I started my vegan journey because I was faced with horrible fibroid tumors. The doctor told me that I should consider getting a hysterectomy in order to restore my health. I was uninsured at the time so this was coming from a doctor I didn’t really know and I guess that really annoyed me because this stranger was telling me that my dream of being a mother was going to end before it could ever start.
I was determined to not let this be my last chance at motherhood. So, I decided to take a step back and consult the tribe of women. It’s our cultural way to discuss big questions with our community because we can get advice on where to go, what to look for, and what to try. Sadly, patriarchy keeps sisters from sharing the struggles and learnings of our bodies with one another openly. It made sharing a bit awkward at first but slowly, I uncovered these powerful stories about how these women healed their bodies with plant-based diets.
Within 30 days, my fibroid tumors shrank in size and I was officially about that vegan life!
More than just a tool for reclaiming my health, I began to see the power of reclaiming the food system and our culture with food as a strategy for building equitable local economies. What if we could reclaim our food sources? Could that create more jobs and more wealth for black communities? These are the questions that guide my thinking. Today, as a cultural investor and black business strategist and commentator, I am proud to showcase food, and other culturally based businesses, as a tool for wealth building.
For me, being vegan is about more than food, it is about liberation. As a vegan I am making a declaration about how I want to be seen, how I want to be treated and how I want to show up in the world. With every bite of food, I am practicing compassion and mindfulness and extending gratitude to myself, which I can then pour out to the world around me.
Jessica Norwood is the Nathan Cummings Foundation Fellow and the BALLE Fellow focusing on the intersection of culture in business as tool for local wealth creation. Follow her food journey on Instagram @JessicaNorwood