Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams—along with a team of more than 40 medical doctors—recently released a public service announcement to encourage New Yorkers of color to go vegan in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Black residents make up 22 percent of the population of New York City but account for 28 percent of deaths related to COVID-19. Latinos make up 29 percent of the NYC population but account for 34 percent of COVID-19 fatalities. Approximately 89 percent of people that perish from COVID-19 have at least one underlying condition such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension—illnesses that communities of color experience at a higher rate, due to many complex factors, than other demographics. 

“Whole food, plant-based nutrition made it possible for me to reverse type 2 diabetes—in just a few months,” Plant Powered Metro New York Latina Community Organizer Maribel Felipe said. “As an Afro-Latina, I feel the weight of my communities struggling with chronic illness, now intensified by COVID-19. But we don’t need to suffer when we put our ancestral plant foods back on our plates. Let’s follow the evidence and build power with healthy plant-based eating.”

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Adams has been involved in distributing plant-based meals to New Yorkers in need. In 2016, Adams transitioned to a plant-based diet in 2016 after he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, symptoms of which he has drastically reduced since going vegan. During his career as Brooklyn Borough President, Adams successfully launched several plant-based initiatives, including spearheading a plant-based medicine program within the city’s largest medical system NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue. “The increased suffering faced by people of color from COVID-19 is the result of structural racism in the health care system, as well as the food system,” Adams said. “Disproportionate numbers of deaths in Black and brown communities from chronic disease predate the current crisis. While we fight for large-scale changes to improve healthcare, we must also take action immediately by improving the availability and consumption of the foods that we eat.”

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