Veganism Creating a New ‘Soul Food’ Culture

Maintaining a Soul Food culture with Vegan Food

Research shows that more black people, African Americans, are reducing or completely moving away from eating meat, in comparison to non-blacks.

“In 2016, “nonpartisan fact tank” Pew Research Center confirmed that just three percent of the American population identified as vegan. However, that figure jumps to around eight percent among African American adults.”

As a result, plant-based soul food is changing the face of traditional soul food, while maintaining the richness of its culture in minority communities. says, “the term Soul Food originated from the cuisine developed by the African slaves mainly from the American South.”  

African Americans had been cooking soul food for generations, but it was during the 1960s, the time of the Civil Rights Movement, that the term really came into play. According to an article from, this is the time that blacks were seeking to “reclaim their part of the American cultural legacy.”

There are many foods considered to be the staples of southern soul food dishes. (see the infographic below)

Infographic Created by Lakisha Bostick

Thanks to the variety of plant-based ingredients like jack fruit, mushrooms, tofu, cauliflower, and all the vegetables you can think of, as well as, non-dairy cheeses, non-dairy milk, vegan eggs substitutes, special seasonings, and more, vegan foods are helping soul food lovers maintain the satisfying feeling they had when they ate meat and dairy ingredients.

Seasoned Vegan, a popular vegan soul food restaurant in Harlem serves the crowds at Vegandale in New York City in Sept. 2019. (Image by Lakisha Bostick)

Shakeema Funchess, a nurse from Albany, New York, has been vegan for the last two years. She was one of the crowds of people to take part in the festivities, vegan food tastings and culture at Vegandale NYC, on Randall’s Island, in September 2019.

“Eating vegan soul food allows you to eat and be full, without feeling heavy,” said Funchess.

Along with restaurants, like Veggie Castle, in South Richmond Hill, New York, African-Americans who go vegan, can also enjoy vegan soul food and dishes from their heritage, by purchasing a cook book, and making the plant-based recipes themselves.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Bryant Terry, an award winning chef, activist and author of five cook books, including his newest release, Afro-Vegan. His desire is to help people re-think what it means to be vegan in the 20th century.

“My mission with my books, public speaking and a lot of the work that I do, is to get our people, black folks, to eat more vegetables,” Terry said.

While Mr. Terry knows and understands that being a vegan may not be everyone’s choice, he believes, “we all need more legumes, fruits and vegetables, a plant-based heavy diet.”

Terry believes, it’s deeper than just the choices of food that people need to consider.

“If I can get people to think more deeply about the impact of their consumer choices on animals, on the environment, on their health, and the public health at large, then I feel like I really accomplished what I set out to do,” Bryant Terry says.

At this point, you, the reader, you must have been pretty curious about how vegan soul food really tastes. Hey, your mouth might have even watered over. Don’t worry, I wouldn’t leave you out there. has compiled a list of the top vegan soul food restaurants from around the world. Click here for more information.

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