African American adults are more likely to identify as vegan than any other group in the U.S.
A 2016 Pew Research Center survey showed that 8 percent of Black American adults were strict vegans or vegetarians, compared to 3 percent of the general population.
The trend toward ditching meat affects everyone including top athletes and music celebrities. A growing number of hip-hop artists have embraced the plant-based movement, making the Black community the fastest growing vegan demographic in the U.S.
Beyonce partnered in a plant-based meal delivery service and Serena Williams has touted the benefits of veganism.
In 2020, actress Tabitha Brown started her own cooking show after her vegan videos blew up on Tik Tok and Instagram.
They join a growing community of Black vegan chefs, bloggers, cookbook authors and social media influencers who are changing perceptions about veganism.
Historically, veganism was the preserve of upper-middle-class whites, but the tables have turned. More Black people are swearing off food derived from animals and other animal products.
Black Veganism emerged from Rastafarianism in Jamaica, which popularized a plant-based diet known as Ital. Some Rastafarians believe that people are natural vegetarians based on human physiology and anatomy. Some Ital adherents are strict vegans and consider dairy to be unnatural for human consumption. African Hebrew Israelites have advocated for veganism since the 1960s. The Nation of Islam has promoted plant-based eating as a way to challenge racist oppression in the U.S.
Black veganism was seen as “a political protest against the oppressiveness of animality, Eurocentric hierarchy-building, and harmful foodways”, according to an essay published in 2017 by sisters Aph and Syl Ko.
A disproportionately higher rate of lifestyle diseases among African Americans, such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, obesity and cancer, has also pushed many Black people into vegan diets in a quest for a healthier lifestyle.
Black people reported eating 31 percent less meat compared to the previous year while white respondents said they ate 19 percent less meat, according to a 2019 Gallup poll on consumer changes in meat-eating.
“Actually, eating vegan has made me feel more connected with my culture/race,” @happyblacklegend tweeted. “My ancestors were forced to eat SLOP and some of my people struggle with foods that make us SICK. Some great black leaders were/are vegan. Veganism feels like a giant protest and it feels great.”
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