Why RZA Wants You to Diversify Your Diet and Eat More Plant-Based Foods

The Wu-Tang Clan legend hasn't had an animal-based protein since a family fish fry in the late '90s

RZA from Wu-Tang Clan wants more people to consider a plant-based diet
The RZA is advocating for more people to consider a plant-based diet.
Amanda Edwards / Stringer, Sam Barnes

It hasn’t always been the case, but if Robert Fitzgerald Diggs, better known by his stage name RZA, were to ask Raekwon The Chef or one of the other Wu-Tang Clan members to cook him dinner, the dish would need to be meat-free. While the 52-year-old hip-hop legend is well-versed in beef,  he hasn’t eaten it in almost 25 years.

RZA, who just teamed with vegan cheese brand Violife to award $20,000 each to five Black-owned restaurants offering plant-based meals that were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the 2021 Plant Grants program, hasn’t had an animal-based protein since a family fish fry more than two decades ago.

“I feel like it was 1997. I was already done with red meat and I was done with poultry,” RZA tells InsideHook. “My family down South is known for their get-togethers and having a big traditional fish fry. I was down there and I’d had an experience that made me stop eating fish about three months earlier. But it’s my mother’s legacy, so I went there and said, ‘Guys, this will be the last time I’m ever going to eat fish.’ I probably ate about 10 pieces that day and then I walked away.”

Now fully vegan, RZA is an advocate for individuals switching to a plant-based diet for their own personal good as well as the good of society as a whole.

“For me, it’s just part of my positivity and trying to make sure we are all happy and healthy,” he says. “I’ve been living by this theme of a better tomorrow for a minute now and I want to continue to promote that type of energy. A plant-based life leads to a better tomorrow, not just for ourselves, but for our families, cities, countries and planet. But at least we can start with ourselves. We’ve had such a negative footprint on our planet in so many different ways by not having more plant-based food, restaurants and things of that nature. The cruel way animals are treated and suffer just to put a burger on our plate, that’s one element. The carbon footprint we leave by feeding these animals just to feed ourselves is another element. That’s why I’m here. The time is always right to do something positive.”

Since he is who he is, RZA’s voice advocating for mainstream acceptance of plant-based food carries plenty of weight, but it is still an uphill battle — and one he is happy to fight.

RZA performs with Stone Mecca live on stage during Fortress Festival in 2018
RZA performs with Stone Mecca live on stage during Fortress Festival in 2018.
Jim Bennett/Getty

“Consciousness and awareness about situations are vital for evolution,” he says. “With plant-based and Violife, we’re not just hoping, we’re actively putting our voices out there and helping communities by delivering plant grants to help restaurants stay open. That way people can at least have the choice to go in there and say, ‘You know what? Today, I’m not going to have a hamburger made of beef, I’m going to have a plant-based burger.’ Nothing changes overnight, but step by step we move towards a better tomorrow. With plant-based living, we are bringing to light that balance is possible.”

The famed rapper, actor, filmmaker and record producer believes we’ll be better off as a society once more people start to seek that balance out.

“We’ve been taught you’ve got to have a piece of meat or fish or eggs with every meal. A lot of people grew up with that,” he says. “That’s a myth that’s been given to so many, especially here in America with our fast-food chains and four meals a day. I know capitalism and people’s businesses and livelihoods depend on this. For generations of dairy farmers, this is how they feed their families. But what they’re overlooking, is, that by feeding their family, they’re destroying so many other families. So, there has to be a balance, right? So many different diseases are based on our diet and now we’re conscious of it. Before, nobody knew. Now that the lens is pointed on it, we as humans and involved beings need to strive to change it and to correct our errors. As a kid, I could eat three packs of M&Ms. Then you become a man, and you’re like, ‘Yo, I’m not going to eat three packs of M&Ms. Why would I do that?’ We all strive to evolve, right? My father is 78 years old and he’s not plant-based and he’s not a vegan. But he’s conscious enough that he’ll have steak once a month, and some chicken maybe once a week. He realized eating vegetables and soups is better for his digestive system and therefore has healing properties. We have got to be more conscious and got to have balance.”

Or, put simply, eating animals ain’t nuthing ta f’ wit.


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