The White Vegan Myth: The role of global culture in creating plant-based eating
Rachel Ashley and Sanchali Pal
TL;DR: The white vegan myth. In the US, 8% of the black population eats vegan, more than double the national statistic. Plant-based eating is part of many cultural traditions and by absolute values, India, China, Brazil, and Mexico host the most plant-based eaters. Expand your horizons and follow people who do not look like you to discover great food. Each of the influencers we’ve shared know racial justice, queer justice, and food justice are deeply intertwined and their resources help you decolonize your plate.
When you hear the label “vegan” or “vegetarian”, what image comes to mind? Often, the most common stereotype in the media is that of a yoga-pants-wearing, salad-eating, wealthy white woman. While salads can be delightful, white people are not the only demographic who eat plant-based. In fact, black and brown people in America are much more likely to be vegetarian or vegan, and the history of plant-based eating is rooted in global traditions dating back millenia.
Plant-based eating is not an American trend. Other countries lead when it comes to vegetarian eating: India (20%, ~ 305 million people), China (3.6%, ~50 million people), Brazil (14%, ~29 million ), and Mexico (19%, ~23 million) have the most plant-based eaters.
If you want to eat more plants, take cues from the people who ate vegan or vegetarian before it was trendy. When you look up recipes, challenge yourself to go to the second page of your google search to discover new chefs, especially people of color and people from cultures different from your own.
We’re sharing some of our favorite vegan chefs and plant-based influencers. Each has their own unique story and shares the intersection of racial justice, queer justice, and food justice. Follow each to expand your horizons, and recipes this fall.
Bringing awareness to the health benefits - and deliciousness - of a plant-based diet, especially for women of color
Tracye first went vegetarian in 1986 when she listened to a lecture on the “Plate of Black America;” the lecture outlined the lifecycle of a burger and highlighted how poor food decisions lead to health issues later in life. Tracye is a trailblazer and coaches black women to make healthy, plant-based choices.
Emani’s journey toward a vegan diet began when she cut out red meat; after watching What the Health, she went completely plant-based. Emani’s motto is “being vegan isn’t boring” and she proves that with every recipe she shares.
Although Christopher doesn’t share recipes, he talks about topics like white nationalism, racial justice, queer rights and how each intersects with plant-based eating and animal rights.
Pax Ahimsa Gethen
“Dismantle the stereotype that veganism was a “white person’s” thing” via Black Vegans Rock
Location: San Francisco, CA, US
Pax is a black, queer, trans, vegan advocate and their name literally means “peace” and “non-harming.” Pax was vegetarian for most of their life, but decided to go vegan when they were 44. Like Christopher, Pax educates people on the intersection of race, LQBTQ+, and veganism.
Encourages people to try new recipes, enjoy the process, and discover good vegan food
Location: Los Angeles, CA, US
Tabitha Brown is an actress and an official vegan ambassador for Whole Foods. Tabitha chose to go vegan in 2017 after watching What the Health and realizing she could combat chronic pain through her diet. Her video about the TTLA wholefoods sandwich (vegan BLT) went viral in 2018, and since then, she has been a vegan sensation with millions of followers.
“Veganizes Korean food and Koreanizes everything else”
Location: Chicago, IL, US
When Joanne went vegan in 2016, people told her “a Korean cannot be vegan!” She set out to prove to them, and herself, that she could enjoy vegan food without sacrificing her culture. Since then, she has “veganized” her favorite korean dishes and shares her creations so more people can enjoy vegan korean food.
Candy Calderon “Stay as close to Mother Nature as possible. Decolonize your diet.”
Location: Miami, Philadelphia, and New York City, US
Candy is a certified Holistic Health Coach from the Dominican Republic who began her vegan journey when her mother was diagnosed with cancer. Her goal was to help her mother heal faster and she now helps women around the world lead a healthy lifestyle.
Candy advocates for diverse voices in the wellness industry because when she started her journey, “she didn’t see anyone who looked like herself.” She founded the Glow Wellness Tour to create a community for women of color in wellness.