RZA is proving he’s a man of his word by living up to a promise he made in July to Black-owned vegan restaurants stricken by the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Thursday (September 16), the legendary Hip Hop producer and vegan cheese company Violife awarded $100,000 to five different restaurants that are promoting plant-based eating in their local communities. The donation comes through Plant Grants, a new program aimed at making vegan food more “delicious, affordable and available in local communities.”
“I’m excited to work with the Plant Grants restaurants because they are on the front line of the plant-based revolution in their communities, through their recipes and the individual touch they put on their dishes to give their customers a great meal,” RZA said in a statement. “We are what we eat. For me, that means I still get to eat cheese – vegan cheese from Violife – and with their help, I get to convince people to switch to foods made from plants because they taste good, they’re affordable, and there is a whole lot of variety to choose from.”
Lisa Akey, head of Away from Home Marketing for Violife USA, said, “With the 2021 Plant Grants program, we’re tackling plant-based food inequity head on by empowering Black-owned restaurants to offer more plant-based dishes to their communities – dishes that will delight customers and keep them coming back for more.”
RZA began experimenting with the vegan lifestyle in the ’90s when he gave up red meat, poultry and fish. During a visit to The Joe Rogan Experience, RZA explained how the transition happened.
“I could knock back about 30 chicken wings,” he recalled during the 2019 interview. “On the 29th chicken wing, my teeth hit the bone. My mind said, ‘Dead bird. You in New York City with all these pigeons flying around, and here you are, supposed to be an intelligent human being and you eating on a dead bird.’ I was like, ‘That sounds pretty stupid to me.’ I never ate it again.”
He added, “To be honest with you, bro, I just hit you with this right here, the reality of how I feel: No animal needs to die for me to live, OK?”