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The Vegan Stereotype No Longer Applies: All Kinds of People are Going Animal-Free

The Vegan Stereotype No Longer Applies: All Kinds of People are Going Animal-Free

Veganism is becoming a more diverse movement, changing in the face of its reputation as a stronghold of hippies in Birkenstocks eating bean sprouts, granola and bird seed. In particular, and like the environmental movement, veganism has been seen as a diet for whites. The blog Stuff White People Like includes Vegan/Vegetarianism as #32 on its list.

But African-Americans are beginning to make the shift to a plant-based diet, according to the Toledo Blade. Some are redefining “soul food” as food that nourishes the spirit rather than more traditional and familiar heavy foods.

A wave of vegan and vegetarian cookbooks aimed at African Americans illustrates the shift in eating patterns. The Toledo Blade mentions “By Any Greens Necessary” by Tracye Lynn McQuirter; “Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, & Creative African American Cuisine” by Bryant Terry, and “The Ethnic Vegetarian” by Angela Shelf Medearis. Blogs like Vegans of Color and Sistah Vegan tackle issues of interest to this growing population.

The Grio identifies another sign that African Americans are growing more interested in dropping meat from the menu: “Traci Thomas, founder of the Black Vegetarian Society of Georgia, which organizes the annual Meat Out-Vegetarian Food and Wholistic Health Fair in Atlanta, says attendance has trebled in just five years, with more vegetarians and vegans coming through the doors.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer has also noticed the trend. Its website quotes Stephanie Daniel, who attends a weekly vegan brunch and believes “More and more black people, and everyone else, want to turn their diet around.”

The growing number of black vegans counters not only a stereotype of vegans, but also a stereotype of African Americans. Black vegan Evelyn Redcross says she has been told that “black vegans don’t exist.” Redcross and her husband run the vegan brunch Daniel attends and offer a wide variety of foods — including collard greens in a healthy vegan version.

One African American community that has long eschewed animal products is the Black Hebrews. They are vegan in accordance with Genesis 1:29, which says “Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.”

According to Redcross, the rise in veganism correlates with a growing interest in health in the African American community. There are also many role models for black vegans, including “athletes Hank Aaron and Carl Lewis; Hollywood’s Cicely Tyson, Angela Bassett, and Vanessa Williams; entrepreneur Russell Simmons, and musician Lenny Kravitz.”

The Grio observes that “surprisingly,” veganism is becoming more popular even among black men. In 2012, the site reports, pro football player “Arian Foster joined the likes of rap artist Andre 3000, former NFL running back Ricky Williams and boxer Mike Tyson by changing his diet to a vegan one.” The Grio quotes Constance Brown-Riggs, national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic, who says that “Years ago vegetarian diets were synonymous with tofu and bean sprouts. But, proponents of plant based diets have now made it more ‘sexy’ and socially acceptable.”

(Pat on the back to us, fellow vegans, for making our diets sexy!)

The diversification of veganism is good news for the movement, the animals, and the individuals embracing a healthier diet. The more varied vegans are, the stronger we are, and the less easily dismissed as a fringe element. The diet will also spread faster with representatives in a larger variety of communities. And of course, the more people who stop eating animal products, the fewer animals suffer and die. Everybody wins.

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Photo credit: iStockphoto

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130 comments

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6:12PM PDT on Sep 4, 2013

I'd love to hear that veganism is now mainstream. Who knows? There's always a chance!

7:29PM PDT on Aug 20, 2013

Thank you for sharing

1:36PM PST on Mar 6, 2013

We love you, little dolphin.

6:44PM PST on Feb 20, 2013

I never saw this as a "race thing" but I have always been a bit naive when it comes to those things (I didn't realize racism was still a thing until I went to college...I thought it was a thing of the past, as it really ought to be)

Anyways, regardless of that, I think people taking an interest and charge of their health is great. I have met many people through work over the past few weeks trying out the vegan diet- black, white, Asian, Hispanic- and I do the same with all of them- I share a few of my favorite quick and easy recipes and a few good websites.

3:46PM PST on Feb 20, 2013

I guess in order to promote the positive and compassionate stances of vegan lifestyle, we have to avoid extreme practices and comments that may put off non-supporters. We need to show people that veganism, like any other personal choice of lifestyle, comes in many shades, and each person can moderate his/her vegan lifestyle according to his/her ability and social environment. The bottom line is, it is our choice to lead a healthier, guilt-free (as best as we could) and positive life, contributing to the welfare of the world (animals included), and giving back to Mother Earth.

8:20AM PST on Feb 20, 2013

Why do I see people professing to be VEGAN wearing leather? The ones who advertise their vegan-ism are putting on a show.

4:18PM PST on Feb 19, 2013

Thanks...very nice

5:28AM PST on Feb 14, 2013

Plants are life but not human-like...we survive by eating what was once living. Humans are part of this world and we and all other life exists by eating what was once a living organic being. One can say plants are 'nothing' as they are not 'sentient' but humans view things in our own image. For some, plants are not like us so they count for nothing. Yet they gave their lives so we can live as well as animals that also feed on them. We are all part of Nature's food chain whether we eat plants, animals or both.

3:39AM PST on Feb 14, 2013

GREAT, VEGAN IS BEST FOR US, FOR THE ANIMALS AND FOR THE PLANET! HURRAH!

11:55PM PST on Feb 9, 2013

Everyone who is waking up for the fact that their eating habits are causing animals unnecessary suffering and death, and since people are good at heart, then they want to turn vegan.
It is morally wrong to kill another sentient being in the absence of a true conflict or compulsio - regardless of if the sentient being is a dog, a cat or a cow, or any other animal.

The average life-length of a cow in Sweden i 5 years [and it is the same in the States] (either they get sick because of all abuse they been through, or they can't produce enough milk for the farmer's greed, because their bodies are getting worn out). Ignoring the pain and the feelings of the cows, they murder the cows when they can't produce any more milk. I understand that many are very disconnected and actually do think that they do the best they can for their animals. It doesn't change reality though.

That the average cow become only 5 year [numbers from the milk-industry] shows how abusive the average treatment is and excessive milking is to cows.

Having said this, I know there are farmers or families who are less abusive to their cows, but it doesn't in anyway justify the routine-practice of killing their male-calves born [Google the 'veal industry'] (or selling them to someone who will brutally slaughter them), and to use the animal for "our purposes" [milk-products are only for "taste" and "enjoyment", and it causes diseases: http://www.news-medical.net/news/2005/09/12/13120.aspx and For kes over K

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