make art out of these animals. I’ve found everything from sharks to frogs to plain old unidentifiable crap. Sometimes I find nothing interesting, but that is what makes it fun. You never know.

Special for this tour only: Co-host Carlen Altman, appetizers, and haphazard display of how to put animals together on the ground.

Southeast Corner of Canal Street and Lafayette Street, Manhattan
9p rain or shine; $free
stoproadkill.org/
carlenaltman.blogspot.com/

So nasty. And it’s not lost on me that this tour, which purports to show you where you can get lots of CRAZY DEAD ANIMALS, takes place in Chinatown. Because, you know, those Asians eat all that weird shit, right? “[E]verything from sharks to frogs to plain old unidentifiable crap,” apparently.

 

Making Connections… or Not February 22, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 8:41 pm
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I’ve just discovered the Pittsburgh group Animal Freedom, which does animal rights work that seeks to incorporate a broader understanding of other social justice issues too.

Check out the syllabus of their Animal Rights Study Group. Lots of good stuff in there!

One linked reading that particularly drew my attention was a letter from a Korean person objecting to the way a campaign against the Korean dog meat trade (carried out by Westerners) was run.

I am afraid those pictures [of dogs destined to be eaten] make viewers hate all Korean people because I saw a lot of comments on the internet with racial hate toward Koreans…. However I don’t believe those Koreans, who see dogs and cats as food, will listen to others (especially westerners) who have also two morals in their way of living. For example, Western people are eating much more meat in daily life than Korean people….

I find this quote particularly interesting, given that the president of Kinship Circle, Brenda Shoss, recently commented on my post in November criticizing their own campaign to stop the cat & dog meat trade in Korea & the Philippines. Shoss seems to think that I missed Kinship Circle’s point, but I feel that the points I made about the colonialist nature of such campaigns still stand, & were not addressed.

 

 
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