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Summon a mental image of a vegan eater, and you probably picture a wealthy goop follower, crusty hippie, preachy tree hugger or angry animal rights activist – or a combo of the four. But these archetypes are not as precise as you might think.
While only 3% of American adults identify as strict vegetarians or vegans, that number jumps to 8% among African American adults, according to a 2016 Pew Research Center survey. Vegan diet may increase: A 2019 Gallup poll found that nearly one-third of non-white people have reduced their meat consumption in the past year, compared to about one-fifth of white individuals.
It’s easy to associate this recent dietary change with a fad, but plant-based eating in the black community has deep roots. Many followers of Rastafarianism, a religious movement developed in Jamaica, follow an Italic diet (a primarily vegetarian eating style), according to a study published by Louisiana State University. Elijah Muhammad, the leader of the Nation of Islam, also promoted vegetarianism as “the healthiest and most virtuous way to eat”, according to an article published by the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi. .
Additionally, traditional West and Central African diets “were mainly vegetarian – centered on staple foods like millet, rice, field peas, okra, hot peppers and yams” , writes author Bryant Terry in his book. Afro-Vegan (Buy it, $20, amazon.com), as reported by Eater. “There has always been this river of black people who pioneered veganism alongside the larger ocean of people who are omnivores,” said Tracye McQuirter, MPH, public health nutritionist and longtime vegan. TODAY. “In West Africa, for generations, food was mainly plant-based.” (ICYMI, a plant-based diet can have a major impact on your health.)
Yet a whitewashed image of veganism persists. And that’s why Desiree Daniels, a North Carolina native who went vegan in 2017, started her food blog I can, you can vegan, where she posts classic recipes with plant-based twists. “I had this image of white people, hippies, hugging trees, and I just couldn’t relate to that. I thought vegans were crazy. I figure, who in their right mind would give up the cheese?” daniels said TODAY. “Before diving, I didn’t see myself represented in these spaces, so I thought it was important for me to be that person for someone else.”
Daniels isn’t the only black designer to promote veganism on social media, either. To start shifting your mental image of veganism — and score some amazing recipes and meal ideas — follow these black, plant-based creators on Instagram and TikTok. Warning: Your stomach will growl moments after you set your sights on their food. (Related: Black nutritionists to follow for recipes, healthy eating tips, and more)
Black vegan foodies to follow ASAP
A self-proclaimed foodie since birth, Daniels launched her vegan journey five years ago and has been sharing plant-based recipes ever since, all in hopes of “changing the narrative that all vegans eat boring salads” and to inspire black women, according to her Instagram bio. On the gram, Daniels shares mouth-watering recipes, including vegan baked macaroni and cheese, southern vegan chicken and rice, and jackfruit crab cakes, as well as tips for storing vegetables and herbs. Plus, many of his meals have the approval of his non-vegan partner (search hashtag #PickyAssHusbandApproved), so they’re sure to be devoured by omnivores and plant eaters alike. (PS Jackfruit also offers many health benefits.)
To Alexis Nikole, a foraging enthusiast in Ohio, walking through a forest is like “Disney World, but full of plants and much cheaper food,” she said. NPR in September 2021. On her popular Instagram and TikTok, Nikole posts clips of herself searching for wild food sources – oyster mushrooms, wintergreen berries, papaya fruits and other foods that most people overlook – and turns them into tasty vegan dishes, like acorn bread stuffing and cheese, bagel bites with puffball mushrooms and hot Aronia berry sauce. While you’ll come for her creative recipes and foraging tips, you’ll stay for her high energy, bubbly personality, and hilarious signature, “Happy snacking. Don’t die.” (ICYDK, some wild mushrooms you can pick are deadly, according to the National Capital Poison Center.)
For a worthy frenzy mix meal ideas and upbeat tunes, turn to Gabrielle Reyes, a chef-singer who is blowing up the internet with her live musical cooking classes. Every Saturday, she’ll walk you through how to make salivate-worthy dishes like Raw Vegan Donut Holes, Vegan Pulled Pork Nachos, and Vegan Cheese Quesadillas, while explaining the ingredients and the dish she’s creating. It’s dinner and a show without having to leave the house.
If the spongy texture and earthy flavor of mushrooms seriously bother you, Turnip Vegan has you covered. The plant-based recipe creator’s feed is filled with mushroom-centric dishes, including stuffed lion’s mane burritos, golden oyster mushroom fried rice and hot Nashville lion’s mane chicken sandwiches, that will show you how crispy and delicious mushrooms can be. Moreover, Vegan even has its own e-book, It’s all about the lion’s mane (Buy it, $10, turnipvegan.com), dedicated to “fire” recipes featuring the ‘mushroom’. Whatever meal you prepare, be sure to pair it with one of its many fresh juice concoctions.
If you’re looking for culinary inspiration with a humorous side, Jazz is your choice. The vegan content creator offers familiar vegan recipes that take some of the stress out of transitioning to a plant-based lifestyle, including BEC vegan sandwiches, French toast, and banana and chocolate milkshakes. As you whip up one of his concoctions, watch his seriously relatable reels about what it’s like to be a vegan eater. Trust her, she knows what it’s like to deal with endless questions about how to get enough protein and the ridiculous extra for vegan items in restaurants.
On TikTok and Instagram, Daishu McGriff proves comfort food can be made vegan with a few minor tweaks — and it’ll still be chef-kiss emoji-worthy. Memphis Vegan Mac and Cheese Balls, for example, feature a rich sauce made with vegan cheese, nutritional yeast, chickpeas, carrots, and almond milk. And his vegan Philly cheesesteak is loaded with seasoned oyster mushrooms, onions, peppers and vegan cheese. Seriously, her plant-based dishes are so mouth-watering that even Lizzo commented “COOK FOR MEEEE 🤤” on McGriff’s cookie and gravy recipe. (Related: Lizzo shared why she’s experimenting with a raw vegan diet)
If you’d rather spend your free time salivating over pictures of cookies on your phone, you’ll fall head over heels in love with Samantha Perpignand, whose love language is cookies, according to her website. The online bakery owner’s grid is filled with images and how-to videos of sweet vegan treats, including carrot cake cookies, pumpkin frosting coated pumpkin cookies, and chocolate chip cookies espresso. Along with all the desert inspiration, Perpignand shares quick, simple, and tasty vegan meals (think: roasted vegetable stew, cauliflower chickpea wraps) to help balance out all the sugar.
To the sound of sizzling butter, knife cut chops and the soothing voice of the plant-based chef, Lloyd Rose’s cooking videos are sure to give you ASMR and mouth watering. While her recipes are simple enough to recreate at home, even for beginners in the kitchen, they don’t skimp on flavor. Whip up Rose’s Caramelized Balsamic Onion Baguette recipe for your next midday snack, whip up her Fried Sesame Ginger Brussels Sprouts for a spicy side dish, and break out your cast iron to create her Pan-Seared Portobello Mushrooms for your main course. . Have confidence, you won’t miss animal products at all.