If you're like me, you may be wondering where the hell the afro-vegans are. Finding community and information can be tough. It's not often you come across a black vegan and if you do, it's like seeing a unicorn. I found myself wanting to capture any and all opportunities I had to deepen my relationship with the black vegan community. I needed to find community in order to stay committed to my veganism. While I was out looking for real afro-vegans to connect with, I found a plethora of great books that helped fill in the blanks. I've stumbled upon many afro-vegan books in my day but there are three that stand out. These are the books that changed my life and altered by journey. These books gave me new vocabulary and theories for why I chose veganism and continue to stay vegan. I want justice for myself, for others, and for the world. These three books gave me so much life and continue to inspire me to this day.
1. Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health and Society by A. Breeze Harper
Sistah Vegan is one of the first books I picked up when I started my vegan journey. This book is written by vegan and food justice scholar, A. Breeze Harper. She is well known for exploring the intersection of veganism, feminist ideology and food geographies. Her book, Sistah Vegan, is a compilation of short stories, poetry, personal narratives and critical essays from vegans of color about their experiences walking the line of veganism and justice. It’s a great book if you’re looking for multiple perspectives from a variety of black female vegans across the spectrum. It presents a diversity of experiences in the black vegan movement and really humanizes each individual on their vegan journey.
2. Aphro-ism: Essays on Pop Culture, Feminism and Black Veganism from Two Sisters by Apho Ko and Syl Ko
Aphro-ism is a compilation of articles written by black vegan sisters, Apho Ko and Syl Ko. This book is phenomenal because Aph and Syl come from an intersectional feminist and vegan lens. They dive deep into the intersections of veganism, feminism, white supremacy, racism, animal oppression, social media and more. My favorite chapter was “We’ve reclaimed Blackness Now it’s Time to Reclaim the 'Animal'". This chapter was incredibly enlightening. It discussed how black bodies are seen as animal and therefore seen as disposable. Much like the way animal lives are treated in the meat industry. Aphro-ism is a complex and engaging read that sheds light on the deep intersections of veganism, feminism, racism and animal oppression from a critical academic lens.
3. Afro-Vegan by Bryant Terry
Afro-Vegan is a cookbook by Bryant Terry. I love this book because all of the recipes are afro-diasporic dishes that have been veganized by Terry. You can find traditional recipes from the African continent, the Caribbean and North America. The spices and flavors are very unique and really connect us back to our roots. I also love that the recipes are accompanied by a suggested song to play while you cook the dish. So while you’re cooking your Lil’ Tofu Po’Boys with Creamy Red Bell Pepper Sauce, you can listen to “Long John Blues” by Renee Wilson from Voodoo Queen. Most of the recipes come with a recommended soundtrack by Terry and it’s super dope. This makes cooking traditional afro-diasporic recipes special and immersive.
All three of these books are must-haves in my library. I’ve purchased other afro-vegan books but these are the ones that I keep close to my heart. If you would like more suggested readings to help you on your vegan journey, leave a comment below and I’ll let you know some other books that are definitely worth a read.