FEATURE: Amani Michael

(1) MY TRANSITION STORY:


“You can’t call yourself compassionate and spiritual while still eating animals.” 

 
This is all it took to begin my journey with veganism: a little bit of relationship drama.  Around 4 years ago, my partner at the time was upset with me and – during an argument, in a moment of lashing out – showed me the very real truth that I was not living my values consistently.
 
Though they were surely just trying to hurt my feelings more than offering anything helpful or insightful (they’re not at all someone who consciously identifies with veganism), their words resonated with me, and continue to resonate today.  I have always identified with being a very reflective, honest, and sincere person, always named myself as someone deeply committed to not only knowing my truths, but also to keeping both inner and outer truths aligned.  With that one sentence, they had cut right to the simple fact that I felt and thought of myself one way while practicing a life to the contrary.
 
Immediately, I set myself to researching and exploring every question that felt uncomfortable in my spirit.
 
In that moment, I ‘became vegan’ – not meaning someone different from myself, not some distant and removed identity, but rather exactly myself, the person I had always felt and known myself to be.  The person I had not yet been able to consent to being, because I had been unwilling to permit myself space to engage in my own truths.  In that moment, I committed to truth, and found what I identify now as veganism: a practice of radically questioning, reflecting, learning, and feeling.  A practice of realigning and reimagining.  A practice of liberation.
 
Now, as I am working each day towards the liberation of all animals – including myself –  I find that there is no place in my life where my practice of veganism does not reach.  It touches on the question of what it means to exist as animal, to exist as Black/black, to exist as queer, to exist as femme, to exist as spirit while also existing in a body.  To exist on this earth which I am sharing with others, and which shares itself with me.  To exist honestly, vulnerably, intimately, accountably. 
 
Though many perceive veganism as a restriction and a limitation of experience, I know it to be what gave/gives me my own liberation, and I am full of gratitude.  I am endlessly thankful to be learning to exist more as my full and aligned self, and that someone knew to tell me when I wasn’t.


(2) LINK TO SUPPORT WRITING:
youcaring.com/mydreamofwriting

(3) BIO:

Amani Michael is a queer Black vegan liberationist, writer, and healer - they are the founder of intuit.hue, an online community centered on healing through art and spirituality, especially centering minoritised identities and experiences. 

As they have come into their practice in recent years – intuitively exploring tarot reading, chakra healing, relational astrology, and dream interpretation – they have come to see it as offering spaces of quiet, reflection, and reclaiming in a world full of noise and trauma.

Along with this intuitive work, they are also deeply passionate about language and relationships; in their writing on narrative/discourse, they are constantly deconstructing the question of identity and imagination, how we use language to tell stories about what we are and aren’t, and – like any other Piscean spirit – what we dream of.

Social Media

YouTube: youtube.com/channel/UCeLxpyakOY9nNMxdfUemkig

Etsy (for booking services): intuithue.etsy.com

Facebook: facebook.com/intuithue

Insta: intuit.hue  

Twitter: @intuithue

FEATURE: Elijah Bilel

When I was in high school, I was very active in running sports. I did cross country all four years and track & field the first two years. In cross country, we ran 3.1 miles. Back in 2006 during my freshman year in high school, my diet was nothing to be proud of. I ate fast food almost every day, as well as chips, candy bars and cereal all the time. The varsity team consisted of seven spots that only the fastest on our team could fill as long as as their time was under 20.00 minutes. Everyone else was on JV. Due to my eating habits, I was between the middle and end of JV.  Even though I was the fastest freshman, my coach told me something that to this day I’ll never forget. “If you would stop eating so much candy and crap food, you would be a much better athlete”.

My sophomore year, I decided to take his advice. I limited fast food to once a month, and I stopped drinking all soda and eating candy bars. My fastest 3 mile time dropped almost 4 minutes and I went from being towards the end of JV to being the only sophomore on varsity. There were juniors and seniors who were fast enough to be on varsity but had to run JV because my time was faster. Ever since then, I saw the value of how your diet directly affects success in any undertaking. Although I realized this at a young age, we all realize this sooner or later. After hearing about the vegan concept from Dr Sebi, I decided to study it myself.

Upon my research, I saw the best diet we have available to use is a plant based diet.  April 2012 is when I completely switched to a vegan diet. Even though my research confirmed this, I was surprised at how my energy levels improved and my athletic ability remained the same and even improved later! There’s a lot of misinformation out there that people run into that discourages them from making the needed lifestyle change to live an abundant life. I would find myself sad when I would go to family social events and saw my cousins getting more unhealthy year after year while I remained the same. That’s when I decide to be vocal and educate people about the factors shaping their health.                                            

Where am I today?

Today I’m a consultant in the health and wellness field. I assist people in hitting health, weight and energy goals. Now more than ever, it’s important to have mentorship when making changes to your lifestyle. I didn’t have that when I first started so I see it as my duty to be that figure that can show someone how to get from point A to B because I’ve been through it. It is my mission to provide the context and information to people so that we can both increase the quality of lives and stave off illness before it comes knocking.

The Veggie Outers

 I also started a local meetup group in the DFW (Dallas-Fort Worth area) called The Veggie Outers. While it’s optimal to have a 100% vegan diet, at minimum we should be seeking to even out the percentage (60/40, 70/30, 20/80 etc) of food we eat by making some of it plant based. And while we make attempts to make changes individually, we do best when surrounded by a community (others that are seeking the same as you). At the Veggie Outers, we host and participate in events involving adding longevity to your health while recognizing the place and value veganism plays in it, hence we call ourselves Veggie Outers! This includes but is not limited to: going to vegan or vegan friendly restaurants, athletic events (such as 5k runs), sports, vegan cooking demos or classes, and vegan events. Many people are curious or intrigued about the vegan lifestyle, but don’t know where to start. If you’re in the DFW or want to learn more about veganism, look us up!

Social Media

Website: www.elijahbilel.com

The Veggie Outers: www.theveggieouters.com

Facebook: Elijah Ray Bilel

Snapchat: VeganElijah

Instagram: therebelmillennial

FEATURE: Veladya Chapman

I developed a passion for health and wellness after college and started spending hours a day researching the human body and what we were using to fuel it. The deeper and deeper I dived, the more overwhelmed I felt. There were so many LIES I had been told. I was so conditioned that I actually thought it was okay that thousands of animals were being SLAUGHTERED every day. So I went vegan almost "cold turkey." I became aware of the blatant speciesism we have. Why are people being arrested for harming dogs and not killing pigs and chickens? It makes no sense. I immediately realized how harmful our eating habits are to other beings, the environment and our bodies.

So, I decided to take my research one step further. I enrolled in Holistic Nutrition school, and now I get to spend my life spreading the truth, not only about how cruel an animal-based diet is, but also how a plant-based vegan diet IS the most healthy and beneficial way you can fuel yourself. I help others peel off the layers of brainwashing just like I did so that we may see everything the way it really is. I have never felt or looked better in my life as I do now eating a plant-based vegan diet. I am so happy spending my days healing others while simultaneously healing myself. Food is medicine and medicine is food...and dead bodies and animal secretions are NOT a part of that. 

Social Media

Instagram: earthmamamedicine
Facebook: earthmamamedicine
Snapchat: earthmamamedicine
Twitter: earthmamamedicine

 

FEATURE: Alexuss Green

I was like everybody else whenever I heard “vegan” or “vegetarian." I always stated how much I loved meat and other animal-based foods. However, when I watched a documentary called “Post Traumatic Slave Diet” it literally shook me to my very core. It showed me the reality of the long-time devastating health crisis in Black America and I remember growing up never having this type of conversation with my family very much. I felt like talking about health was taboo in our community which concerned me. On March 3rd of this year, I decided to take the initiative to start my vegan journey. The more I learned and researched, the more it motivated me to not only get started, but to stay vegan and extend a helping hand to anyone who is interested in this lifestyle. 

Along the way of all my research, I soon learned that some of the top diseases or causes of death in America are diet-related such as stroke, diabetes and heart disease. Not only are humans seeing the consequences of a poor diet, but thousands of animals are slaughtered in inhumane ways every single day. I love animals too much to eat them any longer but I also love people, so I want to do my best to let people know that veganism is a healthier and compassionate food choice. Hopefully, we can get more people on board and bring healthy plant-based meals to low-income areas. 

So far, the benefits of veganism have been fulfilling physically, mentally and spiritually! My skin glows, I’ve lost weight, and I have more energy. Even the cramping pain from my menstrual cycle has subsided! I do not have the sick feeling that I’ve gotten from eating burgers or other greasy foods. I’m a heavy eater and with vegan food I can eat a lot and still get up to be on the go. With more energy, I go to gym or do at-home workouts.   

I am 90+ days strong in my journey and I do not know everything, but it will come with time. I do plan on staying vegan for the rest of my life.

Social Media

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/popeye011/

FEATURE: Rian Peters

I am a recording artist from London, UK. I am part of an Electronic music/art project called Suffer the Children based out of Vancouver BC, Canada. I am a singer, songwriter, visionary and a very happy and proud whole foods plant-based, green juicing vegan. 

My journey on this amazing lifestyle change started about 4 years ago.
Even though I was brought up a meat eater, I was always interested in knowing and seeking out the best ways to live a more healthier life. Once upon a time I thought that the best way forward was eating meat and fish, steamed & bland veggies, less carbs, less fruit and drinking lab-made protein powder and energy drinks. Until one day a friend of mine sent me a couple of videos on youtube.

One was a documentary film on juicing called 'Super Juice me' by Jason Vale. The film documented a group of 9 people who were suffering from multiple different chronic dis-eases, and while being on a strict 30 day juice fast, Jason proved to them and the audience that juicing can heal the body and offer many life-enhancing health benefits including a faster and more efficient way to absorb immune boosting nutrients naturally found in fruits and vegetables. The other was of a lecture called 'Best speech you will ever hear' by a man named Gary Yourofsky. Gary Yourofsky is a (controversial) animal rights activist and a very strict vegan. Both videos had an impact on me, but Gary's presentation and approach about the animals really resonated with me, and everything that he was saying made total sense to me.

After watching and listening to his reasons as to why we shouldn't enslave and take the lives of our fellow earthlings and the great health benefits of being a vegan, I knew that I couldn't go back and continue living the way that I was. I continued researching more vegan lectures, documentaries, films etc., filling my brain with as much knowledge as possible but It was still a gradual process for me. I first introduced juicing into my daily lifestyle but I found myself still eating chicken and fish. I then decided to take the next step by becoming a vegetarian and then I finally transitioned over to becoming fully plant-based. However, I wasn't finding much information coming from my own culture, until one day I stumbled across someone's Instagram page who was black and a vegan.

The amount of information that he was sharing on his page about different African doctors and teachers who are vegan led me to start seeking out these same people. From then on I discovered Dr Llaila O Afrika, Aris Latham, Dr Sebi, Prof-I to name a few. I could relate to and connect with their message on a much deeper and spiritual level. They share messages that state that Africans were originally plant-based whole food eaters, how we respected the animals and mother earth back in ancient times, and how our bodies and genetics are actually not designed to eat animal flesh, eggs and dairy, which is why Africans have been (and still are) developing all these different types of life threatening physical dis-eases.

Again, everything they were teaching just made sense to me, it’s not as complicated as people make it out to be, its just that we as people, and especially Africans, have been misinformed and miseducated over the course of time. This old but new information excited me, which then led me to research more on these black vegans. I dug deeper into truth and I continue to do so everyday. I went on and ordered books from Dr Llaila O Afrika, which I have been reading religiously, one called African Holistic Health.

Becoming a whole food plant based eater has really changed my life and how I view life. I now fully appreciate all the raw fruits and vegetables that mother earth has to offer us. As soon as I watched and became aware of all the pain and suffering that we continue to inflict on these beautiful, peaceful, loving marine and land animals, my compassion and empathy for them kicked in. I now look at all living things with wonderment and love whether it be the tiny ant or the largest whale, we are all one and we are all connected. We have the potential to become a more compassionate society if only humans just got back to basics of how God intended for us to live and eat, and for me that all begins with what you put onto your plate, into your glass, and down your throat.  

Aside from my personal and Suffer the Children accounts I also currently run a new Instagram page which is strictly dedicated to inspiring a whole food plant-based lifestyle. My diet consists of mainly juicing, eating raw fruits and vegetables and some cooked grains & legumes. I’m always taking pictures of food at home or when I’m out, so I decided to start posting up images of juices and food dishes to encourage and inspire a more healthier and joyful lifestyle when it comes to food choices. 

This lifestyle change has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. It has has changed my life forever and for the better
and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to live a much more fulfilled and vibrant life. 

You can find me on Instagram

Food: @livingplantfoods
Personal: @rianpeters
Music: @sufferthechildren 

FEATURE: Nicola aka Chef Cola

Chef Cola is a 28 year old vegan chef whose journey started in Cape Town where she trained to be a vegan chef in one of Africa's top vegan eat outs, PLANT. 

Moving back to Zimbabwe, Chef Cola noticed a large gap in the market and also realized that most people were not that into plant-based diets where she was located. She took it on as a challenge coming up with "Dinner with Cola" monthly private dinners hosted by Cola that highlight the vegan cuisine and lifestyle. Her work is spreading the vegan movement around Zimbabwe, having fed over 100 people 100% plant based meals from all walks of life.

“DINNER with CHEF COLA” is a monthly dinner series hosted by Nicola Kagoro to showcase her culinary and hospitality skills and her specialty as a vegan chef. She launched her Chef Cola brand to sample the response in Zimbabwe to vegan and vegetarian delights and lifestyles. 

During Hospitality Management studies at the International Hotel School in Cape Town South Africa, Nicola also cultivated her keen interest in wholesome vegan/vegetarian meals on a limited budget. The entrepreneur in her led to the formation of African Vegan On a Budget, a company that provides various plant based culinary projects on a budget and also makes customized branded African inspired chef wear. African Vegan On a Budget encourages more people to show interest in veganism.

African Vegan on a Budget encourages more people to show interest in the vegan lifestyle by showing them they can have nice tasty plant based meals on a budget. This runs counter to current narratives where vegan food is typically considered very pricey due to the expensive ingredients used in most dishes. 

The culinary industry in Zimbabwe is characterized by significant but latent creativity and diversity. Chef Cola is slowly penetrating the industry with a unique niche market. Chef Cola has received positive feedback, not only in her house, but from the growing vegan industry. 

She has just finished wrapping up filming this seasons Zimbabwean reality TV show Battle of the Chefs where she made it to the top 10 chefs in the country. 

Her advice for people wanting to go vegan is: don't just jump into it for the sake that it's trendy or you want to lose weight. Veganism is more than what you eat; it is a whole lifestyle. Make sure you want to embrace the lifestyle as a whole before you commit. You can't be a vegan only on Monday. 

Social Media:

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

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/BWCIhSzgTdm/

FEATURE: Shamen Radcliffe


About two years ago, I watched some vegan documentaries and I was shocked. I knew that I could never eat or purchase animal products ever again. So, during my graduate studies, specifically while pursuing my master's degree in Community Development and Planning at Clark University, I researched and educated myself about the scientific benefits of adapting to a vegan lifestyle. After a few failed attempts, I fully transitioned to a vegan and it is the best decision that I have ever made!

As a first generation college graduate, who was born and raised in the inner city of Rochester, NY, my family and friends were shocked that I fully adapted into a vegan lifestyle. Growing up on fried chicken, mac and cheese, cornbread, you know "soul-food", my family and friends believed that I was just going through a "stage" and that I would eventually go back to my old eating habits. However, they were wrong! 

After completing my master's degree, I weighed 304lbs. However, by fully transitioning to a vegan lifestyle and hiring a personal trainer(s) at Fountain of Youth Fitness, where they embrace my vegan lifestyle, I weigh 238.8lbs (Well, actually less than that since my next weigh in is on July 5th.) In 4 months, I have lost 65.2lbs, 54.5 inches, and my body fat is down to 16.1%. I went from a size 3xl in shirts and 42 waist size to an L in shirts and 38 waist size. 

I highly suggest that anyone going vegan stay educated, informed, ignore negative remarks - specifically the unethical and biased assumption that adapting a vegan lifestyle is a "white person's thing", and go at your own pace because NO one is perfect starting out as a vegan.

As the Community Engagement Specialist at Project H.O.P.E. (Healthy Outcomes, Participation, Education and Empowerment), which is founded through the Greater Rochester Health Foundation, and a nonprofit organization whose mission is to address the social determinants of health and how those disparities affect the day to day lives of community residents, my aim is to inspire the community that I am serving to adapt an overall healthy lifestyle, so that they encourage others and take ownership of their community. 

So, don't give up! Embrace the rewarding lifestyle as a vegan to the fullest and inspire others!

FEATURE: Erika Mendence

I transitioned to a plant-based diet nine months ago and it’s the best, most transformational decision I’ve made in years!

I have always been fascinated by folks who’ve made the conscious decision to live life on their terms, so throughout my life I’ve had many friends who were vegan or vegetarian.  Several times since high school I had toyed with the idea of changing my diet, but never put it into practice.

Last fall I went to a vegan festival in North Carolina with no intention of being converted, but being in the presence of such thoughtful individuals had a profound affect on me. I made up my mind a few days later—I would finally commit to a plant-based diet. I believe my decision was spirit-led, a type of divine intervention. In order to get to my next position spiritually, emotionally and career-wise, changing my relationship with the food I put into my body was necessary. Up until that point, I had poured so much time and energy into ensuring that what I fed my brain and spirit was nutritious. It was time for me to apply the same standards to what I fed my body.

So, why was becoming vegan the best decision I’ve made? Let me count the ways!

1. Switching to a plant-based diet has made me a more compassionate person. I transitioned to a vegan diet for health reasons, but since the change, I’ve begun to feel empathy and compassion toward all creatures.

2. Transitioning to a vegan diet has reinforced my freewill. We enjoy the standard american diet, not because we HAVE to, but because it is our societal norm. In the same way I can deviate from societal norms diet-wise, I can deviate in other areas of my life (the way I view my body, my career path, the timeline society puts on our lives, etc). Being vegan constantly reminds me to be present in my decision-making.

3. Another benefit has been my relationships to cooking! Before going vegan, I rarely cooked. I married a guy who loves to cook (which was either a lucky coincidence or great planning on my part) and he prepared all my meals—breakfast, lunch and dinner—because the thought of cooking pained me. He cooked, I ate. Since transitioning to a plant-based diet, cooking has become one of my favorite types of meditation. I love to break recipes down and make items from scratch—hummus, tortillas, bread, tofu. I often try new recipes and have even been caught stepping on my husbands toes on his nights to cook because I’m so excited to get in the kitchen!

Since that initial festival,  I’ve attended several more in other cities. Going to festivals and vegan restaurants in different cities allows me to continue to experience and build on the sense of community that initially brought me into veganism. I look forward to meeting more vegans and continuing to cooking up a storm!

“When you become more mindful of what you put in your body every day, that mindfulness will seep into everything you do. Instead of sleepwalking through your life, you’ll be more adept at living in the present moment. And the present, as I like to say, is the only place where good things can happen to you in life.” 

― Russell Simmons, The Happy Vegan: A Guide to Living a Long, Healthy, and Successful Life

Social Media

Instagram: @bunny_food_