Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m Jamila, a passionate social justice activist and conscious lifestyle blogger in the DC/Baltimore area who loves to live authentically! I love writing, makeup & personal style, tarot card reading and other divination practices, engaging with people, yoga & meditation, cooking, and most importantly, eating.
For work, I’m the coordinator of a Baltimore-based non-profit called Afro-Vegan Society, where we engage with Black people to aid them in transitioning to a vegan lifestyle. It’s literally one of my dream jobs, combining my love for veganism and my culture! We have a community garden, table at local health events and conferences, and even have our own monthly meetup in the city. You can check us out at afrovegansociety.org or on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @afrovegansociety!
When I’m not working, I’m typing up new blog posts and recipes on my blog thesoulfulveganista.com, sharing my lifestyle and activism on Instagram @thesoulfulveganista, and constantly working on personal growth. The hustle never ends for me, but it’s worth it to know that I could possibly help others live their best life!
What lead you to veganism? How long ago?
I went vegan just under five years ago when I couldn’t stand the state my health was in. This was in the middle of my college career so I thought I was too busy to care, but my body had other plans. I was always a picky eater, only eating fast food and completely avoiding fruits and vegetables. Eventually, it all caught up to me and I had no choice but to consider that what I was eating was keeping me feeling like crap. After doing a ton of research on the negative health impacts of animal products and seeing Earthlings shortly thereafter, I decided that I was no longer going to participate in such a destructive industry. That is also when I wanted to encourage my fellow Black millennials to do the same by following my Instagram account!
When you first went vegan how did you phase out your non-vegan food, clothing and other items?
Since I was a college student who lived with their parents at the time, I just let them eat any leftover animal products I still had in the fridge. Luckily, I didn’t have many clothes that contained animal hide so whatever I did have I just gave away, but I threw out pretty much ALL my makeup which was kind of a bummer; but hey, I have awesome vegan makeup now!
What does being vegan mean to you? For example, does it extend to not killing bugs and bees? Does it include not patronizing vegan companies owned by non-vegan parent companies? Does it affect the way you treat other humans?
My morals resonate with only wanting to consume cruelty-free items, whether it affects animals or humans. I like to stay on top of which companies exploit humans in the production process as well as those who use animal products (including bees and bugs) in their “goods.” Of course, this is somewhat unavoidable, as most mainstream markets have incredibly harmful production practices but we still have to do the best we can to resist their destruction. Veganism actually has made me slightly more compassionate toward humans because it’s taught me more about how oppression works.
Is it every vegan’s duty to become an activist?
Not necessarily. To me, being vegan is enough since most people will be interested in one vegan’s lifestyle eventually. It would be nice to help out the cause more, but people should just do what aligns with them (although being an activist rocks!).
How compassionate or empathetic are you towards non-vegans?
I don’t let their comments or food mishaps slide, but I am pretty empathetic towards them. I mean, we all used to be there, right? I can’t shame someone for being just as misinformed as I used to be, especially since what we vegans know is supposed to be a violent secret. Sometimes, it’s just best to say, “You know what, I’ve been there before. But I feel so much better now and I know you can too.” No shame, no arguments, no problem.
Any recommended Vegan books?
Sistah Vegan by Dr. A. Breeze Harper and Aphro-ism by Aph and Syl Ko!
What’s your favorite Vegan restaurant?
Oh shoot, there are so many! If I could choose, I would say NuVegan Cafe in College Park, MD and DC.
Please share your favorite vegan recipe?
My favorite recipe is actually my own recipe that I put up on my blog a couple of years ago! It’s my 3-Ingredient Pancakes in which you blend one cup of nut milk, 1-2 bananas, and one cup of oats (or any sweet spices of your choice) to create some yummy batter. Toss them in a skillet and you got yourself some fluffy and healthy pancakes!
Some encouraging words for new Vegans?
Now that you know what you know, you don’t ever want to go back. This does so much good for our planet, humans, animals, and your health. and I’m so happy for you for taking such a courageous yet fulfilling step. Just be consistent and you’ll be a Level 1000 vegan in no time! Good work!
What is the vegan scene like in your city?
Yo, the DC AND Baltimore vegan scenes are poppin’ so I have no complaints! There are too many vegan restaurants to count and the vegan events are spectacular, especially the Vegan Soul Fest in Baltimore.
What personal recommendations can you make for people to meet other vegans?
Go on meetup.com and search for some vegan support groups in your area. If there aren’t any, create one yourself! Also, take advantage of social media since vegan accounts are becoming more and more popular every day. It sure feels like I have a vegan community on my Instagram!
Talk about a time when you struggled with your Veganism?
I went raw for the first time during the first six months of me being vegan, and as a college student, I was running out of cash to afford to be raw or vegan. Fortunately, my parents tossed me a few dollars to get some vegan items at the grocery store, so I wasn’t completely starving but it was definitely a challenge.