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Sistah Vegan is a series of narratives, critical essays, poems, and reflections from a diverse community of North American black-identified vegans. Collectively, these activists are de-colonizing their bodies and minds via whole-foods veganism. By kicking junk-food habits, the more than thirty contributors all show the way toward longer, stronger, and healthier lives. Suff Sistah Vegan is a series of narratives, critical essays, poems, and reflections from a diverse community of North American black-identified vegans. Collectively, these activists are de-colonizing their bodies and minds via whole-foods veganism. By kicking junk-food habits, the more than thirty contributors all show the way toward longer, stronger, and healthier lives. Suffering from type-2 diabetes, hypertension, high blood pressure, and overweight need not be the way women of color are doomed to be victimized and live out their mature lives. There are healthy alternatives. Sistah Vegan is not about preaching veganism or vegan fundamentalism. Rather, the book is about how a group of black-identified female vegans perceive nutrition, food, ecological sustainability, health and healing, animal rights, parenting, social justice, spirituality, hair care, race, gender-identification, womanism, and liberation that all go against the (refined and bleached) grain of our dysfunctional society. Thought-provoking for the identification and dismantling of environmental racism, ecological devastation, and other social injustices, Sistah Vegan is an in-your-face handbook for our time. It calls upon all of us to make radical changes for the betterment of ourselves, our planet, and by extension everyone.


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Sistah Vegan is a series of narratives, critical essays, poems, and reflections from a diverse community of North American black-identified vegans. Collectively, these activists are de-colonizing their bodies and minds via whole-foods veganism. By kicking junk-food habits, the more than thirty contributors all show the way toward longer, stronger, and healthier lives. Suff Sistah Vegan is a series of narratives, critical essays, poems, and reflections from a diverse community of North American black-identified vegans. Collectively, these activists are de-colonizing their bodies and minds via whole-foods veganism. By kicking junk-food habits, the more than thirty contributors all show the way toward longer, stronger, and healthier lives. Suffering from type-2 diabetes, hypertension, high blood pressure, and overweight need not be the way women of color are doomed to be victimized and live out their mature lives. There are healthy alternatives. Sistah Vegan is not about preaching veganism or vegan fundamentalism. Rather, the book is about how a group of black-identified female vegans perceive nutrition, food, ecological sustainability, health and healing, animal rights, parenting, social justice, spirituality, hair care, race, gender-identification, womanism, and liberation that all go against the (refined and bleached) grain of our dysfunctional society. Thought-provoking for the identification and dismantling of environmental racism, ecological devastation, and other social injustices, Sistah Vegan is an in-your-face handbook for our time. It calls upon all of us to make radical changes for the betterment of ourselves, our planet, and by extension everyone.

30 review for Sistah Vegan: Food, Identity, Health, and Society: Black Female Vegans Speak

  1. 4 out of 5

    Zanna

    Here is a personal story, which you are welcome to skip (view spoiler)[I first read about this book in the first issue of Bitch magazine I ever read, which featured an interview with Dr A. Breeze Harper, the instigator and gatherer and editor of the project and collection. At the time I read the article I was steadily cutting dairy from my diet under the influence of a silent interior impulse. I obeyed that bodily demand unevenly, but I could not become a vegan, because I felt that if I did I wo Here is a personal story, which you are welcome to skip (view spoiler)[I first read about this book in the first issue of Bitch magazine I ever read, which featured an interview with Dr A. Breeze Harper, the instigator and gatherer and editor of the project and collection. At the time I read the article I was steadily cutting dairy from my diet under the influence of a silent interior impulse. I obeyed that bodily demand unevenly, but I could not become a vegan, because I felt that if I did I would be joining the race/gender-blind folks at PETA and endorsing re-presentations of violence that I knew were themselves harmful. I have always been inclined to follow my training and think in binaries: oppressed and oppressor and I thank the writers I have read, Black and Indigenous women and men, who have helped me to decolonise a little way, enough to begin to see beyond binaries, to see both/and, to think a llittle through other ways than Whiteness. Breeze Harper set me free from a facet of my own racism. I saw that I could reject Whiteness and be vegan at the same time. I bought the book, went vegan, subscribed to and became a supporter of Bitch, and now I have finally read this. (hide spoiler)] Harper explains that the impetus for the project was sparked by the reaction of Black Americans to a campaign by PETA that compared animal exploitation to slavery. She felt, I think, that the anger and hurt of those people deserved an answer from vegans who shared the history PETA had callously appropriated. The answer would not, could not, be simple, it could not be made by a single person or a unitary voice, it could not be made as an admonition. It could only be offered like this gift, a patchwork quilt stitched by women who do not even agree on such deep matters as animal liberation, healing and health, but who share critical resistance to the framing of veganism by Whiteness in the USA. It had to be a sheltering skein of uneasy personal knowings, histories, convictions, beliefs. Many of the writers, including Harper herself, write about the scandal of racialised health inequalties in the USA. 'Post industrial soul food' traditions combined with poverty and poor access to affordable healthy food are, Harper points out, while indicting white supremacy past and present (not least for imposing unsuitable white eating habits) for the situation, severely affecting the health and life-expectancy of Black USians. Another matter necessarily addressed here is the image of the body widely used to promote health generally and veg*n diets in particular: the thin white female body. This image is challenged here by several writers and by a forum set up by Harper for women of colour vegans & aspiring vegans to discuss the issue. Clearly, decolonising veganism must involve rethinking the healthy body. The discussion is not dominated by confident affirmations of Black full figured health, but of painful work through negative feelings, experiences of racism and fat-shaming, uneasy relationships with food and exercise as these women struggle to free themselves from the hegemonic optics of 'beauty' and 'health'. The work is hard. You don't throw off oppression the day you recognise it. You battle with it, maybe all your life. While the journeys away from meat eating here involve struggle, they also often lead to new joy, feelings of wholeness and wellbeing, relief from ailments like menopausal flushes, renewed interest in food and eating, loving affirmation of Black life in connection with the living Earth. Calls for this better life to be made more accessible and affordable to more Black USians are made by those who know from experience how good plant based eating feels. I was moved to read Harper's explanation of antebellum slavery as the maintenance of the White Euro/USian addiction to sugar, and the ongoing suffering of mostly Black farm workers in areas such as the Dominican Republic to supply the commodity in vast quantities to the US market. By writing about this in parallel with animal exploitation, she demonstrates both that veganism is part of an intersectional awareness of compassionate consumption and that human suffering cannot be excluded from the consciousness that leads people to a compassionate diet. If you care about the non-human animal suffering to furnish your plate but not the human (of colour) farm-worker likewise being harmed, how can you call your diet compassionate? Thus, Harper's framing of veganism, also elaborated by other writers, especially Tara Sophia Bahna-James in her brilliant piece 'Journey Towards Compassionate Consumption: Integrating Vegan and Sistah Experience', joins the dots between eating vegan for ahimsa and for health, for environmental justice and for the environment as end in itself. To me this holistic reasoning to embrace a plant based diet has always been essential: when asked why I eat this way I always reply "all the reasons", but this lazy conversation-stopper glosses over the true diversity of ways through which people come to and live veganism, a truth that this book restores. There is no finality here, no straight answer, no unity, and that roughness and openness both emphasises the centrality and tender intimacy of eating in our lives and thus the need for compassion to all and respect for the autonomy of others, and carries the project's import beyond its grounding in the specificity of Black female USian vegans, to all of us who want to reduce the harm we do.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Colette

    I wanted to get this book as soon as I saw it - it seems very rare to come across a book about vegans from an African American woman's perspective. I've enjoyed the vegans of color blog and recently picked up Vegan Soul Kitchen, but I had yet to come across anything specific to African American women. And after reading, I think this is a great anthology. I was impressed with the diversity of experiences in the book and it was nice to find some voices that I could relate to. If you are a vegetari I wanted to get this book as soon as I saw it - it seems very rare to come across a book about vegans from an African American woman's perspective. I've enjoyed the vegans of color blog and recently picked up Vegan Soul Kitchen, but I had yet to come across anything specific to African American women. And after reading, I think this is a great anthology. I was impressed with the diversity of experiences in the book and it was nice to find some voices that I could relate to. If you are a vegetarian or vegan and a woman of color, you will certainly find some connections here. Most informative to me were the essays that focused on African American health. Many authors highlighted the undeniable link between health concerns in the black community and poor diets. Some authors also highlighted animal rights. While becoming a vegetarian and vegan to me had never been explicitly about animal rights, I discovered new perspectives the authors espoused on doing no harm to other living creatures. All in all this was a great read - informative, fun, accessible, and encouraging. You will surely see yourself in it and learn something new, no matter how long you have been a vegan.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    A nice mix of essays and poetry! It's good to know that there's more to the vegan movement than snobby little white ladies like me.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Peacegal

    There are several essays in this book that every vegan, no matter what their gender or racial identity, should read. Access to healthy food is a civil rights issue, and as several writers make devastatingly clear, many communities of color are paying the ultimate price in America's "food deserts." Fresh fruits and vegetables aren't subsidized at nearly the same levels as meat and dairy is by our government, and they aren't on the menu at the fast food outlets and convenience stores that may be th There are several essays in this book that every vegan, no matter what their gender or racial identity, should read. Access to healthy food is a civil rights issue, and as several writers make devastatingly clear, many communities of color are paying the ultimate price in America's "food deserts." Fresh fruits and vegetables aren't subsidized at nearly the same levels as meat and dairy is by our government, and they aren't on the menu at the fast food outlets and convenience stores that may be the only sources of nutrition in many African-American and Latino communities. Is it any wonder that the diseases caused by heavy lifelong consumption of meat and junk food--heart disease, type 2 diabetes, etc.--affect these communities in disproportionate numbers? Yet even the most dedicated human rights campaigners often don't see the enemy within. Not every essay in this book was wonderful--personally, I could have done without the New Age mommies who refuse to vaccinate their children against preventable deadly diseases. Argh! It is my hope that people don't mistake this bizarre philosophical offshoot as a tenant central to veganism, because it certainly is not.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Rodriguez

    So far, this book has been mind-blowing. I consider myself a socially conscious person, yet I've never questioned my consumption of sugar or coffee. Reading the chapter written by Breeze Harper was eye-opening, to say the least. Hearing other black vegan women's perspectives on their lives as vegans has been refreshing, especially in light of the loud voices of middle-class white vegans.

  6. 5 out of 5

    AJ

    This book debunks the myth that veganism is a "white thing," and is a must read for vegans and vegetarians of all colors.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    I recently took the 30 day vegan challenge beginning August 1, 2017. I asked people on Instagram friends/followers for information, suggestions, recipes, etc. An old high school classmate who has embraced the vegan lifestyle, immediately responded and suggested I read, Sistah Vegan: Food, Identity, Health, and Society: Black Female Vegans Speak by A. Breeze Harper. I purchased the audible version (I like to listen to books as I commute to and fro work) and I can honestly start by saying, “I WAS I recently took the 30 day vegan challenge beginning August 1, 2017. I asked people on Instagram friends/followers for information, suggestions, recipes, etc. An old high school classmate who has embraced the vegan lifestyle, immediately responded and suggested I read, Sistah Vegan: Food, Identity, Health, and Society: Black Female Vegans Speak by A. Breeze Harper. I purchased the audible version (I like to listen to books as I commute to and fro work) and I can honestly start by saying, “I WAS NOT ready.” Sistah Vegan is an anthology of essays and poetry on the black female thought regarding veganism. This book clearly depicted perspectives of veganism I did not know existed. It was undoubtedly an educational experience, that I enjoyed. Ahisma veganism, environmental veganism, health reasons veganism, veganism to fight the oppression of racism, veganism and body consciousness, speciesism… I was blind. I had no knowledge. I had no idea there were so many levels to veganism. I definitely would recommend this book to anyone going vegan, because it is such an interesting educational experience. I was disappointed by the narration of the book, because there was only ONE narrator…. One narrator performing each piece added a mundane feeling to listening experience. Some of the perspectives were so passionate and strong that the narrators performance took away from the conviction of feelings being portrayed. I’m not saying the narrator was bad. I am saying that the inflections and tone of her voice did not match each piece. Never-the-less, the learning was exceptional. That being said, below are my top 7 moments of learning from listening to the audible version of, Sistah Vegan: 1. Chapter 4 - Delicia Dunham! This chapter is a prime reflection that one narrator cannot truly reflect the voice of the writer. Delicia to me sounds almost militant to me when she describes her thoughts on veganism. There fire in her passion to be vegan, so much so that she came for Russell Simmons. She tells the reader in so many that Russell refers to himself as vegan, yet allegedly manufactures leather sneakers. I have yet to research, whether or not this is true, but when I heard the words come through the audible, I was like… Did she just call out Russell Simmons? Yes, she just called out Russell Simmons. 2. Speciesism? If this is your first time hearing that word, then possibly you felt as confused as I did. I chose to take the 30-day vegan challenge for health reasons. I have never been a huge environmentalist or animal rights person, but the more I learn about how animals are treated for the mass production of meat, I can’t help but feel a bit sympathetic. This term, “speciesism” was and still remains new to me. I don’t know how to fully embrace the term and at this point in time, because I grew up in Christian faith and was always taught that man was given dominion over the earth. However, I don’t know how to walk away from the term speciesism, because even if man was given dominion over the earth it doesn’t mean he has to mistreat and kill animals for financial gain. 3. Chapter 18 - Indian Gravy….you mean there is a gravy made without flour and water? I not a major foodie, my palate is limited to a small variety of foods, so honestly… But gravy made with onions, tomatoes, garlic, and other spices does sound appealing to me. I’ll have to try it. 4. Chapter 3 - Most Native American, Asians, and Africans-Americans are primarily more lactose intolerant than white people. I definitely didn’t know about this, but it just leads to me to another questions… 5. Chapter 1 - Cows are fed a protein mixture containing other ground cows. 6. Chapter 21, by Adama, her father tells her, “You better eat everything on your got damn plate or I’ll beat your got damn ass!” This was said to Adama after she realized meat was an animal, and thereby she told her mother that she no longer wanted to eat meat. Her mother told her father and he berated Adama at the dinner table. Those words made my heart break a little bit, because of this common forceful nature of African-American parenting is not unfamiliar in black culture. Her father’s gesture was seemingly stemmed from misunderstanding, but it felt as if it possibly crucified a significant portion of a Adama’s natural intuition to do something she felt was right for her body. Ofcourse, she eventually became vegan because she was a contributor to this book, but this incident still had me all in my feelings y’all. I felt sad. I didn’t like it. 7. Chapter 20 – “Why is your pussy so sweet?” O.k. I really like it when books make me laugh out loud, but I have learned I especially love, when books make me go, "Oh my, what did they just say?" From the research I’ve done on this journey I’ve heard that veganism can eliminate body odor, but I hadn’t heard much on its affects to bodily juices. After being a bit shocked, I just about died with laughter over this one. So there you have it. These are a few of the remarkable moments I experienced reading, Sistah Vegan. I liked the book. I believed the information was a great learning experience. For various reasons, I don’t believe I can feel the same about food again. I would have given this book 4 starts, but I am taking one away just because of the “one narrator.”

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Rogers

    I was quite excited to delve into "Sistah Vegan", to immerse myself within diverse voices on the margins of veganism. I wish the collection of essays lived up to my expectations. I found some essays well-written, informative, and powerful, but most were rather repetitive both internally and with respect to the other essays. In this way, the voices within the book were not as diverse as I'd hoped. I found the book relatively unchallenging in content for well-read SJW vegans, and sometimes dangero I was quite excited to delve into "Sistah Vegan", to immerse myself within diverse voices on the margins of veganism. I wish the collection of essays lived up to my expectations. I found some essays well-written, informative, and powerful, but most were rather repetitive both internally and with respect to the other essays. In this way, the voices within the book were not as diverse as I'd hoped. I found the book relatively unchallenging in content for well-read SJW vegans, and sometimes dangerously anti-science. That being said, this book is a must for someone newly exploring veg*nism, as the ideas discussed within are absent in most vegan writings. I am grateful to have "Sistah Vegan" on the shelves to initiate dialogue surrounding intersectionality and black women's experiences surrounding veganism, health, body image, and society as a whole.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lance

    Reading a book filled entirely with Black vegan women, invested in discussing not only animal rights, but also racism, classism, environmental justice, and food justice was super validating for me, as a person who's told all to often that I'm not "Black enough." Too bad it was penned by mostly academic cis women, many of whom seemed far too invested in ad hoc Afrocentric rituals based on the sanctity of the womb and some other gender essentialist, cissexist nonsense, to make room for the existen Reading a book filled entirely with Black vegan women, invested in discussing not only animal rights, but also racism, classism, environmental justice, and food justice was super validating for me, as a person who's told all to often that I'm not "Black enough." Too bad it was penned by mostly academic cis women, many of whom seemed far too invested in ad hoc Afrocentric rituals based on the sanctity of the womb and some other gender essentialist, cissexist nonsense, to make room for the existence of anyone who might be queer, who might be trans, or who just don't relate to the classroom, after years of being told we don't make the cut.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Pam Glazier

    This book was cool in establishing a feeling of "hey, there's different people just like me." But it did little to bring the "real life" of veganism into its pages. It's a series of essays about cultural experience. I found the "Brown Vegan" blog to be much more relatable in terms of finding out how veganism can work within your life without you starting off as a perfect yoga herbivore. Plus, Monique, the Brown Vegan herself, has recently created a book of her own that helps guide the transition This book was cool in establishing a feeling of "hey, there's different people just like me." But it did little to bring the "real life" of veganism into its pages. It's a series of essays about cultural experience. I found the "Brown Vegan" blog to be much more relatable in terms of finding out how veganism can work within your life without you starting off as a perfect yoga herbivore. Plus, Monique, the Brown Vegan herself, has recently created a book of her own that helps guide the transition to a more plant-based lifestyle while dealing with real issues (such as budgets, family meals, etc). I recommend that one if you're looking for more of a plan.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Cy

    An excellent collection of essays exploring different intersections of blackness, wombanness and veganism. Most sophisticated and inspiring are Breeze's own commentaries and contributions. I also found Ain Drew's entry, "Being a Sistah of PETA" extremely interesting in that it brings to the table a living example of the ways in which the "mainstream" vegan movement mis- and disconnects with communities of color. I really look forward to reading more of Breeze's work in the future.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Denise Williams

    This is a must have book for those transitioning to vegetarianism or veganism. You do not have to be african american to enjoy this book. It allows you to see why different people have chose this lifestyle and why it works for them.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ricky

    I had a lit of expectations reading this book, often conflicting. Like, I both wanted to hear really strong anti-meat and animal products arguments, but I also cringed at the thought of reading "another angry vegan" rant. I really respect that this anthology contained a little of it all. The angry pieces were alright, but I was most moved by a piece about looking within and learning to listen to what your body wants. And also breeze's compilations of women's thoughts around body size and vegan i I had a lit of expectations reading this book, often conflicting. Like, I both wanted to hear really strong anti-meat and animal products arguments, but I also cringed at the thought of reading "another angry vegan" rant. I really respect that this anthology contained a little of it all. The angry pieces were alright, but I was most moved by a piece about looking within and learning to listen to what your body wants. And also breeze's compilations of women's thoughts around body size and vegan ism. I've been vegetarian for a few years and usually cook vegan. It's just so important to get these stories told, most importantly from strong women of color. I appreciated their honest and willingness to disagree. I also appreciate the histories (soul food, Jamaican food, west African food, etc) the authors lifted in each essay.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    i like women, and i like eating consciously and living a cruelty-free lifestyle. but the vegan argument will always fall apart, in my eyes, when it comes up against small, family-owned farms that raise their meat animals humanely and eat whole foods themselves. that's the revolution i'll throw my weight behind, when it comes time for throwin'. plus, it will NEVER BE OK to say that a chicken is the same as an african human slave. a pig is not the same as a displaced, disenfranchised native americ i like women, and i like eating consciously and living a cruelty-free lifestyle. but the vegan argument will always fall apart, in my eyes, when it comes up against small, family-owned farms that raise their meat animals humanely and eat whole foods themselves. that's the revolution i'll throw my weight behind, when it comes time for throwin'. plus, it will NEVER BE OK to say that a chicken is the same as an african human slave. a pig is not the same as a displaced, disenfranchised native american. a cow is not a jewish european during the holocaust. to state as much, as several essays in this book do, is obscene. period. whole foods, many of which are vegan by definition, yes. vegan activist literature? no, if the two collections of essays i've read so far are indicative. nope.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Radia

    I appreciate this book for what it is but there are things I don't agree with. I still do not think it is okay to equate the suffering of people with that of animals. I don't think it's ok to assume fatness is unhealthy (although an essay at the end pushed back against this.) I don't think not vaccinating your kids in the name of veganism is ok. All that being said, I will probably become vegan when that is possible for me, partially because of this book, partially because of my own awakening. I I appreciate this book for what it is but there are things I don't agree with. I still do not think it is okay to equate the suffering of people with that of animals. I don't think it's ok to assume fatness is unhealthy (although an essay at the end pushed back against this.) I don't think not vaccinating your kids in the name of veganism is ok. All that being said, I will probably become vegan when that is possible for me, partially because of this book, partially because of my own awakening. I liked that is wasn't from a white perspective.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Danni Green

    This is a solid collection of essays by vegan Black women which address, in great depth and breadth, issues surrounding bodies, identity, race, class, feminism, families, health, decolonization, environmentalism, compassion, and so much more. I appreciated the diversity of perspectives represented; many of the essays resonated with me strongly, while others I had some disagreement with (there are a couple anti-vax mentions) but still appreciated the opportunity to hear those points of view and t This is a solid collection of essays by vegan Black women which address, in great depth and breadth, issues surrounding bodies, identity, race, class, feminism, families, health, decolonization, environmentalism, compassion, and so much more. I appreciated the diversity of perspectives represented; many of the essays resonated with me strongly, while others I had some disagreement with (there are a couple anti-vax mentions) but still appreciated the opportunity to hear those points of view and think about them in the context of racism and decolonization. I would certainly recommend this book to vegans and people exploring veganism, but I actually think that non-vegans advocating for racial justice would especially benefit from this book. Whether or not veganism is the right choice for you personally, I think you'll find that the perspectives and ideas generated in this book speak to racial justice and Black empowerment in a very deep, personal, thought-provoking way. cw: I had to skim past a couple sections that detailed violence against animals (I'm already vegan and don't need the horror stories anymore!).

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    I wanted to like this book more than I did. The perspectives of vegans of color (and particularly vegan women of color) are much needed in our overall discussion of animals and health and the environment. Unfortunately the amateurish writing in most of the essays was a major turnoff. I wish that Harper had been able to enlist more WOC with writing experience. I did appreciate the diversity of the contributors (even if I was bored to tears by discussions of religion, pregnancy, and other topics t I wanted to like this book more than I did. The perspectives of vegans of color (and particularly vegan women of color) are much needed in our overall discussion of animals and health and the environment. Unfortunately the amateurish writing in most of the essays was a major turnoff. I wish that Harper had been able to enlist more WOC with writing experience. I did appreciate the diversity of the contributors (even if I was bored to tears by discussions of religion, pregnancy, and other topics that have no bearing on my experience) and that they often didn't agree. On the one hand it was great to see WOC in a space where they could display a diversity of opinion, but on the other hand I felt some of the essays reinforced certain stereotypes about the black female experience. There was nothing at all to speak to any WOC who might be queer, areligious, or simply not at all into "traditional" cultural markers of black American identity. I would never discourage anyone from reading this book if they were interested, of course, I just wish it had been better. If nothing else, it has opened the door for more books on the topic. Hopefully those will be better executed.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Anita

    When I first discovered that there was a book dedicated solely to the voices of Vegan Women of Color and their stories I was overjoyed and Sistah Vegan did not disappoint. I enjoyed the diverse narratives in the book, even if I didn't agree with all of the opinions expressed, I will always go back to it whenever I question my Veganism.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Karly Kaufman

    This is a beautiful book filled with incredible women's stories of food and their personal lives. It made me really consider what products I consume and who I buy them from. I am choosing to go vegetarian and maybe one day vegan due to this book and others I'm reading for my Feminist Food Studies class. Interesting experiences coming from eat of these writings. I really enjoyed reading them all.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Pam

    Books of essays by many people can be such a mix, and this is. enough so that I would recommend the book wholeheartedly to very few, but the last essay, by Tara Sophia Bahna-James, to everyone.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Amy Layton

    Now THIS is the vegan anthology I've been waiting for!  A. Breeze Harper gathers the thoughts and ideas of multiple black female vegans ad uses them to create a complex, multi-faceted look at the whole foods trend.  Some women deny the label vegan, other women profess a holistic lifestyle, some women worry about the neocolonialism of consumerism today, others discuss what health means to them--as well as the doctors they no longer visit!   This variety of perspectives is wholly necessary in this Now THIS is the vegan anthology I've been waiting for!  A. Breeze Harper gathers the thoughts and ideas of multiple black female vegans ad uses them to create a complex, multi-faceted look at the whole foods trend.  Some women deny the label vegan, other women profess a holistic lifestyle, some women worry about the neocolonialism of consumerism today, others discuss what health means to them--as well as the doctors they no longer visit!   This variety of perspectives is wholly necessary in this conversation--especially a variety of perspectives that do not include white voices, who have been the dominating voice of the movement!  Being able to read from these new perspectives opened up a whole new line of thinking for myself.  Certainly there were much-debated discussions such as the comparison of animals to lynching and slavery (yikes), but there were discussions I'd never even seen before, such as the dichotomy between the desire and need for fine furs after having been oppressed for so long, or by having to prove one's blackness, as well as the other side of the conversation that argues that fine furs are ultimately harmful and perhaps a new form of neocolonialism.  How does one even untangle that in one's mind?  These ladies did it beautifully. What was also so intriguing to me was how many women brought up Queen Afua's books and how they completely transformed their manner of viewing the world and what they put into their bodies.  If Queen Afua did that for so many of our authors, then it's entirely possible for A. Breeze Harper to do that for many other women--and I for one hope she does! This collection was insightful, educating, and overall just plain good.  Regardless of how long you've been a part of the vegan movement, this is a necessary book to read.  It's so incredibly valuable and so far, I haven't read anything else that compares in this area of the movement. Review cross-listed here!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Monique

    Interesting stories, poems and essays on Black women and being vegan. Definitely has me thinking outside the box.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    I think it is important to hear the perspectives of the writers in this anthology. Great read.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rosa

    Actually 3.5

  25. 5 out of 5

    Raoum Bani

    If you ever asked someone why they're vegetarian/vegan please read this book. You have to keep an open mind while reading this book to truly get the benefits of it and learn new perspectives. I have been a vegetarian for over four years now, and thinking about becoming vegan, that's why I purchased this book, but I found that this book contains much more than veganism. It talks about how nonwhite vegans have a hard time being accepted by their communities, as being vegan is considered "a white th If you ever asked someone why they're vegetarian/vegan please read this book. You have to keep an open mind while reading this book to truly get the benefits of it and learn new perspectives. I have been a vegetarian for over four years now, and thinking about becoming vegan, that's why I purchased this book, but I found that this book contains much more than veganism. It talks about how nonwhite vegans have a hard time being accepted by their communities, as being vegan is considered "a white thing" where in fact, being vegan is much more than that. This book gathers different essays and stories from different black identified females and each chapter has its own interesting perspective. I thought that I knew a lot about healthy living and veganism, but this book loaded my brain with new knowledge and information to google. For example, I've known for a while how bad refined sugar is for us and how it is addictive, what I didn't realize is that many farm lands are occupied by sugar farms, where they should be replaced with other crops such as vegetables and fruits as they contain a lot of nutrition that can feed this hungry world, where sugar does not have any nutritional value, but it is being grown increasingly over the years to feed this world's addiction to sugar. Furthermore, it's not just sugar, coffee (which I love so dearly) tea, and refined carbs have the same negative impact on this world. Food is more complicated than what we think, in a way it is also and an ethical, political and economical issue. As in one of the chapters one of the sistahs talks about Dunkin Donuts and their slogan "America runs on Dunkin" in other words, America runs on coffee and sugar. How bad does that sound! And sadly, how true it is. What's more upsetting, is that now the rest of the world is following the same lead. I'm afraid that it won't be long before their slogan will be "The World Runs on Dunkin" Eating meat makes me feel less of a human, as this book and other vegans refer to it, it's dead flesh. I personally don't see why we need to murder animals when there are so many other options to consume that are better for our bodies, the human race, the environment, and the economy. It takes at least 5x more water to produce meat than it is to produce crops. Not to mention that forests are being stripped down and replaced with animal fields. We need forests to clean the air and water much more than we 'need' meat fields. Mindful consumption goes far beyond focusing on your food while you eat, think before you buy something where it came from and how it was produced, and most importantly if it will have a positive impact or not. I have been vegetarian since my first year of college so I forgot how meat made me feel until I read this book and research this issue further. Meat when it is consumed it stays in our digestive system for days and cause constipation in most cases. Besides, how harmful it can be on our bodies if consumed raw or undercooked. I believe that is because humans are herbivores and eating meat slowly kills us because it contains cholesterol and saturated fat. On the other side, some would argue that the only way we can get vitamin B12 is by consuming food derived from animals. However, that is a myth. B12 is produced naturally by our digestive system, some people are ill and cannot produce sufficient amounts of B12, that is why it is also found in natural soil, but now a days most soils are not organic which leads me to my other point that B12 is now fortified in most of our food (including meat, they inject the animals with B12 so it contains more when made into meat). Bottom line, we don't need to eat animal based food to be healthy. Even if you're not considering being vegan/vegetarian I suggest reading this book as it talks about issues farther than that perspective. It truly opened my mind.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jim Thompson

    I don't read a lot of vegan books any more. It's not that they're not good. Many of them are quite good. It's just that I don't get a whole lot out of them any more. I went vegetarian 26 years ago and vegan about 17 years ago and in the early days I read lots and lots of books to keep me inspired, to arm me with new information, to just feel like I was connecting to someone else out there on the same path (there was no vegan "community" in my town at the time). Over the years, I've gone through a wh I don't read a lot of vegan books any more. It's not that they're not good. Many of them are quite good. It's just that I don't get a whole lot out of them any more. I went vegetarian 26 years ago and vegan about 17 years ago and in the early days I read lots and lots of books to keep me inspired, to arm me with new information, to just feel like I was connecting to someone else out there on the same path (there was no vegan "community" in my town at the time). Over the years, I've gone through a whole of books by Peter Singer and Kris Carr and Neil Barnard and Matthew Scully and Jonathon Safron Foer and Rory Friedman and Erick Marcus and others. And through a mountain of vegan magazines. I still pick something up from time to time, but mostly I don't get so excited by vegan books because 1) they're not "fun" reading (as in, it's not pleasant to read about animal exploitation and environmental destruction and human health catastrophes) and 2) they typically aren't telling me much that I don't already know. If it's not fun and it's not educational, it feels like I'm reading just to pat myself on the back, to remind myself that I'm somehow superior, holy, woke. And I don't need that. In the past few months, however, I've discovered a whole new world of vegan books and vegan thought that has me excited and humbled and inspired again. It started with Julia Feliz Brueck's "Veganism In An Oppressive World," then her "Veganism of Color." Both were exciting collections written by vegans of color, brought connections and opinions to my attention that I hadn't put enough thought into before. "Sistah Vegan" is a similar book. Better, in some ways (not to detract from the others). Challenging and interesting and important. "Sistah Vegan" is a collection of 25 essays and poems (mostly essays) by "North American black-identified vegans." A. Breeze Harper edited them and contributed the strongest of the essays. Because it's a collection by a variety of authors walking a number of very different paths, the subject matter is fairly wide-ranging and the quality is a bit uneven, but on the whole all the pieces are well-written and each of them (even the ones that I didn't exactly love) at least offers something worthwhile. Harper's own contribution-- "Social Justice Beliefs and Addiction to Uncompassionate Consumption"-- is quite powerful. Harper draws connections between food addictions (processed sugar and flour, animal products, caffeine) and notes that Europeans have a long history of exploiting and dehumanizing other human beings-- colonization and slavery and genocide to supply tea and tobacco and sugar and chocolate. She notes the havoc wrought on the health of the people who consume these products (and the disproportionate health problems in the Black community), the pain and suffering wrought on the people who harvest products. She comments on the death squads and violence that keep Coca Cola bottling plants open. She writes: "Take a look at your diet and the ingredients of everything you put in your mouth. Is your health suffering because of your addiction to sugar? Is your addiction causing suffering and exploitation thousands of miles away on a sugar-cane plantation, near a town that suffers from high rates of poverty and undernourishment simply because that land grows our 'dope' instead of local grains and produce from them? I wonder, has America confused our addictive consumption habits with being 'civilized?' The British who sipped their sugar teas considered themselves civilized, despite the torture and slavery it took to get that white sugar into their tea cups, along with the cotton and tobacco they used." In "Being a Sistah at PETA," writer Ain Drew addresses a blind spot within the mostly white mainstream vegan community. She notes how excited she was to land a job at PETA, with the hope of reaching out to the Black community in effective ways, only to be disappointed when she learned that PETA's leadership wasn't really interested in reaching people where they were. "...I found that PETA wasn't as concerned with helping Black folks overcome our health issues as they were about getting us to stop wearing mink coats or promoting dog-fighting. Apparently, Black folks wearing furs to the club was more of a problem than the health problems that plague us." While it's perfectly valid to be bothered by mink coats and dog-fighting, we vegans really miss the point when we harp on these things instead of focusing on change that can improve the lives of marginalized human beings while also helping to reduce the suffering of animals. In "The Fulfillment of the Movement," Adama Maweja draws a direct connection between the Civil Rights movement and her animal activism. She notes the "staggering statistics of the disproportionate percentages and the rates at which we African-Americans [are] sick, diseased, imprisoned, dysfunctional, obese, and dying" and argues that a vegan diet is liberating for the Black community. In "Journey Toward Compassionate Choice," Tara Sophia Bahna-Jones (who also contributes the painfully beautiful poem "Terror") emphasizes the importance, again, of reaching people WHERE THEY ARE, instead of assuming that a one-size fits all, traditional white middle-class approach is going to speak effectively to all people in all situations. She emphasizes the need to refrain from judgment of the people we are trying to reach, as not everyone is in a position to see things as we see them, or to make the changes that we have made. She writes: "I think it's so important that Black women be included in the vegan dialogue, not only because we are so frequently left out of it, and not only because falling victim to blind consumerism can be considered another form of allowing ourselves to remain oppressed and suppressed, but also because the vegan cause will not be wholly effective until it addresses the diverse spectrum of circumstances and psychologies that contribute to the practices it is trying to overcome." All in all, this is a powerful, exciting book. There are bits and pieces that I didn't love (some writers are very clearly in the anti-vaxx camp, some have a bit of disdain for science, and I just can't get into the notion that crystals are really the answer to any problems), but those are few and far between and greatly overshadowed by the good stuff that pours off of just about every page. This is a book that challenges old vegans like me to not only be more inclusive (something I have been working on for a long time), but also to re-imagine what "vegan" even means. Is dairy free chocolate really "vegan" if it was harvested by child slaves? Is sugar really truly "vegan" if labor was exploited and if it is ruining the health of our most marginalized communities? This is one that I'll keep in mind for a long time. I encourage anyone in the vegan movement to pick it up.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

    I'm on the fence about this one. It's important especially for white vegans to understand the perspectives of other, black, vegans - where people came from, how they came to veganism, how white colonialism and the history of slavery has affected others. On the other hand, this book contains essays from non-vegans (one woman even declaring that she doesn't "understand" animal rights, and that human rights are more important - speciesist crap if I ever heard it). So the title is misleading. And th I'm on the fence about this one. It's important especially for white vegans to understand the perspectives of other, black, vegans - where people came from, how they came to veganism, how white colonialism and the history of slavery has affected others. On the other hand, this book contains essays from non-vegans (one woman even declaring that she doesn't "understand" animal rights, and that human rights are more important - speciesist crap if I ever heard it). So the title is misleading. And that really bothered me. As far as I know, veganism is about non-human animals. That was the starting point. If we keep watering down the definition, it becomes meaningless so that people who eat some fish once a month somehow "are vegan." So.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    I was reading the Bible, you know OT stuff that speaks to the diets of those seeking to fast or be sanctified for the Lord and the idea just hit me like a ton of bricks: Google the terms "black women" and "vegan". I stumbled upon an article concerning the health of black woman and a brief review of Sistah Vegan. I'm new to conscious, health eating as a young, black identified woman, so reading this book has been a plus. I do like the academics who are featured in the book (someone even quoted my I was reading the Bible, you know OT stuff that speaks to the diets of those seeking to fast or be sanctified for the Lord and the idea just hit me like a ton of bricks: Google the terms "black women" and "vegan". I stumbled upon an article concerning the health of black woman and a brief review of Sistah Vegan. I'm new to conscious, health eating as a young, black identified woman, so reading this book has been a plus. I do like the academics who are featured in the book (someone even quoted my college professor Dr. M.K.Bass). I also like some of the more "passionate" pieces. They're all just helping me to think through my eating habits. I am appreciative of this book.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    It was awesome to read about veganism from a point of different than my own. I appreciated so much that not all the contributors agreed with each other on their reasons for why veganism is important to them. I also loved the intersectional nature of this book. Very little of white vegan writing seems to take into consideration the layers of gender, race, class, agism, sizeism, ableism, healthism that pervades vegan culture. These authors are already dealing with at least the intersections of the It was awesome to read about veganism from a point of different than my own. I appreciated so much that not all the contributors agreed with each other on their reasons for why veganism is important to them. I also loved the intersectional nature of this book. Very little of white vegan writing seems to take into consideration the layers of gender, race, class, agism, sizeism, ableism, healthism that pervades vegan culture. These authors are already dealing with at least the intersections of their gender, race, and veganism so their ability to extrapolate into other oppressions is sharply honed.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    I haven't written my review yet because I've been taking notes in the book, and I want to provide comments on each essay. Kudos to A. Breeze Harper for putting together this collection of opinions from women who identify as black and vegan. I loved that the women spoke out about their own opinions freely and strongly. The various voices in the essays did not agree with each other; each one was unique. I loved also the essays in poetry or rap format. Would love to hear the authors perform these as I haven't written my review yet because I've been taking notes in the book, and I want to provide comments on each essay. Kudos to A. Breeze Harper for putting together this collection of opinions from women who identify as black and vegan. I loved that the women spoke out about their own opinions freely and strongly. The various voices in the essays did not agree with each other; each one was unique. I loved also the essays in poetry or rap format. Would love to hear the authors perform these as spoken word.

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