All posts by thesoulfulveganista

Let’s Talk About “Black Veganism”

 

This is for my black family.

When it comes to mainstream veganism, it is very clear that most people are left out in the hopes of building a cruelty-free world. Even with the pioneers’ promises and attempts at “inclusion,” there still seems to be a disconnect of what lack of representation does to marginalized groups.

Yes, it’s hurtful at first and feels like everything you learned about veganism is a lie, but then you come to find that it’s not ALL about saving the animals. There are several valid reasons why people choose to live vegan or plant-based; including environmental, food/social justice, cultural, health, spiritual, feminist, or even for a family member; the list goes on and on.

Does this make animal rights vegans invalid for choosing their path? Naw, but it becomes a problem when humans are scratched off their list of beings who deserve respect.

When the mainstream conversation doesn’t extend to those who can’t go vegan overnight no matter how much money they can scrape up, it starts to take an ugly turn and gets repetitively uncomfortable. It’s incredibly tired, and fam, we deserve better.

This is where our own type of vegan community comes into play, one where our cultural uniqueness and disadvantages are centered without an ulterior motive. We don’t need that kind of negativity in our lives, especially since odds have been stacked against us for quite some time.

With the help of many insightful and talented black vegan celebrities, conversations about the lifestyle have been forming in our favor and feature real folk with our perspectives.

So, in that case, what does Black Veganism look like? Maybe it’s promoting black folk of all sizes and colors, only featuring black vegans in advertisements, talking about our collective and individual struggles, working on food accessibility, considering other forms of injustice including speciesism, or bonding over vegan soul food. Whatever it will be it’s completely up to us, which is the beauty of it all.

Of course there will be those types who feel as though we’re being divisive, and I say fuck their opinion. Like honestly, fuck that noise. Even the ones who cry “reverse racism,” just laugh at their ignorance. We experience actual division on a significant scale, so nothing they will say can negate the awesome work we’re capable of doing.

All in all, there is no one answer to what Black Veganism is or could be, but I know damn well we’re going to make it happen. It’s been far too long that our pleas of recognition have fallen onto dismissive ears and it’s obvious our existence in animal rights spaces aren’t favorable. So we got this, all we truly need is each other to create the compassionate community we deserve.

Are you black and non-vegan? Don’t let this intimidate you, you will be accepted as a vegan despite the belief of it being a “white” thing (which it’s definitely not). For our situation, a proper way to start would be to download a free African-American Vegan Starter Guide from public health nutritionist Tracye McQuirter and see where the road takes you!

Are you black and vegan? Then what does Black Veganism look like to you? Let me know your thoughts!

Earthy Herbal Tea Recipe for Gnarly Allergies

Yup, it’s allergy season, and for some it means misery and sneezing fits. Unfortunately, I’m a part of that group and it sucks to the 150th degree, but in my luck/creativity I’ve concocted a tea that erases the irritating symptoms that Spring brings! With these five herbs (which I purchased from The Crystal Fox in Laurel, MD) I went from scratching my eyes to feelin’ fine in 30 mins flat, but get what you can or make substitutions to your liking. Now onto the tea!

What You’ll Need: 

  • Nettle leaves
  • Raspberry Leaf
  • Chamomile
  • Turmeric
  • Lavender buds (optional)
  • Teapot or mug
  • Strainer

 

Instructions: 

Add 1-2 tbsps of each herb to your strainer and steep in boiling hot water for up to 5 mins. Stir in a bit of sugar if drinking straight up herbs ain’t yo thang.

 

Have a less sneezy Spring!!

Are Mainstream Self-Care Tactics One-Size Fits All?

 

When I think about self-care nowadays, I always picture a blonde yoga teacher who swears that the spiritual practice is the only pathway to true happiness. Well, I have been practicing yoga, meditation, and other self-help type thangs for most of my adult life, and I can definitely say that they induce feelings of joy and calm unlike no other. Whenever I feel purposeless and constantly uneasy, it’s nice to know that a little quiet time devoted to being present will shake off some of those nerves; and I emphasize “some” for a reason…

For as far back as I can remember, I’ve experienced depressive moods and bursts of anxiety that I just wrote off for being an awkward kid. You can imagine how hard being a teen was: always hating myself for feeling out of place (mostly because of my skin color and hair texture) while silently worrying that bad things will happen to me. Now that I’m an adult I have no choice but to acknowledge my mental health concerns, especially since I have personal goals that require my full attention.

When I first started doing yoga at 15, it was more for the exercise than the spiritual aspect; but once I practiced yoga as a whole after I went vegan, it felt like a new world had opened up to me. I followed the lifestyle to the best of my ability and even then did something feel off. I’d get so pissed at myself for slipping up and not being conscious with my actions, having weak core strength, or having my mind wander too much during meditation, and I wasn’t focusing on why I felt like I had to be hard on myself all of the time.

Never will I blame yoga or other similar activities, but they are not the cure for ailing mental health. They are great for relaxation and developing positive self-talk but it is not helpful to believe that meditation will automatically resolve severe anxiety just because it sounds cute. Not everyone is able to sit still or complete a yoga pose or even have their mind stop racing, so most typical self-care practices we see today totally leave those folks out. Why are those with mental health issues often left out of the conversation?

I wish to highlight that breathing exercises, regular movement, and positive self-talk/image are all very important ingredients to a better mood, but there are people who truly don’t have control over how they think or feel and should be included in the discussion about self-care. People should be encouraged to do what’s right for them rather than follow a super specific template of finding happiness.

I’ll always have my yoga and meditation routine down, but you can bet your ass I’ll never deny my deeper issues ever again. Sure, my fluctuating depression and anxiety might not go away but it’s the price I pay for experiencing life and I wouldn’t change myself for the world.

For those who are seriously struggling with their mental health, I encourage you to talk to a professional if possible or maybe even visit http://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/issues/self-care if it works for you.

Chunky Chana Masala

 

I’m sure most people would agree that Indian food fucking rocks! I, for one, can’t live without it, so I had to make one of my favorite dishes from the tasty cuisine to satisfy my craving at home.

Chana masala, consisting of chickpeas and a blend of mouth-watering spices, is pretty easy to make with a lot of room for creativity. In this case, I added potatoes to the mix because why not? You can almost never go wrong with potatoes!

Now that you get the idea, let’s get started already!

What you’ll need: 

  • Non-stick skillet
  • Sauce pan
  • Rice cooker or boiling pot
  • Olive oil
  • 1-2 potatoes of your choosing
  • 1 can of chickpeas
  • Salt/oil-free (if possible) tomato sauce
  • 1 cup of white basmati rice
  • Curry powder
  • Garam masala
  • Garlic & onion powder
  • Salt & black pepper
  • Paprika
  • Cayenne pepper

Instructions: 

  1. Preheat non-stick skillet on med-high heat. Chop potatoes into desired size and toss into skillet. Add a cap-full of olive oil with basic seasonings (garlic, onion, and pepper) and let the taters steam for about 20-25 mins.
  2. Boil rice using the 2:1 (cups of water to rice) ratio. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
  3. Once the potatoes are close to being fork-tender, preheat sauce pan on high and toss in chickpeas. Use a cap-full of oil with basic seasonings and stir until slightly browned. Pour in tomato sauce and add in all the spices to taste.
  4. Stir the chickpeas and sauce and let them simmer on low until the potatoes are soft. Then, pour the sauce mixture into the skillet with the potatoes and stir until the potatoes are evenly covered.
  5. Add any finishing touches and plate this beautiful meal!

Have fun with this and enjoy!!