In February, Black VegFest organizers held their second community conversation, a monthly chat about the benefits of plant-based eating, with the seniors at Brevoort Housing, a senior community center in Brooklyn, New York.
Seniors are one of our most vulnerable populations and are prone to heart disease, our nation’s greatest killer. Many seniors have high blood pressure or suffer from diabetes and take several medications a day.
During each discussion we use PowerPoint slides to illustrate the nutritional contrast between beans and beef. The seniors learn that plant-based meals have protein and no cholesterol and that beef has a high concentration of cholesterol; a disproportionate amount of fat relative to fiber, iron, and calcium; and too much protein.
The monthly chat also offers plant-based food demonstrations to participants. Our goal is to teach every senior in the Bed-Stuy area how to create healthy, delicious meals without animal products. In addition, they learn where many of their illnesses stem from, as well as about the medicinal properties of plants.
Most recently, participating seniors were offered a delicious fruit smoothie made with bananas, blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries. We discussed the phytonutrients in the ingredients and the lack of fat and cholesterol in such a nutrient-dense food. At a prior demonstration, seniors were served a meal with hummus, celery, and chips—and gave the recipe good reviews.
A hurdle for seniors (and most people) is the belief that whichever meal is quick and easy for a person on a fixed income must become the go-to meal. These seniors don’t have a butler or errand boy handy, so our final step is helping seniors identify which grocers carry the healthy food they love.
Black VegFest wishes to remind our community about the importance of seniors through our conversations at lunch. Seniors offer us oral history and a connection to our past, and we have an opportunity to offer lifesaving information with a vegan treat.
Last year, during Black History Month, an elder approached me to express her gratitude for our monthly talks. She shared with me that she was a healthy 74-year-old transitioning to a vegan diet and hoped to continue walking without aid and taking zero prescription medicines.
The next senior gathering will be in the last week of the month. Learn more about upcoming events, including Black VegFest Co-op City in the Bronx, by visiting BlackVegFest.org.
**Omowale Adewale is the author of An Introduction to Veganism and Agricultural Globalism, a former champion fighter, and a MaRLI research scholar certified in plant-based nutrition. He is currently producing Brotha Vegan for Lantern Books, a collection of insightful essays, stories, and other writings by Black vegan men. He is the founder of Black VegFest.