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The New York Times [NYT] has published an article focusing on the work of black vegans – featuring Black Vegans Rock founder Aph Ko, among others.
In 2015, Ko created a list of 100 black vegans. According to the NYT piece, she wrote the list after getting ‘tired of hearing that eating vegan was something only white people did’.
The list was so successful, Ko went on to launch a website – Black Vegans Rock – which features a range of figures including activists, artists, and foodies. She is also the co-author of Aphro-ism: Essays on Pop Culture, Feminism, and Black Veganism from Two Sisters.
She told the NYT: “When you say ‘vegan’, a lot of people tend to only think of PETA, which doesn’t reflect the massive landscape of vegan activism.
“The black vegan movement is one of the most diverse, decolonial, complex, and creative movements.”
According to the article: “Vegan cooking and eating are having a renaissance among black Americans, driven in part by movements like Black Lives Matter, documentaries like What the Health, and a growing cadre of people who connect personal health, animal welfare and social justice with the fight for racial equality.
“Athletes like Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics and pop stars like the singer Jhené Aiko are bringing a certain pop culture cachet.
“Cookbook authors and a new breed of vegan soul food restaurants offer culinary muscle.”
‘Another kind of politics’
The piece looks at the historical roots of black veganism, saying: “Eating vegan has long been a practice, especially for followers of religious and spiritual movements like Rastafarianism and the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem.
“Avoiding meat is also a core principle of the Nation of Islam, whose founders believed that pork was at the heart of the slave diet, and preached vegetarianism as the most healthful diet for African-Americans.”
It also touches on the idea of eating vegan food for health and animal welfare – but says that ‘here is an added layer of another kind of politics’.
According to personal chef, cooking teacher, blogger, and author Jenné Claiborne: “For a lot of black people, it’s also the social justice and food access. The food we have been eating for decades and decades and has been killing us.”