FEATURE: Naomi Israel

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Diverse Vegan (est. 2018, Morocco), is a global online community platform that welcomes all of those who seek an unbiased approach towards understanding veganism while sharing ideas and building a community.

As an American woman born in the city of Chicago; Diverse Vegan was created by Naomi Israel, a Chicago native. The idea behind Diverse Vegan is to engage with everyone from all backgrounds, races, various personal identities and eating lifestyle preferences.

Diverse Vegan is aspiring to become a community that is as diverse as the adjective entails. They aim to focus on providing resources for topics relating to health and fitness, wellness, nutrition, travel, mindfulness, mental and spiritual health, and more!

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Diverse Vegan is not interested in converting anyone to the veganism lifestyle. In fact, they would love for community members to say, "I am a Diverse Vegan, not because of what I'm eating, but because of the resources offered that have changed my viewpoints on the way I see my life and the decisions I make for not only my health, but for the planet.”

So, whether you're vegan, a part-time vegan, vegetarian, curious about the vegan lifestyle or simply searching for healthier alternatives for your overall wellbeing, Diverse Vegan has you covered.

They encourage everyone to not only follow and support, but to actively be engaged.

Social Media

Facebook: Diverse Vegan

Instagram: @diversevegan

FEATURE: Kimberly B.

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With all the information out there about the benefits of eating a plant-based diet, why wouldn’t I go vegan?

It’s a well known fact that African Americans experience the highest rates of preventable, diet-related chronic illnesses in the U.S. So as a Black woman, I knew I couldn’t keep doing that same things and expecting to not be in that number. Figuring out how to nourish my body in a way that brought to it healing was paramount.

Hypertension and diabetes are all too common in my household. So something had to give.

I set my intention December 2016 to be plant-based at some point in the near future. But honestly, I didn’t take major action toward that end until late the following year.

Something happened while I was preparing a hen for dinner one evening, and I would never be the same. While I was seasoning the bird, seeing the arms, the neck and the legs in front of me...I swelled up with emotion. For the first time I felt as if I was responsible. I felt as if I’d killed this bird with my own hands.

I tried for a few weeks thereafter to cut meat out. But soon, my overall mindset changed. I was no longer accepting that consuming animals on a daily basis was the norm. I mean, think about it, how can we expect to eat dead things and continue to have a living and thriving body? It just didn’t make sense.

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Since my transition, I’ve learned so much about the negative impact that meat production is having on our environment—that is, being the largest contributor to climate change. And frankly, it’s unacceptable. I know without a doubt that we all must be a part of this change if we want to keep living on this planet.

As a Black vegan, I’ve taken responsibility not only for fighting for the rights of animals, but for the protection and ethical treatment of all beings. And I invite my non-Black vegans to do the same. If all lives matter, then fight for all lives equally—even more so for those whose lives are taken frivolously and negatively impacted by systemic injustices. Fight for those whose voices and rights are suppressed.

Social Media

Instagram: @MightBVegan

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/veganthisnotthat/

Website: https://mightbevegan.co/

FEATURE: Sandra Maestas

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Becoming plant-based has been the best decision I have made for myself and my health. Being plant-based has helped my health and my overall mindset tremendously. I have always suffered from bad acne, depression, and candida. Within two months of being vegan/plant-based, my face started to clear up. My attitude and self-esteem was the highest it had ever been. The candida never came back.

People ask me all the time, how can you be Haitian and be vegan? I tell them, health and a love for all beings has no race no ethnicity. I didn’t become vegan for anyone else other than myself. To be honest, it was a challenge considering I had people tell me I wouldn’t last - it was just a phase. However, I’m coming up on my third year of being vegan in February 2018 and I couldn’t be happier. I started my own business Cookin’Kiddos to show kids and their parents you can still enjoy all your favorites but in a more healthy and ethical way!

Social Media

Facebook: @cookinkiddos

Instagram: @cookinkiddos

FEATURE: Renee Winters

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My journey to veganism started about thirty years ago. I remember being very aware of how food made me feel. I realized that certain foods would slow me down or make me feel congested. So I started removing various foods from my diet and saw an immediate improvement in how I felt. I hadn’t committed to vegetarianism, but was starting to realize the food- body-mind connection. While studying in Syracuse, I became involved with PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). This really gave me a different perspective on the meat and food industry. I decided at this point to become a vegetarian. I immediately began to feel the difference in my mind, body and spirit.

I was a pesco-vegetarian for many years. The option of eating fish on occasions really seemed to work for me. However, in 2011, I reached a milestone and decided to stop eating fish. This really helped to free me and led me to where I currently am as a vegan. Along the way, there were some twists and turns with dairy, but it has only made me stronger and a more committed vegan. Once dairy was completely removed, I have never looked back.

Being a vegan has given me clarity of vision, freedom of spirit, and a love for all living beings. I have always been an active individual, however, being a vegan has brought me to new levels of energy. For my 50th birthday, I decided to compete in a bikini competition. It was amazing. I love being fit and feeling energized! Every day, I want to inspire others with the importance of positive thinking and staying physically active. I find that positivity, setting goals and smashing them is the only way to truly experience life.

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I want to help spread the word about the value of a plant based diet to everyone, but specifically those within the African American community. We are suffering from high mortality rates and startling obesity percentages. As a people, we are also plagued by the societal issues of racism and injustice. Unfortunately, these outward racial injustices have plagued us for centuries, but in order to be “battle ready,” we must take time to fortify and strengthen ourselves…not just mentally, but physically. As a people, we must incorporate and spread the message about a plant based lifestyle. This will strengthen our minds and spirits. As the VeganSoulSista, I work to be a part of the solution for our community, as we free ourselves from a history of oppression and self-hatred. My journey as a vegan continues every day.

IG: Vegansoulsista

FB: Vegansoulsista

Website: www.vegansoulsista.com

Fitness trainer, plant based educator and online wellness coach

Available for speaking engagements-email or DM me.

FEATURE: Topaz Hooper

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I’m Topaz and I’m a plant-based vegan. I started my vegan journey in 2016 when I attended my local vegfest and watched a horrible documentary on animal cruelty. After that event, I couldn’t look at meat the same. I was already a vegetarian at that time but with the enlightening news that milk, cheese, and eggs are just as abusive to animals as meat production, I knew I had to get rid of them too.

I stay vegan because of the health and justice implications. I see eating cheese, milk and eggs as a related to feminist issues. When we rape and impregnate female cows for milk, I see that as equally destructive as the rap and impregnation of female humans. I like to see the intersections of these issues. I am a deep believer of collective liberation: the idea that we are not free until ALL of us are free. The same goes for my health. I see living a plant-based vegan lifestyle as a logical step towards extending my life expectancy as a Black American woman. The black community often suffers from illnesses and diseases that are brought on by our current American diet and easily preventable (and sometimes treatable) with a plant-based diet. My 99 year old grandmother is my inspiration. I’d love to make it 100 years old and live a life that is fulfilled, free of cruelty, and plant based.

If you too are interested in the intersections of feminism, food and justice, follow me on:

Instagram @AfroFeministaVegan1

Facebook Afro FeministaVegan  

Official Website, www.Afrofeministavegan.com.

FEATURE: Arial Shabri

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Options for tribalism growing up were fewer for me than exist for monoracial people, I gather.  There was no comfortably homogenous group into which I could retreat without question.  I am not entirely sure whether my parents’ expectations that I excel, or my own vague recognition that I was an “other”, drove me to embrace uniqueness from an early age.  Possibly it was a combination; in any case, this mindset offered some practice in existing distinctly from mainstream mores.

In early 2014 a new co-worker – an ethical vegan – arrived where I was interning.  After a polite exchange with her about plant and animal-based foods, I reflected on the short stint in college when I had adopted a vegan diet for about a month.  I’d learned about the cruelty of factory farming, but the challenges when interacting with others had ultimately worn me down.  I was “missing out” on certain foods and my family’s culture(s), felt I was being difficult at restaurants and in others’ kitchens… really, what difference did my little boycott make, anyway?

Realizing I’d learned a little something about supply and demand since then, I reconsidered the issue.  I delved into the internet – reading articles, watching YouTube videos… within days I was convinced that veganism was morally superior to carnism, and generally healthier for humans and the planet.  Hadn’t I wanted to save the world since the impressionable age of six, after all?  I had one last “humanely”-produced, non-vegan pizza dinner from Whole Foods, and went vegan the day after.

Eventually I stopped believing there is any humane or justifiable way to exploit or kill animals without a dire need.  This created tension with my concept of God.  Though I’d been seeking God beyond Christianity for years, I clung to the Eden story in defense of veganism (supposedly, all creatures were herbivores until The Fall).  Further thought and discussions revealed the holes in my presumption that God would not sanction unnecessary animal harm, at least according to “holy” texts from various faiths.  Meanwhile, I’d long noticed a YouTube channel that I’d been hesitant to click on – “The Vegan Atheist”.  The name alone was triggering.  I’d never given serious consideration to the possibility that there is no god, yet intellectual honesty demanded I do just that.  Truth is preferable to delusion, as veganism had affirmed.  Freedom is preferable to comfort, as my transition to minimalism (during a similar period) had affirmed.  I had come to value freedom and truth above almost all else, and they coincide.  I could no longer simply ignore arguments that opposed long-held beliefs.

Intellectual honesty demands a constant re-examination of our beliefs and values.  After exploring atheism I questioned my political and socioeconomic opinions.  Anarchy, anti-racism, and anti-oppression movements in general piqued my interest.  I began to see power struggles as a pervasive underlying dynamic driving most societies’ ills.  As with electric potential or hydraulic pressure, the more imbalance imposed, the more dramatic the phenomena in pursuit of equilibrium.  So then, the more we can dismantle hierarchies, the less tension there will be to fuel these struggles.  Power does not disperse without a fight, though, does it?  So, do we save the world (ourselves) by forcefully dismantling the current systems, trying to change them from the inside, or erecting parallel systems until the foundations of the oppressive ones are eroded?  Or should we try to walk away from it all and seek happiness in nihilistic solitude?  I imagine the answer depends on who you are and what you have to lose… who must be martyred and who must live to fight another day… who is even able to “fight” in the first place?

I wonder what I’ll learn next, how much more of an outlier I’ll become (biracial, vegan, atheist, poly-bi, introverted, etc.) ... how that will empower or challenge my communications with others about solutions to the world’s problems… and – the recurring existential crisis – what to do with my own life considering the world as it is now?  Surely there’s a happy medium between martyrdom and hermithood in rejecting the current system(s)?  Maybe making peace with death is part of empowerment… maybe just completing an entry into a STEM career as a female PoC is activism enough…

FEATURE: Gary Whitaker

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It all started one day when I was cruising Netflix and I came across the documentary Food Inc. It all started to make sense why so many people in my family were sick and died way before their time. I had three uncles that died before the age of 65. That was young In my opinion. My grandma on my mother's side died at 64. My grandmother on my father's side also died before 65. After seeing those members of my family leaving the planet, I knew that I had to do something to change the direction that we were going in.

While I was in college, I took a nutrition course and this also gave me some basic knowledge about food. I started to develop an interest in people that were living beyond 100+ years old and I started to pay attention to their diets. So, since my goal was to live to 250+ I started to pay closer attention to what was going into my body and the impact it was having. From the day I watched Food Inc, it gave me enough data to realize that we don’t need meat to survive. I took it a step further because I realized that I get joy from seeing people in good health, so I created my own personal training business in Oakland, California called Plant-Based Fitness. I also found out that there are not a lot of trainers who know how to educate their clients on losing weight and gaining muscle on a plant-based diet. 

Social Justice

I worked in schools in east Oakland, California and I taught in an after-school program teaching 3rd, 4th and 5th-grade kids about exercise and nutrition. The kids would always request to come to my class. I had young black children eating raw pasta and coming back for seconds. That leads me to believe that the issue resides in the adults because there are no kids buying groceries at the store. So from a social justice standpoint, we need to change the adults and then the kids will receive the benefits of generational health. 

Racism

Dealing with race and food is an interesting topic. The one thing I see is that in almost every black community that has been economically depressed, there are large amounts of liquor stores and gas stations. This directly contributes to the lack of fresh and healthy foods in these communities. It should be a crime to have that many liquor stores in a square mile. 

Animal Oppression

I believe that we all can exist on the planet without looking at certain animals as food. I always say to people there are 250,000 edible plants on Earth. It is up to us to find new and flavorful ways to enjoy life.

Social Media

Instagram: Plantbfit1
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/djwrecckdaplantbase?ref=bookmarks (you might need a FB account to see this)
Plant-Based Fitness Gym Page: https://www.facebook.com/pg/Plantbfitness/about/?ref=page_internal
 

FEATURE: Valdemar Washington

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We all spend our lives looking for truth. Truth in relationships, truth in the world around us, and truth in our purpose on this planet. Yet, despite our longing to find truth, we are all so conditioned by society to such an extent that we don’t even realize it. We are trained to promote cruelty in ways that are so backwards and opposed to the search for truth and equality.

As a man and former college athlete, I always used to consider my meat consumption an integral part of my masculinity. I subscribed to the myth of needing copious amounts of protein to maintain lean muscle mass, and I was taught the deeply ingrained idea that REAL MEN eat meat - leave the vegetarianism and veganism for the women. I had NO IDEA how wrapped up in complete TOXIC masculinity I was simply by virtue of my food choices. You can’t call yourself a truth-seeker or someone who advocates for equality if you think like this.

I became a vegan a year ago when I watched “What the Health” on Netflix, followed by about four more documentaries. I also went on Wikipedia, Google, and YouTube all over the course of ONE DAY. I didn’t wake up that day expecting to be a vegan by the end of it. In fact, if you had asked me if I would ever go vegan before that day, I would have thought you were out of your mind (and I would have told you as much). But once you open your eyes and truly see the cruelty that you are promoting by your “lifestyle choices” it is impossible to ever go back. Sure, there are health benefits to a plant-based diet and I have reaped them in the last year being vegan, but my impact on the world is what has sustained me and is why I can never imagine going back to eating meat again.

To me, the best part of this lifestyle is knowing that I am doing my part to contribute to a better world. A world where we don’t put blinders on and continue to engage in things that we know are wrong. A world where made up social constructs don’t dictate what is normal or right. A world where we are closer to finding the truth that we all long for.

Social Media:

Instagram: @valdemarwashington