Eight percent of black Americans are strict vegans or vegetarians, compared to just three percent of the rest of the U.S population, according to a Pew Research Center survey cited in a new BBC report.
In addition, cites the article, a January poll by Gallup found that almost a third (31 percent) of non-white Americans have cut their meat consumption in the last 12 months, compared to 19 percent of white Americans.
The BBC report asks: “Black Americans are almost three times as likely to be vegan than white Americans. Why is this alternative diet so popular?”
A January report by the Washington Post tackled the same question, and suggested that the prevalence of veganism in hip hop culture was having a significant impact.
Additionally, it said, health issues among African Americans were inspiring them to turn to more plant-based options, citing holistic nutritionist Afya Ibomu who said some health disparities ‘been the byproduct of oppression, poverty, food deserts and lack of education but that African American culture can also contribute to the problem’.
She said: “We use food as a cultural thing, showing someone you love them by giving them high-sugar, high-fat food. We have higher rates of obesity, cancer, diabetes and asthma. It’s partly our DNA; we’re not well-suited to a standard American diet.
“Many of us came from West Africa where they mostly had goat’s milk. And here it’s cow’s milk. The majority of health guidance is based on European bodies.”
This health injustice, where health guidance ignores the specific needs of black Americans is finally becoming more widely understood, with advocates like physician Dr. Milton Mills speaking out about the health dangers of recommending dairy products to African Americans.
The medic, who appeared in the documentary What the Health, spoke to the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee last year about the issue.
The Committee, which is comprised of nationally recognized nutrition and medical researchers, academics, and practitioners, updates the dietary guidelines every five years. It invites experts to speak and share current scientific and medical evidence in nutrition.
‘We’re making them sick’
According to Dr. Mills, he has seen illness caused by the committee’s guidelines. “The vast majority of people of color in this country are intolerant to the lactose that’s in milk. Yet because they think they have to eat this stuff, they go out, eat it, get sick, and think they have some sort of intestinal problem. When I encourage them to stop eating dairy, their problems clear up,” he said.
“It’s really outrageous to encourage people to eat foods we know will make them sick, particularly when the number one reason advanced for dairy foods is its calcium content. But African American women are genetically protected against getting osteoporosis. So we’re making them sick for no good reason.”