Paste Magazine Defends Vegan Soul Food

Publication argues that “vegan soul food” is not oxymoronic due to its animal-free African food roots.


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In a recent online feature for Paste Magazine, writer Adrian Miller set out to prove that the words “vegan” and “soul food” belong together in the same sentence. Miller—who authored the book Soul Food: The Surprising Story of American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time—points out that his nationwide lectures about the vegan connection to soul food often receive negative responses from African American attendees. He explains that African American slaves were given rations that consisted mostly of vegetables, and it was only after The Great Migration that dietary habits began to lean more toward animal products. “Vegan soul food is not a dramatic departure from traditional soul food,” Miller says, adding, “It’s really a homecoming.” Miller examines a current movement that is seeing many African Americans eschew dairy (lactose intolerance is more prevalent with African Americans) and choosing healthier diets devoid of animal products. He also highlights how the food justice movement is making veganism more palatable. “African Americans are taking a critical look at how their food is raised, why they have certain food options in their neighborhood, and what makes up their diet.” Author and animal-rights activist Tracye McQuirter recently launched a vegan starter guide specifically aimed at African Americans in an effort to “empower even more people to take back control of their health, to recognize that plant-based foods are a part of our cultural heritage, and to realize that African Americans benefit the most from eating a plant-based diet.”