Over the last few years’ vegetarianism has gained popularity within hip hop as a growing list of members of the community like Andre 3000, Common and Russell Simmons have all come out advocating a meatless diet. Most have done so to take a stand against animal cruelty but that’s just one of many reasons hip hop heads these days are turning to natural foods.
“The biggest benefit for me is that I can choose to be healthy at any moment in time,” says SticMan one-half of the duo Dead Prez who have been promoting proper nutrition since their inception. “I take responsibility for when I’m not based on what I’m putting in my body. Many people will say they are vegetarians but all they eat is french fries and popcorn. Vegetarianism is not about saying I only eat this or that, it’s about adapting, exercising and being able to pick up on what your body is asking for.”
Both Stic and his partner M-1 have varied between vegetarian, vegan (no eggs or dairy products) and raw foods diets for nearly fourteen years and have recently chosen to add fish to their meals. “The whole thing is about discipline,” begins M-1.” “For me it was a gradual change. I started out not eating pork because I was a Five Percenter. Then as my world view grew I began eating less meat starting from red meat and it worked its way on down to chicken and by 1991 I wasn’t eating any meat.”
Studies have shown that a fruits and vegetables diet offers a number of nutritional benefits, including lower levels of saturated fat and cholesterol as well as lower rates of type-two diabetes, hypertension and some forms of cancer which all tend to be much more prevalent in minorities.
An increasing trend in the black community is the addition of more meatless dishes in soul food restaurants. Russell Simmons has plans for a vegan soul food cafe but in the meantime you can learn to make your own dishes at home from a DVD Dead Prez is releasing this summer with Afya Ibomu called “Healthy Living.” “It’s for the person who has grown up on soul food but wants to be healthy and nutritious,” explained Stic. “It breaks down traditional soul food like corn bread, greens and fried chicken and teaches you how to make it all vegan and all healthy.”