My name is Tamara (rhymes with camera) and I have been vegan since August 2009. Being born and raised in the Huntsville, Alabama, I grew up on a diet of fried chicken, hamburgers and other unhealthy animal based foods. When I started dating my boyfriend in 1998, although he was vegetarian his entire life, I still ate chicken because I felt it would help me lose weight. At the time, I was at my heaviest weight of 298lbs. In early 2007, I transitioned to a healthier lifestyle which included changing my hair from permed to Sisterlocks and looking for a way to eat healthier and lose weight.
On August 28, 2009, I read Diet for a New America, and after this, I immediately became vegan. As I read the book, I thought about how my food choices impact animals and realized that by eating animals, I was ingesting their pain and suffering and I didn’t want that in my body so I cut it out completely. Although my boyfriend was against it...over time my (now) husband has embraced the vegan lifestyle as well. He enjoys experimenting with tofu & seitan to create yummy foods that I post on my Instagram account. I love being vegan and breaking the stereotypes that vegans only eat salads and berries.
An unconventional way I do vegan outreach is through my job as a librarian. As a librarian, one of my jobs is to purchase library materials for seven library locations and I make sure to purchase books and DVDs promoting vegan and plant based lifestyles. By putting this material in the library, I can plant seeds which can help people become the healthiest best versions of themselves.
My family in Alabama has embraced my vegan lifestyle and I was surprised a few Thanksgivings ago when my mom surprised me with a vegan field roast and other vegan foods. Since I live in California, there is a wide variety of places to find vegan food from vegan soul food, to upscale vegan food. Although I live in rural Central California, I am still able to find vegan options.
Since becoming vegan, I feel like I have more energy and don’t get sick as often as others around me do. The biggest misconception I’ve seen is that veganism is expensive and not for black people but what I’ve found is that you can be a 99 cent store vegan, a Whole Foods vegan, or somewhere in between. I am so happy that I live in a time that social media provides a way to contact and meet other black vegans and spread the word about getting healthy through food. Veganism to me is about making healthier plant based choices to honor your body, mind and spirit!