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Turnip For What? Plant-Based Eating in the Black Community

Growing seeds of strength through a plant-based eating lifestyle.

By Gerrard Roberts


Larenz Tate and Nia Long are accomplished artists that have created some of the most nostalgic films for the Black community. There hasn’t been a line smoother than on the big screen since Darius Lovell, played by Tate, said, “I’m the blues in your left thigh, trying to be the funk in your right” in the movie Love Jones. However, their most prominent acting role has been concealing their secrets to their fountain of youth that keeps turning back the hands of time. Well, the secret is out; to ensure their black don’t crack, they have both practiced plant-based eating

It’s not uncommon for Black people to maintain a vegetable-forward diet. There’s a movement in Africa to return to the original eating habits practiced before colonization. Many African restaurants are deciding to serve meatless meals to heal the community from preventable diseases like type 2 diabetes. 

The rise of social media has increased visibility of how plant-based eating can be good for the soul. Here are some of the peacemakers, trailblazers, and culture curators in the plant-based eating space. 


ToGo Option: For the Plant-Curious Foodie 

Humanitree House Juice Joint & Gallery Founded by Baruti and Denise Tucker

First, in Augusta, GA, the hometown of James Brown, Humanitree House Juice Joint & Gallery is the best place to find vegan, organic, and local nutrition. Nestled in the heart of downtown, this juice joint and gallery has become an oasis for free thinkers, peacemakers, and art lovers. When you walk into the building, you will be enamored by the soulful art and the herbaceous smell in the kitchen. 

Baruti and Denise Tucker opened their restaurant and art gallery to educate the community on integrating whole foods into their diet. With a mission to offer natural healing through interaction and collaboration, the married couple hosts art therapy workshops, live music, and small performances. They built their business with the African proverb in mind: “one generation plants the seed, the next generation gets the shade.”

For those new to plant-based eating or looking for top-rated holiday vegan dishes this season, check out the vegan sweet potato pie and marinated kale salad. Then you can see that plant-based food can be well-seasoned and packed with flavor. If you live outside of Augusta, check out Afro Vegan Society’s directory of Black-owned vegan restaurants.


DIY Recipes: For the Homecook

Sweet Greens Vegan Founded by Shakayla Houston

Finally, Shakalya Houston started her vegan journey in 2018 and picked up blogging to share her experience with her community. Her decision to go vegan was simple.  Instead of waiting for something to go wrong, she was proactive and incorporated more plant-based eating into her diet. One of her most creative dishes is Vegan Fried Fish, which uses banana blossoms as the fish substitute. 

Then, her down-to-earth and easy-to-make recipes have helped her gain a supportive tribe of one hundred thousand Instagram followers. In addition, she has recently released a holiday vegan cookbook, which offers veganized versions of traditional holiday dishes. With recipes like cheesy vegan mac and cheese and jalapeno cheesy cornbread, this cookbook turns the volume up on flavor. 

The process of eating more plant-based meals is a step-by-step journey. There are multiple ways to start that meet you where you are. If you are struggling with your health, weaving plant-based alternatives into your diet can provide positive benefits. The power is in your hands with to-go options that save you time. Or choose from hands-on recipes from scratch that tests your skills in the kitchen. Don’t let Thanksgiving and Christmas family dinners disrupt your health journey. No matter what path you choose, it’s never too late to get into the groove of passing the peas like we used to do

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