Breeze Harper and The Sistah Vegan Project

Hello, Readers

Our dialogue about food and mindful consumption continues…

My research on veganism, specifically the ways in which black women practice veganism, led me to the work of A. Breeze Harper, a doctoral student at UC Davis, founder of The Sistah Vegan Project, contributor and editor of the anthology Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health, and Society. A collection of poetry and prose, Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health, and Society contains the narrative voices of twenty-six black-identified female vegans who offer their individual stories as necessary contributions to the collective  “black female vegan experience.” Each woman uses her voice to help shape and expand the meaning of what it means to be black, female, and vegan in this society.

Excited about reading a work by black women that was created to inform, challenge and highlight the issues of black-identified vegan women, I skipped Amazon(dot com) and rushed to Busboys and Poets in Washington, DC to pick up my copy of the book. As soon as I read the first essay, “Thinking and Eating at the Same Time” (Michelle R. Loyd-Paige), I knew that (1) Breeze Harper was on to something with this anthology and her Sistah Vegan Project work, (2) I wanted to help her timely and relevant work gain exposure, (3) I wanted to talk with Breeze about her social justice work and her experiences as a black-identified vegan, and (4) I wanted to interview Breeze for “Shifting the Vantage Point.” Since my first reading of “Sistah Vegan,” I have had a few online opportunities to discuss The Sistah Vegan Project with Breeze Harper, and as an extension of that conversation, Breeze agreed to answer some pre-selected interview questions via video; you can view the interview at the bottom of the post.

Although this is not (necessarily) a book review, I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in plant-based diets, compassionate consumption, the relationship between food and sex, ecowomanism (a term from the book), and/or social justice issues. I (and you will) look forward to more work from Breeze Harper.

Thanks, again, for reading.

ezh

 

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Food Choices

I currently practice a moderate form of veganism, which means I do not eat the flesh of any animal, and I avoid the consumption of all dairy products. Although I believe in animal rights, and I practice compassion and non-injury (ahimsa) in my daily life, my entry point to the vegan life was a dairy allergy. Unfortunately, my excessive consumption of all things dairy, resulted in a pretty severe scalp condition, a mild form of eczema, frequent occurrences of acne, stomach pains, and high-levels of mucus; however, before being officially diagnosed with an allergy, a friend who had been doing some research on the effects of dairy consumption, suggested that I eliminate dairy from my diet in order to see if any or all the symptoms disappeared. Who would have thought that fifteen days after eliminating dairy, I would have clearer skin, a settled stomach, and no morning/afternoon/evening mucus to contend with? Even without the doctor’s imprimatur, I knew a dairy-free lifestyle was for me.

My resurgence of health also prompted me to do some food research of my own, and I soon discovered that most of my food choices were unconscious, and negatively influencing my health and my life. I realized that consuming  gluten caused me to become sick, unusually fatigued and cognitively fogged; I noticed that I felt listless and uncommunicative after sugar consumption, and after eating flesh, I felt plain sad. Conversely, after eating fruits and vegetables, I felt more lucid and more energetic.

When I decided to practice veganisim, I found a wonderful support system—an entire food movement; there were other people in my physical community, my Facebook community and blogger community who have also made the decision to live in a way that is sustainable and supports health and wellness. I discovered  CSAs and farmers markets, I found vegan restaurants and supermarkets that specialize in whole, local foods.

I am grateful for the opportunity to be on this journey at this time in my life. I am still shaping my perception of food, and I am still considering what it means to be a Black-identified, lesbian-identified, sometimes-Buddhist, female vegan in America, and I know that this is not consideration that can happen in exclusivity; it is a conversation.

It is a conversation about who has access to whole foods and why.

It is a conversation about change and sustainability.

It is a conversation about spirituality and community.

It is a conversation about environmental ethics.

It is a conversation about social justice.

Please be a part of the conversation.

ezh

A Few Good Reads:

In Defense of Food / Michael Pollan

The Omnivore’s Dilemma/ Michael Pollan

Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health and Society / A. Breeze Harper (Editor)

Potatoes NOT Prozac / Kathleen DesMaisons

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