To Live Your Healthiest, Align Your Beliefs and Practices, Says Queen Afua
Queen Afua is the highly celebrated vegan author of Sacred Woman. This year marks the 20th anniversary since the Amazon best-selling book's release, an anniversary that will be celebrated with two new chapters added to the newest edition. Queen Afua is also a holistic health practitioner and wellness coach with a clientele, including Erykah Badu, Lauren London, and Angela Rye Shares.
We sat down with Queen Afua to discuss how to prioritize healing through plant-based eating, in 2021 and beyond. The key, she says, is to align your values with your practices.
The Beet: What motivated you to go plant-based?
QA: I was between sixteen and seventeen years of age and was motivated because I was extremely sick. I had asthma, allergies, high fever, eczema, arthritis. I went on a healing retreat for the first time in my life. I didn’t know what to expect. I was a meat-eater at the time. I was in class, the asthma kicked in. I sat down because I couldn’t breathe. If I laid down, my lungs would have collapsed.
I woke up the next day and I did my first fast. That night I was at a sweat lodge, and I woke up. All this congestion just poured out of me in an hour. All of a sudden my asthma stopped, the itching stopped, my bloodshot eyes were white. My mind got so clear, and I said, wait a moment, there must be something connected to what I’m eating, and the health that I had.
It was at that moment I moved right into a plant-based lifestyle. I was listening to the classes on the vegetarian lifestyle, and herbology, food prep, yoga, and meditation. I went home after those few days and I never went back. I have spent over fifty years now living plant-based.
The Beet: Why have you devoted your life to teaching people how to utilize the power of plant-based food?
QA: Everything in my childhood happened in the kitchen. My father, my mother, food, socialize, everything was in the kitchen. My father would always talk about helping people. When I healed myself, through nature as it healed me, I would look to people and think, that person doesn’t have to suffer. I became a holistic consultant. Once you get well, if you keep it to yourself you don’t even hold it that long. It's the sharing that empowers you and empowers the people around you. I’m really a humanitarian. I want to be well and whole. I think that everyone should have the right to wellness.
The Beet: How can folks align their values with the food that they eat?
QA: Respecting creation. When you kill an animal, you pay for that and you pay through childhood diseases, stress, and cancer. When you take the vegetables in your body it's alive, it lives because of the light, so you create more light. If you have to kill the animal and shed blood to take him in, then you’ll be sacrificed too. We must eat the plants and sustain the light, so we sustain ourselves by light.
They won’t be so stressed out. They'll be more at peace. They’ll be smarter, they’ll be more confident. Their overall attitudes towards life become more compassionate and more peaceful, so they don’t bully. It does shift your mindset—being plant-based creates a more compassionate, loving, stronger being.
QA: What tips do you have for those seeking to understand their body, spirituality, and emotions more deeply through a vegan diet?
QA: Well, we are what we eat. Every food we take in has an energy, and has a purpose in the body. If it has no purpose it extracts from your system. The goal is that if you have whole foods, various foods have various reactions.
People [are stressing out right now] and it's not even necessary. People are dying right now due to a lack of knowledge, people mostly stress and are fighting with their families due to a lack of nourishment. The problem is you’re not nourishing yourself enough. So that's why you are stressed out, angry, you are prone to mood swings, all of that.
Look at yourself as a baby. If you gave the baby some [less healthy] food, drink, in the morning and night, by eleven o’clock the baby would be crying. By noon the baby is screaming, it's screaming for nourishment. And that has happened to us, when we’re starving, we’re quick to anger, we have very little patience... we feel bad about ourselves, we're happy one moment and we’re down the next, when we’re starving.
When you have whole foods in the morning, in the midday, or in the afternoon, before the sun sets you’re nourishing yourself around the clock, which means when you sleep you are revitalizing your tissues and your cells, and your emotions are a part of that. So when you wake up the next day and you’ve succumbed to living to this lifestyle, you find that you’re not quick to anger, that you have a sense of peace, that you’re more confident, that what you say you create, that you’re more compassionate, that you’re more forgiving, all those high qualities are in all of us.
When we eat out of depression, and out of loneliness, and we’re not eating real food, the fried, processed, then we’re debilitated, and it shows up in our attitude, in our thinking, and what we attract. The law of attraction is a part of it. That’s why you’re not attracting healthy people, because you’re not healthy, you’re not attracting loving because you’re not loving yourself. All that is connected.
TB: Do you have any advice about how we can get in alignment?
QA: Movement is a great equalizer. I have a system called the womb yoga dance. Womb yoga dance [is a series of] movements that flow from one movement into the next. It’s yoga and dance based on nature within us. I started my life as an artist. I had a dance company when I was young, I danced in a dance group, at the Metropolitan Opera, when I was young. But I was also sick. I was in a physical movement, also I’m a biker. I bike everywhere.
A simple practice is to lay down on your bed, take three pillows at the foot of your bed. Every time you go to sleep, put your feet up on those pillows. The blood comes down and circulates slowly from your ankles into your thighs. It breaks up the cold, it breaks up the congestion, so it opens up the heart. That's nourishing. Do it again in the morning—put your feet up and invert. That's a very basic exercise. It's an African based exercise that says we must go in to come to life. We must invert our bodies every day. Before you change your diet. You can just do something like that—a movement that speaks to harmony.
You stand upright all the time. When you invert it's the best way to get your brain in alignment, so your thoughts are very high level. Your emotions are very high because you opened up your breast, your heart, and your breathing, so that version is part of all the movements.
TB: Did you have a New Years' resolution?
QA: Yes: Forgive everyone and open up your heart. Invite in new light.
TB: Do you have any New Year’s rituals?
QA: Take a healing bath right before the new year, before the sun goes down. Take a special healing bath, which may be a pound of sea salt, Epsom salt, soak in the tub for about twenty minutes, and light a white candle for clear vision. While in the tub, keep yourself loved with self-care and no judgments—just self-love and care.
When you come out, wear something white to represent that you’re on a cleansing path. Get comfortable with your white candle, take a journal for 2021, have a cup of tea, camomile to relax, and then write down your new life without saying I can’t or that's impossible. Let all of that go.
If you had an opportunity to birth your whole self, what would that look like for you? Write all that down. Write from a place of what you want your life to be. How you want your body to be, how you want your emotions to be, how you like your relationships to show up, where you want to live, the work you want to do, write your new life out and then affirm it. Then you can say after all of that, I am what I am, a shiny new being, from a new light. And you will start to watch things unfold, for 2021.
TB: How can a vegan diet help us restore and renew that energy in 2021?
QA: Have a green juice every day with chard, kale, or spinach leaves, cucumber, parsley, and get yourself a green juice. The more fast food, the lower your immune system, so you’re susceptible to a virus of any kind.
Taking a healing bath, get yourself some fresh ginger, the size of your palm, take three baths a week, take two tablespoons of ginger, and after that put it in the water, that will boost your immune system but that will also clear up the respiratory system. That also clears up the lungs, the breathing, the immune system.
We can go into 2021 with a holistic lifestyle. I’m doing a few fasts, a few cleansings. I’ll also be doing a 21 day cleanse after the year. Just go from that point and you start to love yourself, you start to feel good about yourself, you start to feel yourself then you come all out of harm's way.
The new healthcare is self-care. You can heal yourself finally. They tell us to go home and shut ourselves in, I say we have a retreat. That's what I say, turn the whole thing around. Change your mind. I'm in a retreat. Use this time constructively, eat well, live well, juice, exercise, love yourself daily, forgive yourself for everything, and go have a new life.