FOOD & DIVERSITY
The video interview project “Athletes, Food & Diversity” is a response to systemic underrepresentation of people of colour in vegan subculture. I launched this project to shine a light on the contributions and achievements of vegans of colour, be it in the fitness industry, healthcare sector or social justice movement. While the project idea had been developed long before the pandemic, the events of last year instilled in me a sense of urgency.
Health inequities have recently been the subject of many heated debates, both locally and globally. As devastating as it has been, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted two important issues: the detrimental environmental repercussions and adverse health outcomes associated with the 44
consumption of animal products, and the existing health inequities contributing to higher morbidity and mortality rates among ethnic minorities in high-income countries like the UK and USA. These ecological and socio-political realities attest to the urgent need to act to change our food culture. Adopting a plantbased diet not only reduces our collective environmental footprint but also reduces the risk of future pandemics. A plant-based diet carries individual benefits as well, as it assists weight loss and mitigates the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure – conditions that disproportionately affect ethnic minorities.
There is no denying the negative health impacts of sys-
LEILA DEHGHAN temic racism. Equally obvious is that people of colour have been often overlooked by the mainstream vegan movement, which is dominated by white middle-class people. If we Google ‘vegan food’ or ‘veganism’, we see images of white vegans, veganised Western foods – images that ethnic communities cannot