Knee Joint Pain? Try Turmeric and These Other Vegan Wonders….

Sistah Vegan!


I have had new knee joint pains for several years, since giving birth to my 2nd baby in 2011. It was getting increasingly worse in the last 1.5 years. When I started biking to my new job in Fall of 2015, it was excruciatingly painful– particularly at night or when I was sitting for long periods of time. It affected my sleep. I dreamed and could feel the pain.

However, over the last 8 weeks, I discovered that taking fresh turmeric  everyday has nearly eliminated the problem. Below is a photo of my kale and other leafy greens salad.


Those bright orange pieces in there are not carrots, but fresh organic turmeric root. I sliced up a piece that was about 1.25 inch long and about 1/2 inch wide  I also added the same amount of fresh ginger (Note: this may be a lot to start off with if you don’t have a high tolerance to ginger like I do. Start small, as too much can cause gastrointestinal issues).

Turmeric and ginger are both anti inflammatory, but turmeric is the powerhouse for joint pain reduction I have found. It’s actually been found to be more effective than Ibuprofen in some studies for joint issues such at arthritis. I am thrilled that this worked out for me. I really thought I had to deal with this chronic pain that was only getting worse, forever. In addition, I have found that adding stinging nettles (2-3 cups a day, several days a week) and dark leafy greens like kale, help with inflammation. The addition of the turmeric, though, was astounding. I eat it fresh but the organic dried root powder should be effective as well (as studies show). See citations below.

1. Managing Osteoarthritis and Other Chronic Musculoskeltal PainDisorders by A. Dublin in Medical Clinics of North America 100.1 (2016): 143-150

2. Grover, Ashok Kumar, and Sue E. Samson. “Benefits of antioxidant supplements for knee osteoarthritis : rationale and reality.” Nutrition Journal 15.1 (2016) 1.

3. Jefferson, Warren. The Healing Power of Turmeric. Living Publications, 2015.

4. Nieman, David C. Et al. “A commercialized dietary supplement alleviates joint pain in community adults: a double-blind, placebo-controlled community trial.” Nutrional Journal. 12.1 (2013) : 154

I’ll also be mentioning my use of turmeric in several recipes in my new book Recipes for Racial Tension Headaches (see below).  Along with knee joint problems, the turmeric has been one of my new go to herbs for dealing with racial battle fatigue and my recent experiences with hate and vitriol against the critical race work I do within veganism and other ethical consumption spaces.

Remember: talk to your practitioner before doing something new like this!


Dr. A. Breeze Harper Giving a Talk about Scars at Pomona College in 2015

Dr. Harper’s most recently published book, Scars: A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England (Sense Publishers 2014) interrogates how systems of oppression and power impact the life of the only Black teenager living in an all white and working class rural New England town.

Dr. Harper has been invited to deliver many keynote addresses and lectures at universities and conferences throughout North America. In 2015, her lecture circuit focused on the analysis of food and whiteness in her book Scars and on “Gs Up Hoes Down:” Black Masculinity, Veganism, and Ethical Consumption (The Remix) which explored how key Black vegan men us hip-hop methods to create “race-conscious” and decolonizing approaches to vegan philosophies.



Hemp Seeds for Racial Tension Headaches: Kid Edition (SisTot Vegans)


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My three kids loved my strawberry hemp seed ice cream. I use a Vitamix Standard Blender for blending ingredients smoothly, and then I use a Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker. The lecithin blends and binds the ingredients very nicely. It creates a creamy and smooth texture.

Hemp seeds are a powerful super food. They are incredibly high in magnesium as well as brain building Omega 3-6-9. 3 tbsps give you 10 grams of protein. It’s a mineral rich seed and best of all, it’s an incredibly sustainable crop to grow. Some people do not like the strong taste of hemp. I got my kids started off on hemp seed based ice cream and cookies at a very early age. I prefer it to the soy milk vegan alternative when making ice cream. Hemp seeds also make powerful milkshakes as well! You can turn the recipe above into a milkshake by adding 4 ice cubes. Enjoy!

And now here is the part in which I will segue into Recipes for Racial Tension Headaches .  If you have been following my work for awhile, you know that I am working on a new book about my journey as a critical race feminist through the ethical foodscape of a “post-racial” USA. I wanted to offer how I have been using hemp seeds as a tool of health and resistance in a USA obsessed with being both “post-racial” and “anti-black” at the same time.

Mentioned earlier in this post, hemp seeds are high in magnesium. Magnesium is quite calming. Supplements such as the product Calm have the primary ingredient of magnesium to ensure a more relaxing and calm night for both children and adults. I know there is no one answer to tackling the injustices many of us witness and/or survive through that are rooted in anti-Black systemic racism. I do not mean to take the racial profiling and targeted violence of our Brown and Black communities very lightly by heading into the direction of what foods like hemp seed can offer. As I am writing this, I am thinking about ways in which we can thrive through the physical and emotional stresses of talking to our Black children about the kids that look like them being violently assaulted by police (see Tamir Rice and South Carolina Spring Valley student) .

Practitioners of Chinese medicine believe that the heart of the hemp seed can produce calming effects on human beings. This is actually due to the calming and relaxing effects of the magnesium and other minerals in the seed. Do you know what I do with my children? I talk to them about the social injustices affecting the Black community as well as other marginalized communities. I am real and upfront with them in asking them how they feel and what we can do to try to feel better as well as take action. I say things like, “You were really upset about hearing that a child was shot by a police officer. Let’s talk about it and about how we can take care of ourselves during times of such sadness and stress.” I will then start making hemp seed ice cream or cookies with them while we talk about these issues. Simultaneously, I and am teaching them that hemp seed can help them relax and feel less anxious about witnessing and/or hearing about such violent events.  My children are 2, 4, and 6.5 years of age and I honestly do not think they are too young to start making all these connections as well as not too young to feel like they have no agency in this.

Hemp seeds are just one of many ingredients I use in my Recipes for Racial Tension Headaches. My children also enjoy lemon balm which has a very calming yet non-sedating effect on the mind and body and is great for upset tummies due to either infection or “twisted tummy” due to emotional distress.

What are your Recipes for Racial Tension Headaches?

Like what the Sistah Vegan Project Does? Find out about our 2016 upcoming conference “The Role of Foodie+Tech Culture in an Era of Systemic Racism and Neoliberal Capitalism”. If you missed our Spring 2015, “The Vegan Praxis of Black Lives Matter” you can download the recordings with slides, here

Also, learn about our other projects and how you can donate to keep the Sistah Vegan Project alive and vibrant.

Watch Cute kids loving vegan gluten free chia heempseed cookies!


Warning, I am an improv baker half the time and did not use a recipe or write it down. However, just wanted to share what I do to get my kids to enjoy chia seeds, teff, almond meal, and hempseeds. I use banana as a sweetener and chia seeds as an egg white replacer. Let us see what the kiddos have to say about my latest concoction!

Like what the Sistah Vegan Project Does? Find out about our 2016 upcoming conference “The Role of Foodie+Tech Culture in an Era of Systemic Racism and Neoliberal Capitalism”. If you missed our Spring 2015, “The Vegan Praxis of Black Lives Matter” you can download the recordings with slides, here

Also, learn about our other projects and how you can donate to keep the Sistah Vegan Project alive and vibrant.

Surviving Through Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

Eva Luna and Sun, healthier and happier in spring 2014.
Eva Luna and Sun, healthier and happier in spring 2014.

In January of 2014, my kids (a newborn, 2 year old, and 4 year old) all got Coxsackie A Virus at the same time. Better known as Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD), this virus is something most kids in the USA get by the time they are ten years old. Though usually benign, HFMD is a miserable experience in which one gets a blistering sore throat, slight fever, and throbbing headaches for 1-2 days. After these symptoms have subsided, the virus produces painful and itchy blisters in and on the mouth, hands, and feet. It is about a week of hell wrought with sleepless nights.

Having not caught HFMD as a child, my body had no immunity against it. However, I didn’t end up getting HFMD past a sore throat. The sore throat only lasted about 3 hours! My secret weapon against this virus was a holistic anti-viral dietary regiment that I put myself on as soon as my sore throat hit me. Allopathic practitioners will tell you that there is no cure for HFMD. That may be true, but just because you get the virus doesn’t mean you have to get the full-blown symptoms. I am living proof that you can avoid the supposedly unavoidable! As a matter of fact, within a few hours of starting this regiment and then taking a 2 hours nap, I started feeling much better. My sore throat vanished, and I felt brand new. I stayed on this dietary regiment for 5 days.

Take the sugar and coffee out of your diet. Replace with mostly high quality plant-based proteins and lots of greens like kale.

Sugar weakens the immune system so take it out. I removed the sweets and replaced most of my meals and snacks with mostly dark leafy greens and protein. Viruses love caffeine, so take it out of your diet. Below is the super green smoothie I drank with my breakfast and lunch. Using a high-quality blender, like a Vita-Mix, is highly recommended to finely grind the kale and ginger root. Ginger is essential to boost the immune system, but it also helps most of us digest raw  or lightly steamed cruciferous vegetables like kale.

  • ¾”-1” cube of fresh ginger root.
  • ½ bunch of raw Dino kale
  • 1 tsp of Organic Hawaiian based Spirulina
  • 30 oz of water
  • 1 grapefruit
  • 1 apple (optional to make it sweeter)

Apply Neem Oil.

Though it smells strongly like a mixture of sulfur and garlic, don’t let it deter you from using it. I rubbed it all over my face, hands, and feet 2 times a day to prevent getting the blister outbreaks. I recommended applying about 3-4 drops on your face, as well as 3-4 drops for the hands and feet. If you have sensitive skin, mix the Neem oil extra virgin coconut oil. You can do a ratio of Neem oil and coconut oil that is 1:4. Add several drops of Lavender essential oil to the mixture to decrease the pungent smell. I ended up mixing ½ ounce of Neem oil with 2 ounces of virgin coconut oil. I highly suggest using coconut oil because it is anti-viral and anti-bacterial as well.


 I made Elderberry tea and drank it 3 times a day. Elderberry is a superb anti-viral and immune system-boosting berry. I buy my organic Elderberries in bulk because the syrup they have in the stores are pricey. Be sure to decoct your Elderberries for at least 20 minutes, as sometimes Elderberries can cause illness if they are eaten raw. I always use organic Elderberries. However, if you prefer to use a high quality Elderberry syrup over making your own tea, that is fine too and a little more convenient.

1000 mg of Vitamin C per Day.

I took 1000mg of vitamin C each day in two increments, at 500mg per dose. I took 500mg of ascorbic acid based Vitamin C in the morning and evening, with food. Don’t take 1000mg all at once, as your body can’t really make use of more than 500mg within a few hour period.



I took a Goldenseal tincture 3 times a day. Like Elderberry, it’s a superb immune system booster and anti-viral herb. My brand of choice is Herb Pharm. I prefer the glycerite, as alcohol-based tinctures tend to make me feel sicker.

Apple Cider Vinegar.

I drank 1tbsp of apple cider vinegar mixed with 8 ounces of water, 3x a day. Apple cider vinegar helps to prevent the virus from replicating any further, once it enters your body. You must use apple cider vinegar and not any other form.

Good luck and happy wellness to you and your family!

If you enjoyed this article, check out my new book project about ethical eating, hip hop, and black male vegans.

Bio:  is the director and founder of the Sistah Vegan Project. Her emphasis are in the the intersections of critical food studies, critical health studies, and multi-culturalism. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis and is currently a research fellow in the human ecology department of University of California. She is passionate about teaching how plant-based diets can help pregnant and lactating women thrive. The Sistah Vegan Blog and her official website, A. Breeze Harper, are the two websites you can go to in order to be updated about her writing, speaking, and videos.

"She Didn't Look Depressed to Me": On Postpartum Depression and Funky Smelling Girls

Dr. A. Breeze Harper

The other week, I was at my community park in Berkeley, CA. I overheard two men who work at the community park center, talking to each other. One of the men told his colleague that he saw a female colleague dancing at a club. He said that she was on disability leave because she had postpartum depression. Shaking his head disapprovingly at his colleague, he said, “I saw her at that club and she was having a good time. She didn’t look depressed to me.”
It wasn’t my conversation so I didn’t come over to correct this man and his assumptions about what it ‘looks like to be depressed.’ I decided to be ‘polite’ over being ‘politically correct’. Should have I?

…But then, a few days later, the same man started talking to me about one of the kids there at the park who was attending the summer camp program. He informed me that one of the preteen girls smelled ‘really funky’ and that he had to tell her mother that she needed better hygiene practices. He said that her mother was offended and he told me he said, “Well, would it be better if one of her friends told her she was really funky?” He said she needed antiperspirant. So, this 50 something year old man thought he was trying to be helpful, but I found it really uncomfortable that he was even talking to me about this.

When I was about 11 or 12 years old, I learned how I was supposed to be ‘ashamed’ of smelling bad. Boys apparently could smell nasty, but not us girls. It was all around me: ridiculous commercials that reminded me how disgusting and shameful it is to smell like less than a prize winning rose as a female. I also remember my mother telling me that I should make an effort to make sure I don’t smell while on my period. I never was able to solve that ‘problem’ though, as I was always very odoriferous during Aunt Flo’s visit. Puberty basically meant spending a lot of time using soaps, sprays, and anti-perspiration deodorants to mask my natural bodily odors; products that I would later learn were horrendous for my health.

Unfortunately, I grew up in an interesting culture in which people like my mother and this man at the park believe that one should use harsh chemicals to mask the shame of natural odors. And on top of this, I would later learn that as the only Black girl in an entirely white K-12 school system, I simply could not smell or make it appear that I had ‘bad’ hygiene practices because I had to represent an entire race of people (that, in itself, is another story!).

And of course most of us who subscribe to this culture don’t even know that products such as anti-perspiration deodorants are toxic to our systems. So, as this man at the park explained how he confronted this mother about her daughter’s odor, I kept thinking how this girl shouldn’t dunk her body in a bunch of chemicals that will increase her likelihood of yeast infections (FDS use) or using just to make people like this man, happy. But, I also thought about how this man commenting about her hygiene practices is Black and so is she. How much did that have to do with his need to tell her mother? Is he concerned about this issue with all kids he helps to take care of during summer camp, or are Black girls more of a concern because he doesn’t want them ’embarrass’ all Black people?

Overall, this man’s perspective on cisgender female’s bodily processes (hormonal changes that cause postpartum depression and certain body odors starting with puberty) was quite disconcerting for me. However, I know that he is not an anomaly but rather represents what a majority of those in the USA think.

Maybe I will return to that park, armed with data that shows how postpartum depression is real and that most Americans have an unhealthy relationship with how they deal with the fragrant human body? I can leave a gentle note letting him know how his perspective is potentially harmful and hurtful.

If you enjoy the content of my writing, you can find out more about my latest book project. This book will be book number 3 for me. My first two were Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health and Society (Lantern Books 2010) and Scars: A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England (Sense Publishers 2014).

My new book is tentatively title “Gs Up, Hoes Down”: Black Masculinity, Veganism, and Ethical Consumption (The Remix). Don’t worry folk, the first part of the title is from DJ Cavem’s song of the same title which talks about Gs as “organic growers” and “hoes” as the garden tool. Go here to find out more.

Vegan Secret #1 For Minimal Menstrual Pain and Heavy Bleeding

So, I started my period today. I am going to be honest with you. There is no single nutritional and health regiment that will work for every single person who is menstruating. However, I wanted to share with you what I do so I can have a pleasant menstrual cycle each month.


I made a white bean, kale, ginger soup. Kale is my go to herb for just about everything that ails me. Kale and ginger are anti-inflammatory. This is important, as an inflamed uterus means lots of bloating and pain. Kale is also high in nutrients such as lutein (great for eye health), Vitamin C (awesome immune system booster), and Calcium. When I do not have time to make a hot meal like soup, I will make a smoothie or lightly saute a half bunch of kale in a little olive oil and sea salt with fresh ginger slices. My favorite way to eat kale is via a smoothie. Whether it is my period or not, I eat kale nearly every day, but also take a break in between to be gentle on my thyroid. So, I will be on kale for 3 weeks and take 1 week off.

Stinging Nettles is another great herb to have in your diet, whether you are menstruating or not. I usually make a 1/2 gallon of nettles tea per week so I have enough to last me the week. I take a big pot, put 1.5 cups of nettles (dried. If you use fresh, wear gloves so you don’t get a rash. Don’t worry, the heat neutralizes the stinging component) and about 75 ounces of water into it. I bring to a boil and then once it boils, I turn low and simmer for 5 minutes, and then I turn it off, cover, put to the side, and let it infuse over night. This is called an infusion and this process allows the minerals and vitamins to be drawn out the stinging nettles. An anti-inflammatory plant, it is great for toning the uterus, cleansing the kidneys and liver, and provides Calcium and vitamin K to name a few. It is also excellent for fertility as well as achieving beautiful hair and skin.

Exercise four times per week . I hike or power walk with weights on me (a baby in an Ergo carrier) 3-5 times per week.

I also found that eliminating sugar and refined flour from my diet, the week before and during my period, is an excellent way to ensure low inflammation. Eliminate caffeine as well.

Of course there are many other things one can do, but these are my core dietary and exercise principles.

For the past 2 years, I’ve basically been listening to Stic.Man’s The Workout . It’s a brilliant pro-vegan and holistic health album. While pushing my babies up the steepest hill in Berkeley, Marin Ave, I like to have the song “Let It Burn” on repeat. As a matter of fact, Stic.Man will be one of 6 amazing black male vegans I’ll be writing about for my latest book project. This book will be book number 3 for me. My first two were Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health and Society (Lantern Books 2010) and Scars: A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England (Sense Publishers 2014).

My new book is tentatively title Gs Up, Hoes Down: Black Masculinity, Veganism, and Ethical Consumption (The Remix). Don’t worry folk, the first part of the title is from DJ Cavem’s song of the same title which talks about Gs as “organic growers” and “hoes” as the garden tool. Go here to find out more.

[Video] Scars of Suffering and Healing: A Black Feminist Perspective on Intersections of Oppression

This is the talk I gave at the Activist’s Table Conference, which took place at UC Berkeley on March 15, 2014. It was sponsored by the Factory Farming Awareness Coalition. I talk about Sistah Vegan and also read from and analyze my newest book, Scars, a social fiction that intersects issues of racism, internalized homophobia, and speciesism to name a few. This is my first public presentation of my new book and reading excerpts from the much anticipated novel.

In addition, check out the graffiti on the wall of the bathroom stall that was right down the hall from where I gave my talk. Perfect timing!


Engaging with the idea that interrogations of race, gender, and whiteness in veganism is not pointless: Reflections on the Sistah Vegan Conference


(Photo of Dr. A. Breeze Harper)

The Sistah Vegan Web Conference took place on September 14, 2013. It was titled “Embodied and Critical Perspectives on Veganism by Black Women and Allies.” (What, you missed the conference!? No worries, the entire conference was recorded and you can purchase the recordings by clicking on ‘CLICK HERE TO REGISTER’ on the conference page. Even though the conference has ended, clicking on this link will send you to the recordings purchase page: Sistah Vegan Conference Recordings)

It was a terrific 8 hours. Here is a small taste of what we learned, talked about, and shared:

  • How veganism was healing for Black women’s reproductive health
  • Black women, veganism, and the challenges of sizeism
  • Patriarchy as problematic in the USA animal liberation movement
  • PETA’s racialized-sexualized uses of the female body to promote ‘going vegan’ for animals;
  • How the ‘white savior complex’ complicates and causes stress for Black women within certain USA vegan and yoga community spaces
  • The politics of industrialized and processed baby food and creating an indigenous vegan womb ecology
  • The ways in which the Sistah Vegan Anthology motivated so many of us to chose the path of veganism

I think that this conference is very important for a significant number of people interested in critical studies of food, critical studies of animals, and/or Black studies. However, I really suggest this conference to the significant number of ‘post-racial’ (almost always white identified human beings) people who continue to contact me with clear anger (whether it is direct or passive-aggressive) that they can’t believe that I am bringing up how race, gender, and whiteness influence vegan practice, rationale, and consciousness. And such messages arrive on comments sections of my blog, FB pages, or my personal email box with the confession by most that they have never read anything about critical studies of race, black feminist theory, or critical whiteness studies– but they are CONFIDENT and CERTAIN that issues of race, gender, and whiteness have no place to be interrogated within the realm of veganism. They may not recognize this, but this is called white entitlement when they approach me in this manner. It is an act of discursive violence and it is the perfect example of how whiteness, as a system of communication and rhetoric, operates. This method of communication is simply not harmonious, not healing, and is the antithesis of non-violence (ahimsa) that veganism embodies for so many of us.

I simply offer that if folk with the above communication behavior want to have a sincere and open discussion about the “point” of the web conference, Sistah Vegan anthology, and my other social science based research, that they start with listening to the Sistah Vegan conference; maybe reading the Sistah Vegan Anthology, and also reading my masters and dissertation work which clearly articulate the relevance and importance of engaging with critical race, black feminist, decolonial, and critical whiteness studies within veganism in the USA. I assure you, both Harvard (my Masters work) and University of California (my dissertation work) would not have been passed me if I had not properly used social-science based research and rigorous methods and methodological approaches to my intersectional work on veganism, culture, and systemic oppression. I would not have received the coveted Dean’s award from Harvard for my Masters thesis work (only given to one candidate per department) and nor would have I received a 2 year fellowship to complete my PhD work from University of California, if the deciding committees at both institutions had determined that my academic inquiries into veganism were ‘pointless’ or ‘race-baiting’ (as many of [mis]interpreted). Please email me at sistahvegan (at) gmail (dot) com if you would like to receive citations and/or copies of my published works, thesis, and/or dissertation to get you started. With that said….

Thanks so much to everyone for making this an incredibly awesome event. I look forward to next year’s!

If you participated in the event and/or listened to the recordings, please post to this blog how you felt about conference, what you learned, what you may have had difficulty with, what was surprising to you, etc.

Pathologizing the 'fat body' as immoral and then experimenting on non-human animals to find a 'cure'.


I just read an article on the NY Times, “Gut Bacteria From Thin Humans Can Slim Mice Down.” 

This is amazing to me. First, fatness is pathologized in the US. And then, to offer a cure, scientists conduct experiments on non-human animals to prove that they can cure the immoral fat body. I’m just shaking my head over this.  As usual, the lack of critical thinking around the new obsession over bodies that don’t conform to a BMI of 21 is disturbing. The lack of more critical thinking and compassion towards non-human animals being experimented on, in this article, is very sad.

I also started thinking about how fat-shaming and sizeism in the USA mainstream vegan and vegetarian community don’t really engage in critical analysis of the fatphobia in this culture. Even though most animal liberation oriented vegans don’t support non-human animal exploitation, this NYTimes article points to a huge over-arching problem: concepts of healthy bodies continue to be shaped not by objective science, but by normative ideologies of civilized bodies that are constructed by systemic sizeism, classim, ageism, ableism, racism, and sexism just to name a few. These ideologies influence the direction of medical science research. The detached use of non-human animals as ‘experiments’ to cure our anxieties over achieving the perfect healthy body really speaks volumes of how much our minds, at least here in the USA, have been colonized. Even though the collectivity of USA vegans condemn speciesist logic in using non-human animals for medical experimentation, a majority continue to support fat-shaming, sizeist, ageist, as well as ableist and racist/colorist conceptions of how a moral body should look like. There is a reason why Skinny Bitch is a bestseller and why VegNews declared Rory Freeman their “person of the year” for 2008: The majority of VegNews and Skinny Bitch fans sincerely believe that not being skinny is objectively immoral.  For that 2008 issues, VegNews didn’t take the time to even write one sentence that critiques the accepted USA culture of fat paranoia and shaming. As “person of the year”, Vegnews upholds Freeman’s books and her bodily aesthetic (white, class privileged, skinny, young, able-bodied) as the benchmark of a ‘healthy’ vegan change-maker; and they do this without ever questioning how that body type reinforces white supremacist capitalist conceptions of a post-2000 healthy moral citizen.

The intersectional topics of fat-shaming, veganism, and race will be one of the keynote talks at the upcoming web conference on September 14, 2013: “Embodied and Critical Perspectives on Veganism by Black Women and Allies.” Click here to find out more.

T.O.F.U. Magazine will be sponsoring several scholarships for people to attend the conference. Please check out their amazing issue this past year that interrogates veganism, sizeism and body types here.


Updated: Embodied and Critical Perspectives on Veganism by Black Women and Allies

(Updated with times for each presentation)


1st Annual Sistah Vegan Conference

“Embodied and Critical Perspectives on Veganism by Black Women and Allies”

Date: September 14, 2013

Time: 10:00am-6:00pm PST (USA)

Location: Web Conference Using This means the location is on the Internet, accessible by computer or telephone. 

Registration $45.00

Conference Recordings: The entire conference will be recorded and downloadable 24-48 hours after the event. Those who have already paid for the LIVE conference viewing will have access to the recordings. However, if you simply want to purchase the recordings, that option is available for $25.99. However, this option will not be available until the recordings have been processed. Hence, you cannot register to download the recordings until 24-48 hours after the event.

Please note that anyone can register as an audience member to learn about the critical and embodied perspectives of women of color vegans. Anyone can register as an audience member . One need not identify as a girl/woman/womyn/trans vegan of color to participate. This is open to all.

Click here to register




10:00 AM PST

Introduction: How Veganism is a Critical Entry Point to Discuss Social, Animal, and Environmental Justice Issues for Black Women and Allies. 
Speaker: TBD
Length: 10 minutes

In this introduction to kick off the conference, the speaker will introduce how the concept of veganism can shed light on critical issues effecting Black girls and women in the USA. She will explain how veganism, as both method and philosophy, is an often overlooked perspective in a USA society that has normalized the exploitation and abuse of racialized minorities such as Black females, as well as the normalization of violence against the environment and non human animals used for human edification. This talk will be an introductory segue into the scheduled talks and discussions. It should hopefully open up innovative ideas by intersecting veganism, health activism, food politics, animal compassion, and anti racism into the lives of Black women and our allies. In addition, the speaker will introduce what is means to be an “ally” in the context of the Sistah Vegan Project.


10:15 AM PST

Keynote Talk: How Whiteness and Patriarchy Hurt Animals

Anastasia Yarbrough

Inner Activism Services

Length: 30 minutes (20 minute presentation; 10 minute Q&A)

Abstract: In the animal rights movement, racism and sexism are treated primarily as separate forces comparable to but not wholly relevant to animal protection, with the exception of leftist pockets inspired by ecofeminist animal liberation thought, the Animal Liberation Front and other direct action groups, and the emerging Critical Animal Studies.  As recent as the 2013 Animal Rights Conference, the “mainstream” animal rights movement tends to treat anti-racist, anti-sexist movements as struggles of the past that inform the new frontier social justice movement that is animal rights.  However, the goal of this talk is not to argue how and why this tokenizing is a problem.  Instead, my focus is to spark a dialogue on how white supremacy and patriarchy directly impact the animals we’re striving to help and protect, thus giving further relevance in the animal rights movement to become more conscious of how racism and sexism operate in society.  As a black woman who is also a long-time activist for animal liberation and justice, I have the unique position to see these intersections and notice that human violence towards animals is rarely ever lacking color or gender, nor is it always simple to tease apart from systemic issues like racism and sexism. Therefore, I hope that this talk can serve as a useful and engaging spark that is relevant not just to animal rights activists but also to social justice activists who are just beginning to consider animals.


10:50 AM PST

Presentation Title: PETA and the Trope of “Activism”: Naturalizing Postfeminism and Postrace Attitudes through Sexualized Bodied Protests

Aphrodite Kocięda

University of South Florida

Length: 30 minutes (20 minute presentation; 10 minute Q&A)

Abstract: For this presentation, I will explore PETA’s marketing campaigns that use the trope of “activism”, couched in vegan and anti-animal cruelty rhetoric, to naturalize postfeminist ideas and postrace attitudes about women’s bodies. In this postfeminist space, attaining a white sexy body becomes activist work. For PETA, the ethical aims of the vegan diet (is purported to) coincide with attaining a particular type of femininity that excludes women of color. Women of color are only strategically used in their campaigns as authentic signifiers of “diversity”  where the white framework remains undisturbed. PETA uses “activist” rhetoric in their ads to bolster and naturalize the postfeminist and postrace ideas inherent in their logic.


11:25 AM PST

Presentation Title: An Embodied Perspective on Redefining Healthy in a Cultural Context and Examining the Role of Sizeism in the Black Vegan Woman Paradigm

Nicola Norman, B.S. Nutritional Science

Baltimore, MD

Length: 30 minutes

This presentation takes a look at sizeism and how it affects attitudes in the Black community and the mainstream towards Black Vegan Women. Body Mass Indexes calibrated to white norms contribute to producing stigmas and increasing challenges to women whose bodies seem to exist at the intersection of social and cultural pressures/expectations. How big our hips, buttocks, and thighs are, are constantly being put under a microscope by family, friends, community, and the bigger society that we live in. This may be affecting Black women on the fence about trying veganism for its health benefits or deter them already due to these pressurized standards. Black vegan women of all sizes are often chastised for not meeting those standards. Black female bodies are very commonly exoticized in society.  I will give examples of this and look at how sizeism is many times at the crux of this. Lastly, I will offer suggestions on how to combat the challenges of sizeism within mainstream vegan rhetoric in the USA.


Break 12:00 PM PST


12:25 PM PST

Presentation Title: Cosmetic Marginalization: Status, Access and Vegan Beauty Lessons from our Foremothers

Pilar Harris

Pilar in Motion (

Length: 30 minutes (20 minute presentation; 10 minute Q&A)

Abstract: The terms ‘Vegan’ and ‘Cruelty Free’ are labels that help lend integrity to commercially produced cosmetics. Yet these labels may also be used for marketing purposes, particularly in campaigns not created with black identified women as the intended target consumer. Although the internet has largely transformed access to cosmetic products labeled ‘Vegan’, there exists a degree of status and exclusivity in terms of the price point and distribution of these products, so that many black identified women remain marginalized. These products include body care, makeup and feminine hygiene items, the things we use daily and that are closer to our bodies than the clothing we wear. One option in taking a stance against cosmetic marginalization is to extract from our histories (personal, cultural and otherwise) the beauty lessons that were intended to nourish, protect and cleanse our bodies long before they could be known as ‘Vegan’.


1:00 PM PST

Open Discussion: “Why I Relinquished the Gospel Bird and Became a Vegan”: Girls and Women of African Descent Share Their Reasons for Choosing Veganism

Length: 45 minutes

During this hour long moderated and open discussion, Black girls and women will share their reasons for choosing veganism. If you would like to participate, email sistahvegan (at) gmail (dot) com to secure your space to speak. Space is limited to about 8 storytellers. You will have about 5-7 minutes to share your journey.


1:50 PM PST

Keynote Talk : “Midwifery, Medicine and Baby Food Politics: Underground Feminisms and Indigenous Plant-based Foodways and Nutrition”

Length: 35 minutes (25 minute talk, 15 minute Q and A)

Claudia Serrato

University of Washington

Doctoral Student of Sociocultural Anthropology

During this decolonial era, Indigenous midwifery in East Los Angeles despite the several attempts to dismantle this ancestral practice along with their Indigenous plant based nutritional advice thrives as the alterNative to biomedicine. The Indigenous foodways and nutritional ways of knowing guided by these midwives is critical in restoring or decolonizing pregnancy, birthing, feeding experiences and most importantly health. In placing the decolonial present into perspective, a herstoricalfeminist narrative of early Los Angeles, midwifery, medicine, law, and the baby food industry discloses a critical dimension of the colonial matrix of power, which has neglectedly been overlooked in determining changes in diet, health, and birthing. In recovering Indigenous foodways and nutrition, underground feminist practices in the urban ethnoscape of Los Angeles restores womb and taste healing memories.


2:30 PM PST

Presentation Title: Constructing a Resource Beyond Parenting as a Black Vegan: Discussing Geography and Theology and Their Contradictions Within

Candace M. Laughinghouse

Regent University, PhD Candidate (Theology of Animals)

 Length: 30 minutes (20 minute presentation; 10 minute Q&A)

Abstract: Surprisingly, I receive more support from non-blacks when it comes to parenting as a black vegan. Within the black community, I am guaranteed heavy doses of skepticism and defensive responses if I choose to reveal that my children have never ingested a hot dog, hamburger, bacon, and chicken!  But beyond parenting as a black vegan are the challenges that relate to geography, theology, and even my own appearance. The Sistah vegan movement (as I like to call it) is inspiring as I pursue a doctoral degree in theology of animals and the effects on black theology. As a parent, my job is to protect my children and teach them the road to fulfillment in life involves education, using their talents, and compassion for all sentient beings.  I want to present the above topics as many black parents have a theological foundation that can be seen as contradictory to being vegan.


3:05 PM PST

Panel DiscussionYoga for the Stress Free Soul Sista

And Radical Self-Care Teaching: Exploring Privilege in Yoga & Veganism for Girls of Color

with Sari Leigh

Anacostia Yogi


Kayla Bitten

Length: 50 minutes (40 minute discussion; 10 minutes Q&A)

Abstract: Sari Leigh will give black women,  practical yoga tools to help resolve stressful home situations, past racial traumas, heartbreaks and reconnecting to spirit. Participants will learn the 15 second Mind Cleanse, A Soulful Flow yoga sequence and the revolutionary power of Mantra.  Kayla Bitten will address how, on a daily basis, we people of color continue to reap the oppressive consequences of a society who refuses to see us as part of the movement to a society of innovative development and solidarity. Working with young girls and women, Kayla has witnessed first hand the effects of a society whose racist and misogynistic views has stifled them; stifled them in a way that has them questioning their worth, pushing them to participate in harmful ways of nourishment both physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and their all around position as a young girls of color living in America. Advocating ways to engage in radical self love and care is an important practice that Kayla teaches these promising young girls. She achieves this through eating habits and yoga, but she also continues to realize the lack of representation in an area where engaging in such self care is considered ‘for white people only’ (or westernized to an unnoticeable position), blatantly financially unattainable, not having the access, or being taught by those who do not have an ‘all inclusive’ work ethic. Kayla will discuss how we can began to help young girls learn and unlearn ways to decolonize and resist through acts of self care such as accessibility to spaces where we can learn about vegan/vegetarianism/ healthy eating (and ultimately how to create our own spaces where these resources can be attainable) and yoga.


Break 4:00 pm PST


4:20 PM PST

Open Discussion: Reflections on the Sistah Vegan Anthology

Moderator: Dr. A. Breeze Harper (tenative)

Length:  35 minutes

In 2010, Lantern Books published Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health and Society. It was the first book of its kind to centralize the Black female vegan experience in the USA. Regardless of racial or ethnic identity, all are invited to openly dialogue about how Sistah Vegan anthology, as well as the Sistah Vegan Blog, affected their lives. How did you end up with the book? What chapters stood out for you? Did you give the book to a friend or family? Do you teach with the book? What would you like to see in the second volume? Email sistahvegan (at) gmail (dot) com if you would like to participate. Space is limited, so please reserve your spot.


5:00 PM PST

End of Conference Keynote Address:

Is Black Decolonization Possible in a Moral Economy of Neoliberal Whiteness? How USA Black Vegan Liberation Rhetoric Often Perpetuates Tenets of Colonial Whiteness 

Dr. A. Breeze Harper

Research Fellow

Department of Human Ecology, Community and Regional Development

University of California Davis

Length: 60 minutes (45 minute presentation; 15 minute Q&A) 

Abstract:   For this concluding keynote, I analyze the food that a popular Black vegan guru promotes in order to ‘purify’, ‘decolonize,’ and ‘liberate’ Black Americans from legacies of colonialism and racism. First, through an Afrocentric framework, I show how this Afrocentric philosopher resists anti-black conceptualizations of Black women as “unfeminine” and “breeders.” Such a stance is empowering and a declaration of anti-racism against the mainstream USA narrative that Black women and girls are disposable and worthless. After this analysis, I use Black feminist theorizing to explore how the meanings this famous health activist places on particular vegan commodities, unconsciously reproduces heterosexist, ableist, and black middle-class ‘reformist’ conceptualizations of a ‘healthy’ Black nation. Lastly, I explore how USA Black vegan consumer activism may often be at the expense of oppressing other vulnerable communities (i.e. how certain Black liberation empowering super-foods come to us because of economic policies embedded in neoliberal whiteness).  If we engage in vegan consumerism without regard for how our vegan commodities get to us (i.e. sweatshops, child slavery, displacement of indigenous communities) what does this truly mean in terms of liberation, as well at the limits of decolonization within a USA capitalist moral economy?

Registration Fee:  $45.00

Click here to register

I ask for a registration fee to pay speakers, pay for webinar service, and also to fund the Sistah Vegan project to become a non-profit organization. Go here to learn more about that.