Jasmine Leyva’s film, “The Invisible Vegan,” is visually and structurally appealing, educational, entertaining, and uplifting.
You can watch it now on TubiTV and stream on Amazon Prime
You don’t have to be a white, liberal, tree-hugging, Prius-driving yoga teacher to be a vegan. Does that surprise you? If so, “The Invisible Vegan” is going to knock your wool-free socks off.
Jasmine Leyva’s new documentary does speak primarily to the Black community (hence the title, a play on Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man), but it’s a thorough and convincing introduction to veganism for everyone.
Like Leyva, I grew up eating “soul food”–sausage gravy on lard biscuits for breakfast, fried baloney for lunch, country ham and red-eye gravy for dinner. Also on those tables: pigs’ feet, hog jowl, and brains-n-eggs. And the vegetables were always seasoned with a big hunk of salt pork.
When Jasmine Leyva took a close look at that diet, she noticed something that few others saw.
When did Blacks become carnivores? is her question. And the answer is: when they were enslaved and fed only the scraps and leftovers that white slave owners wouldn’t eat.
Did you get that? Soul food is not an ancient African tradition. You know what is a traditional African food culture? Plants. Vegetables. Clean food that provides nutrients and does not clog arteries.
That’s the sort of thing it’s helpful to know when your family and friends give you a hard time about getting above your raising, turning your back on your culture, and insulting Nana when you turn down her fried gizzards and buttermilk pie.
In this friendly, non-preachy film, Leyva puts to rest myths and misconceptions about the vegan diet, and answers the most-often asked questions (How do you get your protein?). In addition, she shares some benefits of a vegan diet that you may not have thought about—improved sex life, for instance. There are excerpts from interviews with health and medical experts, but we live in a world where celebrities hold greater sway than scientists, so Leyva wisely includes comments from Black celebrity vegans, including NBA star John Salley, Stic of Dead Prez, Cedric the Entertainer, Lezlie Love, and Nina Curtis.
“The Invisible Vegan” explains how to feel better, look better, and—really—change your life for the better.
Look. There’s no commitment. You can watch “The Invisible Vegan” without giving up your meat-lovers’ pizza—but keep a bowl of almonds handy just in case.
About the Film
The documentary begins with the personal story of Jasmine Leyva, a 30-year-old lack actress and filmmaker currently based in Los Angeles. Over the past seven years, Leyva has committed herself to veganism, both in lifestyle and research. Taking Leyva’s unhealthy childhood growing up in Washington, DC as a point of departure, the film interweaves her narrative with the professional and personal experiences of a prominent group of vegan activists. The film integrates interviews with popular culture luminaries including Cedric the Entertainer (actor and comedian), John Salley (former NBA player and wellness advocate), and Clayton Gavin (aka Stic of the hip-hop duo Dead Prez).
Length: 90 Minutes
About Jasmine Leyva
Activist, actress, and documentary filmmaker, Jasmine is passionate about veganism, social justice, and telling her own stories. With a Bachelor of Arts in TV, Film and Media and a Master of Fine Arts in screenwriting, Jasmine is unapologetically an artist. She has worked as an associate producer on a NAACP winning docuseries entitled Unsung and has written and produced for Being, a docuseries highlighting dynamic entertainers in film and music.
Jasmine ultimately decided to let go of her nine-to-five and focus on her goals with no boss except for her own creativity. She went on to produce her own feature length documentary, The Invisible Vegan, a film that chronicles her personal experience with plant-based eating. The film also explains how plant-based eating is directly linked to African roots and how African-American eating habits have been debased by a chain of oppression.
Soul On Fire podcast.