According to The Vegan Society SA: “The word ‘veganism’ denotes a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude – as far as is possible and practical – all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.”

So why choose to go vegan?

Norma Young (30s) first transitioned to vegetarianism and, thereafter, researched and discovered the vegan life.

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“I unintentionally became vegetarian eight years ago after a day where I’d gorged on too much meat and decided to take a break for a day,” says Young. “That day turned into a week, which turned into a month during which I just didn’t crave meat. I realised that I was starting to make better food choices instead of the staple ‘fried chicken and chips’ takeaway meals. About two years ago, I realised that I’d defaulted to eating bread, cheese and potatoes and that my health was suffering. I constantly felt tired and was frequently ill. After researching and chatting to a few friends, one of whom is a dietician, I realised that I needed to switch to a plant-based diet. I still occasionally have bread, but my diet primarily consists of fruit, vegetables, legumes and grains.”

Young admits that her weight-loss after adapting a vegan lifestyle was evident.

“Since transitioning to a plant-based diet, I’ve lost weight again. This is great, but it’s mostly because I’m committed to eating for nutrition. I try to make sure I eat a variety of fruit and vegetables to get different vitamins and nutrients. I could still be vegan and make unhealthy food choices.”

“Another change is that I’m not ill as often,” she says. “I used to get flu every change of season, but since I started paying attention to my nutrient intake, my immune stronger than it’s ever been.”

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Veganism is definitely more on the radar for black women than before. Zandi Mayeki (32) has been considering the transition for health reasons.

She says: “I’d make the switch for weight-loss, more than I would than I would for animal-cruelty rights, although it is mutually beneficial. However, I do know that maintaining this lifestyle costs a bit more than usual, considering the vegetarian diet I’m currently on, but it’ll be worthwhile.”

Lee-Anne Kakora is the brainchild behind Fruit Water Events, a movement aimed at educating people about the benefits of veganism. It also places emphasis on the fact that veganism isn’t limited to eating fruits and vegetables.

“I’ve found that women from different cultural groups generally adopt a vegan lifestyle for different reasons,” says Kakora. “While white women mainly transition to veganism to protect animal rights, women of colour (black, coloured and Indian) are there for the weight-loss and health benefits.”

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“People need to be educated about the fact that veganism is a lifestyle, not a diet.”

Kakora adds that she would recommend it to more women because it helps them reach their full potential and encourages a vibrant way of living. “It’s just a group of likeminded people who are interested in something different. We’re not freaks or earthlings, or whatever labels we’re given,” she says.

Young adds her motivation: “I’ve come to the conclusion that one way or another, we will pay for our food choices. It will either be in medical bills or grocery bills. I’ve opted to pay in grocery bills by buying good-quality fruit and vegetables, and a few kitchen gadgets like a spiraliser and blender. Aside for chronic illnesses, food really is medicine. And when your body has the nutrients it needs, you feel and see the benefits. In addition to these personal benefits, being vegan is a more conscious way to live as you pay more attention to ingredients, sources and the processing of food. This can’t help but pass over into other areas of life and spark mindfulness in both relationships and work.”

Hopefully this sheds more light on the topic if you’re considering the transition. Happy living!

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