What I'm Reading
I have not eaten meat for over thirty years, which is the majority of my life. So in many ways, I feel as if I've heard it all before, whether that is the health benefits, animal rights, human rights and environmental concerns. However, I have never thought about the African-American perspective. I wasn't even sure theirs was any different to my own.
This film changed all that.
Like all cultures, food is a central feature to the identity and history of African-Americans. We've all heard of 'Soul Food', for example, but I wasn't aware of how essential it is for many African-Americans and their sense of identity. And as this film shows, 'Soul Food' has its roots in the southern states of the United States, which in turn, is based on the diets that have evolved from the slaves and the food they were given. Which, unfortunately, was the dregs of their owners' meals. In a fascinating insight, this film demonstrates that the African culture and diet was very different to those who were removed into slavery and who believe that fried chicken is part of their ancient culture. To not eat Soul Food is seen as a 'Black card forfeit.' In fact, far from veganism being 'white people's food', a meat-free diet has been around for a very long time in Africa.
The film also looks at the other baggage of diet, such as concepts of masculinity and meat, disease, health and fitness and raising awareness. Many examples are given from professional medical people and scientists of the benefits of a vegan diet. Not forgetting many tasty recipes.
The documentary was made by Jasmine Leyva who tells us her personal story of why she became vegan, the issues she faced personally, and her journey into promoting veganism as a way of life. She is personable and professional (as is everyone in this documentary) and makes this film fun and interesting. This is not an angry film full of preachy animal rights, but a warm and positive film that I thoroughly enjoyed. I recommend watching this even if you are not vegan or African-American. It may change your life.
Activist, actress, and documentary filmmaker, Jasmine is passionate about veganism, social justice, and telling her own stories. With a Bachelor of Arts in TV, Film and Media and a Master of Fine Arts in screenwriting, Jasmine is unapologetically an artist. She has worked as an associate producer on a NAACP winning docuseries entitled Unsung and has written and produced for Being, a docuseries highlighting dynamic entertainers in film and music.
Jasmine ultimately decided to let go of her nine-to-five and focus on her goals with no boss except for her own creativity. She went on to produce her own feature length documentary, The Invisible Vegan, a film that chronicles her personal experience with plant-based eating. The film also explains how plant-based eating is directly linked to African roots and how African-American eating habits have been debased by a chain of oppression.
Jasmine’s recently appeared on the Vegan Women Summit, The Sarah Scoop Show, and the Soul On Fire podcast.