VWPA Advice 031: On Being a Young Black Vegan. Guest Post by Aph Ko of Black Vegans Rock
I am sixteen, black and vegan and have been vegan for over a year now, but people still find ways discredit me left and right. The only images of “vegan” are thin, white 20-25 year old yogis, and for some reason because I don’t fit into this stereotype, I am often not taken seriously when I talk about Veganism. I always hear “it’s just a phase” or that by being vegan I’m “acting white”. Not only this, but animal rights groups (ie PETA) constantly make it clear that I’m not welcome in the vegan community.
How can I prove to people that being different doesn’t make me illegitimate, and are there even people like me that exist?
Guest Answer by Aph Ko
We reached out to Aph because we admire her work so much, and were thrilled when she agreed to answer Jessica’s question for us. Aph is a FORCE for intelligent, progressive digital media that is both entertaining and important.
Aph Ko is a vegan blogger, performer and awesome independent media maker. She is the creator of the comedy web-series “Black Feminist Blogger;” co-creator of Aphro-ism, a site that provides critical analysis from a black vegan feminist perspective, with her sister Syl; and creator of Black Vegans Rock, a website that spotlights black vegans doing incredible work in the movement. Aph was named one of the top 10 indie creatives of 2014 by IndieWire, and continues to merge digital media with social justice.
First of all, I have to say kudos to you for being vegan at the age of 16! Wow. I know the struggle of being one of the few black vegans (if not the only one) in a given space and feeling isolated. Unfortunately, because of mainstream media representations, most folks think veganism is a ‘white person’s thing’ which is not only untrue, but annoying.
This is what prompted me to write the first article that listed 100 Black Vegans to dispel the myth that veganism was a “white person’s” thing. I now have a website called Black Vegans Rock that you should check out. In fact, we would love to feature you on the site and read about your vegan journey. It’s important to know that there is always a community out there for you. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Each time you feel that the “mainstream” (meaning white) movements and representations aren’t including you, always look into independent spaces and websites to find folks with similar experiences. Giant vegan corporations aren’t interested in diverse perspectives or meaningfully catering to vegans of color. They want cash and they try to do whatever they can to shock people so that their wallets open.
Also, I would urge you to check out black-centered spaces online like For Harriet where you can find supportive articles for alternative black girls and women. At this point, you don’t need to “prove” anything to anyone. You just need support from folks who are like you already and we are definitely out there with open arms :) I would also urge you to check out the Sistah Vegan Project, Vegan Voices of Color, and By Any Greens Necessary.
Have a question for us?