Black History Month is a celebration of Black pride, but it also highlights the often-overlooked history of Black veganism—a movement that aims to empower and improve the health of vulnerable communities through plant-based nutrition. There is a growing number of individuals who are adding value to this very mission—from activists who are fighting for access to healthy vegan food, to professional athletes proving that you don’t need animal protein to be strong. Though this list could be much longer (and should be celebrated at all times during the year) here are six Black vegan activists who have dedicated their lives and careers to building a more inclusive and compassionate world.

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1. Eric Adams
The Borough President of Brooklyn, NY, 59-year-old Adams has been a vocal proponent of a plant-based lifestyle since eschewing animal products in 2016 to improve his health after being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes (which has since been completely reversed). His city-wide advocacy includes holding public discussions on the value of veganism, championing a Plant-Based Lifestyle Medicine Program at New York City hospitals, and supporting initiatives that offer vegan lunch options at all New York City public schools and Meatless Monday menus in jails. Adams is admired for using his political platform to encourage and support his community to improve their health the same way he did.

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2. LaRayia Gaston
An inspiring actress and activist, Gaston is the founder and executive director of Los Angeles-based nonprofit Lunch on Me, which aims to end starvation by redistributing food that would otherwise be discarded, using it to make meals for 10,000 people on Skid Row each month. Through Lunch on Me, Gaston works to provide enriching opportunities to LA’s homeless population through community parties, yoga classes, and healing gatherings for women. Gaston also recently opened LaRayia’s Bodega in Westlake, CA to give vulnerable communities access to affordable and healthy vegan food. She has clearly made it her life mission to help those who are less fortunate. 

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3. David Carter
A former NFL football defensive lineman, Carter was one of the first professional football players to openly tout the benefits of a vegan diet after realizing the negative impact his own carnivorous eating habits were having on his health, athletic performance, and recovery. With the moniker the “300-pound vegan,” Carter is a powerhouse in strength and activism. He now tours the country as a vegan activist to raise awareness of animal rights, human health, and the planet—and to prove that athletes don’t need animal protein to be at the top of their game. From playing football to fighting for animal justice, Carter’s dedication demonstrates how ultimate strength can be celebrated both on and off the field. 

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4. Genesis Butler
Thirteen-year-old Butler went vegan at the age of six after discovering the milk she was drinking came from exploited mother cows. The young activist speaks regularly at events across the United States and Canada and has won numerous awards—including the Animal Hero Kids’ Sir Paul McCartney Young Veg Advocate Award and PETA’s Youth Activist of the Year Award—for advocating on behalf of the animals. In 2017, Butler became one of the youngest people to participate in lecture series TEDx, and in 2019, she challenged Pope Francis to go vegan for $1 million on behalf of a Million Dollar Vegan global campaign. Butler is among the new generation of changemakers and, understandably, she’s focusing her role on improving the lives of animals and the planet. 

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5. Omowale Adewale
Champion boxer and social justice advocate Adewale founded Black VegFest in Brooklyn, NY in 2018 to primarily address food sovereignty and the lack of plant-based nutrition information and food options in communities of color. The event has since expanded to the Bronx borough of New York, bringing together vegan presenters, restaurants, and catering businesses to advance the conversation around healthier solutions within the community. Adewale’s community-minded prowess has made a significant impact on those around him as he continues to share his important message of intersectionality and accessibility. 

Nicole Axworthy is the News Editor of VegNews and author of DIY Vegan who is inspired by the number of activists who are fighting for a better world for all. 

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