Vegans of Color

‘I have gratitude for all those years I spent in restaurants, [but I yearned] for being around just vegans and cooking just vegan food’

Chef E as he appeared on Chopped
Chef E as he appeared on Chopped
Photo: Food Network

What happens when a seasoned gourmet chef discovers firsthand the many benefits of plant-based eating? Some of the most stunning vegan dishes you could imagine!

Chef Edwin Anthony Rodriguez, who came up in New York City and currently resides in Charlotte, N.C., worked in Michelin-starred restaurants for over a decade before launching his own private vegan chef business. From appearing on Chopped to working as a consultant for hospital dietitians and nutritionists, Chef E has truly seen all sides of the food service industry.

“I have a large amount of gratitude for all those years I spent in restaurants,” says Chef E (he speaks highly of the work environment that allowed him many opportunities to mentor others in the kitchen), “as I got older, though, I did start to yearn for being around just vegans and cooking just vegan food.” …


Vegans of Color

Learn her process for veganizing recipes, her Vietnamese home cooking staples, and find out how to make perfect Vietnamese spring rolls

Lisa Le smiles while posing with a plate of delicious noodles.
Lisa Le smiles while posing with a plate of delicious noodles.
Photo: Katherine Sousa / Two Market Girls

The theory of love languages, coined by Gary Chapman in The Five Love Languages, offers a framework for qualifying one’s preferred ways of giving and receiving affection. These include acts of service, quality time, physical touch, verbal affirmations, and gifting. But some argue that a sixth should be recognized: food.

“My mom sometimes has issues with expressing affirmations verbally — like of course she’ll tell me that she loves me—but she expresses love more through other ways, like waking up early and making my favorite dish for breakfast when I was growing up,” says Lisa Le, creator of the blog and YouTube channel The Viet Vegan. “I think I inherited that idea of ah, yes, I love this person, I will make them all the food!” …


Vegans of Color

Jamila Anahata is an activist, a healer, a metalhead, a marketing director, and a passionate vegan with so much to share

Photo of Jamila Anahata, wearing a witchy black outfit, looking at her tarot spread while reclining on a yellow bed
Photo of Jamila Anahata, wearing a witchy black outfit, looking at her tarot spread while reclining on a yellow bed
Photos provided by Jamila Anahata

“Veganism was definitely the spark that ignited my holistic wellness journey,” says Jamila Anahata, creator of The Soulful Veganista, a blog where she shares her knowledge of holistic healing, delicious recipes, and spiritual guidance. The blog, and Anahata’s Instagram account of the same name, is a place where you’re just as likely to see metalhead fashion inspiration as you are a killer recipe for teriyaki tempeh.

Anahata also works as the Multimedia Marketing Director for the Afro Vegan Society. “We aim to help disempowered communities become empowered through vegan living, and learning about social justice, food access, anti-racism work in environmentalism,” she says. …


Vegans of Color

The founder of a collective for women and non-binary POC reflects on how she found her community when she looked beyond white veganism

Amy Quichiz posing with her fingers held to her left temple in front of a backdrop of iridescent fabric.
Amy Quichiz posing with her fingers held to her left temple in front of a backdrop of iridescent fabric.
Photo: Bridget Badore

We all come to veganism differently — and we should all challenge ourselves to question, learn, and think critically at every turn. For Amy Quichiz, the journey began with passionate advocacy against animal abuse, but turned into more as she began to question the overwhelmingly white spaces she encountered.

“I started to be more passionate about veganism through my experiences, and the experiences of other folks of color. I think that’s when I truly became more food justice oriented, rather than just supporting veganism.”

That passion for intersectional food justice eventually led Quichiz to co-found Veggie Mijas, a collective by and for women and non-binary POC. Originally, the site was meant to be a platform for sharing recipes, but as the site was shared, interest for a meetup grew. “I thought that was amazing — I really didn’t know any of these people, and they all wanted to come together. To talk about veganism in our communities, and how that affects us.” …


Vegans of Color

The baker and entrepreneur has spent the last two years getting ready to open her first brick-and-mortar…. Now what?

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Photos provided by Justine Hernandez

Every restaurant in America was forced into a tenuous position this past month as the COVID-19 crisis accelerated and many cities issued Shelter in Place ordinances. Some owners of small vegan restaurants are moving forward with cautious optimism, balancing a concern for the health and income of their staff with thoughts on the bigger picture of what business will look like in a post-pandemic world.

But what would you do if you were about to open a restaurant when the crisis struck?

“I’ve been [working on opening] for two years plus a few months, and a lot of my friends who have restaurants are like ‘Oh, you must be so stressed,’ and I just can’t be. Because there’s nothing anyone could do,” says Justine Hernandez, owner of vegan baking company Just What I Kneaded. Hernandez, who had just completed the last push of crowdfunding for her first brick-and-mortar location at the end of 2019, spoke with Tenderly over the phone as she watched the gas installation in her new space. Read on for the LA native’s and service industry veteran’s advice on opening a business, baking, and staying calm in a time of crisis. …


Vegans of Color

The Herbivorous Butcher’s co-founder discusses his vegan journey, his family’s love of food, and starting an animal sanctuary

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Photos provided by The Herbivorous Butcher

One of the hardest parts of changing your diet is the cutting out a favorite food—and for Kale Walch, that challenge became an opportunity for inspiration. After turning a full 180° away from greasy fast food and towards a vegan diet in 2012, the budding chef embraced his creativity in the kitchen. “I really needed something that would really convince myself to stay vegan,” says Walch, co-founder of The Herbivorous Butcher, “and that’s when my passion for the vegan meats and cheeses really started. I was obsessed with getting the textures and the flavors just right.” …


Vegans of Color

Lemel Durrah, the chef and owner of Compton Vegan, on being his own boss and serving a community that has lacked access to delicious, healthy food

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Photos courtesy of Lemel Durrah

Staying healthy in food desert—an area with a lack of supermarkets, fresh produce, and access to non-processed food—is no easy task. A 2010 study showed that in South L.A., there were only only 60 supermarkets to service approximately 1.3 million residents (the same number of supermarkets that service half as many residents in affluent neighborhoods in West L.A.).

“If I’m not providing vegan food, there is no option for the city,” says Lemel Durrah, the chef and owner of Compton Vegan. “It’s important for me to continue on the marathon that I’m on. It’s important for me now, not just to keep my business going, but because as a kid growing up, I didn’t have vegan options.” While there many residents working to improve access to healthier foods in South L.A. …


Vegans of Color

The Mexican-American creator of ‘Queer Brown Vegan’ on decolonizing climate action — and his favorite veggie meatballs

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Photo provided by Isaias Hernandez

Climate change is harmful to all humans, but intersections of class, race, and gender alike can make certain groups more vulnerable. From the ways that redlining puts communities of color at higher risk during heatwaves to the negative global impact on indigenous populations, it’s clear that institutional privilege extends protections even when it comes to the environment. But in the fight for environmental justice, these voices often suffer for lack of mainstream representation.

Isaias Hernandez runs Queer Brown Vegan, an Instagram page that provides educational breakdowns of environmental terms with an emphasis on intersectional perspectives. A graduate of UC Berkeley’s environmental science program, Hernandez has studied climate change and worked within student organizations to diversify the field. …


Vegans of Color

The recipe developer and blogger recently returned home to the Philippines to learn from local culinary experts

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Photos courtesy of RG Enriquez

“I would eat Filipino food as a way to cure my homesickness,” says RG Enriquez, reflecting on her teenage years that followed her family’s move from the Philippines to the San Francisco Bay Area. Years later, after a college nutrition course prompted her to experiment with eliminating animal products from her diet, Enriquez came to Filipino food with a new goal: to veganize the recipes that reminded her of home. She started her blog, Astig Vegan, to document her experiences and share recipes.

But Enriquez’s curiosity about Filipino food grew beyond recreating her childhood favorites — this past year, she returned to live in Manila and research traditional Filipino cuisine. “[The Philippines] has more than seven thousand islands,” she explains, “I’ve found dishes that I’d never heard of, and that’s very humbling.” In an interview with Tenderly, Enriquez discusses her relationship to food and family, her experience returning to the Philippines, and how she’s barely “scratching the surface” after nearly a year of living in Manila. …


Vegans of Color

The vegan YouTuber and yoga teacher on how caring for herself led her to help others do the same

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Photos provided by Ashley Thompson

It’s no secret that vegetarian and vegan diets can shave a life-saving percentage off of an individual’s risk for heart disease and reduce related lifestyle risk factors like obesity, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes. And in black populations, these risks are often much higher — that’s a huge reason why content creators like Ashley Thompson work to fight stigma and increase representation in vegan and wellness communities where white bodies have long held focus.

Thompson spent the past year traveling the world, creating video content for her channels and other vegan brands, and teaching yoga. In a conversation with Tenderly, she discussed her experiences in the wellness sphere and shares the connections and communities that helped her feel welcome. …

About

Casey Walker

Writer, vegan, heavy sleeper.

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