Why Is Vegetarianism Important For The Afrikan Diaspora? Survey Results

Here is the next installment of the results from my survey of Black Vegetarians. I wanted to find out about the experiences we have as people of Afrikan descent living a vegetarian lifestyle. My question today is, “Why is vegetarianism important for us as people of Afrikan descent? (Or is it important?)” 

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. To see more about the results see these posts Why We Are Vegetarian and Survey Overview.

Here is what they said, (F=female and M=male):

“We need to eat a plants based diet, because we are predisposed to many diet related illnesses. Most black women are overweight or obese as well.” F age 47
“I haven’t exactly figured that out yet.” F age 18
“It is important to realize the importance of the relationship between your genetic ancestry and the types of food that create maximum health for you individually. ” F age 81
“We are melanated people and need a nutrient dense diet to function optimally. ” F age 54
“I think it is very important because food is a major part of our socialization and culture. Since we live in a toxic society that promotes destructive behavior and makes toxic foods available on every corner we have to realize that it is destroying us from the inside out. We have to realize that what we eat affects our mental state. When you begin to love yourself and feed yourself better you begin to see changes within yourself. This is not a guarantee but if our community began to feed on life giving foods and share in the cultivation of hood health in our young ones then we would eradicate toxic behavior thus expanding our minds which can help us as a people gain respect and love from each other because we are loving ourselves (as a people not individually). Also, how can we talk about revolution when we are sick and can’t even run one quarter of a mile before falling out? I can go on but this is just off the top of my head. ” M age 49
“Because we are killing ourselves with our forks, we seem to be unaware of the ability to heal ourselves through whole food vegan eating ” F age 67
“I believe the health benefits of a balanced veg diet can serve everyone well, it helps with sustainability and can be a great way to create a mind, body and spirit balance which is often the foundation of cultural and spiritual practices found throughout Africa and the diaspora ” F age 40s
“To keep us more in touch with the earth and to reverse negative effects of eating meat.” M age 25
“I have learned that plant-based, vegetarian diet is the most healthful diet a person can have. Good health is one’s greatest wealth so we must strive for healthy eating habits and a healthy lifestyle. I think this is particularly important for people of Afrikan descent because we already have a tremendous amount of stress in our lives due to the particular circumstances we have to live under, like racism and white supremacy and all of the many ways this system infiltrates our everyday lives. We must be able to bounce back from these realities and we can better do this if we are operating from a healthy, strong body. We must also learn how to manage stress because stress can cause many serious diseases, like cancer. Meditation is good for relieving stress. Creating a peaceful environment in which we can live in (if possible) is also important. There are many things we can do to counter the effects of living in a hostile and increasingly polluted and poisoned world but I think it starts with having a healthy and strong body and mind. Diet is essential for these things” F age 50
“Because our people are dying and suffering because we ha very internalized this foreign way of thinking about food. We don’t think about what we eat and we use it as a means to comfort and soothe instead a means to nourish and heal. ” F age 33
“IDK” F age 47
“People of Afrikan descent need to be aware that our ancestors ate a plant-based diet. We are not equipped (enzymes, etc.) to digest meat or dairy without serious physical consequences.” F age 74
“It shows how our people used food and herbs for healing and it brought communities together by working together to feed and take care of their families ” F age 24
“Personally, I think once you learn about food sources the effects of eating and killing animals and the impact of animal products on our environment, the experience makes you a better person. To me vegetarianism is for a thinking man. Once you think about what you eat, you naturally, think about other areas of your life that need to be evaluated. ” F age 56
“We are the main ones supporting the medical industry. Once you discover that you don’t have to be sick, you can take control of your life. As a people of color, let’s get off that path that leads to inevitable sickness.” F age 59
“We are the original people and the original vegans. ” M age 56
“It is important because we need to remember our ways of the ancestors. ” F age 34
“What is on the tip of our forks connects us to the ecological, economical, political and spiritual dimensions of life! If we don’t change our diets, we will remain enslaved to the animals we eat.”M age 66
“We are the original, divine being on earth. As divine beings, manifested in the physical, it is important to know and practice our natural way/self. One of the reasons we are suffering is due to our lack of knowledge of self. It is important that we return to our natural self but it will not happen unless we know how to eat. Being a vegetarian is a step on the path back to our natural way/self.” F age 31
“Consuming meat was never a part of the global daily diet until the 2nd half of the 20th century and for most we are not better off for it.” F age 50
“I think its very important….our orginal diet going way back did not consist of this animal flesh.” F age 34
“I believe vegetarianism is important for our community especially, because of the looming health statistics on us. Our community is very sick with heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer. A whole foods vegetarian diet can help prevent treat and reverse these diseases that we as a whole seem to be suffering from. I also believe it is important for our community to consider vegetarianism because it fosters not only compassion for animals, but for ALL people. Just remembering historically black people were themselves considered like animals and were treated as such. They way the animals are abused today reminds me of the injustice that was (and still is) happening to our community. I believe we can dismantle all of the different kinds of oppression by remembering to be mindful and to have compassion starting with what we eat.” F age 27
“My opinion is that we are designed (biologically) to thrive on vegetarian diets.” M age 54
“I believe becoming vegetarian or vegetarian like could save us as a people. It can be the foundation a better future.”F age 31
“It’s the choices we make daily that help with our longevity and that will help our children.”F age 54
“Important to know what effects your body.”F age 34
“The traditional, nutritional, culture of Afrikans is vegetarian & we have suffered many problems since adopting the culture of others. We are our ancestors.” M age 57
“The giant food processing companys have targeted us and other people of color as “special markets.” Check out the abundance of kidney dialysis sites in our neighborhoods. They KNOW they are poisoning us and they do not care.” M age 75
“I think it is important because African Americans have the highest rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, etc. We need to get back to a more simple way of living and eating. Being vegan also heals us emotionally as well as physically. Tapping into why we crave certain foods allows us to explore issues that we tend to ignore or numb down. Working through cravings helps to create both inner and physical strength.” F age 42
“It’s important for our health.”“F age 52
“I believe it’s important for people of Afrikan descent to be mindful of what we consume because we as a people have been condition to eat certain foods. Foods that are unhealthy and creates a lot of dis-ease within the body.” M age 41
“Traditionally we have been given the worst things to eat. The results have been high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, cholesterol, and cancer. We have a choice now. Do healthy things, like eating vegetarian and grow your food.” M age 50
“I think it’s important for all people.” F age 65
“Food is grown differently today than 10-15 yrs ago. There’s more chemicals in regular foods and irritation.” F age 60
“Health….. ” F age 62
“To be healthy.” F age 36
“It’s important because we are dying at a higher rate and what is killing us is the food choices we make.” F age 57
“Because I believe it is our original diet and because of all the issues we as Afrikan descent have to deal with when we eat the Standard American Diet.” M age 54
“People of Afrikaner decent experience a closer relationship to the nature, the earth, and the universe. In order to better use our “powers” we must consume foods of the earth specially foods that contain phytonutrients (plants).” F age 45
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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!

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