Following the popularity of shocking food documentaries What the Health and Food Inc., constant GMO warnings and the exposure of graphic slaughterhouses and chicken farm’s, The Source asks the question, “Can the decline of health and influx of disease convince poor and urban communities to convert to a plant-based diet?”

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“Poor people are all suffering from the same thing, and that’s poor diet…”

I was devastated when we had to bury one of my favorite cousins this year. Sharon was exciting, rambunctious and full of life. She was always ready to break a rule to have a little fun and she was always down to eat some good old-fashioned soul food. Fried chicken, barbecued ribs, collard greens with smoked turkey, and macaroni and cheese. Eating ‘comfort food’ was our way of enjoying ourselves. Despite watching several of our older family members pass away from cancer, diabetes, strokes, and heart disease, we consumed foods that were passed down to us until they became nostalgic. Unbeknownst to me, my late cousin was undergoing dialysis treatment and suffered from kidney failure and hypertension. She passed away at 38-years-old leaving behind two beautiful children. It was at this moment I decided that some traditions and cycles– are meant to be broken.


I began studying and researching plant-based and alkaline diets.

I knew several people who healed themselves following Dr. Sebi’s alkaline diet and several reversed serious medical conditions. After months of research, I realized there was a lot of confusion and misleading information in the food industry. Chickens, cows, and pigs were being tampered with, tortured and tossed on our plate and we were consuming their angst and agony. Deep down I felt if many of my deceased family members had some of this information, they might make different food choices.

Alkaline cookbook author Lisa Buford is no stranger to healing herself through changing her lifestyle. After living a relatively healthy lifestyle, doctors discovered fibroid tumors the size of grapefruits causing her to have myomectomy surgery. Black women are the largest group who suffer from fibroids. They returned a second time forcing her to have a partial hysterectomy and encouraging her to figure out what was going on with her body.

She said, “I found out at the time that diet played one of the biggest parts. I found out more about the food industry and what they were actually doing to our food and I got angry.”

Her shocking revolution was one that many face.

The more I researched I found out the vegan community was a big money-making industry and it was a lot of propaganda.

“Your body is electric and it needs food that is going to spark like a battery sparks a car,” she explains. “If you’re eating a dead carcass that has no living cell force what is it doing for your body? So, your body has to fight to remove it out of its body because it’s not doing anything. Putting that into your body makes it have to fight more than to fuel.”

After learning about alkaline diets, Lisa realized Dr. Sebi was the doctor that helped Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes and decided to follow his regimen. “I gave myself a 30-day Dr. Sebi approved diet and within the first week, my carpal tunnel and excessive mucus was gone. So I knew there was something to it.”

Continuing her new lifestyle, Lisa was able to stop the tumors from coming back.

“My biggest challenge was finding the (Sebi) approved foods in supermarkets. The original grains and plants and vegetables that are not hybrid. I had to learn how to make the recipes simple and cost-effective. My goal in all of this was to bridge the community to being vegan. Some people in the inner city believe it’s too expensive or it doesn’t taste good. I wanted to make an alkaline cookbook with easy simple recipes that people would still feel full hearty and were economic-friendly.”

While many fail to question the food industry and where their food comes from Lisa feels now we have access to hidden information.

“I feel like this is the social media generation and that’s a plus because now we don’t have to believe what they’ve been telling us. I don’t have to believe you need milk for strong bones because now you can research it. I think people are questioning the misinformation we’ve been given all our lives because of the propaganda of the money making companies of beef and dairy and that’s what we’ve been told our body needs. We can see firsthand what they are doing to food in videos and I think we’re waking up.”

Afya Ibomu, Holistic Nutritionist, author and celebrity chef for artists such as Erykah Badu, Common, Dead Prez, and Talib Kweli is well aware of the reasons why urban communities struggle with eating healthy.

Number 1. Tradition. Our traditions are ingrained in us from birth. We live in a society that promotes junk food to us all day every day it takes a strong person to break the tradition of the society and culture they live in.

Number 2. Habit and addiction. Our habits are hard to break and most of the processed foods today have chemicals in them (including sugar) that keep us addicted. It’s just like asking why is it hard for people to stop smoking cigarettes.

Number 3. Lack of information. When corporations along with the meat and dairy industry have so much control over the government there is a lack of information or concern for people. Money is more important than truth.” Afya hosts a podcast with her husband Stic-Man of Dead Prez where they attack pertinent issues. “Brown communities suffer from a disproportionate amount of diseases like asthma, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and obesity. These diseases can be healed and totally reversed just by choosing healthier foods, eating more fresh fruits and veggies, eating more Whole (unprocessed) Foods, drinking more water, exercising and meditating.

Margaret Gathunguri, an avid city gardener who shares her gardening tips through her Instagram page believes the key to being in control of your culinary destiny is growing your own food. And despite what many believe, it’s not as hard as you think! “I started gardening after I came back from studying abroad in South India where I spent a lot of time on farms. I lived at a farm where I volunteered to work in the garden.” It was there she found her love for growing produce. “I just watered and watched things grow which interested me. I was reading all these books on gardening in the U.S. and had these huge plans of transitioning our yard into a garden. I killed a lot of plants that first year.” She admits the beginning was rough but continued her new hobby. “I feel like some people give up on gardening because of the initial failure. Some people say I have a green thumb and that’s not true it’s just very few people get to live off the land, these skills used to be passed down to generations and now it’s just disappearing.” Margaret admits, “it’s a dangerous place to be because you’re depending on this system that can fail in any moment. I don’t think anyone should be fully dependent on the grocery store. A lot of cities have community gardens that people don’t take advantage of. If you have even a very small place or balcony that gets light you can grow in containers. You just have to know how to get the right soil and how to start the seeds. I’m always amazed how much you can get out of a 3-gallon container.”

Lacking tasty and nutritious restaurants, Chef Brenda, opened Seasoned Vegan in Harlem after having a plant-based diet 22 years. Providing savory vegan dishes for the community, Chef B encourages people to transition for their health and humanity. “If a person is curious about this lifestyle, I would recommend the first thing they remove is dairy products because that causes mucus. And that’s a mucus that goes all throughout your body and mucus carries the most bacteria.” She continues, “It brings me such joy to come here and do this for the community because poor people are all suffering from the same thing, and that’s poor diet.”

Do you want to get started incorporating more greens in your diet?

Begin with breakfast. Start your day with green juice or smoothie with no additives. This is important for starting your clean eating journey. When the body consumes large amounts of processed foods, sugar, and meat there is a high acidic content. Green juice increases the alkaline in our bodies. When the juice is consumed in the morning it goes into the bloodstream and the nutrients will naturally cleanse the digestive tract, blood, liver, and kidneys. Here are two recipes to start.

Green Lemonade Recipe

1 head romaine lettuce or celery

5 to 6 stalks kale (any type)

1 apple

1 whole organic lemon (you don’t have to peel it)

1 to 2 tablespoons fresh ginger (optional)

Mix in juicer and enjoy

Green Smoothie

1 1/2 cups fresh spinach

½ Cup cilantro

1 cup coconut water, unsweetened

1 cup pineapple

Mix in blender and enjoy