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A Black Vegan's Relationship with the Earth

Updated: Apr 17, 2023

Jesyca Sanders

Oh, the marvelous Earth! For a planet that gives us so much it's ironic that we only officially commemorate it a few days out of the year. Earth is essentially all we know as a species except for the select few space travelers that have visited other planets. It's our home, our life source, and where we'll begin and end our physical existence.

My name is Jesyca I'm a black 30-year-old 14-year vegan. I've been a lover and participator in all things health and wellness for the same duration of time. I'd like to offer my perspective as a young black woman navigating this shared space called Earth on this very special and important day that is Earth Day.

My Earth Mother

Even if some of us aren't aware that we have one, being an inhabitant of the earth makes our relationship automatic. We consume this planet even when not trying to each and every day. Celebrating and commemorating Earth Day definitely makes me put things into perspective. As a self-proclaimed "Tree Hugger" I like to think of myself as an earth lover as well.

I was introduced to all things natural and nature as a child by my Godmother/Aunt Julyette or "Tamy" as we call her. She was and somewhat still is what you would traditionally think of as a Black Hippie. Down with rocks, crystals, herbs, ganja, trees, the moon and the stars etc. you name it, way before it was ever a trend or hashtag on someone's social media timeline. My mother has always affectionally and unfairly referred to her as a "witch". She always had her special mixes and potions derived from her herb can for whatever you needed. I have vivid memories of her cowrie shells in her locs or around her neck, or falling and scraping my knee and she'd sit me on the lid of the bathroom toilet and come back with some herbs she mixed up and placed on my wound. She also taught me how to love nature. A tree lover herself, she kept a staff from her favorite tree in Ohio where she completed her doctorate degree. This strong limb of a branch resembled a little old lady if you stared at "her" at the right angle. We'd go outside for walks where we'd, of course, encounter trees. In my impulsive child tendencies, my instinct was to pull a leaf off of every tree I'd see. She'd gently stop me and explain that "We have to ask the trees for their leaves. The leaves belong to the tree not us, just as our limbs belong to us and no one else". While I was, initially puzzled by the concept, I soon came to understand it and still practice this respect of trees to this day.

This respect is not limited to trees but extends to all aspects of nature and the earth. These beings whether it be a tree, a plant, an animal, fungi on land, or algae at the bottom of the ocean are all alive and living just like you and I and are equal cohabitants of this planet we all share who should be treated as such. They should all be handled with the same care as asking first to pick their proverbial leaves.

Be Mindful

"But how?" you may ask. We all could and probably should google tips on how to support and better our precious planet. Though helpful and necessary I want it to be specific to my personal life and my every day. Things that are feasible, possible, and most importantly able to be continuous. For that I'd tell you to think about your personal habits every day. What are you using that you could reuse and recycle? What's your carbon footprint? Do you think about the earth in a deeper way like what's happening to the planet with over 7 billion inhabitants sharing it and that's just the human ones.

With so many humans on one single planet there has to be some unfortunate damage being done just by overuse alone not to mention abusing our resources. For perspective, here are some unfortunate facts:

  • At the current rate of deforestation, 5-10% of tropical forest species will become extinct every decade.

  • Every hour, 1,692 acres of productive dry land becomes desert.

  • 27% of our coral reefs have been destroyed. if the rate continues, the remaining 60% will be gone in 30 years.

  • We have a garbage island floating in our ocean, mostly comprised of plastics-the size of India, Europe and Mexico combined.

The reality of what's happening to the earth is staggering. Every day, especially on Earth Day, we all as individuals, sharing the earth with the 7 billion other people, can do little things that make a big difference in our own worlds and can potentially positively impact the entire world. It is so important that we make an effort to take care of the earth, for our generation and those to come.

What We Can Do

We can choose to buy and use green products that are environmentally friendly. Reduce, reuse, and recycle as much as possible, plant a garden, limit our electricity and water usage like turning off and unplugging the television or making sure you turn off the lights when leaving a room and taking shorter showers. We can enlighten others about the facts of our planet and encourage them to do better.

But most of all we have to care. Care about the earth for ourselves and all the life forces that we're sharing the planet with. Our survival of the future generations after our residence on earth ends depends on what we do now. No effort is too small. Please do your part on this Earth day and everyday as I'll do mine.

Happy Earth Day!

For more tips and resources read our blog: 5 Simple Ways To Be Climate Friendly On A Budget


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