I’ll be the first to admit that going vegan isn’t easy. In the beginning, it doesn’t seem all that appealing to give up meat, eggs, and dairy all at once, either. You think about letting go all the foods you love and kinda start freaking out. It can be especially difficult for those of us who are from places where food is a big part of our cultural expression. Foods like macaroni and cheese, chili, oxtail and greens, sweet potato pie, and fried chicken can be super difficult to give up, but there are actually vegan alternatives to all of these foods.
Chefs all over, most of whom just so happen to be amazing black women, have been leading the movement for delicious vegan alternatives to all of our favorite foods. Here are 3 chefs who not only mastered vegan soul food recipes, but are helping change the way black women look at veganism all together.
Jenne Claiborne – Sweet Potato Soul
(Source: Black Foodie)
Georgia-born, Los Angeles-based vegan chef and health coach Jenne Claiborne is the creator of Sweet Potato Soul— a YouTube channel and website dedicated to teaching you the basics of cooking vegan, as well as offering thousands of original recipes. Claiborne says that while she and her family have always loved food and even bonded through it, she wasn’t always presented with the healthiest options:
“Though food was a major focus in our household, my family didn’t place much emphasis on health. I hated most veggies and fruits. I discovered healthy eating in college, and haven’t looked back since. Now my whole life revolves around food that makes me feel
happy, energetic, and nourished.”
Fast-forward some years, and Jenne has successfully turned Sweet Potato Soul into an incredibly popular cookbook, a following of over half a million people across social media, and has even become a mom.
Rachel Ama – Vegan Eats
(Source: The Herald)
London vegan Rachel Ama calls herself a “recipe creator” opposed to a chef, and it’s just one charming example of how she works to keep her content relatable and familiar. Ama understands that people want healthy, delicious vegan food, but the lifestyle is not always sustainable because it can be on the expensive side and even inaccessible for certain people. Her YouTube channel is largely dedicated to inexpensive vegan meals for families, college students, the broke millennial, and anyone else who needs it.
During an interview with Vice, Ama explains that giving people access to healthy food is a form of activism for her:
““Everyone’s living different lives, has access to different kinds of fruits and vegetables and only has X amount of time to spend in the kitchen,” she explains. “But small changes can make a big difference. That’s my activism: to give people vegan options to make that they can enjoy.”
Shantelle Gary – Let’s Be Vegan
Like many vegans, Shantelle decided to give up all animal products after learning the animal cruelty involved in meat and dairy industries. Now a vegan for over 15 years, she uses her knowledge and cooking skills to show us how plant-based cooking doesn’t have to be plain and boring—it can be fun, delicious, and nourishing—through her popular instagram account and five digital cookbooks. On her website, Letsbevegan.com, she expressed that once she figured out that veganism offers major benefits for animals and our personal health as a whole, she knew it was her job to encourage others to take on the lifestyle as well:
“So many people miss out on the benefits of eating a vegan plant-based diet because they think the food is boring and tasteless. I want to change that. I want to change the way people look at food.”