FEATURE: Arien Smith


I have been vegan for about nine months now and these have been some of the best months of my life. I tried going vegan several times because my girlfriend has been vegan for three years and I told myself I wanted to try her “diet.” Every time I tried I failed and blamed it on my need for meat.

Being originally from North Carolina and playing football my whole life only gave me one perspective when it came to food. Back during my playing days as center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 2011 to 2015, I was 290 pounds. Most meals I consumed were focused heavily in the areas of meat and potatoes. So nine months ago, I finally decided to go vegan for myself. I cut off all animal products completely and I was amazed by how easy it was and how much energy it gave me on a daily basis.


Becoming vegan was a big achievement for me, not only because of my former lifestyle, but because my father passed when I was two years old from colon cancer. Family and friends always told me of his love for big cookouts with all types of meats. In my previous lifestyle I was unknowingly falling in his footsteps. I hope that in my vegan journey I can influence more in the black community to care about what they consume. Theres so much we can’t control in this world so why not take full advantage of the things we can.

Social Media

Instagram: @air_smith74

FEATURE: Lorraine Palmer


1. When did you decide to go vegan and why?

My name is Lorraine Palmer, I am a raw food expert, vegan chef, coach, mentor and author. I support people who want to transition to eating more plant based foods whether cooked or RAW, via workshops, talks, demonstrations, in groups or my ‘RAWdom!’ course for those who prefer 1 to 1 support. 

My vegan journey started about 5 years ago when I consistently experienced that life without meat or animal products was better for my health and the planet. Prior to going vegan many years ago I had periods of eating meat, then no meat, being vegetarian, then only eating raw plant based foods, then meat, then no meat etc. - it was not a seamless transition. 

I represent a lot of people who have had a chequered journey in making the definitive soul connection that eating animals is not great for many reasons. I remember visiting a place called Arbor Low a few years ago. It is a prehistoric monument and likened to ‘Stonehenge’ due to its stone circle. Whilst looking around, as you do, I came across some lambs (I was not vegan at that time). I was thinking how cute they looked, their little stubby tails waved so quickly, ‘arrr they are so cute, they deserve to live a full life and not have it cut short just so I get to eat their flesh’. A few months passed and guess what? Yes, I went out for dinner and ordered the lamb. Needless to say I had mixed feelings - guilt, shame, enjoyment and satisfaction, not necessarily in that order. Some time later it became apparent that I was being supported by the universe to change my habits for the better, finally committing to being fully compassionate towards all living beings.

2. How did your friends and family react when you decided to go vegan?

My friends and family who I am in close contact with were very happy that I was adopting this lifestyle - some have since joined me whereas others look on in admiration because they feel they could not stop eating meat, let alone cheese. Little do they know; adopting a vegan lifestyle will open up a world of foods they would not normally entertain including RAW plant based foods. Some family and friends that I connect with on social media who are still meat eaters openly support what I am doing - spreading the word about only eating plants. I feel they will go vegan one day!

3. What advice do you have for other folks who think veganism is 'too extreme’?

I say to them that they are entitled to their opinion, but I see it as  being kind to ones body, animals and the planet. Fellow sentient beings are not being killed for my use or pleasure. If a discussion appears out of this topic I sometimes ask whether they see this as extreme…..‘loving and caring for animals like dogs and cats but finding it easy to eat a piece of steak’ which also comes from an animal. I find that extreme …going from cuddling an animal to chewing another without a second thought. 

4. Is there anything else you want our audience to know about you and the book you've written?

Being vegan is not about me wanting to live longer, it is about living the healthiest life and not being a burden on the health system or reliant on the death of another for my life to thrive. 


‘Raw Food in A Flash is part self-care guide and raw food recipe book for the menopausal woman (any woman really, as we will all go through this transition). Eating RAW foods helped me through my transition by curbing my menopause symptoms - this book is the perfect guide for those who want a more natural way of supporting their bodies.  

I advocate eating ‘more RAW’ plant-based food because of the dense nutrients and available enzymes. You do not have to eat 100% RAW foods to benefit from it - ‘more RAW is better than no RAW’. 

You can access me on social media

Twitter - https://twitter.com/veganrawcooked

Pinterest - https://www.pinterest.co.uk/veganrawcooked/

Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/veganrawcooked/

LinkedIn - https://www.bit.ly/2zwW93l 

Facebook - (I go live!) - https://m.facebook.com/veganrawcooked/

Buy my book here -  https://www.lorrainepalmer.com/raw-food-flash/

Contact me here lorraine@lorrainepalmer.com




BVR: When and why did you go vegan?

Let’s see. My journey began in December 2006 but I wasn’t 100% vegan until 2012. I grew up in a Jamaican household with two parents well-gifted in the culinary arts. Curry, Jerk, Escovich, ...the yard. Comparatively, veggies seemed to be almost an afterthought, because kids should eat veggies. Which is to say, it wasn’t until I lived with vegan and vegetarian college roommates that I realized vegetables could actually taste good.

December of ’06 (in Jamaica actually) marked my first attempt to go raw vegan. Unfortunately, I did not yet understand what I was getting into, or how to do it, so I began my volley back and forth between raw vegan, vegan, vegetarian, and pescatarian. Eventually I discovered Dr. Douglas Graham and 80/10/10 raw foodism through which I finally began to understand the dynamics of food and the human body. By 2012 I managed to wean myself off of fish and dairy for the final time.

For me, veganism was completely about the human body, the prospect of living more healthfully, and helping the friends and family around me heal from various ailments. Despite loving animals, their plight did not register with me until a fter I became plant-based. It was a good feeling, once I discovered what they were going through, to realize that my life choices already aligned with my desire to end the violence. Conservation, human and animal rights, world hunger....I may have come to veganism for health, but I hold a lot of pride in being able to say that my lifestyle also supports the earth and ALL the being who share it.

BVR: Where did you first hear about veganism?

I was first exposed to vegetarianism from a childhood friend, but my attempt to follow suite was mocked by my well-meaning family. It wasn’t until college that veganism really appeared again. I moved into in a student-housing co-op and of the 10 housemates, there was one vegan and one vegetarian. As such, whenever anyone would cook, they would automatically make the food vegan, just in case the plant-eaters wanted to share in the meal or the leftovers. The food was always amazing and the experience completely shifted my outlook on eating plants.

BVR: How did your friends and family react when you went vegan?

When I first tried to go veg as a kid I was laughed out of town (or my house... whatever...). Having now met other people who went veg as kids, I realize I could have succeeded had I pulled a hunger strike or some other show of determination, but back then I didn’t have the constitution to stand firm in the face of heavy criticism or my mother’s cooking. It took a little while for my family to understand, accept or even remember my dietary shift as an adult. Lately, though, I notice them (all of them, extended family included) quietly adopting my habits, or even proudly announcing just how many bananas they had for lunch on a given day.

My friends didn’t really react in any sort of memorable way. But then, I traveled and moved so much that old friends couldn’t have known, and new friends tended to share my interests. The funny thing is, however, every time I check in with old friends via social media, another one here or there is talking about how they ‘randomly’ decided to go vegan.

BVR: What advice do you have for others who are thinking about going vegan but think it’s too extreme or that it’s a ‘white person thing’?

It is so much easier and less expensive than you think. As awareness and science spread, availability is getting easier. As far as ‘fomo’ goes, food is all about flavor and texture. Fast food restaurants have been proving for years that what you’re eating doesn’t actually have to be what you think it is so long as it has the expected flavor and texture. There are enough varieties of mushrooms alone to cover the gamut. Jerked mushrooms, curried mushrooms, escovich mushrooms.... You don’t have to eat tofu, ever, if you don’t want to. Make friends with Japanese purple yams, oyster mushrooms, eggplant, cauliflower, and all of the other delicious friends out there.

As for being a white person thing... Consider that certain people and groups have been convinced that their pride and national cuisines are not the bright, colorful, delicious fruits and vegetables that grow in their yards, but rather the cheapest things to feed slaves, the waste from ‘more important people’s’ meals (innards, feet, grease and garbage), and substances guaranteed to create life-long medical customers. Why are we giving away that kind of power? The foods that God and the planet gave us as our natural gift, foods that keep us healthy, whole, intelligent and autonomous, are ours by right. Don’t let ANYone, whether of a different heritage or your own , convince you that God saw fit to nurture someone else but not you. Veganism is a person thing, no prefix. We all deserve to be full of fruit and life. Don’t give away your birthright.

BVR: We know that you are an artist. Do you do custom orders as well?

Yes, I do custom orders on occasion, depending on where I am traveling at a given time. 

Some of the things I have available include:
- Fruit and Veggie Earrings, Necklaces and Belly Rings (acrylic and/or wood)
- Fruit and Veggie Themed Movie Misquotes
- Heartbeet Kneeling Meditation Stools
- Mystery Boxes with Exotic Local Gifts From Around the World (Currently Thailand), Including Vegan Snacks and Recipes
- A series of Melanin Plaques - currently, I'm featuring some of my favorite Jazz musicians

I have started live streaming both my music as well as live international craft market excursions. It's a bit like having a virtual personal shopper, as I take viewers through the Night Markets of Chiang Mai or wherever else I visit. Anything viewers point out, I purchase and ship to them.

BVR: We heard you are working on a new project that with deals with diversity. Could you give us some more details about it

I am aiming for a full immersive experience to:

• Present diverse cultures around the world through videos introducing local artists, dancers, musicians, chefs and other makers (think Ghanaian Dancers, Native American sculptors or Norwegian musicians, telling us about the stories within their art and teaching us about their culture, beliefs, everyday lives, etc)

• Present challenges, encouraging viewers to exercise their own arts (for example, ‘choreograph your own dance, create your own sculpture, or write your own piece of music with the story you want to tell and share the video with us - maybe you’ll win something from the array of available prizes, or maybe you’ll win a trip to hang out with me somewhere around the world)

• Offer Terra Trunks, or mystery box filled with textures, tastes, scents, sounds and sights from the local region so viewers can share in the global experiences with all 5 senses.

My desire is to inspire people to create, to collaborate, to be curious about life and one another, to share, to experience, to share experiences.... Additionally, we don’t currently see enough shades of melanin in the media. There are very few presented artists, musicians or dancers outside of hip-hop let alone travelers, writers, chefs, polyglots, entrepreneurs, etc. My project will highlight creatives from all walks and backgrounds, and as a female multipotentialite entrepreneurial traveler of color, I will naturally lean toward presenting as many strong, inspiring people of color as I can find. My aim is to provide a platform for creators who convert the light and darkness, joy and pain, delight and horror into incredible works of art and inspiration. 

Web Links and Social Meda

Website: Vegimundo.com (with DanDannDesigns.com)

Facebook: Facebook.com/TerraTrunks 

Instagram: Instagram.com/heydandann



I went vegan a year and a half ago in 2016 after meeting some very influential people. They had been living a vegan lifestyle for a number of decades and looked amazing. The amount of energy and vitality these people had inspired me. Learning about people like Dick Gregory who was well into his 80’s and healthy started to wake me up. One of the key phrases that resonated most with me was “Is your body a garden or a graveyard?” I started to look around at my community, and all the stereotypes associated with our health. As I did my research I found that illnesses like high blood pressure and diabetes were not hereditary, but were directly linked to the “slave food” a lot of our people had been fed. Due to this I went vegan cold turkey (pun intended).  

Before I made the transition, I assumed that most vegans were skinny. However since my drive to go vegan was so strong, I was okay with no longer having muscles since the change was for my health. Once I made the transition, I learned about vegan bodybuilders, athletes, and NFL players, and it really expanded my horizons. It showed me that I could indeed maintain my size and even grow! Since the transition, some of the health benefits I’ve noticed have been: awaking with more energy, faster recovery times after workouts, elimination of joint and knee pain, increased strength, and a stronger immune system to name a few.

Oftentimes people are surprised that I am a vegan since I don’t “look” like one. When I walk into a restaurant, I typically receive the “Who is this buff black man” look and they assume I’m there to simply use the restroom. I like to wear vegan apparel to show that Black Vegans do exist. I’m okay with not fitting into any preconceived “Vegan” look. I started @VeganHotep a few months ago after being asked many questions in regards to my fitness and diet. Through that avenue I’ve received numerous messages from people who I’ve inspired and are taking steps towards healthy living. The coolest surprise has been seeing family and friends switch over to a vegan lifestyle as well.

I reside in Los Angeles with my wife, after relocating from Brooklyn NY, and have a career in Finance.

Social Media

Instagram: @VeganHotep

Submissions Are Open for a New Book Project: For Poc by Voc

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Sanctuary Publishers is looking for submissions for their new book project centering on vegans of color. 


If you could say something to nonvegan people of color (PoC), what would you tell them about your ethics and the validity of veganism as a justice movement against oppression? Why should PoC include nonhumans in their advocacy?


Submissions welcome for a Vegan of Color -led (VoC) Community project:


We are open for the following relevant submissions for a VoC-led book project:  

-line drawings or black & white artwork

-b&w photography

-short quotes


-short reflections


Please note that all submissions must be pro-intersectional and nonhuman and ethics focused since veganism is a movement to fight nonhuman animal exploitation. However, you may also incorporate other aspects (environment, health, history, spirituality, etc.) in your piece that have had an impact on you related to veganism since we all experience veganism differently.

No word limit or minimum for submissions. Write as much or as little as you’d like.

Submissions must be from VoC, original work by the author or artist, and previously unpublished.


This is a project by Sanctuary Publishers in collaboration with vegan artists and writers of color from all communities.

Writers and artists will be credited by name in the book and with a link to their online portfolio on the eBook and the on the contributors’ new release blog.

If you are not VoC...and would still like to support this effort, you can do so by volunteering your time for marketing, helping with your graphic design skills, or through financial support, via PayPal info@sanctuarypublishers.com OR Patreon www.patreon.com/sanctuarypublishers  


Apart from providing a platform for VoC, a portion of the money raised from this community effort will be used to help fund pro-intersectional, anti-speciesist, anti-oppression, and inclusive work.  


Currently OPEN for submissions.

DEADLINE for submissions: MARCH 1st, 2018

Send submissions to info@sanctuarypublishers.com

FEATURE: Antoine Knighton


Antoine Knighton is based out of Atlanta, Georgia and he officiates college and semi professional basketball. He played professional basketball in Europe and as well as other countries. He's going on two years of being vegan. 

I decided to go vegan January 2016 after being a vegetarian for a year. I decided to go vegan because I was inspired by 2 of my vegan friends. They had a youthful appearance. They introduced me to a couple of documentaries, one being Food Inc., which was very enlightening! Once I understood the entire process of how animals were slaughtered and processed, I decided to stop eating meat "cold turkey."  

There were several debates with my friends. They questioned how I was going to get protein, B12, and other forms of nutrition. They were of the belief that animals were created for humans to eat. In other words, my friends were not very supportive.  My family, on the other hand, was very supportive. They encouraged me to do what was best for me. Some of my family members have started to change their eating habits after seeing what eating a plant-based diet has done for me.  

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For people who currently eat meat, they should recognize the harmful effects that eating meat, fish, and dairy has on their body. I would encourage them to eat plant-based in order to cleanse their bodies inside, which will also help with their outer appearance. You have more mental clarity, energy, and feel less sluggish throughout the day. Raise your conscientiousness and compassion for all animal life.  

Since moving to a plant-based diet, I have lost over 40 pounds. I am now helping others transition to a vegan life-style through coaching and mentorship.  I also started a vegan social group to bring people together and introduce them to vegan restaurants and festivals in Atlanta throughout the year. I am a former international pro basketball player who now referees on a collegiate and semi-pro basketball level.  My mission is to help other referees, athletes, and anyone who wants to live a healthier lifestyle. I am the Vegan Referee!

Social Media

Instagram: @kenyon20

BVR Interview: Jabari Brisport


Jabari Brisport  is a Green Party candidate for New York’s 35th City Council District.

BVR: First of all, can you tell our audience who you are and how you got interested in politics?

JB: I'm a 30 year old resident of Brooklyn, who grew up in the district I'm running to represent. In fact, my family's lived here for three generations. I come from a theatrical background, but politics and activism have always worked their way into my life. For example, while at NYU, I created an anti-gentrification theater group. We performed in the park near campus and used the show as a way to collect signatures from residents to fight a rezoning. I fell in love with electoral politics while working on the Bernie Sanders campaign. Now I'm running my own campaign.

BVR: I read on the internet that you're a Democratic Socialist. Could you explain what that is? I also read that you are a member of the Green party. Could you let our audience know how that differs from being a Democrat or Republican?

JB: I believe in a world that's centered around people's needs, as opposed to profits. I also believe in democratic control and management: think worker coops or credit unions. Imagine a world where we, the people, controlled the pipeline companies. We wouldn't be using those tools to build a pipeline through the burial grounds at Standing Rock. We'd be using those tools to build new pipes for Flint, Michigan. In regards to the Green Party, here are the biggest things that set us apart: we don't take corporate donations, we want to cut the military budget in half, we advocate for reparations for black Americans, and we're fighting for 100% clean energy by 2030. We're awesome.

BVR: How did you first learn about veganism and how did you decide that it was something you wanted to adopt for your own life? How did your friends and family react?

JB: I learned about veganism in high school. I actually went vegetarian first, while in college and taking a class on animals in theater. I went vegan 5 years later because the dairy and egg industries are terrible, and I knew they were terrible. My family and friends are a mixture of responses. Some are supportive. Some are dismissive/mocking, but then end up supportive.

BVR: How do you see racial politics intersecting with food politics? 

JB: It can get problematic when people compare the animal liberation movement to the abolitionist movement. Animals should be free, and some can be considered persons. But they are not people. And I'm not vegan because I consider animals my equals. I'm vegan because causing suffering is wrong. 

BVR: What advice do you have for black people who might feel like veganism isn't for them. There are a lot of media stereotypes that depict veganism as a 'white person's thing.' What are you thoughts? 

JB: Yeah, veganism is often conflated with white people and affluence. People need to be educated that it's not just expensive processed meats and fruit smoothies. They also need to be educated that there are plenty of black vegans, and it's a healthier and more ethical alternative to eating meat. It has nothing to do with race and everything to do with avoiding senseless suffering.
BVR: How do you see veganism impacting your politics AS a politician? For example, we know that Senator Cory Booker is a politician who is pretty vocal about animal oppression and has made attempts to bring veganism into the public and political sphere.

JB: I'd like to ban the sale of fur. I know it's been done on the West Coast twice, and I'd like to maintain the momentum.
BVR: Fun question: what is your favorite vegan dish?

JB: I can eat "chickpea tuna" (chickpeas, vegan mayo, spices) anytime, anywhere.

FEATURE: Nzingah Oniwosan


So how did I get here? 

I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.

At 19 I had five physicians that I saw on a regular basis because of a prolactinoma (pituitary tumor) and scleroderma (autoimmune disorder). 
Beginning at 12 years of age I was condemned to a life of prescription drugs, being poked, and asked to be studied (my autoimmune disorder is rare and was atypical in its presentation). I felt like there had to be better way and with some research I felt veganism and a herbal protocol was my way towards health or being the healthiest I could be given the circumstances.

I made the changes and weaned myself off the drugs. I became a certified holistic health consultant, raw vegan chef, and yoga instructor so I could own my healing process. My autoimmune disorder has been in remission and the major side effects of my prolactinoma (irregular menstrual cycle) has been eliminated.


People come into veganism for different reasons - some for health and others for animal rights. With time it really becomes a lifestyle and doesn't feel so cumbersome. Sixteen years ago I would have never imagined myself here. I am grateful for health. I am grateful to now assist people along the same journey through my personal narrative and  trainings. 

You can find me at www.yesbabyilikeitraw.com

Social Media

Instagram: www.instagram.com/yesbabyilikeitraw

Personal Facebook: www.facebook.acom/SankofasChild

Business Facebook: www.facebook.com/YesBabyILikeItRaw