Fried chicken, ribs, chitterlings, collard greens, sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, these are common staples of what most like to call “soul food”. You can find these foods showing up at many Sunday dinners, barbeques, weddings and church functions. The African-American community especially takes pride in providing some of the best soul food cooking around. The problem is that most of this food that people call good for the soul, is not so good for the physical body. Heart disease, stroke, obesity and diabetes disproportionately affect those in the African-American community. Of course, African-Americans are not the only race of people that partakes in “soul food”, but the price that we pay according to statistics seems to be far greater than other races.

On, Daniel DeNoon uncovers these startling statistics in the article, “Why 7 Diseases Strike Blacks Most”:

  • Diabetes is 60% more common in black Americans than in white Americans. Blacks are up to 2.5 times more likely to suffer a limb amputation and up to 5.6 times more likely to suffer kidney disease than other people with diabetes.
  • Strokes kill 4 times more 35- to 54-year-old black Americans than white Americans. Blacks have nearly twice the first-time stroke risk of whites.
  • Blacks develop high blood pressure earlier in life — and with much higher blood pressure levels — than whites. Nearly 42% of black men and more than 45% of black women aged 20 and older have high blood pressure.
  • Cancer treatment is equally successful for all races. Yet black men have a 40% higher cancer death rate than white men. African-American women have a 20% higher cancer death rate than white women.

Additionally, according to the Center for Disease Control, heart disease is the leading cause of death for people of most ethnicities in the United States. However, African-Americans have the highest death rate percentage at 25.8.

I’m quite sure this is not the first time you have read alarming statistics about the health of African-Americans, however it is now important to examine alternative lifestyle choices to turn these numbers around in our favor. Through my own extensive research, I learned that the cause of many diseases is linked directly to what we eat. According to research done on, consuming animal fats and proteins has been widely linked to heart disease, colon and lung cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, kidney disease, hypertension, obesity, and many other debilitating conditions. The milk from cows has ideal amounts of protein and fat for young calves, but too much for humans. Eggs are higher in cholesterol than any other food. The American Dietetic Association reported that vegetarian/vegan diets are associated with reduced risks for these conditions. So, based on the health statistics of African-Americans and the benefits of a plant-based diet, it seems only natural to think twice before frying up some bacon!

I went vegetarian in 2001 and became a full-fledged vegan in 2006. The major difference between the two is that a vegan diet eliminates the consumption of all animal products. Many vegetarians still consume fish, eggs or dairy. Most people believe if they stop consuming animal products, they will be relegated to a boring eating lifestyle. There are so many resources, websites and cookbooks now available for vegan eating, that it would be impossible to get bored! I thoroughly enjoy what I eat and as an added bonus, know I am being kind to my body.

Many are also concerned they will not get all the vitamins and nutrients they need on a vegan diet and this is also a myth. Whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans provide all of the protein and nutrients your body needs. It’s all about education, planning and experimentation. I feel it’s time that African-Americans step outside of the box and take control of our health and in turn educate others on making healthy lifestyle choices. I realize that going vegan is a bit extreme for most, but I hope to be an example to show people that it is attainable and beneficial on many levels. Fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans are foods that are best for your body and in turn make them good for your soul!

Christa R. Shelton currently resides in Atlanta, Ga and blogs daily on veganism. You can check out her blog at for more information on veganism and health.

17 thoughts on “The REAL Soul Food: The Benefits Of A Vegan Diet For African-Americans

  1. Nice article. We do have a tendency to celebrate some of the most harmful foods. Even if we don’t become vegan, we could at least eat leaner meats and incoporate more vegetables into our diet.

  2. I don’t think I could give up meat. But I do need to eat better though. Like baked chicken instead of fried with veggies on the side.

  3. Very interesting article. Although I do not eat red meat or pork, I do eat chicken , seafood and turkey. I agree soul food can be unhealthy and contribute to many health conditions but it’s not what you eat but how you prepare the food you eat. For example, most people use ham hocks or some type of cured meat to cook collards although I have mastered this method of cooking, I also have another way of cooking collards which is much healthier and taste just as good. . If you like fried chicken, why not fry it in the oven instead of on the stove top in oil and grease .Eating healthy is not about eliminating the foods you love but finding healthier alternatives or ways of cooking the foods you enjoy

  4. Thanks Jessica for sharing this inspiring piece with your LIB Family. Might I share the following:

    I’m thrilled to report that the buzz is getting around about my latest endeavor, “Living Superfood.” Those that have been exposed to it, have tasted the delicious cuisine and have felt almost immediate effect of this level of “bio-available”hyper-nutrition entering their bloodstream, are all raving about the experience. I am perhaps the most excited of the bunch — This is what I have been eating exclusively for nearly 90 days.

    What if?:

    – There actually existed a real, accessible “Fountain of Youth”?

    – You could access the energy, vitality and stamina of yourself at half your current adult age?

    – Losing weight down to your natural sustainable “bottom-weight” were almost effortless?

    – You could recover 2 hours a day back from a need for as much as 8-10 hours of healing sleep?

    – You never had to suffer from indigestion, flatulence and constipation?

    – You never again had to take high blood pressure medicine?

    – The seemingly irreversible symptoms of aging, such as cognitive, brain, nerve and organ degeneration actually responded noticeably to this food and brightened the lives of those affected?

    – Your “positive HIV test” could be reversed and you could test HIV negative within 90 days?

    – Your diagnosis of diabetes turned out to have been only a temporary situation and now your blood sugar levels have normalized in one month’s time without medication?

    – Your age-related sexual dysfunction (menopause, ED, pre-menstrual syndrome, prostate disorder, low sperm count, infertility etc.) reversed its degenerative course and began regenerating?

    What if all of the above benefits were to be accessed within as few as 2-4 weeks because you had discovered one of the greatest secrets of our age: “Let your food be your medicine; let your medicine be your food”?

    Miracles do happen. Now this miracle is knocking at your door. The name of this incredible phenomena is “Living Superfood” and it almost sounds too good to be true. People are coming on board and verifying that what we are saying is true. I am inviting everyone of us to take this bold step into a completely new nutritional paradigm that will fundamentally change the way you feel about food, about your body, about the environment all around us and about our relationship to the fundamental forces of Nature and Life.

    Living Superfood is a bold answer to a spectrum of problems that disaffect the individual, relationships, family, community, nation and the whole of humanity. We now have given ourselves a powerful tool with which we are again Masters of Our Fate and Captains of Our Spiritual Journey.

    Yet this journey begins with your firm decision and commitment to see your own vision through to its completion. Take the first few steps today and you can begin to see the benefits within just a few days. Feel again what it is like to be a super man; a super woman. Feel again what it is like to be a master of the universe.

      1. I am currently writing the new book “Living Superfood”, breaking out of a writer’s slump that has lasted 10 years. I have a number of the images of the dishes at as well as in the photo albums section at Living In Black. I am preparing to relocate black to Los Angeles and will be conducting regular seminars, workshop demonstrations and food tastings. There will be a video series to follow.

        I am taking on a small set of personal clients as test cases to prove this really works just as I described it above. It has proven a miracle in my own life; I have been preparing for it for 25 years. At the age of 54 I have body function of someone 30 years of age. 90 days ago I went completely raw and about a month ago I incorporated much more superfoods.

        The fundamental philosophy of Living Superfood proposes:

        – Living Superfood taste as good as any other culinary style available and makes you feel great within minutes of consuming it

        – Food IS medicine and not one bite need be wasted on death-producing foods (sorry to those who are under the perception that chicken, turkey and fish are fundamentally healthier than pork, “the other white meat”, and beef — they are all dead and contaminated)

        – Life comes from Life; Death begets Death

        – There are a number of foods which have such a powerful spectrum of micro-nutrients that they can be properly classified as “superfoods”

        – It’s not how much you eat, it’s what you eat that causes overweight and obesity, which is the primary gateway to nearly all chronic disease

        – Rather than follow the USDA recommendation of 5-9 fresh fruits and veggies each day to stay healthy, I attempt to consume a hundred or more specific food ingredients at least 5 days a week

        – There is no greater vital energy than that which is obtained from fresh, raw and organic fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables, roots, herbs and sea vegetables

        – Unless you are correcting a specific acute or chronic disorder, there is no great need to take daily vitamins and minerals; these are best obtained through food

        – Living Superfood also incorporates fasting, regular detox and produces such a physical high that exercise is readily facilitated

        For more info you can go to the website where my telephone number is displayed. I would love to come to your city to demonstrate this miraculous discovery to our family wherever then are available.

  5. Veganism and vegetarianism are extreme and hard to do. At least for me. I will be honest and say I don’t want to give up meat. I have tried and failed. That’s not to say I don’t want to eat healthier. I recently came across a TED talk and I think this is more suited to me. The program is called 5 day veg and you basically eat vegetarian for 5 days and limit meat consumption to 2 days a week. I started this week. I’m on day 5 right now. I was tempted to eat meat earlier in the week, but I got past it. I do need to find good recipes though because another reason this is hard to do is because a lot of the recipes taste awful.

    Here is the link to the video:

    1. @ faithsoulsistah

      Thanks for posting this link. I definitely think I’m going to try this. I only eat poultry and fish but lately I think I’ve been eating too much of it. This sounds like a health way of limiting my meat intake.

  6. Sweet post.! I like visiting your blog for the reason that you guys often give us well written articles. Great work once again. I in the process bookmarking this website. I think I shall subscribe to this feed also. Until Next Time! ….

  7. Great blog! I truly love how it is easy on my eyes and also the details are well written. I am wondering how I could be notified whenever a new post has been made. I have subscribed to your rss feed which must do the trick! Have a nice day!

  8. Thank you , I enjoy reading about other vegetarians as it gives me the strength to continue. I have about a thousand vegetarian feeds in my google reader, but another can’t hurt!! I did manage to find a good lentil recipe here, but I’ll be sure to try yours too. Thanks!

  9. Thank you. I’m supposed to cook for my new vegetarian girlfriend next week and have absolutely no idea what to make! I found tons of recipes at this vegetarian recipes site but with so mnay to choose from I just got confused. Do you have any favorites youself, like .. the tastiest vegetarian recipe, ever, or something?! Thanks in advance! I hope it goes well

  10. Nice post. I was checking continuously this blog and
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