Dope Vegan Spotlight: Elijah Miles, Tendea Family Founder
This month’s Dope Vegan Spotlight is Elijah Miles. Many know him from the “Why I’m Vegan” video. After watching that video, explaining the correlations between self-love and diet, one can begin to understand just how dope the person behind those words has to be. Elijiah is this month’s Dope Vegan not only because of the realness in that video, but because of his determination to support and build up the black community.
Elijah is an intellect, a visionary, and the founder of the Tendea family. The Tendea family positively supports their community in Baltimore through Black Book Giveaways, motivation speeches at local colleges, and more.
“People say I know this woman that’s 90 + years old and she eats whatever she wants. That’s one in a million you willing to bet your life on that? Unhealthy foods are a drug. I’m not trying to tell everyone to go vegan. We just push them with logic. If you’re an intelligent person you can relate to logic. We know that black people are the leaders in blood pressure and heart disease and the things we eat cause that. So if I give someone that logic and the solution is vegan, they can make that decision to change their habits.” – Elijah Miles
What’s your favorite vegan restaurant?
The GruB Factory in Baltimore. Its black-owned.
How did the Tendea family begin?
Made in 2015 after the Freddie Gray riots in Baltimore. A lot of people came to Baltimore and decided they wanted to do something about it, but after the riots, everything went back to normal. We decided not to be so reactionary and make a change.
Tell Me More about the family. Is everyone related?
Tendea Family is a group of like-minded individuals. Everyone in the Tendea family is vegan. We knew we couldn’t do this work and continue to eat the way we do. If we did, then we’d only be doing this for a short time. It links to every issue we see, especially health problems. Our lifestyle is a death style. A lot of black people are living YOU (You Only Live Once). We help ourselves get into the grave. If it’s a habit that hurts the community, we do the opposite. No drugs, alcohol, sex, etc. We refrain from sex unless it’s done in a committed relationship. There’s too many absent fathers. Every little thing we see in the community we address it by not doing it.
What motivated you to make the video?
I was getting a lot of questions about why I’m vegan. A lot of it was from people thinking that I’m weird. So I made the video to let the world know I’m not vegan because I’m weird, it’s because I care about not only my health but the community’s. I’m not vegan because I want to be different, it’s because I love myself. I challenge people to think, “why do you eat what you eat?”. It’s because your mother ate that way, you grew up eating that way. You have to really think about why you really eat what you eat, it’s a logical reason. I connect with those people on logic and hopefully they can relate.
Tendea Family Book Giveaway
To celebrate Kwanzaa in 2017, Tendea family gathered funds to give books to the black community. Boys and girls of all ages were able to receive a book if they expressed interest, no strings attached.
What’s even more beautiful about this movement: all of the books were stories of beautiful black people. Titles included biographies of Jesse Owens, Marcus Garvey, Ida B. Wells, and more.
“The reason we want to do that (give away books) is because we want to invest in our (black) youth so that they grow up knowing who they are.”
How you can support the Tendea movement
You can’t do important work without money. One day we want to be able to offer opportunities to the ex-convict that can’t get a job. We want our own corner stores.
You can support The Tendea Family by purchasing shirts and other gear, see more information on Elijah’s Instagram page @tendea_lij.
Want to try out veganism? Read this guide to get started today!