Why Are We Vegetarian? 39 Black Vegetarians Speak

In my recent survey of Black Vegetarians I wanted to find out about the experiences we have as people of Afrikan descent living a vegetarian lifestyle. In today’s post we will look at the answers to two questions: why people became or are in the process of becoming vegetarian and what impact that has had in their lives.

Forty-six people from across the country and the world answered at least some of the questions and 38 answered all of the questions. The survey was hosted on Survey Monkey and respondents followed a link to the survey. Links to the survey were posted on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and sent to our email lists. For survey overview see this post, Vegan MoFo 2014 and Black Vegetarians.

Why did you decide (or do you want to) become vegetarian? How has becoming vegetarian impacted your life (or how do you hope it will impact your life)?

Almost everyone said that health reasons were the main or contributing factor, either to heal or to prevent a health problem. Spiritual reasons mentioned by several people. Here is what Black Vegetarians have to say (F=female and M=male):

“Religious purposes.””I have lots of energy and I never get sick.” F age 47

“I was raised vegetarian. I am kinda scared to eat meat.””I feel healthy and clean.” F age 18

“As part of a spiritual practice, I was asked to chose a vegetarian lifestyle.””I am more aware of what is important in my life, and I am less distracted by negativity or chaos.” F age 81

“Best decision I ever made. I feel better about myself.”
“It has made relationships and socializing difficult, since I was born in a religious community where ritual slaughtering of lamb once a year is mandated. I have been shunned, ostracized and isolated.” F age 54

“My mother died abruptly of an aneurism and the following year my father died of lymphoma cancer. This was a traumatic time for me but I still ate the same old foods for the following year because I had no idea what caused their death nor did I equate what I eat with those symptoms. The following year a friend introduced me to a radio show about veganism while I was working in NYC. After the one show I went home that night and dumped all of the meat and dairy and became vegan that day. That was 18 years ago.”  “It was one of the most revolutionary things I have done in my life. We can talk all day about external forces affecting our community and we should continue to fight injustice but when you begin to look inward at what you are eating, how you are thinking and how you can work on healing from within it makes you see the world differently. My weight was up before I was vegan, I had irregular heartbeats. I enjoy eating healthy foods and also understand that it is a journey that continues to. I don’t know everything about food and health but I want to know more now that I am on this path and my mind is open to learn. There are so many other points that have helped me and my talents by being vegan but that would take a lot more time to explain.” M age 49

“Improved health and for the ethical treatment of animals”
“Makes me more aware of better nutrition, where my food comes from and makes me feel better about what I am doing to improve my health from the inside out” F age 67
“Health, compassion for animals minimizing my impact on the environment”
“As a Buddhist, Women Studies professor and social justice public relations counselor it reflects my holistic desire to live life with kindness and to do the right things for my body, mind and spirit.” F age 40s
“Spiritual and health reasons.”
“Promote a more lively and healthy lifestyle” M age 25
“I made the decision to become a vegetarian because of health reasons. I used to think I ate healthy, but now I know what healthy eating really is.”
“Becoming a vegetarian has really cleared up my skin. I didn’t have bad acne but I would have occasional breakouts that would leave marks. Now my skin is clear and I don’t wear foundation anymore. I also know that this healthy diet is contributing to improve my health.” F age 50

“My health was the primary factor. One night, a few months ago, I woke up thinking I was having a heart attack. Both my paternal grandparents died before the age of 70 from heart failure. I’ve been overweight all my life. I’ve struggled with overeating. I’ve gone on weight loss kicks where I’ve tried to eat certain things in moderation only to binge. I’ve learned that I have to take those things out of my diet completely because I have a n addiction to them. I decided I wanted to feel better as well as look better.”  “I have far more energy. I feel better emotionally. My stomach and head is not constantly hurting and it’s made me more “ME” again: laid back, less angry, not sad for no reason, optimistic.” F age 33

“Having a hard time digesting food. Meat makes me feel sluggish.”
“Will be healthier and hopefully lose some weight. Also help prevent some diseases.” F age 47

“I needed dental surgery and the dentist refused to do the surgery because my blood pressure was too high. I went to a doctor that I had spoken with about my diet in the past. He did a complete examination and told me that I had to change my diet–quit eating meat. I did just that and have not had a single morsel of meat since. I am still working on lowering my blood pressure without medication.”  “I am extremely aware of what foods enter my body. I had a stroke. I am sure that my diet has fueled my recovery, for which I am very grateful.” F age 74

“Health. I’ve battled lupus for 10 years and I wanted to find ways to get off medication, improve health, and maintain weight to reduce high blood pressure and bad cholesterol”
“It has improved my health, made me more confident in myself, and allowed me to educated those in my family” F age 24
“To reduce high blood pressure and bad cholesterol.”
“I am fully aware of the effects of eating processed foods and I prefer veggies over processed foods any day. I’d rather eat my prepared meals than to eat out.” F age 56
“Cancer scare”
“I feel healthier and more in control of my destiny.” F age 59
“I wanted to be closer to god and I’ve my life in harmony with nature.”
“Has made me more peaceful and healthy.” M age 56
“For health and ethical reasons.”
“I hope to educate others about the importance of a healthy diet and exercise” F age 34
“I discovered that a vegetarian lifestyle was a better path for spiritual growth. Plant based lifestyle is better for our physical health and equally better for the environment. Consumption of meat products is killing the world in my view.”
“Has helped me to be more peaceful and peace loving. At 66 I’m prescription medicine free and in relatively good health. I’m conscious of the grave environmental and economic impacts of meat eating.” M age 66
“I became a vegetarian at 14 but due to my lack of knowledge I continued as a semi-vegetarian until 27. Initially I became a vegetarian because it didn’t make sense to kill a living being for my benefit.”
“Being a vegetarian has opened me to awareness of different foods, healing systems and groups. It has allowed me to break barriers within myself.” F age 31
“I don’t like meat”
“I was a teen when I stopped eating meat. It cause me to eat a much wider variety of food than most people.” F age 50
“My dad was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer and I decided to change my diet with the hope that it would also motivate my parents.”
“I feel wonderful. More energy. Have not been sick since the transition which has been 2 1/2 years for me.” F age 34
“My initial reasons for becoming vegetarian were for the health and weight loss benefits. But as I began doing more and more research, I learned about the extreme and unnecessary abuse about animals raised for slaughter and about how damaging a meat-based diet is for the planet.”
“Becoming a vegetarian has not only allowed me to reach my weight loss goals, but it inspires me to live a healthy and active lifestyle and have compassion for animals and the planet. This has also heightened my senses to the all forms of oppression (racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, ageism, ableism, xenophobia, rape culture, patriarchy, etc) how they are all connected and how I want to be actively involved in dismantling them.” F age 27
“I wanted to improve my health.”
“I feel better.” M age 54
“A plant based foundation, fit into my path in life.”
“Becoming vegetarian gives me hope that myself and my children will hopefully avoid the illnesses that have been the norm in my family for generations.” F age 31
“It’s proved to be healthier than the SAD.”
“My B/P & cholesterol have greatly improved.” F age 54
“Stomach issues”
“More mindful of what and where I eat”F age 34
“I looked into the matter after reading, in a health text book I was using in my class, the question why do we use animal protein sources when there better less toxic ways. Then I read Dr. Africa’s book “Nutricide” and have been a vegetarian/vegan ever since.”
“Becoming a vegetarian help me question many of the beliefs we are taught as truths, and to know myself as a traditional Afrikan (before Arab & European / Christian & Islamic influence).” M age 57
“My wife and I each had serious health issues.”
“I feel younger than I did at age 55” M age 75
“Health reasons and the for the sake of the animals.”
“I have lost weight, healed many ailments and have met many wonderful people.” F age 42
“Wanted to avoid health problems.”
“Believe I’ve avoided health problems.” F age 52
“At first I looked into vegetarianism because of health concerns. My family has a history of high blood pressure, diabetes, colon cancer and heart disease. I wanted to take a proactive approach to my health and wellbeing. As I did more research on factory farming and the treatment of animals I evolved to veganism.”
“I’ve become more compassionate, have more energy, less fatigued during the day, learn to cook vegan dishes, low cholesterol and feel good about not harming sentiment beings and the planet.” M age 41
“Family members were vegetarian. My doctor, at the time recommended that I try it, to prevent diabetes. The transition was easy and stuck with me.”
“Becoming raw vegan has had the greatest impact on my life. My health and energy has increased significantly. I lost over 80 lbs being raw.” M age 50
“I’ve always enjoyed fruits and veggies more than meats. As I’ve aged I found myself preparing less meat-centered meals.”
“I have lost some weight. Less brain fog. Energy levels remain constant after eating.” F age 65
“Health reasons”
“More energy. Clear thoughts, more stamina and just feel good.” F age 60
“Due to health”
“Feeling mentally great, moving more and enjoying outdoors more.” F age 62
“Reading by any greens necessary”
“It’s well hope I can stay with it.” F age 36
“Health reasons”
“My mom was on 14 meds, now she is not on any medication” F age 57
“Because I believe is a healthier lifestyle.”
“It has help me become more in tune with my mind, body and spirit.” M age 54
“I decide to become a vegetarian after watching a animal slaughter video. After continuing my research, I became a vegan.”
“It has impacted my life in the most fantastic way. In 6 months I lost 30 pounds. My coughing attacks have cleared up. My skin looks amazing. My hair and nails are growing more and stronger.” F age 45

What do you think? Do any of these resonate with you?
Thank you everyone who shared! For more from the survey Why Is Vegetarianism Important For The Afrikan Diaspora?

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Ama Opare
Lifestyle Coach, CEO at Opare Institute
Helping my coaching clients go from vegan wanna-be to Unshakably Vegan! From meal-time boredom to loving what they eat. From self-sabotage to taking control. From tempted by all the wrong choices in their non-vegan world to making the right decisions. And from sick and tired to vibrant and healthy. Discover your personal recipe for success and abundant health! BE UNSHAKABLE!

4 Comments on “Why Are We Vegetarian? 39 Black Vegetarians Speak

09/07/2014 at 6:34 pm

These comments have reinforced my resolve to remain a plant based vegetarian with forward motion toward eating RAW on a more consistent basis.

Ama Opare
09/08/2014 at 12:40 pm

Nia, I am so happy to hear that! We’ve got to stick together and help each other out!

09/06/2014 at 11:25 am

A really great read. Inspiring. Thx.

Ama Opare
09/06/2014 at 11:37 am

I am glad you enjoyed it Ayobami. It is so important to hear the stories of the community.


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