Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA is partnering with the vegan cheese company Violife to support Black-owned restaurants nationwide. The partnership will launch a grant program called Plant Grants that was developed to provide financial assistance to businesses and restaurants that faced hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Plant Grants initiatives hope to support the Black-owned businesses that suffered disproportionately during the COVID-19 crisis.
“The influence of hip-hop and the culinary history of plant-based eating in Black communities contribute to a movement of embracing meatless options,” RZA told Plant Based News. “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.”
The legendary rapper hopes that this grant program will help those who felt irreversibly hurt by the financial disaster that followed the pandemic. The Plant Grants program aims to also make plant-based food more accessible and sustainable by helping these businesses during this time.
The funding package brought from the partnership will also include an education and mentorship program to guide those affected back to stable ground. The menu coaching will be led by two plant-based chefs, Lemel Durrah and Laricia Chandler. The two vegan pioneers have led the plant-based movement for years and now hope to help restaurant improve their plant-based offerings. Currently, Chandler owns and operates Can’t Believe It’s Not Meat, and Durrah runs the catering company Compton Vegan.
Violife and RZA released a statement claiming that the initial program will be dedicated to supporting Black-owned businesses hurting financially. Specifically, the joint leadership will focus on restaurants as the most affected business during the restrictions and quarantine period. The funding will be available at $20,000 in the program. The program is currently open for application until July 31st, and the selected businesses will be notified in September of this year.
“At Upfield, we’re excited to be working with community-based chefs and restauranteurs, and plant-based visionaries who are scaling-up the plant-based revolution across the United State to bring great tasting plant-based foods to more people,” Brian Orlando, the Chief Marketing Officer for North America of Violife’s parent company Upfield US, said in a statement. “Now with the new Plant Grants program, we can expand and promote their incredible efforts in an impactful way.”
Orlando’s statement shows Violife’s dedication to inspire plant-based eating, hoping to educate people on the sustainable and nutritional benefits of vegan food. He emphasized that the Plant Grants program will highlight the importance of plant-based foods saying that “they are delicious and better for you and better for the planet.”
RZA frequently vocalizes his position on plant-based eating and animal cruelty. Prior to this partnership, the rapper launched a vegan puffer jacket sourced from recycled plastic bottles and a vegan leather wallet made from banana trees. He has remained a vocal activist against fur in the fashion industry and continues his plant-based campaign with his involvement in Plant Grants.
“I’m partnering with Violife because we share a similar philosophy about eating plant-based and we want to make plant-based eating more accessible, affordable, and sustainable to all,” RZA said.
The founding Wu-Tang member adopted his plant-based diet in the mid-1990s after realizing the ethical dilemmas in the animal food industry. Joined by Wu-Tang members GZA and Ghostface Killah, the rapper promoted White Castle’s Impossible Slider in 2018, marking one of the first times a fast-food establishment featured plant-based meat. Wu-Tang member Inspectah Deck also revealed in 2019 that approximately 80 percent of the Wu-Tang Clan eat a plant-based diet, including Method Man and Raekwon.