The staff here at Natures First Path is culturally diverse and has faced our share of stereotypes and judgments about eating vegetarian and vegan foods only. Many of these stereotypes like most; are based in ignorance and lack of understanding of what vegetarians and vegans eat. All one would have to do is just do the Math; whatever type of cultural food that someone ate before they were a vegetarian is simply modified in a plant based form once they become a vegetarian or vegan. So for example if you meet an African American or Latino vegetarian or vegan and you hear them talking about chomping on some ‘Tofu Fried Chicken’ or some Soyrizo, it doesn’t mean that they are trying to “Be White” (whatever that means). It just means that they have chosen another path for their diet, but wont sacrifice taste and flavor in the process of it all.
Some reading this might think this to be an exaggeration; but it isn’t. Many hold on to cultural norms even if it is to the detriment to ones overall health. That’s the truth of the matter. Vegetarians and Vegans enjoy food as much as anyone, irrespective of their cultural background. Tofu, Soy, Almonds, Beans, Cashews, Tempeh and the like can all be molded and prepared to taste like your favorite dishes, however with that much more protein and nutrients. It’s all about choice, isn’t it? One would be amazed at the many recipes that exist for plant based fried Red Snapper, Gravy N’ Biscuits or even Smoked Greens (without the swine we must say). The writer here has personally seen people interested in becoming a Vegetarian or a Vegan, but in the end give up on the idea either because of what people in their cultural or religious circle might think; or because they think they won’t enjoy the taste of food anymore. Either way one looks at it, both scenarios are unfortunate.
Many may feel that vegetarianism and or veganism is a commitment that they may not be able to adhere to with full sincerity and that may be the case. Yet even with this, there is nothing preventing one from adding more, fresh, raw and live vegetables and fruits in our lives whether it be in juice form or whole form. While many simply see these eating patterns as a matter of passing trends or attempts to look ‘chic’, for many it is matter of life and death: literally. The present American food culture has a good handhold on telling us what to eat , how to eat it and what to eat it with, then only to follow it up with prescriptions and pills to place a temporary placebo on symptoms that caused one to feel sick in the first place. It doesn’t have to be this way. Of course it is up to every sane minded adult to choose what they want or do not want to eat, and we are in no way attempting to sound superior. What does need to be realized is that: Vegetarian and Vegan food is Soulfood; just as much as your Grandmas favorite Sunday dinner is. Within the African American and Latino communities, high sodium intake is still a major issue even if one is a Vegetarian or Vegan; so a watchful eye must be kept out for that at all times. We call it Soulfood for the same reason you call yours soul food: it feels good on the inside and makes us remember life and the people we spend time with when we eat it. And that is something that we can all have in common. Here’s to your health….
Daud Scott -CHNP.