Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Vegan Soulfood Guide to the Galaxy

The Vegan Soulfood Guide to the Galaxy: Your All-in-One Guide for Soulful Vegan Recipes, Grocery Shopping, Dining-Out, Nutrition and More! by Afya Ibomu

I first learned about Afya Ibomu in VegNews magazine. I believe she had published an article about vegan soulfood. Finding information about vegan cuisine in the Black/African diaspora is challenging so naturally I looked up Afya Ibomu. Instantly, I grew an affinity to this woman. First, like me, she is multi-dimensional and a "jill of all trades". She has a website and an online magazine called Nattral. She is a Certified Holistic Health Counselor, a trained vegan chef (Natural Gourmet Institute in New Yorkl), a mother, and received a degree in nutrition from Georgia State University. On top of that, she is the wife of stic man of socially and politically conscious hip hop group dead prez, freelance writer, and crochet artist. Her crocheted pieces have been worn by the likes of fellow vegans and vocalists, Common and Erykah Badu.

Afya was also Erykah's nutritionist on the Worldwide Underground Tour.

Besides, having all of these attributes, Ms. Ibomu has a gummy smile just like me.
Afya's gummy smile

My gummy smile

Okay, okay. I've got more gums on her by at least two centimetres or more.

Periodontology (the study of gums) aside, The Vegan Soulfood Guide to the Galaxy is a refreshing addition to my collection. Initially, I wanted to purchase this book because I thought it was a vegan wellness guide. After reading the first section, I realized that this book was actually a cookbook too. Not only that, it came with this snappy DVD called Pimp My Tofu. (I don't know if I want anyone to actually pimp my tofu but it seems to be a catchy phrase.) And there is even a catchy jingle that stic man throws down. See the preview below.

I appreciate that in "punk rock" Kujichagulia (self-determination), Afya self-published this book with her publishing company Nattral Unlimited. Full of glossy black-and-white and colour pages, I am encouraged by a book like this which is very original and independent. (I have a few projects I wish to self-publish.) I also appreciate the breakdown on where a vegan can eat when going out to a restaurant and how to decipher nutritional information. It is evident that Afya was trying to reach an audience of the Black/African diaspora yet her book his in no way exclusive. Her writing is clear and worded like a conversation with your homegirl.

One thing I found a bit odd was that the recipes that were demonstrated in the video tend to be very rich and oily which seemed a bit contradictory. (She is a Certified Holistic Health Counselor, you know.) For example, the buffalo tofu was fried in palm oil shortening. I know that palm oil has been consumed by African people for centuries however it is extremely high in saturated fat. (It contains 11.1 grams in just 1 tablespoon.) Traditionally, I understand that African peoples could handle that but today, I am concerned that Black/African people in the diaspora (especially in North America) have high rates of hypertension, heart disease, and obesity which are a lot higher than that in the Motherland.Yet, I do know that Soulfood traditionally is rich. So I plan to compromise by adapting the recipe with some healthier alternatives. I also wished to see a description or some background information about each recipe as I see in other cookbooks. I would have also liked to see more recipes for main dishes and less that contained tofu. Nevertheless, the recipes look sumptuous and I can't wait to give them a try. Can't wait to pimp my tofu!

Coming Up Next: Viva Vegan! by Terry Hope Romero

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