The Invisible Vegan
Director: Kenny Leyva & Jasmine C. Leyva
90 minutes, NR
Associate Professor and Chair, Department of American Studies
University of Maryland.
She is an affiliate faculty member of the Women’s Studies, Anthropology, and African American Studies departments as well as the Consortium on Race, Gender, and Ethnicity. Her research and teaching interests include cultural studies, material culture, food, women’s studies, social and cultural history of the U.S. in the late 19th and 20th centuries. Her work on material culture and food has been published in her books Taking Food Public: Redefining Foodways in a Changing World and the award-winning (American Folklore Society) Building Houses Out of Chicken Legs: Black Women, Food, & Power. Her new research explores food shaming and food policing in communities of color.
The Invisible Vegan is a 90-minute independent documentary that explores the problem of unhealthy dietary patterns in the African-American community, foregrounding the health and wellness possibilities enabled by plant-based vegan diets and lifestyle choices. The documentary begins with the personal story of Jasmine Leyva, a 30-year-old black 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).