On Black Veganism and Decolonizing Your Dinner Plate (+9 Plant-Based POC to Follow!)

Marley Flueger & Rachel Ashley
September 20, 2020

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 millennia.

The “White Vegan” myth – is veganism a white thing?

Americans eat less meat today than they did a year ago: but veganism isn’t just “a white thing.” A Gallup poll found white people eat 19% less meat, while non-white people eat 31% less meat than they did last year. 

A 2016 Pew Research report indicates that about 3% of Americans are vegans. Taking race into account, Black veganism is far more prominent. 8% of Black people in the US are vegan, more than double the national average. 

Plant-based eating isn’t an American trend, either. 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.

Black veganism is rooted in social justice

Folks adopt plant-based diets for many reasons. When it comes to Black veganism specifically, many of these reasons have a deeper socio-political context, including:  

  • Counteracting chronic illnesses linked to food deserts (areas systemically deprived of healthful diet options) which disproportionately affect communities of color. 
  • An act of decolonization; a way to reconnect with traditional, plant-centered African and Afro-Caribbean diets. 
  • A means of acknowledging the parallels between racism, slavery, and other civil injustices and the use and abuse of animals for food.

Plants are good for people and the planet

At scale, veganism could have a massive impact on climate change. That’s because animal products generally have far higher carbon footprints than plant-based foods. In fact, if cattle were a country, they would rank third in global greenhouse gas emissions.

The 2018 UN Report on 1.5C Warming stated that shifting to a plant-based diet is one of the most effective actions people can take to reduce emissions. If we all cut our consumption of meat and animal products in half, we’d reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 7.5%.

Diversify your feed to decolonize your dinner plate

If you want to eat more plants, make decolonizing veganism part of your personal journey. When you look up recipes, challenge yourself to go to the second page of Google 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 at the intersection of racial justice, queer justice, and food justice. Follow each to expand your horizons (and your recipe file!)

1. Tracye McQuirter

Tracye McQuirter

"Bringing awareness to the health benefits - and deliciousness - of a plant-based diet, especially for women of color"

Location: Washington D.C., US

Instagram: @byanygreens

Twitter: @byanygreens

Tracye is a bestselling author and award-winning public health nutritionist who has been vegan for 33 years. She believes that “being vegan is all about practicing love, freedom, and joy - not deprivation” and teaches others how to enjoy plant-based food.

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. 

When it comes to Black veganism, Tracye is a modern trailblazer who focuses on coaching Black women to make healthy, plant-based choices. She can teach you how to make everything from vegan pizza, to vegan pecan pie, to vegan chana masala with saffron rice. Buy her cookbook, The Ageless Vegan, to bring her incredible recipes home.

2. Julian Hierro

Julian Hierro

“Fitness coach for vegans who want to get in great shape”

Location: Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, México

Instagram: @julianhierro

Twitter: @jhierro89

Julian is a vegan athlete, coach, and CEO of Jacked Vegan, a company that helps people gain muscle on a vegan diet. Julian started to eat vegan when he realized it was better for the environment and for animals; he also discovered how he could get the nutrients necessary to build muscle.

Prior to his plant-based diet, Julian worked out up to two times a day but was unhappy with the results. Since going vegan, he has seen dramatic changes in his muscle structure and feels healthier.

When it comes to fitness and food, Julian doesn’t cut corners or skip meals. To ensure athletes have the fuel they need, Julian shares recipes like sweet potato chips (for snacking), vegan lasagna (for dinner), and vegan raspberry and chia pudding (for breakfast).

3. Emani Corcran

Emani Corcran

“Being vegan isn’t boring”

Location: Austin, TX, US

Instagram: @blkandvegan

Twitter: @blkandvegan

Emani’s journey to Black veganism 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.

For the bakers out there who are worried about how to make your favorite cookies without butter and eggs, Emani is the person you need to follow. She shares incredible dessert recipes like red velvet cookies, guava-lava danishes, and macadamia nut ice cream sandwiches.

4. Christopher Sebastian

Christopher Sebastian

“Focuses on how human relationships with other animals shape our attitudes about race”

Location: New York, NY, US

Instagram: @the_christopher_sebastian

Twitter: @ThotsandPrayers

Christopher is a vegan and social justice advocate and a cofounder at VGN, a news source for vegan views, politics, and pop culture. He educates people about the intersection of vegan eating and racial justice and is a lecturer at Columbia University. He speaks from the perspective of both a queer person and a person of color and shares why animal rights are a queer issue too.

Although Christopher doesn’t share recipes, he talks about topics like Black veganism, white nationalism, racial justice, queer rights, and how each intersects with plant-based eating and animal rights.

5. Pax Ahimsa Gethen

Pax Ahimsa Gethen

“Dismantle the stereotype that veganism was a “white person’s” thing” via Black Vegans Rock

Location: San Francisco, CA, US

Instagram: @black_vegans_rock

Twitter: @funcrunch

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.

‍Pax is the Secretary of the Board of Directors of the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco and works with the San Francisco Office of Transgender Initiatives.

6. Tabitha Brown

Tabitha Brown

Encourages people to try new recipes, enjoy the process, and discover good vegan food

Location: Los Angeles, CA, US

Instagram: @iamtabithabrown

Twitter: @iamtabithabrown

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.

She regularly shares recipes and reviews vegan meat substitutes like “shrimp” and “burgers” on her Youtube Channel.

7. Lauren Toyota

Lauren Toyota

Creates vegan versions of popular comfort foods to make eating vegan more fun, and tasty

Location: Los Angeles, CA, US

Instagram: @laurentoyota

Twitter: @laurentoyota

Known as Canada’s top vegan influencer, Lauren knows how to own the food scene in L.A. Lauren makes vegan eating fun and tasty by recreating popular comfort foods. You don’t have to give up mac and cheese, burgers, or cheesecake when you follow Lauren’s recipes.

Buy Lauren’s debut cookbook Vegan Comfort Classics: 101 Recipes to Feed Your Face and follow her YouTube channel to discover new gourmet vegan recipes each week.

8. Joanne Molinaro

Joanne Molinaro

“Veganizes Korean food and Koreanizes everything else”

Location: Chicago, IL, US

Instagram: @the.korean.vegan


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.

She recreates recipes like Spicy and Crunchy Garlic Tofu and Vegan Kimchi Fried Rice. Download her free E-Book to incorporate more vegan Korean dishes into your recipe rotation.

9. Candy Calderon

Candy Calderon

“Stay as close to Mother Nature as possible. Decolonize your diet.”

Location: Miami, Philadelphia, and New York City, US

Instagram: @candycalderon_

Twitter: @candycalderon_

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.

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