Black Vegetarian Queen Vida will soon be featured as the chef at Sadiq's Bistro, a vegan restaurant opening in Southwest Atlanta in the spring of 2014. Here is her inspiring story of becoming vegetarian, the power of the Creator, discovering an oilless diet, and making a difference in her native country of Ghana.
Ama: Tell me about your journey to veganism.
QV: Well as always I like to give thanks and praise to the Creator of the Universe and all of those near and far who are struggling to do that which is right and to bring peace.
Well, basically what happened is that years ago as I was growing up as a little girl, I always used to ask myself, where are the Children of Israel that the Bible always talked about. Where are they? I kept saying I have to know where these people are.
So what I did is that there came a time in my life when as I was searching, because the Creator always said when you make a step he is bound by his nature to make the rest. So I started, by then I was going to what in Ghana you call a secondary school. What we call here a college, and I had just vacated and I had come home. A friend came and said “You know there are some people that are from Israel and they are really talking about God and diet and everything. So why don't you just go to class. They have class on Saturday.”
So I went up there and you know I sat down and I listened to them. They were talking from Galatians chapter 5:16, those of the flesh and those of the spirit. So when I listened to them and everything I said "Wow! This is it. This is what I've been looking for."
So I kept going to their classes and they kept educating me about diet and making the transition into vegan food and everything. So when I heard all of that, because there are many who have ears but they cannot hear. They have eyes but they cannot see. When I heard what they were saying, it made sense to me. Because it does have to make sense to you. So I decided that I was going to go on that journey. And this was 1977.
And so from there I started that journey and in 1978 I looked up and I was blessed to continue on with this journey into the Holy Land. Where I lived in the Holy Land for eleven years. After that I returned to Ghana. And began to spread the word because it is stated that no one after lighting a lamp puts it under the table. But you must put it up that all those that see the light may follow. So that’s what I did.
I went on that journey, I went to Israel and studied and then really before I forget, I started running a restaurant in Israel and became the manager of the restaurant called Eternity which is right on the Mediterranean sea in Tel Aviv. And the restaurant was booming and jumping so much that in a matter of weeks we had brought so many people into that restaurant that just stayed and continued to eat over there because of the greatness of the food, the energy, and what they got out of it once they came there. They decided that they too wanted to go on a journey. So there are many people right now there that are vegetarian.
Ama: You are part of the Hebrew Israelites?
Ama: When did you make the transition to raw food?
QV:I did that basically about 10 years ago. Because I felt that it was a need to go on the road because you see, it's ok to be a vegan but when you even go on raw it takes you to a whole nother level.
I would say, right now for several, several months now I have been dealing with nothing but raw. But it took a journey from step to step. Being a vegan and eating the cooked food then went to raw and a little bit of cooked.
But right now I might just eat the raw but to make it even better I'm on a oil-less diet. I have completely taken oil out of my system because you can be a vegan and still be big. And still be unhealthy. All of it is based on what you put in this temple.
I decided to take this journey even to the raw food, the reason is because even though I was a vegan I was having the heart palpitations, I was having the blood pressure, it was very uncomfortable. It used to be a time, when it scared the life out of me when my blood pressure would go up. I started taking all these medications and stuff but these medications were really making me feel worse! Because of all the side effects!
So I said, "look, I have to make a decision." Because as the Creator said I put there before you life or death choose one. And as we all know. God did not create the trees to live longer than man whom he created in his image. He said, "I put before thee life or death!" So all of a sudden the trees are living longer than men, something is defiantly wrong. Ninety percent of all sickness is diet related.
So what I did was, I decided to go on this journey with the oil-less diet. I talked to a sister called Sister Yafah. She is the one you see on the Soul Vegetarian Cookbook. She literally introduced me to the oil-less diet. She told me about it.
But when she told me about it she did not tell me how to prepare the oil-less food or anything of that sort but she gave me the idea that you need to consider going on a oil-less diet. Of all the people that she told this too I was the only one that heard her and went on this journey.
What did I do? Where there is a will there is a way. And as it is stated, faith is the substance of those hoped for and the evidence of those not saved. By faith those that may seem impossible is possible. Before that I want to say that, when you do right when you live right, when you think right, love your neighbors as you love yourself, do unto others as you would want others to do unto you what does it do? It brings you closer to the Most High. So the Most High will talk to you.
So what happened? How did I start this? I would be in the room and sometimes what would happen is the Most High would put thoughts in my mind. He would talk to me. He would say, "Put this together. Do it this way, do it that way and this is the results that you will get." The creator would talk to me. So the creator would give me instructions on how to do this oil-less diet.
So I would go in the kitchen and I would go according to what the creator said do. As a result of being obedient because obedient is better than sacrifice. I started creating all these different dishes that I’ve been able to create. I have a lot of them on Facebook. Oil-less menus on Facebook.
Ama: Do you have the recipes there?
QV: The recipes I am about to come out with this will be the first oil-less cookbook ever. That’s going to be coming out really soon.
Ama: That will be great because I have been trying to figure that out too.
QV: I have the pictures of the different foods on Facebook. So the credit for the foods doesn't go to me. It goes to the Creator because HE put those thoughts in my mind. And I am just a vehicle to manifest those thoughts that He put in my mind. I can do mac and cheese, oil-less mac and cheese, oil-less lasagna, just name it, oil-less cookies.
Ama: So is it all-raw or is it cooked?
QV: Cooked and raw. But it tastes so good. And I have no desire really to eat no oil because, see when I did that, I must say that after I did that, believe it or not, I have not had to take not one of those blood pressure tablets. I have not had one problem with my blood pressure going up.
Because you see those oils, those saturated fats clog the arteries. It prevents the blood from pumping into the heart. And that is what is causing the blood pressure to go up, the heart attacks, and the strokes.
Ama: And you lost a lot of weight too.
QV: And I lost a lot of weight! Because until then I was big. I was weighing 214 lb. But now I weigh 140 lb.
Ama: You look great!
QV: Thank you very much. When you do those things it’s going to help you. And also, one thing I have to mention, along with that is that you cannot put new wine in an old bottle. It's not going to work.
So when you begin this transition you've got to detoxify your body! So what I did is that I took several colonics, colemas, and I also did the food detox. Along with that I went on a juice fast, and I was able to cleanse my body from all those toxins. Other than that it’s going to cause you to be sick.
Along with this you also have to exercise. Three to four times in a week I would walk, I would jog, I would ride bikes, I would go to the gym. And all of this is because, you see, you've got to tone your body!
And how many times have we not heard that God literally gave a person a ministry? But because they did not take care of their physical body their ministry was cut short. Because some of them ended up loosing their lives. There is more to it then to just stand behind the podium and do some quotations from the Bible.
Ama: That’s part of our mission in our nutritional medicine practice is to help keep our people doing what they are here to do.
QV: That's right. You can do all the quotations you want to do but if your body is not clean, God cannot use you. You can do all the quotations you want to. It disturbs me to look on TV and I see some of the pastors standing behind the podium fat. With big bellies. What kind of example are you? I've got a problem with that. God cannot dwell in no unclean body!
So what I desire to do is to be able to assist anybody who desires to make a change. Because what, you can take a horse to the waterside but you cannot make the horse to drink the water. So anybody that desire to want to make a change I'm willing to help them. Wherever they may be. Whether it's restaurants, whether it's hotels, whether it's churches. Yeah we do need to go in the churches because there are a lot of people that's suffering.
I look up today and it hurts my heart. I look up today and I see children suffering from blood pressure. Children with diabetes, when was it ever a time in history that our kids were suffering from all these illnesses? Why? Why is that? All of these things can be reversed. But the parents, some of them are not in order health wise. So if they're not in order, definitely, how could the children be in order? We've got to practice it amongst ourselves first before we can say that it can be done. We must be the examples.
Ama: How did you deal with cravings for what you had before or when you were making the transition to veganism or raw for the oil-less diet?
QV: Guess what? I didn't have cravings. Once I came into the knowledge I didn't look back. I did not. Because you see once you talk to yourself, those thoughts are going to come sometime but you've got to push them out. So once I started on that journey and I knew what it was doing for me and I knew what was good for me I did not look back. And I have not looked back in 37 years. I have not looked back to none of those toxins and those poisons.
And now when you look at different documentaries, Food Inc., Food Matters, Forks over Knives you see all of the ways these foods are being grown and genetically engineered, and you see these chickens and the fish and all of that, and the way that they are being grown! Lord have mercy! I continue to thank the Most High for opening my eyes. And I pray each day that He blesses and helps those that are still in the dark to be able to see what I see because it is so sad.
But what is stated in the Bible is "but for the love of money is the root of all evil." Because if you love your brother, you love your sister, you are not going to want to genetically engineer some food in a laboratory for your brother or sister. But instead for the love of money it says in the latter days, it says our peoples’ love will grow wide. And that's what you see. We're living in some serious times.
And then you look up and we have all those microwaves. Microwaves! First of all I want my people to know that there is radiation in those microwaves. It causes cancer. Whether you want to believe it or not. But there if you cook your food and you put it in the microwave because you are in a hurry. You in a hurry? Every minute, every time I look at you and you are in a hurry and a rush to do what ever you are doing in life. Come on now Slow Down! Take time our to take care of this body. That is the temple of the Most High. That's where the Creator dwells. You are no good if you don't take care, you're not going to be able to function if you you're laying down sick in a hospital.
Ama: For someone who says "OK, I get it. I ready, I need to make this change." What tips would you give them for making the transition to vegan or raw or oil-less diet?
QV: First of all what I would like to say is that prayer is the number one. In everything you do you must always put God first, the Most High the Creator of the universe. You pray to the Most High to help you and give you the strength to be able to do this and to endure whatever the temptations may be. And anytime that negativity comes into your mind you say "Get thee behind me Satan." So in everything we do, prayer must always come first. And in your prayers you must put your desire to want to do it. "This is what I want to do and I'm going to do it."
Sometimes you may need to take a pen and write it down and paste it on the wall and look at it all the time. Ok, today I said I am going to do this. And make sure and check the list and see what you are doing. But when you do that and you have desire and your prayer and you have determination, when you make a step, the Most High is going to make two for you. So that’s how I did it. And you can do it too.
Ama: How is it important for us as people of Afrikan descent?
QV: It is very important because. A lot of the foods that we eat in the content of Afrika and what our people are eating here results in the sickness and the diseases and it is killing us. Because that is not how we were brought up as Afrikans, of Afrikan descent, this is not how we were raised in the motherland. There were special foods we ate before our people came here as slaves.
We are eating food that is not a part of us, that is not apart of our soul. So as a result of that it has resulted in sicknesses. There are some diseases and sickness that are not even heard of in the Motherland. But all of it is because we have left the original food that was given to us in the Garden of Eden and we have now acquired the food of a strange land. That's not even a part of us. That's not a part of our soul.
That is why so many of our people are sick today. So many of our people are on dialysis. So many people are dying of cancer. Because so many of the foods out there weren't meant to be for us.
But see, the Bible says our people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. Some of us have the knowledge but they have intentionally rejected that knowledge. He said, "Well then I'm also going to reject thee." So until we go back to the old ways. Or till we begin to eat the way our forefathers taught us to do we will continue to parish. That's what you see today.
It's a sad situation. All these carbonated drinks and all of that. It's not good for our people. It's killing our people. All this monosodium glutamate that they put in the food. It's not good because that gives cancer. It's so sad to say to you that right now in Ghana they have exported a lot of this Monosodium glutamate, the call it A-1 its' sitting up in the market and the people have been taught to think that is what is going to season their food and is going to make it taste good. But in the days before we had the natural seasoning, this is how we seasoned our food. But now all of a sudden some of our people are being de-Afrikanized through western and eastern education. That's why whenever I am in Ghana, what do I do? I go to the churches and I'll have classes. I'll educate our people on health. So that way they will wake up and be mindful.
Ama: How prevalent is vegetarianism or veganism in Ghana?
QV: A lot of people right now are headed in that direction. Because we have through education, through all these TV programs, these church conventions and everything, a lot of people now are working their way to being vegans. And then what kind of concerns me a lot too is that a lot of the meat that is being exported into Ghana and other Afrikan countries but I have a concern about that because you are not going to know what all these chickens and pigs and everything go through before they end up on the plates of our brothers and sisters.
Then the sad part of that is not too long ago it was on the news that a group of farmers passed away because they had used these chemicals and because they can't read and don't know English they sprayed the chemicals literally on the food. And when they ate the food they died!
But in the days of old our people didn't know those substances like chemicals because the land in Afrika is so rich. You can drop a seed and it grows. You understand what I'm saying? But the western influence and western education, some of our people are beginning to go that route and that route is not really helping our people. It's rather destroying our people. So it's time for us to start blowing the trumpet. Like he said "Blow ye the trumpet of Zion." Sound the alarm in the holy land. That the day of the lord has come. That we are supposed to be able to know to do what’s right. To eat right. So that the foods that we put in our bodies will nourish our bodies.
Ama: You know the IVU World VegFest?
QV: It's going to be in Ghana, this year.
Ama: Are you going?
QV: I will be there, all praises to the most high I will be there and Aris Latham is going to be there too. As a matter of fact. Dr.Kofi Asare, who is organizing it happens to be a spiritual brother of mine. I would like to encourage a lot of our brothers and sisters in the diaspora wherever they may be to go.
Ama: Tell me about Sadiq's Bistro.
QV: Sadiq's Bistro first of all this is going to be the first vegetarian vegan sports bar in the country. And along with that we are going to have a juice bar attached to that. So I am very excited about that.
Ama: We need that around here.
QV: We need that. The world really needs that too. So we are going to have vegan foods and everything and the juice bar is going to be nothing but raw dishes. We going to have juice, we going to have oil-less ice cream, for those that desire oil-less dishes we will be more than happy to offer that to them. Naturally we are not going to try to make anybody do anything they don't want to do. But we are going to put the effort out there to let them know that, hey, we are willing to help you. If you make a step God is going to make two.
We want that place to be a place that people can come and be at home and feel that if they are sick that they are well just being there. That's the kind of environment that we want to create. We are very, very excited. We looking at May for opening. We want to make sure that everything is correct. We’re going to have a lot of events there. People will come for different events.
Ama: I think that where Sadiq's Bistro is there are so many apartment complexes and housing areas there. I'm sure the food will be delicious and folks will come just cause its good food and there aren't that many restaurants over there. You will see us there a lot I am sure!
QV: And it's not that far from the airport either. So that's really what time it is. We have a job to do. And we need to do it.
Ama: What else are you doing? Anything else you would like to mention?
QV: Well I want the world to know, apart from the food, I'm actually a fashion designer. I came into this country as a fashion designer. I started my business with $30 after my return from Israel. I would stay up all night. I would make head crowns from Ghanaian fabric and I would go to the hotels and I would sell them. I kept turning the money over and over. So I started making garments here and there.
My first invitation was from the Ghana tourist board where I was told there were 83 brothers and sisters coming from the United States from the WDAS radio station and they wanted me to sell clothing's to them. So I was like "Whoa! I don't really have that many clothes, what am I going to do?"
Again, it's always good to share. So what did I do? I invited some of the other designers, some of the different shops that had jewelry here and there, and everybody came and we set up a big market place right in my house. A place that was built by my father.
My Father, before I forget, was also one of those who fought for independence during Nkrumah's regime. That's how Ghana has independence today.
So the people came and they bought and bought and everybody was supported and I bought my first taxi. It cost me about over $4000. I bought it and from there I was able to have the taxi go to work and I kept turning the money over and over and I looked up and I purchased my machines and I ended up with a factory with 60 sewing machines.
From there I had the blessing of being able to design for Stevie Wonder, Rita Marley, Whitney Houston, both Presidents of Ghana at that time. Dr. Nelson Mandela came from jail and visited Ghana through the invitation of President Rawlings. I had the chance to design for him. To design for Ghana's number 1 singer. And from there I had the blessing to journey to the United States because I had always kept saying that I would not rest until I see our brothers and sisters walking in the streets of the United States in their culture. So again when you make a step God is bound to make two.
After I arrived here I did church conventions, I did festivals, I was at Black Caucus, I was at NAACP conferences, street festivals I did it all. And so from $30 I was blessed to be able to purchase a rig for $160,000, which I have been able to help to bring water to the poor in the villages of Ghana and also in Benin.
All of this was done through selling of clothing. I've been able to help with different projects all over the world. And so I am very grateful and appreciative for the blessings that the Most High has bestowed upon me. And that was also a vehicle that was able to help create jobs for people.
As a matter of fact, not only am I a fashion designer, but I a motivational speaker and vegan chef. I've done a lot of cooking classes, on TV, Ghana national TV, along with having spoken in different churches all over Ghana. And before I forget when the United Nations world tourism day, they usually do it in other European Countries, over the years. They had never done it in any African countries before. But a few years ago they selected Ghana as the first African country to have the United Nations World Tourism Day celebration.
Ghana has nine regions and during that time they selected a cook from each of the regions and I must say that I was the only vegan chef that represented Ghana and all the 39 African countries. And when I did the presentation and we had the food there. We ran out of food. All Praises to the Most High it was a great lasting impression that was left on the minds of the people. So again I am grateful and appreciative for the blessings that the most high have for me. I am also an African Dance instructor. So really the list goes on. I speak in churches, I articulate the word of Yah, I do it all.
Ama: You do a lot! Your clothing line what is the name? Do you have a website? How can people find out more?
QV: Vida International. As of now I don't have a website but I will very soon. As a matter of fact too, in the year 2004, remember that President Clinton instituted AGOA, African Growth and Opportunity Act, which allows the 39 African countries to bring their garments here duty-free. As a result of that, three people from each African countries were selected, one for garments and textiles, one on agriculture, and one on food. I was selected to represent Ghana on garments and textiles by the US Department of State and also by the Ghanaian government.
There was a training with the representatives from the 39 African countries in Washington DC where we were trained by the Corporate Council on Africa and Us Department of State. We were certified with a certificate. After that they had a big conference in Mauritius where all the ambassadors from the 39 countries and from the United States and the trade representatives were there. At that point I was selected to speak on behalf of all the 39 countries. And I must say that after my speaking they gave me a standing ovation. And I was brought in the newspaper magazine of Mauritians. And everybody was impressed.
Again praises don't go to me. It goes to the Most High because I'm just a vehicle. And where there is a will there is a way. Knowing that I started this business with $30. And to see where it started and where it has brought me today. All praises to the Most High.
Ama: Any last words you would like to say?
QV: I would like to say that I want to encourage our brothers and sisters to go for your dream. Because when you make a step, God will make two. Do not feel that you can't do it. Yes, you can do it. And what ever it is in your heart that you want to do never feel that it's impossible because with God, with the Most High, with the Creator all things are possible.
We have a lot of work to do. We have to be saviors to our people. What is a savior? Helping those that cannot help themselves.
May the Lord God of Israel bless you. May He keep you. May He continue to cause His praise to shine upon you, and may He give you everlasting peace. And may He help you to fulfill all of your endeavors, whatever you set your foot to do in life. May He bless you to be able to come off as a success and as a champion. So I want to thank you and I want to say a prayer in Hebrew. I will say it first in English and then I'll say it in Hebrew.
May the Lord God of Israel bless you. May the Lord God of Israel keep you. May the Lord God of Israel lift up his countenance upon you give you everlasting peace. [Prays in Hebrew] Shalom
Ama: Thank you Queen Vida!