More Black Americans Are Becoming Vegetarians And Vegans

Black african american Vegetarians Vegans soul food

“That is not ‘soul food,’ [it is] destroying souls. A lot of people think a real good, wholesome meal is when you sit back bloated and full and nod off. To me, soul food is food that adds to your spirit, gives you energy, gives you life, and helps you feel vibrant.” -Ishmael Shakur, black American and 6 year vegetarian

Black Americans are trending towards becoming vegetarians and vegans more now. Have you noticed this trend? Surely, you’ve had to notice the health statistics that show alarmingly high rates of heart disease and other food related illnesses in the United States, with Americans of African ancestry in or near the lead among racial groups. According to Toledo Blade it’s not just meatlessness on the rise, more Black folks are also skipping the dairy, fish, eggs, and honey too.

There have been many examinations of and challenges too “soul food” and the African American diet in recent years from filmmaker Byron Hurt’s eye-opening Soul Food Junkies to books like By Any Greens Necessary: A Revolutionary Guide for Black Women Who Want to Eat Great, Get Healthy, Lose Weight, and Look Phat by Tracye Lynn McQuirter. Many have been conscious of not just taking away one idea towards food for the black community but replacing it with another healthier one.

Health, however, isn’t the only reason an African American, or anyone else might go meatless. Toledo Blade reports some are inspired by others to make the change while others simply lost their desire to eat meat. You may ask how is that possible? Fried chicken stereotypes aside some black Americans interviewed said they had difficulty with the idea of an animal losing its life for their meal or they were never big meat eaters in the first place so becoming a vegetarian wasn’t a huge sacrifice or change.

It’s important to note there are many reasons why one may opt out of eating meat and animal products. The desire to stop participating in the environmental degradation and animal abuse involved with industrial meat production is plenty reason enough. If you need more there’s also genetically modified meat fears, the health risks due to the massive food recalls that are now becoming commonplace in the U.S.

To be clear, vegetarians do not eat meat but there are many types of them. “Lacto vegetarians eat dairy products but not eggs; ovo vegetarians eat eggs but not dairy products; lacto-ovo vegetarians eat both eggs and dairy products, and vegans do not eat honey or any animal products whatsoever. Also, pescetarians eat seafood but no other flesh.”

So what about the vegans? Vegans do not eat the flesh of any animal nor do they consume any animal products such as eggs, seafood, honey, or milk. Although it isn’t cited in the source article many African Americans are actually lactose intolerant. New nationwide trends in increased health awareness may have led these new vegans of color to go sans dairy then extend it further from there. It should be noted that dairy sales are sharply declining nationwide. Some possible reasons include because the cost of a gallon of milk has gone up, industrial milk production is at least as heinous as industrial meat production, and as said “perhaps because we aren’t all babies”.

What’s an article about vegans and vegetarians without a discussion about protein? The two ideas need not necessarily be linked every time but it is a common concern for those who are curious about the shift to a plant based diet. The answer to the protein question is there are many non animal sources of protein like fresh vegetables, fruits, beans, and nuts.

There are likely no statistics on how many black vegetarians and vegans there are in the U.S. but anecdotally, do you agree going meatless is on the rise in the black community? If you’re a black vegan or vegetarian how did that come to be?

Src: More black Americans are giving up meat and dairy


  1. Sophi301

    I have completely cut dairy and meat from my diet. I have been an on-again-off-again vegetarian for many years, just recently I’ve committed to being as close to veg as possible. No dairy, very little fish, and definitely no beef, pork or poultry. I’ve influenced my mother to do the same, although she is more into seafood than I am, so naturally she will jump at fish where I will act more on my mood and tastes.

  2. Madam Toussaint

    Whatever works for you! Overall a reduction of meat and animal products tends to be the best and healthiest choice if one can’t be a vegetarian or vegan. Still, sourcing for those foods is important in order to make sure cruelty, hormones, antibiotics, feeding, raising, and organic standards are addressed to your satisfaction. These aspects also affect your nutrition…and your humanity. Have you noticed a change in your health since making these changes Sophi301?

  3. AshleyannNews

    I went to go pay my cell phone bill and while I was loitering I saw a Vegan Outreach leaflet – it’s one of their nicer ones, “Compassionate Choices”. Read it cover-to-cover and had an epiphany. Flashes from the movie ‘Amistad’ (watch it) and the dairy industry (Black Wet Nurses vs. machines hooked up to Dairy Cattle) were juxt-positioned in my mind. I went home and dumped the 3 bags of milk I bought a few days ago into the sink.

    I went vegan – pescatarian – vegetarian – ovo-veg to now comfortably Strict Vegetarian ( my veg. cheese slices have casein and I don’t avoid foods/commodities with honey – the bees are abused no matter what, but I don’t buy these items often)

    I don’t feel that I exemplify the ethic of a vegan, but many refer to me as one. I do what I can because my main concern for eating this way is Mother Earth and the importance of treading lightly on this planet. Of course, I do it for the animals, and finally my health. But I was a junk-food vegan for a while. NOTHING BEATS EXERCISE. So is you want to be vegan, start incorporating exercise into your life at least 1x/wk for 2 – 3 hrs and bring fresh cut-up fruits/Veggies for lunch once in awhile to tackle your salt and sugar cravings. Don’t be like some of these sickly-looking vegans (you know who you are) who don’t exercise (have no curves or muscle definition) and go on preaching about their purity. Not taking care of yourself is animal abuse, too.

  4. Kandi

    In January 2010 I went on the ‘Daniel Fast’ with my church and never looked back. I was vegetarian and currenly pescatarian. I am going vegan starting tomorrow 1/1/2014!!

Post a comment