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Living as a Vegan Afro-Latina (P.O.C.)

July 19, 2017

 When I redress back on my childhood, I can't but help remember the sweet smells of my mothers cooking, Marc Anthony on replay, and dancing around the house for no reason what so ever. My mother was a hard working orphaned woman at that time, piloting her way through life as a teen mom with little guidance and support. Let's just say we weren't handed any silver spoons and the silver lining was always the food....

 

We grew up in the lower income sections of Delaware, but I have to give it to my mother...she was and is the hardest working woman I have ever known. She was able to move our family into a new beautiful environment, pushing me to learn from her past mistakes and lack of choices. I was given opportunities to grow, to move away for college in New York as an adult, and consciously rise to a whole new level. This was a huge awakening for me, a true cultural shock.

 

Where I came from, people didn't have green smoothies for breakfast nor ordered Daiya cheese whole wheat tortillas. We lived in a southern state and ate a balance of our cultural Puerto Rican and African American foods paired with the common "American Standard Diet". An average day consisted of dairy, eggs, rice, beans, meat, and more meat. Plus a crap load of processed carbs and treats. Yup.

 

Now, I gave you our background as to explain the reasons "why" some populations of people are not looking into this whole plant based vegan thing. When you come from humble beginnings or live in harsh conditions currently, you will know that green smoothies are not top priorities (some people tend to forget that everyone's lives are in different places). Its unfortunate that health is not on the forefront (nor the lives of our fellow sentient beings), but how can it be when you are trying to clothe, feed, and shelter your children check to check. Money alone can not bring you happiness, but it damn sure can make life a lot easier to navigate through. 

 

So, you will find that I am not like most vegans. I can see the multi-faceted and complex nature of this paradox of a "society" we live in. I spent my whole life, not knowing why we ate nor what food could do to my body and mind. Crazy right? Well, its not. Most people I speak too, are just finding out that vegetarians don't eat fish. Statistics that I have come across (references listed within my minorities youtube video) have shown that the vegan population up to his point, has been limited to mainly middle and upper class Caucasians. 

 

With that said, presenting to my family and community of people I knew, that I was going plant based seemed almost silly (or temporary). I was met with a bit of confusion and almost defensive responses because they took it as they had done something wrong. This was not the case, and how could I possibly blame anyone. I just wanted to change my life and have them support my choices. However, in order to do so...I myself had to respect other people's choices.

 

Thankfully my husband was on board with being mainly plant based and flexing on occasion as a vegetarian. Our two teens have been provided the information and support to convert but they are at a point where they are feeding themselves. We have a 7 year old son with Autism that has severe sensory integration disorder and is also a problem eater. We did not know what to do for the longest because he is gluten and dairy free...so we recently decided to transition him to being plant based also.

 

Finally, our two youngest children were born vegan. We are truly as mixed up as it comes...really. Ultimately, we want want the best for our children but have to respect their choices. We can only model and encourage them as parents. So when people ask me whether or not my whole family is vegan...then scoffs at my answer...really bewilders me. Nevertheless, some people assume you come from backgrounds where this lifestyle is considered the norm...when its not. I wish it was the standard but it is an outliers position for sure.

 

Believe me you will know you are the outlier because you will be known as the "vegan". When you walk through your families door for dinner, you will be notified out loud not to mind all the meat. Perhaps they will joke at your packed meals. Or when you walk into La Barista in the Bronx to get a rice and bean platter...you will be greeted by confused staff who think that you can NOT be Puerto Rican.

 

I tell you all of this, to make a point. That point is, you have to do the best you can do within your situation. Our goal is to provide you with as much support and guidance living plant based, as we did not have such help. We want to show you how diverse we are, and welcome your differences. I want to write to you about this amazing journey, and I want us to learn and grow from one another. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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