Why black Americans are more likely to be vegetarian

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Photo submitted / Michelle Lynn

Black Americans are nearly three times as likely to be vegetarian than white Americans. Why is this alternative diet so popular?

When Louis Hunter woke up on the morning of May 31, he had no idea what to do.

His hometown of Minneapolis was in disarray after a week of protests following the death of George Floyd, and several businesses – including his own restaurant, Trio Plant-based, closed.

“God touched me and told me that I should be ready to go out and whatever food I had prepared the day before,” he told the BBC.

In total, Mr. Hunter gave 300 vegetarian food and bottles of water to the Black Lives Matter protesters. Reason and his restaurant are unbreakable in his heart.

In 2016 he faced 20 years in prison on felony charges after participating in a Black Lives Matter protests following the death of his cousin, Philando Castile.

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Mr. Hunter has always maintained his innocence, and the charges were eventually dismissed, but he lost his landscaping business and apartment, while the punishment hung over his head for over a year.

Through her legal battle, she met white activist Sarah Woodcock, who introduced her to the concept of vegetarian.

He began reading how reducing or eliminating animal products can help reduce the likelihood of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure – diseases that plague the black community in America.

He says he also started adding to how racial injustice contributes to the poor diet that many African Americans eat.

“At first I knew nothing about vegetarian, plant-based diets,” he said. “After that I started looking at other ways that we were treated unfairly, as far as our eating habits.”

Although he is not a strict vegetarian, which means cutting out all animal products from your diet, he says that he now eats a largely plant-based diet consisting mainly of vegetables, fruits and legumes.

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The pair went into business, and opened the trio in the autumn of 2018, following a series of pop-ups. He is now the sole owner, making the trio the first black-owned vegetarian restaurant in the state.

The development of the Trio reflects national trends, including everyone from athletes to pop stars.

But nowhere has vegetarian food been consumed more than in the African-American community. According to a Pew Research Center survey, 8% of Black Americans are strict vegetarian or vegan, compared to just 3% of the general population.

Findings from a 2015 survey by the Vegetarian Resource Group found that 8% of black people were strictly vegetarian, compared to 3.4% overall.

Recently, a January poll by Gallup found that 31% of non-white Americans had reduced their meat consumption in the previous year, compared to only 19% of white Americans.

The trend is attracting a new generation of wagon influences, such as actress Tabita Brown, who is getting her own cooking show following the bang of her vegan video on Tick Vegetarian and Instagram (making Ms. Brown the voice of Apple’s Siri There is also an online petition for.).

Meanwhile, established celebrities such as Beyoncé, Lizzo and tennis star Venus Williams have all become either vegetarian or part-time vegetarian, with Beyonce also participating in a “plant-based” food delivery service.

The singer made headlines a few years ago when she promised to give free tickets to live at the concert of herself and her husband Jay Z, who switched to recluse.

So why has vegetarian become so popular with African-Americans?

‘To nurture my community’

For many black vegans, their journey begins with a search for a healthier lifestyle.

African Americans have higher rates of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cancer than most other groups, as their diet is, on average, high in salt and fat and low in fruits and vegetables, research suggests.

But according to the non-profit, Food Empowerment Project aimed at ending food inequality, socioeconomic factors such as poverty, staying away from green groceries and easy access to fast food have made it harder for African Americans to eat healthily .

Is a vegetarian diet healthy?

Several studies have shown that plant-based diets are associated with a lower risk of developing chronic conditions.

The NHS states that a balanced vegetarian or vegan diet can be “very healthy”, but note that it is not the only path to health. It cautioned that vegetarian people need to be careful in planning their diet to get enough protein and calcium through plant-based sources, and may need to take a dietary supplement against B12 and iron deficiencies is.

A recent study published in the British Medical Journal found that while vegans had lower heart disease rates, they had a higher incidence of stroke. Researches were not sure why, but told the BBC that it could be due to B12 deficiencies.

The quantity of food, aside from the quality of food, is also an important factor in maintaining a healthy body weight.

Those issues have inspired many Black-owned charities, such as Compton Vegan, to distribute vegetarian food to predominantly black inner city communities.

This is also one of the reasons Mr. Hunter wanted the menu in the trio to focus on foods from his community that include foods familiar to his community and burgers and soul food such as cord greens and mac-and-cheese Want to eat foods.

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Hundreds of people marched in 2017 in Washington DC’s neighborhood for better access to healthy food

But those foods don’t have to be laden with bacon grease and full-fat cream, Mr. Hunter says. His restaurant trio’s menu combines a number of soul food classics, using ingredients such as liquid smoke to give the collard greens, which are bacon-y to make mac-and-cheese creamy without cream. Taste and Cashew.

Previously, most of his customers were white, but now nearly half of his business is black.

“To nurture my community, it’s amazing. I pinch myself almost every day to see if it’s real”.

‘To represent myself’

For Omowale Adewale, the black community in New York City is created by the founder of Black Vegeta, a vegetarian festival and must connect the black community to black culture.

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Presented Photo / Black Wagefest

But when the festival first started, he looked shocked and disturbed by the many white wedges.

“The vegetarian community has been white for so long, and sometimes it seems they want to keep it white,” he says.

While the diet has been stereotyped as something of a soy-latte, especially for upper-middle class white hipsters, black veg has a long history in the US and abroad, he is quick to point out.

“You like to see yourself represented. This is one of the main reasons that the black community is really galvanized around the vegan idea,” he says.

While many vegetarian organizations lobby to improve animal welfare, and Black Wagefest is no exception, Mr. Adewale also ensures that its platform addresses broader issues in the black community such as the fight to end police brutality.

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After battling hypertension as a youth, Mr. Advale was introduced to vegetarianism by his brother, and then later adopted a vegetarian diet after being introduced to it by members of the Rastafari religion, a Jamaican in the 1930s creep into.

A central tenant of Rastafarianism is eating “Ital” foods – foods that are organic, locally grown and plant-based. Rasta-owned vegetarian and vegan restaurants can be found in cities around the world with a large Caribbean expatriate.

Traditional African dishes, while not strictly vegetarian, are largely plant-based and rich in dark leafy greens and legumes – staples in a healthy diet.

A recent study involving 48,000 people over the age of 18 compared the health of meat-eaters, carnivores – those who eat fish and dairy but not meat – and vegetarian, including some vegetarian . They found that people who eat vegetarian and vegetarian diets had a lower risk of heart disease, but a higher risk of stroke, possibly partly due to B12 deficiency.

The vegetarian movement also has deep roots with the American Civil Rights Movement. Dick Gregory, a noted civil rights activist and comedian who ate meat with Martin Luther King in March 1965 and later became a strict vegetarian.

“Because I am a civil rights activist, I am also an animal rights activist. Animals and humans suffer and die alike. The cause of violence is the same pain, the same splatter of blood, the same stink of death, the same arrogant, cruel and . ” Vicious life We should not be a part of it, ”he said.

‘Eat well to fight’

It was Gregory who introduced Tracy McQuitter to being a vegetarian more than 30 years ago, when he lectured at Amherst College’s Black Students Association.

Now, Ms. McQuitter is one of several writers and influencers who are helping mainstream blackness in the black community. Her 2010 cookbook, By Any Greens Need, was specifically aimed at black women, and this year she is launching an online campaign to try 10,000 black women to become vegetarian.

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Vegetarian is more important than ever before, Ms. McQuitter says, because Kovid-19 devastates many black communities, due to their high rates of pre-existing chronic conditions.

She says chronic disease and systemic racism are ineffective.

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“While the root cause is systemic white supremacy, one of the symptoms we have is access to unhealthy foods,” she says.

As thousands marched in protest against Black Lives Matter, Ms. McQuitter says, “It is imperative for us to take care of ourselves and eat well so that we have the energy to fight these battles”.