Brenda Sanders on Making Veganism Accessible to Black Communities and Using It to Help Overcome Race-Based Oppression

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This show features an interview with powerhouse activist Brenda Sanders, founder and executive director of the Afro-Vegan Society and several other vegan food justice organizations in the Baltimore area.

We also discuss the beauty and uniqueness of elephants and rhinos, as well as how they are exploited in the poaching and entertainment industries.

In addition, we present a new segment on how biases in media coverage can influence the general public’s thinking on topics surrounding veganism. We hope to empower our listeners with education. Tune in to this episode to hear about a recent controversial claim that vegetarians and vegans have a higher rate of stroke.

Elephants and Rhinos in the Poaching and Entertainment Industries

September 22nd of every year is both Elephant Appreciation Day and World Rhino Day! It is a great day especially to remember and reflect on these beautiful animals, and to remind us to hold them dear every other day of the year. Elephants form strong bonds and are highly social animals. They are emotional creatures who mourn the loss of their own, such as when their herds are poached for the ivory trade, or when their young are taken from them for the entertainment industry.

Elephant family trekking through terrain, two young elephants up front with tucks intertwined as they walk.
Elephant family trekking through terrain.

Elephants and rhinos are hunted by poachers and cruelly cut apart for the poachers to extract their tusks and horns. These sell on the black market, and are mostly exported to countries where it is legal to sell ivory. Often, the poaching involves shooting blindly and quickly into herds who run closely together to protect their young. The loss of each life means the loss of the knowledge they would have passed down to future generations. For animals that travel such great distances for food and water, this means losing a sense of where to go in order to survive. A chilling documentary on elephant poachers called The Ivory Game is available on Netflix. It walks the viewer through the poaching industry, the ways in which countries are trying to stop the poachers, as well as the role of activists in stopping this cruel trade.

Young elephants are taken from their families to be trained for circuses. These little ones are taught through fear, pain, and starvation to take unnatural poses and risks performing for the crowds. It is difficult to imagine such gentle creatures having their lives dominated by humans in such a tragic manner. We see them in social media, majestic and kind, but by visiting circuses, we fund their continued captivity and the destruction of their families. Elephants are emotional creatures with long lives. This means many years of suffering as humans exploit them for our own greed and amusement. Elephants are travelers, walking long distances with their herds while socializing all day together. Confining them in small spaces alone for our entertainment is cruelty packaged neatly with a bow.

Brenda Sanders, Founder and President of the Afro-Vegan Society

Brenda Sanders, the executive director of Afro-Vegan Society.
Brenda Sanders, founder and Executive Director of Afro-Vegan Society.

Today’s featured guest, Brenda Sanders, speaks with us on how to make veganism and plant-based foods more accessible to black communities, and her work as a powerhouse vegan food-justice activist.

As Executive Director of the nonprofit organization Afro-Vegan Society, Brenda Sanders has devoted her life’s work to making veganism accessible, affordable, and approachable to marginalized communities. She founded Afro-Vegan Society to help empower the black community by using veganism as a tool to overcome systemic race-based oppression shared among those who have a common African ancestry.

Brenda is also actively involved in several other community organizations as the co-founder of Thrive Baltimore, co-creator of Vegan SoulFest, and co-owner of The Greener Kitchen. Each organization tackles different aspects of veganism to help it become accessible to all: Thrive Baltimore is a community resource center which offers classes, workshops, and cooking demos, along with other programming, to support people in living a healthier and more sustainable life; there is lively celebration every year at the Vegan SoulFest to spotlight black culture and vegan living; and The Greener Kitchen is the first-plant-based deli in Baltimore.