Monday, December 26, 2011

Critical Race Theory, Saturn Cafe, Beer Revolution, and Souley Vegan. Exhausting Two Days and Longest Blog Post EVER. But Worth It! So Worth It!

For some reason, I like to spread myself too thin on a regular basis. I take up every invite, run around the city like a crazy person, end up being late for everything, see everyone, have a blast and sometimes eat too much. This kind of activity leaves me really tired on a regular basis, but hey! I'll sleep when I'm dead, on my weekends, on public transit.

For example, last month, in a two day span, I went to work, went to the chiropractor, saw Breeze Harper speak at UC Berkeley, ate at Saturn Cafe, slept, went to work, went to Beer Revolution and then Souley Vegan. Two days of public transit to the East Bay. How I worked out there for 3 months over the spring and early summer, I don't know. Oh yeah! I was really fucking depressed.

I was super excited to see Breeze Harper speak. She wrote a book I have yet to read, called Sistah Vegan. I've watched a couple of her videos and I especially love that she talks about intersections between veganism, classism, racism, sexism and hetrosexism. (I think in the vegan community, the lines and intersections are hardly studied, especially those between veganism and classism. That's why I love The Food Empowerment Program so much.)

The Breeze Harper lecture was very insightful. This woman is brilliant! She read us part of her dissertation, which I liked, but my favorite part was when she answered questions from the listeners.  Here is a video from that night, as she recorded the event.

Some points of interest for me included:
     *The difference between looking at a vegan diet within a Eurocentric framework vs an Afrocentric one.   
     For instance, the reasons and health issues around veganism and diet vary considerably due to differences
     in backgrounds and ethnicities.
    *Black women tend to have higher risks of fibroid tumors, and womb health is an important issue within   
     the black community. The womb is also a important topic because it brings up the point that           
     within  American history, the black womb has been used for such atrocities as rape and enslavement,    
     particularly child enslavement. Black women cannot begin to heal themselves within a Eurocentric  
     framework of health and diet.
     *White middle class neoliberalism is usually considered the status quo amongst the vegan community. 
     Within this framework, veganism is a tool in which there is justice for animals, but what about things like  
     child labor and fair trade? Aren't those important aspects to consider as well?

     *We live in a carno-centric society. (The colonizer's diet.)

     *We live in a society that does not recognize black women as the Queens that they are.

     *Suffering of animals vs suffering of people due to racism, colonization, white supremacy and slavery.   
     The idea of going vegan to reduce all suffering, not just that of animals.

     *The kitchen as a laboratory of healing.

     *The belief that African people (pre-colonization and slavery) followed a mostly vegan and raw diet.    
     Using veganism as a tool to resist the effects of colonialism, colonization and imperialism.

     *PETA has a one dimensional approach to animal liberation. Again, going back to the notion of the 
     white, neo-liberal framework. Animals may not suffer because of the 'cruelty-free' products they post, but
     what about the people that make said products (food and beauty)?

     *Vegan conciousness is constructed through societal privileges and oppressions. But there are many ways
     to come to veganism - the Eurocentric moral framework of veganism is not the only way.   

    *Healthy is a socially constructed term. In our society healthy = skinny and that is FUCKED UP. There  
     is also the notion that if you go vegan, you'll get healthy and skinny (Skinny Bitch, anyone?). However,  
     many of us know that this is untrue. I, for instance, struggle with my weight so much since going vegan, it
     has not been some quick fix to getting skinny. Plus, there is so much vegan junk food out there! SO
     MUCH. It's easy to be vegan and be unhealthy, just as it's easy to be skinny and unhealthy or vegan and
     NOT skinny. But skinny shouldn't equal healthy and it definitely shouldn't equal beautiful. FUCK YOU

 There was so much information! My mind was effectively blown. I can't wait to read Sistah Vegan! After the discussion, I headed to Saturn Cafe to eat dinner with my old roommate Vanessa. Of course I ordered too much food. I like Saturn all right - so much junk food though! Like I'm going to just order a salad when I go there, yeah right! I want nachos!

Half an order of vegan nachos.

And a small Crispy Tofu Sesame Salad.

As if this night had not been tiring and gluttonous enough, I had agreed to meet my friend Sean the next night, over in Oakland for beer and soul food. I have lived in the Bay Area for 2.5 years and had not eaten at Souley Vegan until last month. You would not believe the amount of flack I received. Irritating amounts of flack.

Beer Revolution. Many beers to choose from and right next door to Souley Vegan! It was uncomfortably packed. So I sat outside at one of the tables, waiting for Sean, who was stuck in traffic. Unfortunately for me, it was cold and drizzling. Welcome to Bay Area fall nights!

Make sure you always bring your ID. I saw a man, who was definitely not in his 20's, maybe over his 30's, get carded. I mean, he was so over the age of 21, it was embarrassing to watch. I guess he had forgotten his ID and watching the scene unfold was a joke. But a really unfunny one. Like, seriously? The doorman is REALLY not going to let him in? Yikes.

And then...Souley Vegan! Yay! Finally! I guess if you are drinking at Beer Rev, you can order from Souley Vegan and they will bring your food over. So I've heard through the rumor mill.

Sean and I ordered so much food. The sampler plate AND the Crispy Tofu Burger. Plus beer. OMGAWD, I was still full from the night before. I feel kind of sick thinking about the amount of food I consumed in a 24 hour period.
Sampler plate, minus mac'n'cheese because I cannot stand nutritional yeast in large amounts. I think we subbed more greens.

Crispy Toasty? I don't even remember.

I really loved Souley Vegan, but oh man, I'm not eating the whole day of, before I go there in the future. Lie! But I'll try to lightly snack, because this food is FILLING. I would like to go on a sunny afternoon, in which I can enjoy the deck at Beer Revolution and eat Soul Food.

Was it weird to be eating Soul Food after the 'Critical Race Theory and Veganism' discussion? Yeah, a little. I thought about the lecture a lot. For instance, the links between soul food and slavery, fried food and an African diet of mostly raw foods. Education! It's not always easy or comfortable.


  1. I'm always giddy when you include me in your blogs. We'll go again when it's sunny and we've starved ourselves for a few days.

  2. I always think back to the corner of fifth and Burnside, PDX, Thursday 12/22/04, and the astounding revelation that learning, though necessary, can be painful, yet you should not let the potential for pain keep you from trying to learn and grow.

    I've learned a lot from you, bub. Keep up the good work.

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