Dustin and Josh LaJaunie have amazing transformation stories. They went from obese to fit. From junk food addicts to plant-based eaters. From hunters to vegans. From sedentary to active.
And everyone in the plant-based and vegan communities celebrates them for these achievements.
But what's most inspiring and exciting to me about their new identities has nothing to do with food or health. Instead, it's about how going plant-based started a domino-chain of changes that opened them up to full-on compassion.
First, for themselves.
Next, for animals.
And then, for all life on the planet.
From homophobic to celebrating Pride with rainbow posts. From reactionary to progressive. From racist to antiracist.
I've gotten some flak for publishing this conversation. I fully expect my Patreon funding to decrease. And my risk is nothing compared to Dustin and Josh, who live not only in the plant-based world, but also in the small bayou town in Southeast Louisiana where they were born. A community that is struggling to rise to the challenge of the present moment, where so many white Americans have begun to say, “This stops now.”
The main gist of the criticism is, why can't plant-based people just stick to that topic, without going all gooey about social justice and turning people off? Stay in your lane, herbivore!
You be the judge – does the LaJaunie brothers' transformation turn people off to the possible sequelae of going plant-based, or is it perhaps the most eloquent and beautiful argument in support of eating with compassion?
I want to say one other thing to my white audience. I'm a little uncomfortable sharing this conversation at this moment, precisely because so many white liberals and progressives can look at the old, racist LaJaunies and say to themselves, “Well, that was terrible, and good for them for changing, but I've never been a racist.”
If that's your reaction (and I certainly share it, because it makes me feel good about myself), then I invite you to listen to this conversation through a different lens.
I want you to ask yourself: Where do I need to start showing the courage that Dustin and Josh demonstrate right now? Where are my core beliefs unsupported by my actions on a daily basis? Where are my current blind spots about how I'm contributing, without intention or consciousness, to the perpetuation of racist outcomes in my society?
We're not having this conversation to be congratulated. Instead, we're having it to model discomfort. The same discomfort we feel when we stand up for our way of eating in the face of peer pressure and even ridicule. The same discomfort we experience when we exercise to the point of exhaustion.
Being healthy in this society; being plant-based; being vegan: these are all gyms where we've honed our discomfort muscles.
Now it's time to get out of the gym, and start lifting weights to make this planet great – for everyone.
Enjoy, add your voice to the conversation via the comment box below, and please share – that's how we spread our message and spread our roots.
Dustin and his mom's cookbook: Pure Ambrosia: LaJaunie Family Traditions Recreated for Health and Longevity
Grow Where You Are (Eugene Cooke)
Books (Where possible, book links are to Mahogany Books, a Black-owned bookstore in Washington, DC. These are not affiliate links.)
Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
Passing, by Nella Larsen
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
13th documentary from Netflix (free on YouTube)
True Justice documentary, about the work of Bryan Stephenson
Time: The Kalief Browder Story on Netflix
Support the Podcast
This podcast is not underwritten by advertising, so I can experience complete editorial autonomy without worrying about pissing off the person paying the bills. Instead, I pay the bills, with your help. It's free for those who can't afford to pay, and supported by those who can. You can contribute to the growth and improvement of the podcast by . Click the “Support on Patreon” or “Donate” buttons on the right to help out.
Ready to embark on your Big Change journey?
Are you tired of knowing what to do, and still not doing it consistently? The WellStart Health Big Change Program, led by Josh LaJaunie and myself, will help you take the steps to finally live according to your knowledge and values.
Go to WellStartHealth.com/program to learn more, and to get notified about the next program.
Ask your questions or share your feedback
Comment on the show notes for this episode (below)
Connect with me
The Plant Yourself Podcast theme music, “Dance of Peace (Sabali Don),” is generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians.
It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour.
You can learn about Will, listen to more tracks, and buy music on his website, WillRidenour.com.
Thanks to Plant Yourself podcast patrons – Kim Harrison – Lynn McLellan – Anthony Dissen – Brittany Porter – Dominic Marro – Barbara Whitney – Tammy Black – Amy Good – Amanda Hatherly – Mary Jane Wheeler – Ellen Kennelly – Melissa Cobb – Rachel Behrens – Christine Nielsen – Tina Scharf – Tina Ahern – Jen Vilkinofsky – David Byczek – Michele X – Elspeth Feldman – Leah Stolar – Allan Kristensen – Colleen Peck – Michele Landry – Jozina – Sara Durkacs – Kelly Cameron – Wayne Pedersen – Janet Selby – Claire Adams – Tom Fronczak – Jeannette Benham – Gila Lacerte – David Donohue – Blair Seibert – Doron Avizov – Gio and Carolyn Argentati – Jodi Friesner – RuthAnn Funderburk – Mischa Rosen – Michael Worobiec – AvIvA Lael – Alicia Lemus – Val Linnemann – Nick Harper – Bandana Chawla – Martha Bergner – Susan Ahmad – Molly Levine – The Inscrutable Harry R – Susan Laverty the Panda Vegan – Craig Covic – Adam Scharf – Karen Bury – Heather Morgan – Kelly Michiya – DeAnne Norton – Bonnie Lynch of Plant Happy Oregon – Sabine Kurtzhals – Nigel Davies – Marian Blum – Teresa Kopel – Julian Watkins – Brid O'Connell – Shannon Herschman – Linda Ayotte – Holm Hedegaard – Isa Tousignant – Connie Haneline – Erin Greer – Alicia Davis – Heather O'Connor – Carollynne Jensen – Sheri Orlekoski of Plant Powered for Health – Karen Smith – Scott Mirani – Karen and Joe Crabtree – Tanya Lewis – Kirby Burton – Theresa Carrell – Kevin Macaulay – Elizabeth Rothschild – Ann Jesse – Sheryl Dwyer – Jenny Hazelton – Valerie Pelletier – Peter W Evans – Colleen Harrison – Justine Divett – Joshua Sommermeyer – Dennis Bird – Darby Kelly – Lori Fanney – Linnea Lundquist – Valarie Hummel – Emily Iaconelli – Levi Wallach – Rosamonde McAtee – Dan Pokorney – Stephen Leinin – Patty DeMartino – Mike and Donna Kartz – Deanne Bishop – Bilberry Elf – Günter Schmid – Marjorie Lewis – Kelly Moulden – Tricia Adams – Ian Cramer – Nancy Sheldon – Lindsey Bashore – Gunn Marit Hagen – Tracey Gulledge – Lara Hedin – Meg from Mamasezz – Rachelle Kennedy – Diana Goldman – Stacey Stokes – Ben Savage – Michael K – Hollie Butler – David Hughes -Coni Rodgers – Claire England – Sally Robertson – Parham Ganchi – Amy Dailey – Brian Tourville – Mark Jeffrey Johnson – Josie Dempsey – Caryn Schmitt – Pamela Hayden – Emily Perryman – Olga Szydarowska – Allison Corbett – Richard Stone – Lauren Vaught of Edible Musings – Erin Hastey – Sean Owens – Sagar Naik – for your generous support of the podcast.
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