Chew on This: Veganism and the African American Community

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DALLAS – If there was ever a trend right now in the food world, veganism is definitely close to the top of the list. From countless articles, to documentaries, even celebrity testimonies – the lifestyle is getting more attention than ever.

But this dietary decision is more the just a way to keep up with the culinary joneses, especially for the African American community. We introduced you to Chef Cynthia Nevels, owner of the vegan food truck – Soulgood – months ago. And for her, dropping the meat and dairy was a matter of life and death.

"Back in 2010, my son, who was born with cystic fibrosis, needed a double organ transplant to live,” Nevels told Newsfix. “And I felt like his quality of life was out of my hands. And the only thing that I could control to help him while he was waiting for organs during that time was feeding him healthy foods, whole foods. Vegan, vegetarian foods.

And that's what birthed her business. But Nevels quickly learned she wasn't the only one using the vegan lifestyle to aide a health dilemma.

"Surprisingly what I discovered when I started out at the Farmer's Market was that my customer base was 89% African American,” Nevels said. "A lot of reasons why they were choosing to eat healthy was because their health was making them choose to eat healthier food options. Many of them may have diabetes, they may have heart disease, they may have high blood pressure. And so, their doctors have told them: eat better, or die."

And that's something Brandon Waller – creator of Bam's Vegan – is trying to prevent.

"I'm from Louisiana,” Waller told Newsfix. “So, we grew up eating probably catfish for breakfast, shrimp for dinner. So, we ate that way. Pork chops and all that. So, it's just a way of thinking that we have that was passed down from generation to generation that keeps us in this box. I just want to break that cycle, man. Just show people that you can eat real food, still eat vegan soul food, and not risk your health."

And Waller has big plans to do so. Right now, it's through social media and his site.

"To make people comfortable with switching over, you have to have something that relates to what they know,” Waller said. “So that's why I make burgers, I make tacos, I make pizza. I make food that's familiar to you, but it's cruelty free. Everybody wants to go vegan, but they don't know the first step."

And if you are looking to step into the vegan lifestyle remember: change is painful, growth is painful – but nothing is as painful