According to federal statistics, African American adults are 30 percent more likely to die from heart disease than non-Hispanic whites---shocking, right? However, it is never too late to adapt healthier lifestyles that will not only extend your life expectancy, but revitalize your overall quality of life. There are certainly several ways one can live a healthier lifestyle, and in recent years the vegan diet has become a go-to for reform. Several celebrities including Russell Simmons, Prince, Reverend Al Sharpton, and Erykah Badu have adopted this nutritional path as a way of life, and have campaigned for others to do so too.
Nutritionist and author ofVegan Soulfood Guide to the Galaxy, Afya Ibomu, has been a long-time advocate of veganism. She and her husband, Stic.man of the hip-hop group Dead Prez, have helped several people, including, Erykah Badu, convert to living a life free of eating food derived from animals. Could this be the start of a new movement?
Why is a vegan diet healthy?
A vegan or vegetarian diet is healthy because its plant based. Many studies show that eating a plant based diet reduces your risk if not totally prevents cancer, heart diseases, diabetes and stroke. But a vegan diet can also be unhealthy if the proper nutrients are not consumed. Many people take meat out of their life but eat a lot of junk food (yes there are vegan junk foods). So balance is key.
Can you provide tips for transitioning into the vegan lifestyle?
I have seven steps in the book but a few are: 1. Add one new food to your diet every two weeks 2. Make sure you are eating a rainbow of colors of fruits and veggies daily. 3. Read and research. When changing your lifestyle make sure you know why you are doing it and the benefits you will get.
How is a vegan lifestyle healthier for your heart?
As a vegan you dont consume any cholesterol, [because it's] only found in animal products. We only eat small amounts of saturated fats that come from nuts and avocados. These foods have easier forms of fats to digest and metabolize even though they are fat. Fruits and vegetables help to keep the blood flowing and free of clogs and clots.
What are some overall health and lifestyle changes that people experience one they have made this dietary transition?
In general, [some of the changes include] improved energy, weight loss, and a reduction in cholesterol levels and blood pressure. [For women it improves] premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms.
You've helped several clients change their lives, is their one client's transition that is the most memorable?
Surprisingly, my mothers. [She has] Multiple Sclerosis, [and] after two weeks on a raw vegan diet and supplements, her symptoms improved about 80 percent. That was 10 years ago. She is now basically a vegetarian but eats seafood from time to time. She has changed her fate and is not going down the unfortunate road of so many others [that suffer] with MS.
What was the inspiration behind your book Vegan Soul Food Guide to the Galaxy?
I was inspired to write the book because I have gotten so many questions over the past 22 years [I've been] a vegetarian. People would ask, 'Where do you get your protein,' 'What do you eat,' 'Is there anywhere I can eat out.' I wanted the book to be a guide on how to get your necessary nutrients, where to shop, what to buy and where to eat out.
For more information on where to purchase Soul Food Guide to the Galaxy visit www.nattral.com