Photo: Bennett Raglin/BET/Getty Images for BET
  /  07.01.2021

RZA of the legendary hip hop group Wu-Tang Clan has teamed up with the Violife vegan cheese company to launch a grants program for Black-owned vegan restaurants that were struck by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Per a press release, Plant Grants will give $20,000 to five restaurants, who will also be offered education, mentorship and menu coaching from plant-based chefs Lemel Durrah and Laricia Chandler. RZA’s hope is that it will not only help the restaurants get back on their feet but will also assist in making plant-based food “more accessible, affordable and sustainable.”

“The influence of hip hop and the culinary history of plant-based eating in Black communities contribute to a movement of embracing meatless options,” he said in a statement.

“I’m proud to support Plant Grants to continue this movement and make plant-based eating more readily available at Black-owned restaurants that are at the heart of communities.”

RZA’s journey to a vegan lifestyle started in the mid-90s when he gave up red meat. He continued to eat poultry, cutting it out from his diet in 1996.

“I could knock back about 30 chicken wing,” he recalled during a 2019 interview on Joe Rogan’s podcast. “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.” The following year, in 1997, he finally gave up fish.

RZA’s decision, he explained, ultimately had to do with his passion for animals and his belief that eating shouldn’t be done at their expense.

“To be honest with you, bro,” the rapper continued. “I just hit you with this right here, the reality of how I feel: No animal needs to die for me to live, okay?” 

Applications for the Plant Grants are open now through July 31. The five grantees will be announced in September.


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