I am Aaron Luxur; creator, guerilla-gardener, critical thinker, and co-founder of Vegan Voices of Color.
I’ve lived in Compton, CA all of my life. I am 21 years old and the former portion of those years in this city were ruled by meat, dairy, and obesity. I took an early interest in health and fitness because I was not happy with my health and my weight growing up. I remember always being in last place whenever my cousins and I raced up the drive-ways. I remember always being chosen last for all activities on recess or p.e. I remember having to pack my albuterol pump and treatment machine with me every time I went to a sleepover. I remember going to the malls with my mother, but being limited to the styleless, husky children section. I remember being the one always having to hopefully search for a way underneath the fence or walk all the way around instead while everyone else climbed and hopped the fence. And I remember—one of the more scarier, pivotal memories— at 10 years old having to forcefully take double breaths sitting in the passenger front-seat of a cousin’s car who had, embarrassingly, taken notice of my irregular breathing. Even the weight of the seat belt webbing felt like too much on my chest. I’ll always remember all of this because it’s important to me to never forget where I came from. I was overweight and miserable and my family could see how badly I wanted to change my life.
The same cousin who had witnessed my uncomfortable forced double-breathing gifted me a one-year, 24hr Fitness membership that year for my 5th grade graduation from elementary school. Its important to note that I identify myself at that time as a victim. I do not place any blame on myself, my mother, or any loved one who thought they were making me happy by doing what they, and I, had been programmed to believe was good for me—feeding me animals and their byproducts. Food is what made me happy and, at that time, I considered these animals and the food they made for their young, food for me. However, the scale I was given for consideration was rigged and extremely limited; the chance to actually consider what I’d once considered food was never really given, instead it was deceptively disguised under misnomers like bacon, pepperoni, sausage and I was never told or exposed to how the ‘food’ I was eating actually arrived to become the ‘food’ I was eating. Neither had the people feeding me, or themselves, the bodies of these animals and their byproducts. I was caught in the matrix of carnism: the invisible belief system that conditions our society to eat certain animals.
With the understanding I have today, whenever I look back in retrospect at my uncomfortably unhealthy, overweight childhood, I don’t place the blame on anyone except the system that is the catalyst behind this blinded massacre of non-human animals, our planet, and the health of the people I love. My mother was only giving me the foods that her mother gave her and my grandmother was only giving her children the foods her mother gave her and so on and so on…but the further I dug to the root of who assigned us these ‘foods’ that many of us have now subsumed as ‘tradition’ and culture, the more connections I were able to make; the easier it became to decolonize my diet. The system at the root of all this destruction is well-planned and our oppression was already calculated under the scope of profit and power. I have taken back my power. And it started by changing what was on the end of my fork. My childhood obesity was one of my greatest blessings in disguise. My desperate pursuit to escape the grips of oppression and obesity at an early age has led me to many answers and knowledges that I am immensely grateful for and am not certain I would have learned of otherwise (like many other folks lost in the shuffle). If knowledge equates power and with that power comes great responsibility, it’s become my greatest responsibility to empower my community through spreading the truth: the health, ethical, environmental, and social impacts of veganism. From this knowledge and gratitude fruits VVoC (Vegan Voices of Color).
VVoC was an idea by me and my best friend, Unique, that spawned from our passion to educate our peers and community about critical global issues we’d spent our spare time learning about: global warming, pollution, famine, food deserts, health epidemics, environmental racism, the list goes on (and we will be addressing all of the madness and sadness in VVoC). Through our combined knowledge of community organizing and living on plants, we aim to educate communities of color about veganism as well as how animal agriculture directly plays a major role in our systemic oppression.
This communal uprooting begins first by dismantling the idea of the vegan lifestyle as an elitist, privileged, White people diet. This is a huge misconception I’ve encountered many times in conversation with folks of color and it stems from the white-supremacism in mainstream media, the lack of diversity and visibility of PoC in the mainstream animal rights movement, as well as individual, one-sided, irresponsible, counter-productive activism from non-PoC advocating for animal welfare. Vegan Voices of color has nothing at all to do with being a space exclusive to PoC—veganism is for everyone, these issues are all of ours to combat. Vegan Voices of Color is about rising to the occasion where mainstream veganism has fallen short. Being the source of education to communities that are least exposed and educated about veganism, yet the most oppressed and marginalized. The whitewashing in mainstream veganism would lead one to believe that we have no place in the animal rights movement; that we should be focused on ‘our’ issues, ergo we begin to miss the connection that animal oppression is very well our oppression. We miss this important connection because mainstream veganism fails to reach our communities; it fails to represent us; it fails to address or draw the connection between how these various systems of oppression are, in fact, entangled with one another, yo-yoing under the thread of white supremacy and capitalism that sustains animal agriculture. But VVoC is here to fill that void. One issue cannot be solved without addressing the other and this is why we advocate for social justice from an intersectional platform.
We are focused on building a community of intersectional activists and shifting the conversation of social justice by advocating one solution to an entire gamut of issues: veganism. Our community will be resource-based, FAQ oriented, serving to give people the answers, resources, and stories necessary to make their transition and understanding of veganism as simple and as logical as possible.
We will share critical thoughts and perspectives. Recipes and stories from our own kitchens and other vegan voices of color around the globe. Demystify myths about veganism in regard to health, the environment, and economics. Host live video discussions, private workshops, presentations and webinars. Review and support vegan restaurants and other vegan establishments (books, documentaries, conferences, and more!). There will be pictures, there will be words, there will be receipts, and a massive global rising of plant-powered communities of color worldwide.
We are two revolutionaries from Compton, CA uncomfortable enough to speak up; moved enough to start a movement; brave enough to believe we can change the world.
Don’t watch the revolution, be part of it.