Hello! I am a PhD student who loves talking about veganism as it relates to my culture, intersectionality and sustainability. On my platforms, I share easy vegan recipes that highlight Ghanaian and West African food culture, ingredients and cooking methods. Interspersed between recipes, I love to challenge my audience to think outside the box when it comes to living a vegan lifestyle as it pertains to being more inclusionary and intersectional. You can find me on Instagram at @thecanadianafrican or on my blog at www.thecanadianafrican.com
Before 2015, veganism was a word I had probably heard less than a handful of times. Every time I did hear it, it always felt so far away for me. As a Black African woman, it didn’t seem like it would fit in the same sentence with my cultural foods. I thought it was something for the white people because everything I saw vegans eating looked bland, lacked flavour and didn’t look like anything I would eat. Let alone, the people sharing the vegan message looked nothing like me, so I really didn’t see it as something for me.
However, in 2015, many things changed. I heard about veganism for what it truly was, and I wanted to dive in whole heartedly. I saw it as an opportunity to be healthier and do better for the planet. But I hit a roadblock, thinking: how can I maintain who I am while living a life I believe in?
I searched far and wide to find an African vegan community, but in 2015, even though not too long ago, there were very few people highlighting the vegan lifestyle within the African context. I sought out to change this. After multiple conversations with my parents concerning what they ate as children, I believed that it could be done. Going vegan forced me to have more of these conversations with them to have a better understanding of what truly consisted of our cultural foods. These conversations allowed me to see that living a vegan lifestyle did not detract from my cultural identity – in fact, it felt like an opportunity to connect more with my culture.
With this realization, I started my platform on Instagram @thecanadianafrican to highlight how veganism can still be done in conjunction with expressing one’s culture. I think there are many brown and black folk who are searching for content creators that look like them and who are creating different vegan foods that they can resonate with. People are searching for ways they can maintain their culture even as vegans.
As the vegan community continues to grow, there are more and more products available that are making my job to highlight the ease of integrating veganism and culture a lot easier. Every day, maintaining my Ghanaian food culture and maintaining my vegan lifestyle has become easier and easier. I can still have my Ghanaian porridges, breakfast drinks and pastries by simply swapping out the dairy milk and butter for a plant-based alternative, probably the easiest swap for me. At first glance, many might not see how some of these products can be integrated into their own foods but having a platform like mine shows the other ways vegan and plant-based products can be used in different contexts compared to how they are usually advertised. Continuing to share these foods has allowed me to share the vegan message in a much more culturally sensitive way compared to the information I had transitioning into veganism. It’s heart-warming to see more Ghanaian and African vegans sharing our cultural food veganized with more people being better exposed to West African cooking.
The crux of all of this is to share that living a vegan lifestyle can be done in so many different ways. It doesn’t have to follow what Western society has told us veganism is. Living plant forward lifestyles have been part of many food cultures around the world; it is now a matter of highlighting those stories just as much as veganism in North America.
If you’re looking for a yummy plant-based recipe that is Ghanaian inspired, check out my Plantain Pancakes at the link below.