Posted on by Neal Barnard, MD, FACC
Throughout Black History Month, the Physicians Committee is highlighting some of the many Black doctors, chefs, restauranteurs, entrepreneurs, activists, and influencers who use their talents and voices to make the world a healthier, more compassionate place.
Today, we want to shout out five Black vegan trailblazers whose work embodies that goal! We hope you check out their websites and social media feeds to learn more about them and to support their work. We know you’ll be just as inspired as we are!
When asked about the significance of opening a vegan restaurant in the West End Atlanta area, which faces high rates of chronic diseases, Ms. Cole shared these inspiring words with Forbes: “This neighborhood and I go way back, and bringing vegan options and food awareness to this community for which I care so deeply has been one of my life’s dreams. Opening the conversation on vegan food options for people who have never considered them in this community that has such high numbers in hypertension, cholesterol, obesity, and a host of other food-borne ailments, is momentous. I am humbled daily by the weight of the opportunity, and I’m motivated by its seriousness.”
From the very beginning of Slutty Vegan, Ms. Cole has paid it forward, empowering her community. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, she has provided free meals to seniors and health care workers and even helped other small businesses pay rent. Committed to giving back, soon after opening Slutty Vegan, Ms. Cole also created the Pinky Cole Foundation, which empowers young people to become entrepreneurs through educational programs, networking events, and economic opportunities. In one powerful example, Ms. Cole and a fellow entrepreneur paid tuition balances of 30 Clark Atlanta University seniors so they could graduate debt free!
Talk about changing the world! If you’re ready to be inspired, be sure to follow Ms. Cole on social media and check out her websites below:
Follow Pinky Cole on Instagram
Follow Slutty Vegan on Instagram
The Pinky Cole Foundation
From a young age, food was a big part of Mr. Terry’s life. He grew up in Tennessee and learned about the vibrant world of food, flavor, and fresh fruits and vegetables in his grandparents’ kitchen and garden. As a high schooler, he made the switch to a plant-based diet after hearing a hip-hop song, called “Beef,” by KRS One which wondered: “When will this poisonous product cease?”
Mr. Terry describes that he truly entered the food world as a student at NYU. On his subway commute to class in the morning, he noticed young kids with Hot Cheetos and soda on the way to school and for breakfast. As a history student, he immediately thought about the Black Panthers in the 1960s and 1970s to provide free, nutritious breakfasts for tens of thousands of children and was inspired to create "b-healthy!," a program to give young people tools to eat healthfully. In his TEDMed Talk, Mr. Terry shared that the program was about “helping people stop blaming themselves and understanding the historical and innumerable physical and economic and geographic barriers that prevented their communities from accessing healthy, fresh, and affordable food.”
“Bryant Terry knows that good food should be an everyday right and not a privilege,” described his mentor, chef and restauranteur Alice Waters.
Since 2015, Mr. Terry has served as the chef-in-residence at San Francisco’s Museum of the African Diaspora, where he creates public programming that explores the connections between food, farming, health, activism, art, culture and the African diaspora.
Plus,he’s a best-selling author, who has written critically acclaimed cookbooks including Afro-Vegan and Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African-American Cuisine. In his latest book, Vegetable Kingdom: The Abundant World of Vegan Recipes, Mr. Terry teaches the basics of how readers can use fresh, seasonal plant-based ingredients to put together showstopping vegan meals and then shares more than 100 beautiful and delicious plant-based recipes, including Millet Roux Mushroom Gumbo, Panko-Crusted Cauliflower and Coconut Curry, and Citrus & Garlic-Herb-Braised Fennel.
Areyou hungry yet? Be sure to check out Mr. Terry’s cookbooks, website, and social media:
Follow Bryant Terry on Instagram
Bryant Terry’s Website
Buy Vegetable Kingdom
In 2019, Ms. Gaston opened LaRayia’s Bodega, which brings affordable, healthful plant-based groceries and meals to the Westlake community in Los Angeles. The bodega sells fresh produce, fresh pressed juices, and vegan soups, salads, snacks and more – all for $5 or less for those who can afford it. Community members in need eat for free. The bodega also provides job opportunities for veterans and people experiencing homelessness.
To learn more about Ms. Gaston’s inspiring work and mission, follow her on social media and check out her website:
Ever since, Borough President Adams has made improving the health of others and spreading the word about plant-based diets a core part of his mission. He helped to create a first-of-its-kind plant-based medicine program at public hospitals across New York City, which has helped New Yorkers who struggle with chronic diseases to learn about the power of plant-based nutrition. He’s also revolutionized New York City’s school lunch program, helping 15 Brooklyn public schools to implement Meatless Mondays – a program that was so successful that it has since spread to every public school in New York City! Thanks to his work, cancer-causing processed meats are also off the menu at New York City schools. He also hosts free events for residents to learn about healthy eating.
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