Black VegFest Founder Details New Book—Brotha Vegan—in Exclusive Interview
In an interview with Mercy For Animals, Black VegFest founder and athlete Omowale Adewale explains his new book: Brotha Vegan—a companion to Sistah Vegan.
Sistah Vegan, the brainchild of feminist, diversity strategist, and author A. Breeze Harper, is a collection of critical essays, poems, and reflections of Black-identified vegans from North America. Published in 2010, this diverse collection by more than 30 contributors describes how these vegans are “decolonizing” their bodies and minds through plant-based eating, destroying bad food habits, and living healthier lives. Dr. Harper explained it to us this way:
Sistah Vegan interrogates how being racialized as Black and identifying as a woman in the USA shapes Black women’s philosophy and practice of veganism. … I had never met any Black vegans back when I first practiced veganism and had been engaged in Black feminist scholarship at Harvard in the mid-2000s. I was curious if I could apply Black feminist inquiry to the world of veganism—not just focusing on Black women but focusing on how racial-gender-class power dynamics operate in the USA … how veganism and animal rights can be used as a platform to explore both speciesism and the collateral damages of systemic racism and antebellum racism.
Now, nearly 10 years after Sistah Vegan’s release, Harper is eager to launch its companion book, Brotha Vegan. She said that she’d “decided Brotha Vegan needed to happen” a few years ago, but her busy personal and professional life made it difficult to get the project off the ground.
But a few months ago, Brotha Vegan was given new life when the head editor of Lantern Books (Sistah Vegan’s publisher) suggested Omowale Adewale be the editor. Adewale, founder and organizer of the incredible annual Black VegFest, is certified in plant-based nutrition. He is also a certified USA boxing coach, boxing champion, two-time kickboxing champion, former bodybuilder, and former track and field player.
Having battled high blood pressure and chronic bronchitis for years, Adewale first went vegan to improve his health. Adewale kindly took time out of his busy day to answer our questions and give us a peek into his exciting new book:
What inspired you to eat vegan?
I realized along the way in my personal journey that it was unnecessary to eat animals because I was excelling and feeling great without animal products. It took me 20 years abstaining from meat before I made the change to go 100 percent vegan six years ago.
What changes do you hope to see for animals in the coming years?
Less people eating or relying on animals means smaller livestock farms and fewer animals going through the grinder. I believe it will become weird to watch animals exploited in their prison cells. The fur ban will rise in other cities, and animals will be hunted less for their skin and fur.
How is Brotha Vegan different than your typical vegan book?
The major difference with Brotha Vegan is its focus on creating conversations where the goal is to help free someone else. I hope people come away understanding Black men are broadly different and love animals. I believe I share an important responsibility in reshaping masculinity. I’m not weak, and because of my background in fighting competitions, it lends itself to a prehistoric notion that I have strength and power.
But strength and power is not just about defending yourself physically—it’s also speaking up for others. Masculinity is so misunderstood and so are Black men, so this is a huge undertaking. When is the last time you had a vegan book or any other book involve the discussion of Black men’s vulnerability matched with the defense of furry or scaly little creatures?
If readers took away one idea from this book, what would you want it to be? What impact do you hope the book has on readers?
The ideas about Black men need to be overhauled. I hope many more Black men open up about their feelings. Many of us genuinely want to understand and codevelop with women. This should be a window for Black men. It should also be a lesson for everyone in understanding veganism and masculinity. There are some issues Black men are grappling with in the dark.
Do you have any advice for people making the transition to plant-based eating?
I tell people every day: Take your time. I don’t want people coming back saying they tried veganism or a plant-based lifestyle, and it didn’t work out. Go out and get my book, An Introduction to Veganism and Agricultural Globalism, and learn why going vegan will be among the best decisions you ever made.
When will Brotha Vegan be available? Is there anything you’d like to add?
The book is slated to be available spring 2020. For a complex and in-depth look at masculinity and veganism through panels and workshop discussions, please visit this summer’s second annual Black VegFest in Brooklyn with Dead Prez and Queen Afua. Free tickets are still available.
Feeling inspired? Start excelling and feeling great today! Get delicious vegan recipes, easy meal ideas, and tips on plant-based eating by ordering your FREE Vegetarian Starter Guide today.