The Sistah Vegan Project

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“Millions of people are starving to feed animals”

(note: this is posted by Melissa Danielle, the other Sistah Vegan blogger who rarely makes an appearance ;-) This is not by A. Breeze Harper.  )

said the 50something-year-old woman soliciting for PETA on the 6 train yesterday.

Yes, a considerable amount of land is being used to produce feed for animal consumption.

But that ain’t why folks are starving and it’s disingenuous to use that as an argument to promote veganism.

The so-called food deserts of US American cities (and rural areas) and food access have nothing to do with how much food is being produced for animal consumption. Policy, redlining, and structural racism, terminator seeds, cash crop subsidies (welfare), commodity crops, monoculture, and Global South subsistence farmers growing for First World consumers (and not themselves) are why people are starving here, and all over the world.

I’m so sick of this nonsense.

In NYC, incentives intended to spur job creation in low-income neighborhoods paved the way for food access inequities, because they went specifically to fast food eateries. Groceries and supermarkets were not included in the zoning. So there’s a fast food or Chinese takeout joint within a five minute walking radius, but not a green grocer or supermarket.

The money being allocated now to improve fresh food access in NYC is geared towards large-scale supermarket chains, and not for the possible development and improvement of independent convenience stores that make up the 7 out of 10 stores in neighborhoods like the one I live in.

She also said that human bodies are not intended to be graveyards for dead animals.

I find that interesting, considering that plants are living things. Is my stomach not a graveyard for kale?

What I most wanted to ask her, but didn’t, was how many trees went into producing the brochure she was handing out and if she was aware of how toxic color ink is to produce?

Oh well.

Could $500 Change Your Life?

Many of Breeze’s readers have emailed with dozens of questions about nutrition and dietary advice, and while Breeze is not formally trained in nutrition or health education, creating a balanced diet that meets her nutritional needs is very important to her. In her writing and speaking, Breeze has always clarified that her particular dietary philosophy came from years of research and trial and error to address specific health concerns and goals, and is not meant to be seen as the right way or only way to practice a plant-based diet.

I, on the other hand, received training to become a Health Coach at Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I have worked with hundreds of transitioning veg*ns, guiding them through a whole foods approach to plant-based diets. While there were some things that remained true across the board for my clients (eat lots of leafy greens, minimize processed foods), each transition was unique to the individual. Some needed to address specific concerns like celiac or IBS or eczema, some wanted to lose or gain weight, and more than a few had were overly dependent on dairy and highly processed meat substitutes.

What I learned at Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN), was that there is no, one-size-fits-all diet, even among veg*ns.

I invite you to consider a new career as a Health Coach, to use it as a tool to educate people about plant-based diets in an open, supportive, and nurturing capacity. There is so much myth-information surrounding diet out there, and we need more Health Coaches, folks like you, to help people navigate through the nonsense, especially transitioning veg*ns.

What’s great about a career in Health Coaching is that you can set your own hours and work how you want to – full-time, part-time, web or phone based, individuals or groups…IIN gives you all the tools you’ll need to create a successful, thriving practice.

And through May 30th, anyone who enrolls at IIN will receive a $500 scholarship*.

I am deeply grateful to Breeze for her dedication and commitment to the work that she’s doing, and was saddened to hear about her recent financial issues that are preventing her from continuing this work.

So, for every person who enrolls in IIN, I’ll donate $500 to Breeze’s fund.

I’m able to do this as a testament to the success one can have as a Health Coach, but I also wanted to incentivize you to create a new opportunity lasting health and well-being in your life.

*To take advantage of the scholarship, speak with an IIN Admissions counselor at 877 730 5444 or email Julia at coachjulia[at]integrativenutrition.com. You must ask for the scholarship under my name (Melissa Danielle) and enroll by May 30th in order to receive it.

After you’ve enrolled, come back to this post and leave me a comment.

If You Can’t Stand Raw, Get out of the Restaurant.

I enjoy eating a variety of foods and have a number of cuisines that top my list, but I’m not real big on 100% raw food diets.  To each their own, but much can be said about how regional changes in climate and seasonal availability of locally sourced ingredients play a role in our health and wellbeing.

Last year a friend and I stopped by a raw food restaurant in Brooklyn. We’d just finished a sinfully good dessert brunch at a great but now closed raw food restaurant a couple of neighborhoods away, but had heard about a family day event they were hosting and decided to check it out.

After balking at the $35/adult entry fee (for a family event? WTF) we decided to go check out the restaurant instead.  I decided on a “flatbread” and dip-like appetizer. The “flatbread” wasn’t sure if  it wanted to be crackers, bread, or biscuits, but succeeded at tasting awful and being incompatible with the flavor of the dip (which was good).

While we were sitting there, taking in the atmosphere, the host (and maybe the owner), a beautiful and glowing brown beauty, noticed that I hadn’t touched the crackers (which outnumbered the dip, btw) and asked us about our meal. When I replied that I didn’t like taste of the ‘crackers”, she exclaimed, “You don’t like them? You must not be into raw food…This is my FAVORITE dish!” We exchanged a few more words about plant-based diets, and my companion and I spent the rest of our (his) meal snarking about what the she could do with her FAVORITE meal (remove it from my sight and eat it herself).

Yesterday, I had lunch with a few members of Black Vegetarian Society of NY at a raw food restaurant in Harlem. I have enjoyed a number of the dishes I’ve had there previously, although I’ve grown tired of veg*n and raw interpretations of SAD cuisine. I also don’t quite understand the value in spending hours dehydrating a food you just spent hours soaking because it’s supposed to be better for you that way. Really?

Three of us ordered a bowl of marinated greens. I had ordered mine first, which, after sampling, the other two decided they wanted their own order.

Their greens were swimming in the marinade, to which I wondered aloud if it was simply because they’d gotten the last of the greens and it wasn’t drained out.

One of my lunch companions decided to bring it up to the chef.

When the chef/owner came out, the member complimented him on an overall great meal, but had a problem finishing the greens because of how much marinade was in the bowl – overwhelming the greens.

And his following response is partly the reason why people don’t complain directly to owners, instead choosing their friends or the interwebs and costing the business unknown financial losses.

The chef/owner politely informed us that the marinated greens were SUPPOSED to have all the juice with it, that it was part of the healthiness of the juice (like pot likker?).  He then went on to say that a lot of people come in not knowing what to expect from raw food and the next day look at their poop and exclaim, “Is that what just came out of me?!” and promptly share the news with their friends.  Then we got an education about how healthy and better it is to eat this way (uncooked and dehydrated foods).

We laughed about the defensiveness of raw food chefs and finished our meal. Not too long after that, we were asked to leave as the restaurant was approaching their peak hours and needed the tables. It was just after 3 o’clock. The only other customer in the restaurant ordered to go. A big snowstorm was about to hit NYC.

What’s the moral of this story? 1. I observed that I was more thirsty during this raw meal than when I make my own uncooked meals (whole food juices, smoothies, salads, and other non-dehydrated dishes) 2. You need to be qualified as a raw foodist before you can criticize a dish.

Apple Cranberry Smoothie

I’ve been making this all week.

It’s VERY good, and contains probiotic and antibacterial properties.

Apples are very good for digestive health and cranberries are excellent for urinary tract health.

Isn’t it amazing how Mother Nature provides everything we need in plant foods?

It does come out rather sweet, so you’ll either need to add more cranberries or use less honey.

Ingredients

1 apple (seeds removed. Seeds contain cyanide compound)

1/2 cup cranberries

1/2 tb honey

6oz So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt (vanilla)

Blend until smooth.

I have a Vita-Mix, so I was able to throw in the entire apple – skin, seeds, and all – but you may want to use a food processor first to break down the apple or chop into very small pieces beforehand.

I also used fresh cranberries, which are in season but frozen works fine as well.

Once you decide to make something, it’s yours, so feel free to use the yogurt of your choice.

You might want to use ice if you’d like a colder smoothie.

I generally freeze the cranberries so that I don’t have to use ice.

Black Vegetarian and Vegan Database of Veg Business Owners

Greetings Everyone,

I am looking to create a comprehensive database of veg*n business owners in the Diaspora.

Can you help me?

If you are a veg*n entrepreneur or you know of a black-owned product, company, service, etc, please visit www.B-VEG.info and complete the form.

If you have any questions regarding the database, please e-mail me at galvanize@hol-life.com.

Thank you for your time.

Be Well,
Melissa Danielle

No Alligator for Me, Thanks.

I visited with my mother today.

When I arrived, she and a neighbor were sitting on the stoop.

At some point, the conversation went into Chinese people eating cats and dogs, and other cultures eating alligator and monkey; this repulsed the two of them.

They had chicken for dinner.

Misdirected Outrage

I was going to preface this with a note about being “off-topic”, but race and class are not single-issues for black people. To be black, woman, and vegan is to be marginalized triple fold. We don’t have that luxury (see here), and since this is our blog, we get to post whatever we want to.

Now that Skip Gates is resting comfortably in Martha’s Vineyard (Picture that shit: Where can an urban black man go to recover from such a trauma?), charges having been dropped, I’m going to express my outrage at his presumption that he knows what it is to be a “black man in America”, based on this one experience.  Professor Gates has not been THAT “black man in America” for over 20 years.  Sure, he’s been documenting race and class in America, but his education has bestowed upon him a level of privilege that he has wholeheartedly embraced, effectively removing him from this particular category of “black man”.

So, while I am a product of a semi-bourgie upbringing – blurring the lines between uppity Negro/Oreo and  “down sista”, enjoying the privilege of middle class and quality education alongside the duality and complexity of blackness, (see here, and here) and apologizing for none of it, I have no sympathy for Professor Gates’ ordeal at having been reminded of his blackness in this country and abroad. (Or Oprah Winfrey, for that matter: see here).

I find it amusing that black people should take this kind of injustice seriously.

What I would like to know is:

Why isn’t he outraged at the NEIGHBOR who called po-po on him in the first place?

Git dat bitch!

Ahem, um…You’ve been living there for TEN years and your neighbors don’t know you? This “neighbor” could see that “two black men with backpacks” were attempting to break in to a home, but she couldn’t see that one of them was indeed the owner in residence? She didn’t notice the car that belonged to the car service? She didn’t notice the uniform the cab driver was wearing? And when the cops showed up, and Professor Gates answered the door, where was she to say, “Oh, that’s my neighbor. He lives there.”?

(Interesting how no one was present at the event which caused his door to jam.)

If I called the police on suspicious activity going on at a neighbor’s house, you’d best believe I’d be outside when they arrived to make sure my neighbors and their house was OK. I wouldn’t put it on blast that I was the one who made the call, but I’d be outside looking like Nosy Nellie trying to get info.

Why is no one mad at that chick?

The problem I am having with this is not the police officer’s response – I don’t agree with his behavior, but I understand and will get to that later – but with the reaction of Professor Gates and the community at-large.

‘Cuz bourgie Negroes like to think that higher education, white-collar jobs, and suburban living is akin to a spiritual experience that allows them to transcend race. They seem to think that racial profiling doesn’t – and should not – happen to well-dressed, well-spoken (cringe) and poised black people.

What does a white man call a black person with a PhD.?

(Ask Bill Cosby.)

And if Professor Gates is so clear on what it means to be a black man in America, and knew to keep his ass in his house as he went for his wallet, why did he then follow the cop outside to continue to question him? Why didn’t he close his door and immediately find the number to the precinct and lodge a complaint?

Why did he – educated privileged black man and all, feel the need to “jump bad” with po-po?

Every time I hear of someone exclaiming, chest all puffed out no doubt, “Do you know who I am?” or “I will have your job”, my imagination swells with the hope of a little Divine Intervention to straighten out that kind of audacity.

I imagine the police officer, upon hearing those words, feeling condescended to, and thinking, OK, Mr. Harvard Professor, you want to tell  me who you are? No problem.  I got a trick for dat ass.

Ahem…Excuse me. This is as much about class as it is about race. Police Officer – working class. Harvard Professor – upper class.

I do not condone the officer’s behavior.

But, who are we mad at?

Did we think having a black-identified President would change things?

Did anyone think that they would wake up on January 21st to find that all forms of racism magically disappeared?

Really?

Seriously?

What I would like to know is:

Why do black people continue to expect all white people to accept black progress?

Why do we support businesses who do not make investments in our communities?

Why do we continue to support misogynistic, self-hating music?

Why do we support businesses who have historically denied us full access and publicly announce their dislike of us?

Why do we insist on moving to predominately white suburbs, instead of holding each other accountable to create communities that support a positive, life-affirming experience for black people?

I’m not saying that black people do not have the right to move where they want to and work towards a quality of life of their design, BUT, if you’re going to put yourself in that kind of environment, you’d better be willing to handle the consequences.

No one owes black people anything.

Black people have been here long enough that they should own everything they need, instead of waiting for white folks to apologize and hand out reparations.

Black people keep asking, and white folks keep showing us the door.

The back door.

There are black people in this country with enough money to pool their resources and buy their own zip codes.

Be outraged that predominately black schools are graduating students that can barely read.

Be outraged that predominately black neighborhoods, even affluent ones, do not have access to fresh, quality produce.

Be outraged at BET.

Be outraged that black people continue to perpetuate a slave mentality around their sexual health.

Be outraged that black people are more likely to die at the hands of another black person than by a police officer.

Be outraged at the loss of black-owned farms.

Be outraged that the money black people make does not stay in their communities.

Be outraged that Koreans dominate ownership in the black haircare market.

Be outraged that  black men do not think they should wear their pants at the waist.

Be outraged at the housing scams causing elderly black people to lose their homes.

Be outraged at all black people losing their homes to mortgage scams.

Be outraged that it is easier for a non-resident immigrant to open a business in a predominately black neighborhood before a black person who lives there can.

Be outraged that black people are dying every day from diseases that can be prevented through adequate nutrition and exercise.

Be outraged that black people collectively do-nothing, but complain when someone from the “outside” comes in and sets up.

Be outraged that black people do not share information that can help other black people before they “get theirs”.

Be outraged, and do something about it.

As long as middle and upper class black folk continue to defer race and class injustice to their undereducated and “classless” cousins, I will have no sympathy for the “injustices” inflicted upon them.

Recipe: Morning Milk

I like to drink this first thing in the morning because I believe that the spices help to stimulate the elimination organs, in addition to having warming qualities.

It also manages to taste good.

You will need to prepare this recipe in advance, but on a cold day, it might actually be good warm, although I haven’t tried it.

Morning Milk

You’ll need: A blender. I use a Vita-Mix, but any blender will do.

Serves: 2.  Approximately 12 oz

2 cups cold Yogi Tea brand Classic India Spice

1 banana

1 cup milk of your choice (I use vanilla flavored almond milk)

Instructions:

Pour ingredients into cup and blend until smooth. Pour into a glass and enjoy.

Optional: Sometimes I add 3tbs of hemp seeds if I’m pressed for time and need a mini meal replacement

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