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Black Americans are Almost 3 Times More Likely To Be Vegan Than White Americans
By Global Vegans
A recent BBC report which cites a Pew Research Centre survey claims that eight percent of black
Americans are strict vegans or vegetarians, compared to just three percent of the rest of the U.S
It is thought that one of the core reasons behind these statistics is a quest for a healthier lifestyle.
Research shows that African Americans have a higher rate of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, obesity and
cancer than most other groups, partly due to diet which is on average higher in salt and fat and lower in
fruits and vegetables.
An article from January in the Washington post which also covered the rise of veganism in Black
communities across America cited holistic nutritionist Afya Ibomu, who said some health disparities ‘been
the by-product of oppression, poverty, food deserts and lack of education but that African American
culture can also contribute to the problem’.
She said: “We use food as a cultural thing, showing someone you love them by giving them high-sugar,
high-fat food. We have higher rates of obesity, cancer, diabetes and asthma. It’s partly our DNA; we’re
not well-suited to a standard American diet.
But socioeconomic factors like poverty, living far from a greengrocer and easy access to fast food have
made it even more challenging for African Americans to eat healthily, according to the Food
Empowerment Project, a non-profit aimed at ending food inequality. Historically, the unhealthiest of
foods were the cheapest and most easily available to low-income, Black and brown families.
This health injustice also extends to a lack of consideration of specific needs of black Americans in official
health guidance. Dr. Milton Mills, who appeared in the documentary What the Health, spoke to the 2020
Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee last year about the issue, particularly on the health dangers of
recommending dairy products to African Americans.
“The vast majority of people of color in this country are intolerant to the lactose that’s in milk. Yet
because they think they have to eat this stuff, they go out, eat it, get sick, and think they have some sort
of intestinal problem. When I encourage them to stop eating dairy, their problems clear up,” he said.
“It’s really outrageous to encourage people to eat foods we know will make them sick, particularly when
the number one reason advanced for dairy foods is its calcium content. But African American women are
genetically protected against getting osteoporosis. So we’re making them sick for no good reason.”
Besides physicians such as Dr Mills pushing for the representation of African Americans in public heath
guidelines, the rise in the number of Black vegans in the United States has been helped by African
American musicians, sports stars and other public figures advocating for the lifestyle.
Celebrities such as Beyonce, Lizzo and tennis star Venus Williams have all either gone vegan or tried
veganism, with Beyonce even partnering in a "plant-based" meal delivery service.
A few years ago the singer famously vowed to give free tickets to her and her husband Jay Z's concerts
for life to a fan who made the switch to veganism.
The representation of Black people in the vegan movement has also been bolstered by events such as
Black VegFest a vegan festival created by and for the black community in New York City.
Clearly representation in all areas matters, and further progress can only help the black community
galvanise around the vegan idea even further.