The question of “Why eat a vegan diet?” may not seem the most pressing one to ask right now.
The threat of covid-19 has taken a backseat to the police murder of George Floyd.
It’s a difficult time during which many of us may need a flicker of inspiration from those who have doing brilliant work on behalf of humanity, animals, and the environment, for years.
Today, I am focusing on powerful women vegan change makers who have dedicated their lives to advocating for animals and for humanity. Their commitment to eradicating conditions that violate the peace of human and animal lives is unstoppable.
Learning about their work may be the healing breath of fresh air that we need. So let’s meet them!
Brenda Sanders – Afro-Vegan Society
Brenda Sanders’ work is fueled by the knowledge of generations of marginalized communities that have been put at a disadvantage. She knows that these communities are adversely affected by the unhealthy choices that are systemically imposed upon them.
Plant-based veganism is a lifestyle that is known for its abundance of health benefits, such as its ability to reduce risk of chronic disease. Veganism has long been considered inaccessible to Black and Brown communities, and Brenda Sanders set out to change that. She is the founder and president of Afro-Vegan Society, an organization that provides plentiful information on all aspects of veganism to everyone.
Afro-Vegan Society’s Mission Statement:
The mission of Afro-Vegan Society is to offer information, resources and support to encourage and inspire people in marginalized communities to transition to vegan living.
Afro-Vegan Society’s Values Statement:
Since people in marginalized communities are often overlooked by those doing vegan advocacy, people in these communities have little or no access to information that would help them to make healthier, kinder, more sustainable choices. Afro-Vegan Society exists to make sure this information is available and accessible to everyone!
Having initiated and helped sustain many community-based vegan projects, Sanders is clearly a dedicated force of nature!
Multi-Accomplished and Still Going
According to VegNews, in addition to founding and running Afro Vegan Society, she also:
- founded and co-coordinated Thrive Baltimore
- helped found A Greener Kitchen
- was involved in launching the first Vegan SoulFest
Join Afro-Vegan Society’s movement to Dump Dairy!
From June 6 to June 27, 2020, Afro-Vegan Society is offering a four-week FREE course on why and how to dump dairy! It looks like it’s going to be an excellent series. One of my favorite vegan advocates of all time, Dr. Milton Mills, is kicking off the event’s first weekend by explaining the dangers of dairy.
This event looks like it’s going to be very insightful and helpful, especially if the concept of dairy being harmful to human health is a new one to you. I hope you can make it. Visit Afro-Vegan Society to register for their Dump Dairy four-week event!
lauren Ornelas – Food Empowerment Project
Full of direction and conviction from a young age, lauren Ornelas went vegan and started her first animal rights group in high school. Her compassion for animals led her to animal advocacy work after college.
While Ornelas served as executive director for Viva!USA, she got Trader Joe’s to stop selling duck meat. She also was the catalyst for Whole Foods Markets co-founder John Mackey to go vegan.
How Food Empowerment Project Was Born
Upon speaking at the World Social Forum in Caracas, Venezuela, Ornelas recognized the food system’s relationship to immigration and labor issues, as well as to animals and environment. Acknowledging that consumer responsibility could help eradicate the injustice that linked food to other social issues, Ornelas founded the non-profit Food Empowerment Project and serves at its executive director.
When Female First asked Ornelas what the link is between power and our food choices, she responded:
Food has been and will continue to be an incredible tool for social change. Examples include the sugar boycott against slavery, the grape boycott for California farm workers, and the free breakfast program started by the Black Panthers. Eating with our ethics is important in terms of our own personal choices, but using our collective voices to demand corporate and government changes is a huge key to create change.
Visit Food Empowerment Project (F.E.P.) and find plenty of resources to help you increase your intake of plant-based vegan foods. One of my favorites on their list is Eating on a Budget. Also eat with purpose by checking out F.E.P.’s top 15 eating tips.
Pei-Feng Su – ACT Asia
Pei-Feng Su’s reasons for animal advocacy run deep, and are especially important during a time when being Asian is immediately associated with animal cruelty and the cause of covid-19.
She co-founded ACTAsia in 2006. ACTAsia educates the public by highlighting the consumer industries that exploit people, animals, and environments. They amplify the plights of those who are exposed to the industrialized cruelty of mass production for profit, and provide alternative products that are created without the violence of mass production.
The Importance of Teaching Compassion to Children
ACTAsia also has a children’s education program, which is particularly important in the Asian cultural context. Feng powerfully and poignantly explains on her website:
When I was a child in Asia, not many of us grew up with pets. It was unusual to show empathy towards animals, but more fundamentally, it was unusual for parents to openly demonstrate love towards their children.
This emotional reserve is common in parts of Asia, and tends to inhibit children from developing social and emotional intelligence, the kind of intelligence necessary to become a responsible adult.
As children, we learnt respect for our elders and for authority, we learnt etiquette too, but rarely was it suggested that we extend any feelings towards animals, or indeed that animals have feelings. And because of this, many children in Asia grow up assuming animals exist to serve us, feed us, entertain us and clothe us; animals are useful ‘moving objects’, a literal translation of the Chinese word for animal.
Feng tells Unbound Project that her daughter Risa “is her best teacher.” In this interview, she elaborates:
“She really helped me to understand and to see the world as kids do. That’s why I’m so passionate about education,” she says, reflecting on the power of teaching a young child. “They are what you make them.”
Learn more about the courageous work that ACTAsia is doing by accessing their general leaflet and other important resources!
Consume Responsibly – Food Empowerment Project Recommendations
If chocolate is near and dear to your heart (and palate) like it is mine, F.E.P.’s chocolate list will help you choose brands that are vegan and not produced by child labor.
Here are some of my favorite picks:
This is my most favorite cereal, I have been eating it for the past 5 years. You’ll love the rich dark chocolate and tart berry blend mixed in with granola and cornflake crunch! I can’t say enough about how delicious it is. This 6 count pack is a pretty good bargain, too.
Chocolate lovers will absolutely love the variety of flavors available in this box! My household has identified Chocolate Pretzel Sea Salt as the favorite, although I personally love all of them.
Find out more about these delicious Nugo bars in this review, where I go into detail about taste and texture!
Compassion Beyond the Plate
Learning and writing about these phenomenal vegan women whose altruism goes beyond the plate has been deeply nourishing during this difficult time.
I can only hope that, over time, highlighting luminous presences like theirs will make more of us aware of the endless possibilities that humanity has to heal each other and the environment in which we must learn to coexist.