Black women in the United States experience the highest rate of preventable chronic diseases. This includes heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. These days, there is a lot of literature out there about the benefits of a plant-based diet, however, within the Black community, there aren’t many options for people to turn to if they want to make this lifestyle change but need some support that centers the Black experience.
Public health nutritionist and author Tracye McQuirter wanted this reality to change, so she started a free 21-day online program called 10,000 Black Vegan Women, with the initial goal of helping 10,000 women switch to a healthy vegan diet. The desire of women in the Black community to make this lifestyle change is obvious, as McQuirter surpassed her goal of hitting 10,000 sign-ups one week before the program’s official launch last year.
The 10,000 Black Women program provided a platform for a new community of Black women. This offered them a space to offer and receive support on top of the other resources that are available to users such as cooking videos, meal plans, vegan recipes, grocery shopping lists, meal prep guides, and nutrition tips. McQuirter surveyed more than 600 participants once the 21-day program had finished, and found that among those surveyed, 82 percent completed the entire 21-day program. A solid 80 percent of those participants ate a completely plant-based meal 80 to 100 percent of the time, and 67 percent saw an improvement in their general health.
McQuirter has been vegan for over 30 years and is one of the many notable vegans who are dedicated to encouraging their communities to transition towards a plant-based lifestyle. The 10,000 Black Women program isn’t the first project of its kind to be taken on by McQuirter. Prior to this, she partnered with the animal rescue organization Farm Sanctuary back in 2016 to make the first African American Vegan Starter Guide.
Black Americans are currently the most rapidly growing vegan demographic in the United States thanks to supporting programs like McQuirter’s. Just this year, national non-profit organizations Afro-Vegan Society (AVS) launched the Veguary campaign for Black History Month. This campaign challenged people to commit to a vegan lifestyle for the month of February and offered a series of free programs highlighting the contributions of Black vegan trailblazers.
Those who decided to pledge the month of February to veganism received free resources and support from AVS in the form of an online community, cooking demonstrations, daily emails, live Q&A sessions, interactive check-ins, and a variety of vegan recipes to suit everyone’s tastes.
McQuirter and others like her hope that their work will continue to educate and encourage their communities to turn the statistics on their heads and adopt healthier diets despite the generations of systematic injustice that inform the overall health of Black people in America.