It might sound a little absurd, but my journey to veganism actually began unbeknownst to me about six years ago in 2010. At that point, I was in my second semester of college away from home, so it was much easier to make decisions regarding my lifestyle, especially in the form of a diet. I had just stopped eating pork and I would jokingly mention to people in conversation that one day I would stop eating meat altogether, but my objective in doing so was just to be as healthy as possible. I was familiar with vegetarianism from my aunt, but not veganism. It wasn't until 5 years later, in early 2015, that I realized I was actually foreshadowing what my life would be in the very near future.
I made the full transition into veganism one year ago after a brief stint with vegetarianism, and I can honestly say it's one of the best decisions I've ever made. It was a no brainer for me to convert when I started getting deep into the science of how the body works and the effects that these foods have on ALL aspects of our health; physical, mental, spiritual etc. One could just glance at the statistics and see that heart disease, cancer and diabetes have consistently been the leading causes of death in the US for decades, all of which are highly influenced by our lifestyles.
Black people have also consistently led the pack in most disease categories for decades, which is why my focus isn't really on getting everyone to go vegan; although that would be great, but it's more about helping improve the overall state of health in the black community; first by raising awareness on the importance of our health, educating on the science of nutrition and how the body works, and also providing tips on how to get over bad habits, and how to flip them into good habits for day to day application. I am NOT an animal rights activist, I am an activist for the health of people of color and I often have to assert that distinction to people because the majority of attention that veganism receives is via the voice of the animal rights movement.
Over the past year I've realized that it wasn't easy trying to convert people [in anything] by words alone, so I came to the conclusion that I would have to lead by example and make living a healthy lifestyle look easy and be the cool thing to do. Telling people how clear my mind has become or how it's led to improvements in the quality of my music (I'm also a music producer) just wasn't enough. I would advise my fellow vegan brothers and sisters that we have to be mindful in our approach when informing individuals about our lifestyle, especially if we're interested in helping them do better.
As human beings, we have emotional connections to the foods we eat that are so deep that certain foods correspond with different emotions (ex: chocolate & love), so it is imperative that we are conscious of this fact and we strategize our approach accordingly. There's no reason to condemn an individual for eating a certain type of way that they're accustomed to; instead, be a teacher and an example by showing them what you do and explain how it's been beneficial in your personal life. I believe if we all have the correct approach, we could help change the trend to putting our health first, which would in turn, change the world.