I had been wanting to write on topics relevant to what we do at Feed The People Catering, which is vegan cooking, yes, healthy dietary reinforcement, yes, and also, helping people to transition to vegetarianism with, sometimes - admittedly, not-so-healthy meat alternatives like seitan (because we do know that people don't just crave certain scents and flavors, but textures as well).
My delving into vegan/vegetarianism 20 years ago as an animal rights activist, eventually led to a deep interest in holistic health, nutrition and herbalism. And I have written on these topics several times throughout the years for various publications. Recently, I've begun to want to share the ideals behind the food, what led us to vegan/vegetarianism, how this dietary evolution supports and inspires other aspects of our culture and members of our household, and how our business formed from these ideals, has and can further help to create awareness, sustainability, and collectivism in our greater Afrikan/Asiatic/Indigenous community.
The following is an edited reposting of an October 1, 2009 blog posted on http://14thdegree.blogspot.com - a collective blog I wrote for with three other sistas some years back and is no longer active. I've been saving my blogs off this site this morning because my old laptop crashed a year ago and I lost a good number of writings. So, here's the first of our attempts to connect with our family of supporters in a deeper, more thought provoking manner, revealing to you what inspires and motivates us (Feed the People Vegan Catering is Co-Owned & Operated by Eboni Joy & Taj Anwar)...
"Blacks who accept another culture's definition of health, medicine and food are enslaved by that culture via their stomachs."
~ Llaila O. Africa, author of “Afrikan Holistic Health”
I got this quote from a yahoo group - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/RevolutionaryDailyThoughts - moderated by our esteemed elder Mwalimu Baruti, author and co-founder/co-director of Akoben House (with his wife Yaa Mawusi Baruti) an independent Afrikan centered full-time and after-school home schooling and tutorial program (www.AkobenHouse.com).
The quote itself made me think, why did I go vegetarian, continue to be an “on-again, off-again vegan”, and manage to maintain that self-imposed dietary law for 20 years and counting with all of the “wrong foods” (literally) that are available to us. Wrong foods that are so popular and very rarely questioned as being unhealthy, let alone, unethical in their mere existence, like KFC’s beef stock injected chickens, chitterlings (which remain a staple at holiday gatherings for many Blacks in America), white bread with it’s bleached flour and mono-diglycerides – in fact, for the most part, white ANYTHING (rice, sugar, etc), jello with its base-ingredient gelatin which is ground animal bones/hooves, salmon with its artificial food coloring (and many other fish with their severe environmental and mercury contaminations), and even rennet containing chesses - rennet being an enzyme scraped from the inner lining of calves’ (yes, baby cows) stomachs.
And I remember that I went vegetarian because I didn’t want to eat dead animals, period… that’s it. I didn’t want to be a party to animal cruelty by financing the literal rape, imprisonment, enslavement and murder of other living beings (whether they walk on two legs or four). I was able to maintain the diet, and eventually evolved into veganism, started periodic fasting and seasonal detoxes, and experimenting with raw dishes, when I started studying the health benefits of eating the right foods – fruits, vegetables, un-bleached grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, berries, and generally non-processed foods that were supplied to us by mother earth herself.
And even as a part-time vegan I continue to learn more about my diet and how just because I don’t eat flesh or most animal by-products, there are still “wrong foods” in my diet like many of our very commonly ingested vegetarian-friendly processed meat and cheese alternatives that are man-made, rather than nature-made – “foods” that have been grafted from soy beans, oil, wheat, sodium, etc, into products made to resemble the texture, color, and taste of our favorite meats and cheeses that we still haven’t disciplined ourselves to live without.
And this is just the literal example of the “wrong foods” that we consume physically. It doesn’t touch on the figurative meaning of the phrase “the devil taught him to eat the wrong foods”. Back in 2009, when the swine flu broke out, I was with child. My former employer, a Grady Memorial Hospital physician, Emory University Assistant Professor, and advisor to the CDC, tried to put fear in me – stating that my life and that of my unborn child is in grave danger – in order to convince me to take the swine flu vaccine. During that time, I remember seeing discussions online about medical professionals being threatened with termination if they do not submit and vaccinate themselves. And though we had no proof that this vaccine would even work, nor fully comprehended the scope of the side effects that this vaccine could cause, we were supposed to either have blind faith that it would work safely, or allow ourselves to be scared into submission. (Did I eventually choose vaccination? Of course not! As advised by my mid-wife I started taking 2000 IUs of vitamin D and continued to have a 100% illness-free pregnancy, delivery and healthy baby boy.)
Corporate sponsored mainstream media, doctors, nurses and even school administrators are doing everything in their power to strip OUR power and replace it with fear – fear of sickness, fear of unemployment, fear of the unknown… causing us to blindly choose to “eat the wrong foods” by taking their vaccinations and more… registering our children in a public school system that we know is not effective nor in any way Afrikan-centered, calling the police to help in our domestic affairs which only serves to increase a prison population of more than 50% Black men in America, promoting “vote or die” for presidential elections that our votes are not even counted for, instilling in the general populace that getting a stable job is the way to succeed in America rather than finding a way to make money doing what you love and working for self!
STARVING FOR THE RIGHT FOODS…
At the original date of this article’s writing (10/01/09), a tragic event happened in Chicago (my hometown); a 16 year old honor roll student – Derrion Albert – walking home from school was encircled by thugs and beat with wooden train track rails and stomped in the head, while already incapacitated, until he died. This was all video taped and sent to the media via an anonymous person - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/09/27/beating-death-of-derrien_n.... Morning radio gave this tragedy about 30 minutes of discussion time for an entire week – but when Beyoncé revealed her pregnancy a couple of weeks ago it ignited more than 30 straight hours of dialogue on Black stations, on Facebook, twitter… every-damn-where! President Obama (our supposed savior who has arrived) could find the time to have a “Beer Fest” with a racist cop and an elitist academic, but has yet to formulate a practical plan of action to end gang violence through education, economic development, neighborhood improvement, and the provision of recreational activities for our youth. Instead of traveling to Chicago to address this dire issue, he sent Attorney General Eric Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan – to do this vital work for him. And speaking of Obama… Kool-Aid! So very many of us drank the Kool-Aid we were aggressively fed during the “Yes We Can... Change” propaganda-laden campaign that hasn’t done a damn thing but make his rich constituents richer, bail out bank executives making millions while their employees lost their jobs and savings left and right! NO support for Oscar Grant, NO support for Troy Davis, NO acknowledgement of political prisoners on American soil, NO mention of the August 2011 lynching of a Black man - James Craig Anderson – in Jackson, Mississippi by white teens, nor have I heard any mention of the 273 post-conviction DNA exonerations, including the exoneration of at least 138 former death row inmates found to be innocent of the crimes they were wrongfully tried and convicted – which is absolute proof that America’s judicial system is corrupt and the death penalty unforgivably faulty and inhumane!
Now, if this article/essay/blog seems real random – it is! There are so many things on my mind right now, so many prevalent issues and causes all equally in need of our immediate attention and digestion.
Of course, I ask myself, what will bringing these things to your attention actually do and accomplish? Well, I suppose, as the reader of this scribe, YOU are that determining factor. Ideally, we’ll spread awareness and collectively put in work to feed others the right foods to live (literally and figuratively)!
(These "food & health" topic notes will also be published on the FTP Catering's Facebook discussion board and are being compiled for our forthcoming cookbook. For more info visit www.ftpcatering.com)