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Meet Baltimore City's 'food justice activist'

RECIPE FOR SUCCESS: Food justice activist Brenda N. Sanders

THINK ACTIVISM and you might think of someone fighting for racial equality, the right to vote or perhaps equal rights for women in the workplace.

The concept of someone campaigning for justice in relation to food might be a little harder to comprehend. But that is exactly what Brenda N. Sanders does.

Described as a food justice activist, Sanders works to bring healthy, affordable and sustainable food choices to low-income communities in Baltimore City.

As the executive director of the Better Health, Better Life organisation, Sanders, who hails from Baltimore, runs Eating for Life, a series of free plant-based cooking classes aimed at showing people how to make healthier and more environmentally conscious food choices.
As co-director of the animal advocacy organisation Open the Cages Alliance, Sanders also helps to organise the Vegan Living Program, an education programme that teaches the basics of the vegan lifestyle.

In addition, Sanders co-created Vegan SoulFest, an annual festival that celebrates culture and the vegan lifestyle by delivering lectures, cooking demonstrations, musical performances, delicious food and other products and services available to help expose people to the many benefits of the vegan lifestyle.

Despite this hectic schedule, Sanders will be heading to the UK next month to participate in the London instalment of VegFest UK. One of Europe’s key vegan festivals, VegFest UK is a celebration of all things vegan and will feature 250 stalls on food, fashions and cosmetics; food demonstrations; a vegan summit; two stages of live music; and international speakers.

Here, Sanders talks to The Voice about her extensive work, the benefits of a vegan lifestyle, and taking part in VegFest UK.


EACH ONE, TEACH ONE: Sanders helps to manage community-based initiatives to address many of Baltimore’s food access issues

You run a number of projects in Baltimore. How have they all been received?
Every single one of the projects we’ve been working on in Baltimore has been received with excitement and enthusiasm from the people who we’re reaching.

You’re described as a food justice activist. What does that involve?
The work I do as a food justice activist involves helping to address food access issues, health disparities and environmental injustices that plague low-income communities in Baltimore. I do this activism through the lens of veganism because the vegan lifestyle can provide solutions to all these problems.

When and why did you decide to embrace a vegan lifestyle?
I became vegan 20 years ago because it was the lifestyle that made me feel most connected with my body, the Earth and the other beings with whom we share the planet.

What has been your proudest achievement in your quest to promote the vegan lifestyle?
My proudest achievement is the work I’ve done as co-director of Open the Cages Alliance, an animal advocacy organisation. Every year, we organise the Vegan Living Program, a six-week vegan education program that teaches people about the many benefits of adopting the vegan lifestyle. Since I’ve been helping to organise this programme, hundreds of people have been involved and we’ve been building a thriving vegan community in Baltimore because of it.

What are the top three reasons you would give as to why it’s worth adopting a vegan lifestyle?
1. The vegan lifestyle is compassion in action.
2. The vegan lifestyle has the potential to address many environmental issues that are currently driving climate change.
3. The vegan lifestyle gives each individual person the ability to make a real, lasting and positive impact on the world.

Are you looking forward to participating in VegFest UK in London and what can audiences expect from you?
I’m definitely looking forward to participating! Audiences should expect a fun, informative talk about intersectional, community-based vegan activism.

Anything else you’d like to add?
I’m still so humbled that anyone even knows about the work I’m doing, much less wants to help me share my work with others. Thanks so much for the opportunity!

The London instalment of VegFest UK takes place at Olympia London, Hammersmith Road, London W14 on October 22 and 23. For more information, visit www.london.vegfest.co.uk

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