Vegans of Color

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

cheese sandwiches February 27, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — mama @ 6:29 am

yahoo news reports:

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A cold cheese sandwich, fruit and a milk carton might not seem like much of a meal — but that’s what’s on the menu for students in New Mexico‘s largest school district without their lunch money.

Faced with mounting unpaid lunch charges in the economic downturn, Albuquerque Public Schools last month instituted a “cheese sandwich policy,” serving the alternative meals to children whose parents are supposed to be able to pay for some or all of their regular meals but fail to pick up the tab.

Such policies have become a necessity for schools seeking to keep budgets in the black while ensuring children don’t go hungry. School districts including those in Chula Vista, Calif.; Hillsborough County, Fla.; and Lynnwood, Wash.; have also taken to serving cheese sandwiches to children with delinquent lunch accounts.

Womanist Musings does a good job of outlining some of the socio-economic critique to such a policy:

“If a parent is laid off because the company that they work for is going bankrupt how are they irresponsible?”

Second grader Danessa Vigil said she had to eat cheese sandwiches because her mother couldn’t afford to give her lunch money while her application for free lunch was being processed.

Now, “every time I eat it, it makes me feel like I want to throw up,” the 7-year-old said.

all i could think of was: ewww…while i was reading this.

The School Nutrition Association recently surveyed nutrition directors from 38 states and found more than half of school districts have seen an increase in the number of students charging meals, while 79 percent saw an increase in the number of free lunches served over the last year.

In Albuquerque, unpaid lunch charges hovered around $55,000 in 2006. That jumped to $130,000 at the end of the 2007-08 school year. It was $140,000 through the first five months of this school year.

Charges were on pace to reach $300,000 by the end of the year. Mary Swift, director of Albuquerque’s food and nutrition services, said her department had no way to absorb that debt as it had in the past.

“We can’t use any federal lunch program money to pay what they call bad debt. It has to come out of the general budget and of course that takes it from some other department,” Swift said.

1. this is not nutritious.  simply not.  american cheese (with that faint smell of plastic wrapper still clinging to it) slapped between to slices of white bread. who told them this was nutritous?  why dont poor kids deserve a nutritious meal?

2. right now i am eating koshary.  which is the cheap everybody’s meal here in cairo.  macaroni, rice and spaghetti noodles with hot sauce and garlic sauce and cooked beans and chopped fresh vegetables ontop.  really cheap.  really easy to make. delicious. good for the body.  seriously they couldnt serve rice and beans and veggies?  seriously?  cold cheese sandwiches?

3. why does the school systems decide to humiliate poor children through food?  what about the social and emotional harm done to the kids?  why use food as a form of stigma?

4. why do the school system insist on giving these kids a meal that consists of white bread and dairy products (considering that alot of them are kids of color and probably lactose sensitive and intolerant)?

5. when you serve kids food like this (and yes i know that hot school lunches are atrocious-i am a public school graduate-but seriously there are degrees of disgusting in the world)  what is the likelihood of them learning well in school?


Does being vegan cost more money? February 20, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joselle @ 12:26 pm

In a word, no.

I thought about this topic this morning while reading a blog post at Bitch magazine titled “Going Vegan or Going Crazy?” The author, Lisa Factora-Borchers, shouts out Vegans of Color and then states that, while recently experimenting with vegan cooking, she’s found the diet expensive. She asks:

As I contemplate someday having a family, is veganism realistic with little ones who may be picky eaters?  How economically affordable is natural and organic for a growing family?  What are the ways to eat, cook, live well on reasonable budget?

Factora-Borchers doesn’t detail what she’s buying or cooking but most respondents to the post said something to the effect, “Hello, rice and beans!”

Here is part of my response to the post:

Vegan or not, if you buy processed food, it’s going to be more expensive. If you buy seasonal produce, dried and canned beans, grains in bulk (or even an big bag of Uncle Ben’s), and tofu (which is usually 2 for $5 at my local big chain supermarket; each pack provides 3 to 5 servings, depending on how much you eat. That’s a lot cheaper than one steak), you’ll be spending less money. I think the idea that being vegan is more expensive comes from the fact that many people think going from a meat-centered diet to a plant-based one means you have to “replace” your meat with Tofurky and Morningstar Farms. Or that you have to shop exclusively at Whole Paycheck (aka Whole Foods).

None of that is true. Bananas, rice, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, pears, oatmeal, peanut butter-those are all vegan foods but no one ever calls a banana vegan. They call soy ice cream vegan. We’ve got to move away from thinking being vegan is about eating processed “replacements.” Eating vegan means you eat food that grows. That food, in season, is almost always cheaper than organic cookies and chicken parts…

A last thing to think about in terms of the costs of vegan food. What about the long term costs to animals who are enslaved and tortured in factory farms, the costs to the underpaid and abused workers who have to kill the animals on our behalf, the costs to our environment from the toxins created by factory farmed animals, and the health care costs of eating animal parts and then needing a quadruple bypass? Sounds like being vegan might be one of your cheaper options in the long run.

I must admit, I am a foodie. I love to browse gourmet shops and, yes, WholefreakinPaycheck is a guilty pleasure of mine. I will wear shoes with holes in them but spend $11 on pink Himalayan salt. But the bulk of what I eat–canned chickpeas, seasonal produce, tofu, pinto beans, pink beans, black beans, beans beans beans, quinoa, brown rice, oatmeal, nuts–I spend a lot less on all of that than what I would have spent years ago on a single serving of filet mignon.

I have the money to buy what kind of food I want. I have the time to trek out to farmer’s markets . In my boyfriend’s gentrifying Philly neighborhood, there are low-priced supermarkets but the closest store on his block is a convenience store that only sells variations on chips and cheese in plastic containers. When I went shopping with my grandparents to markets in poorer neighborhoods, however, there were still fruits and vegetables there. And they bought them. Maybe they weren’t organic and fancy but they were plants that grew from the ground.

I do think a plant-based diet is cheaper in the shorter and longer terms. What has been your experience?


Is Vegan Chocolate Always Ethical? February 18, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 3:23 pm

We’ve talked about this before, but Global Exchange wants us to think about the provenance of our chocolate (especially for Valentine’s Day — sorry I didn’t get to posting this earlier!).

If your chocolate isn’t fair trade, it was likely produced by child labor and slavery. Even if the ingredients look “cruelty-free,” that surely isn’t.

You can read more about fair trade chocolate here on Global Exchange’s site.

(Two books I’ve read recently make me wonder just how effective fair trade is, really, but it does seem like it’s better than the current deal that producers get — though that isn’t saying much & in the end may not amount to enough…)


PETA “Protests” as the KKK February 12, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joselle @ 1:20 pm

Because PETA can’t just tell the truth about animals and operate compassionately and justly, they do shit like this. The Associated Press reported that on Monday, February 19,  members of PETA dressed up as Klansmen to protest the American Kennel Club at the Westminster Kennel Club Show, held at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

I first heard of this unfortunately unsurprising travesty on Racialicious (they got the tip from Womanist Musings; and thanks to Noemifor letting me know about that post). In addition to my outrage at PETA’s continuing racism, misogyny, and run-of-the-mill contempt for people and animals alike, what struck me most about the AP report was this part:

Most passers-by seemed more puzzled than offended, though those who didn’t stop walked away thinking they really had seen the KKK. The most common reaction was to pull out a cell phone and start snapping photos.

On top of being hate-mongers, the activism of PETA is simply ineffectual. They didn’t change hearts and minds with this sideshow on Monday. They either traumatized or befuddled people. Nothing gained for the animals, human or otherwise.

Since so often many people conflate the sensationalistic actions of PETA with the beliefs and values held by people who want to protect animals, it’s time that major organizations and leaders in the animal welfare and rights communities disavowed PETA. One commenter on Womanist Musings said as much:

It’s long past time for PETA to be put out of business, and for other animal-right groups to stop trying to sweep PETA’s shit under the rug, call PETA out, and dissociate themselves from PETA.

Where is the proof that what PETA is doing helps animals? What exactly is their purpose?

PETA, you don’t stand for me.


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
Tags: , , , ,

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:


The Truth About Vitamins February 6, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alicia @ 12:59 am

Many people believe that when you transition to a vegan diet you are putting yourself at risk for deficiency for a host of vitamins. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, meat and dairy products only have a select few vitamins and minerals, no fiber, very few carbohydrates which are essential for brain function (none in meat), little to no water and no antioxidants.


In stark contrast plant foods (fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and grains) are high in a vast array of vitamins and minerals, high in fiber, rich in carbohydrates, water rich and are packed with an assortment of antioxidants. To put it simply plant foods are more nutrient dense than animal. Nutrient density means that a food provides a large amount of nutrients relative to the number of calories it contains. The higher the level of nutrients and the fewer the number of calories the more nutrient dense a food is.


There are literally thousands of edible plant foods and I’ve randomly picked out 5 of my personal favorites to compare against chicken breast and milk.




Chicken Breast, roasted 172g

1 cup 2% Milk*

1 cup collard greens, cooked

1 cup quinoa, cooked

1 cup blueberries

1 cup almonds, raw

1 cup black beans, cooked










Protein (g)









Fat (g)










55% of calories consumed








Fiber  (g)

25g min.








Sugars (g)
















Iron (mg)









Zinc (mg)









Vitamin C (mg)









Thiamin, B1 (mg)









Riboflavin, B2 (mg)









Niacin (mg)









Pantothenic acid, B5 (mg)






Vitamin B-6 (mg)









Folate (mcg)









Vitamin B-12 (mcg)

2.4 mcg








Vitamin A, IU

3000 IU








Vitamin E (mg)

15-22 IU






*usually Milk is fortified with vitamin A & D for this example I used milk that was not fortified with vitamin A to show the true nutrient content

**These are average RDA’s values change for women who are nursing, pregnant and change proportionally based on caloric needs


The vitamin supplement craze has done the American public a huge disservice by making us believe we need to get 100% of our RDA/AI of vitamins and minerals in just one food item. This is a horrible and dangerous myth. Total cereal is fortified with 100% of the recommend daily allowance of most vitamins and minerals. So, once you eat a bowl of Total are you just supposed to eat nothing else for the day? No! Because 1 bowl of Total cereal will not provide you all the fiber, protein, carbohydrates, calories and phytonutrients you’ll need in a day. To get all these things and all the vitamins & minerals you need it is best to eat a varied diet. Whether you’re vegan or omni you shouldn’t eat the same thing day in and day out. You simply won’t get the amount of macro and micro-nutrients you need.


As you can see from the chart above different foods are rich in different vitamins & minerals. Collard Greens are high in calcium, iron, Niacin, folate and vitamin A; Quinoa is high in protein, iron and zinc; blueberries are rich in antioxidants, almonds are high protein, calcium, iron, zinc, EFA’s and vitamin E; and black beans are high in protein, iron, zinc and folate. All of them have all the other essential vitamins and minerals that you need in modest amounts so that when you eat a balanced, varied diet you get everything you need. The only exception to the rule is vitamin D and vitamin B12. Vitamin D is not abundant in any food. Sure you can get a bit from fish but overall meat, dairy and plant based foods are so low in vitamin D that there’s not even a column for them in the USDA nutrient database. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that is activated when the sun hits our skin. 15-30 minutes of sunlight will give you the adequate amount you need. Since many people spend most of their time in doors or slathered in sun block a lot of physicians are now recommending you take a vitamin D supplement. Your doctor can run a simple blood test to see if you are deficient in vitamin D. After all the hype over vitamin D deficiency and the purported problem with African-American’s not being able to get adequate amounts of vitamin D due to darker skin color I was surprised that, after taking this blood test, I am not deficient in Vitamin D and my levels were well within the normal range. I highly recommend getting this test just so you know where you stand. One more word on Vitamin D. The dairy industry has been pushing the need to drink milk to get this vital nutrient. However, milk does not naturally contain vitamin D, it is fortified with vitamin D. So you would be better off drinking calcium and vitamin D fortified orange juice (which is more nutrient dense than cow’s milk) or simply taking a vitamin D supplement.  Lastly, as many vegans already know there are no longer any reliable plant based sources of vitamin B12. Many experts recommend taking a vitamin B12 supplement.



***Note: This blog educational purposes only. Before taking any supplements you should always consult your physician***



All nutrient information was taken from the USDA Nutrient Database SR21. You can get a complete profile of the nutrients in a wide variety of food including a full breakdown of the lipid profile and amino acids of your foods



Intersectional Animal Issues Conference in Sweden February 4, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 2:52 pm

This was posted as a comment to the blog — thanks for letting us know! It sounds really interesting. (Note: Check out some info on Carol Adams & transphobia from the Vegan Ideal — not the first time I’ve heard about this, sigh)


May 21-23, 2009

Center for Gender Research
Uppsala University


The Right Reasons for Veganism? February 3, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — dany @ 1:39 pm

I’ve been thinking a lot about veganism lately and for why it has maintained such a strong hold in my life when there are so many ex-vegans running around.

My own journey into veg*nism was long. I first went vegetarian when I was 11. Looking back, I’m honestly not sure why. I have always been interested in nutrition, and I thought that without eating animal flesh I would be healthy. This was also a part of my ill-fated attempts to get my parents to eat more heaIthfully, as well. I pretended to be vegetarian at school the entirety of 8th grade. I was terrified when, last minute, my dad decided to invite my friends over to dinner, because then they would know my secret. Thankfully, he made fish and no one even batted an eye. When I was in boarding school through my first year of college, I was vegetarian 8-9 months out of the year, but when I came home, inevitably gave in to home cooked goodness. I would figure that if the animals were free range and organic, they couldn’t have been treated *that* badly, and humans were supposed to eat animals, after all. It was only the treatment of animals in factory farms that really concerned me. I went vegan January first of my sophomore year in college after I had discovered the rant-y goodness of the Vegan Freak podcast and came to one very sudden, very clear conclusion; I don’t want to be eaten. Why would I eat another creature when I, myself, am terrified of the thought of everything that those poor beings we call “livestock” have to go though just made the decision clear.

So, I’ve been participating in a lot of vegan communities, largely online, and find that, true to stereotypes, are holier than though in many respects. I won’t lie, I understand the word “vegan” to be rooted in animal rights over dietary choices, so if I see a self proclaimed vegan wearing a leather jacket I will give them the side eye. But then again, I’m not perfect either. I still have a couple of leather shoes that I bought years ago and will wear on job interviews. I buy sugar that may have been refined using bone char. I will get upset if you try to argue that eating honey is vegan. I’ve accidentally eaten honey and not thought twice about it. In our own way, we are all filled with contradictions.
A year or so ago I joined the Sistah Vegan e-group and my notion of veganism and dietary choices completely switched from being an act of benevolence to the animals, to fitting into my larger anti-oppression liberation-oriented political ideologies. In the spring, I joined and my love for Erykah Badu grew infinitely all of which helped me embrace and afro-centric vegan philosophy.

A lot of white vegan folks I have come across are very insistent that the only reason to go vegan is For the Animals. This is why I went vegan, 100%. I still think that it’s central to the cause. Most of these people understand the human rights implications of terrible diets and underregulated slaughterhouse environments, but not uncommonly, veganism for a lot of these folks veganism falls into a category of activism that I’ve heard called “the politics of helping.”

Although far from perfect, my vegan diet offers me the opportunity to resist the colonial influences that the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow and forced poverty has forced onto my people’s diets. Alicia’s post on lactose intolerance is a great example of the way that white folks have forced their diet, which works for their bodies, on to communities of color. In response, I’ve begun to see veganism as a means of resistance of colonial influence on my body. With the disproportionately high rates of heart disease, diabetes, and fibroid tumors in African America, taking accountability into our own hands seems like a great alternative to essentialist racial politics (see: the black heart pill).

Okay, so I’m not going to lie. I do eat a lot of white flour, white rice, and refined sugar, which is probably counterintuitive to the cause, damn, the cupcakes in Vegan Cupcakes Take over the World are damned tasty.
So, what is the “right” reason to go veg? I don’t have an answer. My political ideologies revolve around one simple hope: for beings to be able to live free. I’m a queer unemployed woman of color. I’m going to work to fight for my liberation and the liberation of others in tandem. I’m tired of hierarchical identity politics and the “oppression olympics.” If I didn’t understand my veganism to be inherently intersectional and liberatory, I wouldn’t still be vegan. I worry that holier-than-thou vegans who push the plight of animals above and beyond any personal and/or human rights benefits of veganism are doing nothing more than harming the cause.

Let’s just get people to go vegan, help them stay there, and work on teaching them about its many benefits.