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Black Americans are increasingly eliminating meat from their diets. In fact, many Black families have even embraced veganism, a completely plant-based plan of eating.

For some, the change is due to health reasons. Black Americans are more likely to live with Type-2 diabetes, which can be addressed and controlled through diet changes, along with exercise. 

According to Naijha Wright-Brown, founder and executive director of the Black Veg Society, “I know that a lot of the uptick and the movement towards eating this way is because people are dying. It’s a public health crisis at this point.”

The Black Veg society is a non-profit dedicated to educating people of Color on the benefits of veganism and plant-based eating. The website provides recipes, links to health coaches, and promotes campaigns through partnerships with vegan organizations.

Gabrielle Reyes of One Great Vegan cooks 30 seconds of heaven on GMA
Gabrielle Reyes of One Great Vegan. (

Black veganism has existed for decades: Plant-based diet becoming more popular

Another site, Black Vegans Rock, was started by Aph Ko, a writer who uses the organization to raise awareness about Black veganism. One of the highlights of Black Vegans Rock is a reminder that Black veganism is not just a hip new trend. 

According to Ko, “I think that the media is not aware that this is a very nuanced, incredibly diverse movement of people who don’t do the work the same, don’t always agree the same, and, there’s theorists, there’s artists, there’s food justice activists, and so I think oftentimes Black vegans are seen as just these diversity tokens to diversify the white [vegan] movement, whereas we’re just leading our own [movement].” 

Meanwhile, according to Wright-Brown, Black veganism has existed for decades. ??”If you think of the Black Hebrew Israelites, if you think of the Seventh-day Adventists, if you think of the Rastafarians — who coined the term ‘Ital lifestyle’ for eating plant-based — this is not new.”

Plant-based diet can heal the heart

The switch to veganism also comes amidst a surge in health issues in Black Americans. Heart disease, which can also be addressed through diet, is now the leading cause of death for Black men and women.  

Research has found that consuming a plant-based diet may lower the risk of cardiovascular incidents. The study concluded the foods such as fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains – many of which are the staple of a vegan diet – are beneficial for those at risk for heart disease. 

Meanwhile, for those on the fence, the switch to plant-based eating need not be all-or-nothing. According to Toni Okamoto, the founder of Plant-Based on a Budget, “I want to encourage people that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing; if you make a mistake on purpose or by accident, you can continue on, you can continue changing these generational habits that may be bad for your health and really reclaim [your] health.”

Erika Stone is a graduate student in the Master of Social Work program at the University of Oklahoma, and a graduate assistant at Schusterman Library. A Chess Memorial Scholar, she has a B.A. in Psychology...

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