Vegans of Color

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

Sistah Vegan Book Tour Schedule (Breeze Harper) March 31, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dr. Amie "Breeze" Harper @ 12:06 pm

April 8, 2010: Berkeley CA Sistah Vegan Book Release Celebration, Talk, and Signing with Breeze Harper.

Location: Guerilla Cafe, 1620 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley CA. Time: 7-9pm. Books available for purchase.

April 10, 2010: San Francisco GreenFest. 2-3pm Talk: “Grub and Eco-Politics”.

Go to:

April 14, 2010: Earthsave Radio Interview with Caryn Hartglass (host)

Location: Time : 12-1pm PST.

Talk: Breeze Harper will be interviewed about Sistah Vegan and the work she is doing as a PhD Candidate at UC Davis, focusing on intersections of critical race and vegan studies.


Location: AK Press 674-A 23rd St., Oakland CA 94612. 7-9pm

Talk: “Sistah Vegan: Breeze Harper Talks About the Intersection of Critical Race and Food Studies.” Book will be available for purchase and she will be signing.


April 17, 2010: “The Future of Health Care: Eat Well, Be Well” Holistic Health Conference at San Francisco State University

Location: San Francisco State University, San Francisco CA. Jack Adams Halls, Cesar Chavez Student Center. 1130am- 12:45pm.

Talk: Vegetarian, Vegan, and Raw Diets- Benefits and Concerns (Breeze Harper and Dr. Will Tuttle)

May 1-2, 2010: Farm Sanctuary’s Annual “Hoe Down”.

Location: Orland, CA. Farm Sanctuary.

Talk: “A Compassionate Talk About Whiteness in Veganism.”


May 20, 2010: Sistah Vegan talk and book signing at Pegasus Books

Location: Pegasus Books, 1855 Solano Ave, Berkeley CA 94707. Time: 7:30-8:30 pm PST


Being Vegan at an HBCU March 29, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Meilani @ 6:08 pm

My first thought after deciding to go vegan was “Yay! Wait, what about my mother’s macaroni-and cheese?” My second thought was, “What the hell am I going to eat at school?” As a senior at what’s considered one of the best Historically Black Colleges in the nation, I’ve watched the cafeteria go through its changes. I came in an omnivore freshman and had made the leap to vegetarianism by my third year. But I was a sad vegetarian. Constantly depressed over all of the things I couldn’t eat (curse you Soul Food Thursdays!) I “slipped” over and over again. Between junior and senior year I got serious about transitioning to veganism. But what to eat on campus during the many hours I’m there has remained one of my biggest frustrations.

The main issue has been the contradiction between my school cafeteria attempting to provide for vegans but not always understanding what vegan is. Foods are only labeled half of the time, and of that half they are mislabeled quite often. (But hey, labels with nutrition information are brand new and much appreciated when they’re right). Eating lunch often feels like navigating a minefield of hidden ingredients and employees who didn’t make the food and aren’t required to know what’s in it. I was beginning to lose hope that I’d ever be able to have a meal that consisted of more than french fries (made in an independent fryer) and salad. This was only compounded by the fact that during a visit to one of the predominantly white institutions the offerings in the cafeteria were a buffet spread compared to what I was used to. Given the alarming statistics of food-related illnesses in the black community it would seem that my school would want to be at the forefront of a nutrition overhaul, starting in its own cafeteria. I know that other schools can also have paltry offerings for vegans, and all schools aren’t like the one I visited, but it sometimes seems like my school is so far behind the times and I often wonder why.

But today, my HBCU cafeteria was serving pho (or some version of it, I’ve never actually had the real thing). The same cafeteria that just last year was essentially only serving pasta or beans and rice as vegan entrees. At the little soup station everything was clear before me: rice noodles, herbs, tofu, vegetables, and a vegetable broth! With ginger! The gentleman who assembled my soup was eager to know what a vegan was. He didn’t know the difference between vegan and vegetarian but said he would do more research. I explained what I do and don’t eat. And I came back for more of his soup. Because it was the most satisfying meal I’ve had in this cafeteria in the last 6 months. Maybe tomorrow he’ll have more questions. Maybe he’ll tell his coworkers and more will know that you can’t call broccoli slathered in cheddar sauce vegan. My school has come a long way from only serving beans and rice and even though I’m on my way out, I hope they continue to make healthy changes.


More on classism, and some thoughts on ableism, within vegan movements March 27, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 1:53 pm
Tags: , ,

Stephanie at Animal Rights & AntiOppression: Classism from Vegans Doesn’t Help Animals, Nonhuman or Human.

Steph at Vegan About Town: the ability to make choices.

And Prof Susurro at Like a Whisper re-posts a list of Feminist Reading Tools for Recognizing and Dismantling Intersectional Oppressions in solidarity with Breeze’s offering of resources here.

Nathan Gilmore at Alia Porci recently presented this thoughtful post: Earning the Right to Be Vegan: On the Intersection of Ableist Privilege and Speciesist Power. Here’s an excerpt:

Ability prejudice can also play out in the even subtler forms of animal rights activism that demand a intimate familiarity with every single hot topic in the movement, or at least, the ability to show yourself well-versed any of a number of disciplines ranging from law to sociology to ethics. While each of these certainly is germane to the broader issue of animal rights, and can be used with great efficiency, might it not be conceivable that the vegan, who for whatever reason (e.g. disability), honestly and truly cannot engage these issues so deeply might read this demand as a slammed door in the face?

Over the past year I’ve been thinking more about the privileging of the able-bodied (& neurotypical) in activist movements — including, but by no means limited to, veganism & animal rights. Often certain types of activism are held up as the pinnacles of commitment & getting shit done: direct action; mammoth demonstrations on the street; confrontational protests; etc. These are more risky for people who do not fit within a certain paradigm. For example, the risk of being dragged away by the cops at a protest may look very different to you if you are: POC; gender nonconforming; undocumented; a person with childcare commitments; female; disabled — not that any of these categories are mutually exclusive, of course!

I remember during the late ’90s & early ’00s, in the NE & mid-Atlantic area of the US, if you were an activist in certain circles it was almost taken for granted that you would do a lot of summit-hopping: primarily (but not always) to NYC or DC, wherever the next big anti-globalization protest was. If you weren’t climbing on the bus early in the morning every week to go protest, people asked why.

Maybe you find it uncomfortable to stand or walk for long periods (especially in the cold!). Maybe the routes of protest marches aren’t necessary accessible to those with mobility issues. Maybe you’ve got anxiety or other mental health issues that make potentially confrontational activism an issue. Maybe you can’t afford to take time off work / pay for childcare / pay for the bus even with sliding scale fares! (&… maybe you have doubts about the efficacy of huge demos as the best use of activist time & energy, but that’s a whole ‘nother issue…)

I really appreciated the paragraph in Nathan’s post that I quoted up there because it highlights one way in which neuro-atypical people are often invisibilized within activist communities (as are people with disabilities — PWD — in general). Here are some other standard activist behaviors that might be challenging to someone who’s not neurotypical or someone with mental health issues:

  • Tabling
  • Doorknocking
  • Wheatpasting flyers
  • Leading workshops
  • Working the door at events
  • Being a panelist or debater

Of course a lot of these may pose issues for PWD in general. And yet how much do these sorts of things form the core of activist work in many communities? Could we be alienating PWD from our movements partly by not thinking more of how standard activist work could be more inclusive (in addition to, you know, recognizing that PWD exist)? I think a lot of activist groups are still lagging behind on making events truly accessible, but I don’t think I’ve often seen consideration of PWD beyond a hasty search for accessible venues, if that.

(And given how many vegans push the health aspect of veganism, I wonder if any of the spaces on this bingo card have been used to PWD: specifically the ones about diet/exercise or how if you just took vitamins etc. you’d be cured. Shudder.)

EDIT: It seems I misused the term neurotypical up there; I had gotten the impression from seeing it online that it was used to cover a wider spectrum of conditions than autism, but apparently not? Neurodiversity maybe is more what I was looking for, as I meant to use a broader term & it sounds like some people, at least, use it in that sense. Also, I probably should have specified that the list of challenging activist items was at least partly inspired by my experiences with activism as someone dealing with mental health issues.


… & the rest of you can wait March 21, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 3:24 pm
Tags: ,

In response to being called out for claiming that leafleting to college students & faculty couldn’t have any whiff of classism about it, Elaine Vigneault offers up her reasoning for why she chooses to focus on animal rights activism as her priority. There are some things that could be picked apart in the post, but what stuck out most for me was this:

I advocate veganism predominantly to the privileged precisely because they are privileged. They have the most power to affect significant change in our society on behalf of animals, the environment, and public health.

So instead of denying, as in the comments on Prof Susurro’s post, that leafleting solely to college students & faculty might possibly have a class element to it, Elaine now turns around & says that this is a deliberate tactic, that those who are privileged must be prioritized for their power.

In other words, let’s bank on their privilege instead of, I don’t know, working to help other people become empowered.

What are the rest of the people supposed to do in the meantime? And what about people from non-privileged groups who are doing advocacy work within their communities? Are they then wasting their time? Is grassroots work pointless unless it targets the government (as a body Elaine cites as having power to change attitudes about nonhuman animals) or other powerful groups? Should we hinge all our efforts on legal change? What would animal activism that (further) ignores marginalized groups look like? Where will it get us? How do we gain by setting our eyes on those with the most power?


Book Alert: By Any Greens Necessary: A Revolutionary Guide for Black Women Who Want to Eat Great, Get Healthy, Lose Weight, and Look Phat

Filed under: Uncategorized — supernovadiva @ 1:30 am

Tracye McQuirter is a DC based nutritionist that has been vegan for 20 years. She directed the first ever federally funded, community based vegan program, the Vegetarian Society of DC Eat Smart program. I loved her site co authored with her sister, Marya (who also has her own site)

She now has a site called (LOVE THIS NAME!) By Any Greens Necessary

Her book by the same name is available for pre order on Amazon:

 It’s scheduled to come out May 1, 2010.

Check out this interview of her during a conference in India:


Examining Classism in Vegan Rhetoric March 14, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 6:03 am

Prof Susurro at Like a Whisper recently deconstructed some class privilege in the VOC discussion on the about second-hand items.

Her critiques are accurate & well worth a read. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Prof, both in the original post & on your own blog.


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

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 7:01 am
Tags: , , ,

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

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.


Joint Statement by a Group of Abolitionist Vegan Feminists for International Women’s Day

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 1:42 pm
Tags: , ,

Check it out here (& there’s also a video). A lot of issues bloggers here (& elsewhere) have raised about sexist AR campaigns are addressed in this statement, which begins:

As abolitionist vegans and feminists, we oppose the use of sexist tactics in the animal advocacy movement. Ethical animal rights veganism is part of the logical conclusion of opposition to the exploitation of all sentient beings — both human animals and non-human animals. Opposing speciesism is incompatible with engaging in sexism or any other form of discrimination, such as racism, heterosexism, classism, and other forms of oppression.


does second-hand figure into your ethics equation? March 4, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — mmcquirter @ 1:33 pm

Did you hear about Gilbert Arenas hosting PETA’s fur give-away at the Rachael’s Women’s Center in DC this past Tuesday?  Arenas handed out second-hand furs to women at a center that supports former and current homeless women.

These kinds of events, as well as my thrift/free store & Nordstrom’s trips to find shoes, always make me revisit my ethical equation of used consumption over new consumption divided by non-animal equals wearing used organic hemp shoes in the winter!

What does your ethical equation look like? Would you choose to wear a second-hand fur over a new non-animal coat?  What about new Franco Sarto faux boots (!) over second-hand leather shoes at a free store?

Does the self-knowledge of choosing to wear free leather shoes bcuz free is better for the  environment trump the potentiality of perpetuating the idea that animals are intended primarily for human needs?