BVR: As a black vegan bodybuilder, how do you think you're changing the narrative surrounding veganism?
TW: Although I truly do not like to distinguish my ethnicity based on a physical characteristic such as one’s outward appearance and in such case “black”, I will continue to answer the question in the appropriate manner. I think that by sharing my lifestyle of being a black vegan bodybuilder is helping the world as we know it to see that vegan is not just a white “tree hugger” lifestyle. With black being either hip or frightening (threatening), vegan was, and to a certain extent, is considered cultish, crazy, and not hip at all. Bodybuilding is considered narcissistic, disciplined, and idolized to a certain extent due to most people not having the discipline to get into their best shape physically. So, you put the two of them together and you have a major shift in the minds of those narrating this vegan movement.
BVR: How did you family and friends react when you decided to become vegan?
TW: Well to be completely honest my mother’s way of raising me gave me the advantage as my family knew my path prior to my understanding of it. Friends on the other hand, saw it coming with my choosing to accept my Jamaican culture of Rastafari which promotes living “ital” or natural. Many friends throughout the years were just astounded as to how I was able to build muscle and not consume any meat. I typically became the topic of conversation or the butt end of jokes. “Torre will be ok, there is grass and tree bark available” were some of the comments.
BVR: What are your positions on animal oppression?
TW: My position on animal oppression is one of disgust, as it can relate to the brutal and harsh oppression that Afrikans went through during slavery and the slave trade: not given rights and only to be used as a commodity. Knowing that our bodies have been designed to consume vegetation for nourishment further strengthens the case that we don’t need meat for nutrition to survive.
BVR: What advice would you give to other black folks who are considering veganism, but feel like veganism is a "white person's" thing?
TW: Going vegan is not white or black, I believe that in our culture we were once living off of the land...it’s not a white person thing but a smart thing to do. Your internal organs will thank you for the cellular harmony.