Chitterlings, mac and cheese, fried chicken, collards with ham hocks, pig feet, BBQ ribs, cornbread smothered in butter, heavy gravies, pound cake, sweet tea are just some of the meals called soul food, we have grown up with, in black families. Much of this cuisine is rooted in African culture and our enslaved ancestors, as explained in the Netflix docuseries, "High on the Hog," with Stephan Satterfield. Although we may have been brought up on these types of food, the black community in the 21st century is evolving to be more conscious of what we consume.
Enslaved Africans were primarily given scraps to feed their families on due to the best parts of the animal going to the enslaver and their families. While it may not have been the ideal parts to create a masterpiece from, our African descendants came up with meals that provided comfort and distraction from the suffering of white supremacy and oppression. As we have always done, Africans created something beautiful and sustaining from "scraps."
We no longer have to eat or live this way. "With the rise of diabetes, high blood pressure, and cholesterol, especially within Black communities, it's time to look at alternative ways to feed and nourish our bodies for optimal well-being," Nowel Addishin, a Los Angeles-based vegan chef, said. The Institute for Critical Animal Studies called Black veganism an "emerging discipline." By 2021, research showed that Black people were among the fastest-growing demographics of vegans in the US. More Black Americans are choosing a plant-based diet and lifestyle. According to a Pew Research Center survey, 8% of African Americans identify as vegan or vegetarian compared to 3% of the general population. Many people of color say they switched to a plant-based diet for the environment, animal rights, and health.
Wellness begins with us and what we put into our bodies. For many of us, this can prove difficult as food deserts and the lack of fresh produce in our communities remain pervasive. However, a slow move to more fruits and vegetables in our diets is possible.
Tips for Black Wellness
One: Replace one meal a day with a plant-based, vegan meal. If you are used to eating meat at every meal, this will be a substantive change, helping the environment's climate crisis and aiding our bodies' health and wellness. "If you eat just one plant-based meal a day for a year, you'll save almost 200,000 gallons of water (that's 11,400 showers!) and the pollution equivalent to about 3,000 miles driven in your car (roughly LA to NYC). Benefits of eating plantbase for just one meal a day.
Two: Eat raw fruits and veggies throughout the week. Purchase some easy-to-carry and straightforward fruits like apples or pears to snack on or vegetables to make a side salad.
Three: Move every day. Whether you practice yoga or dance or like to walk in nature, make this a daily practice.
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Who are we?
We are two African American women with a deep passion for assisting in the paradigm shift that is taking place on our beloved mother earth. Spiritual evolution is rapidly awakening humankind, and the necessary tools, education, and compassionate spaces for growth are not always accessible or offered. As internationally recognized leaders in the field of service and yoga with over 30 years of combined experience, we invite you to explore contemplative practices with us to enhance your livelihood to include more joy, peace, and happiness.
Pamela Stokes Eggleston Amina Naru