Violife and Wu-Tang’s RZA are giving black-owned restaurants $ 20,000 to go plant-based
Vegan cheese brand Violife and Wu-Tang Clan founding member RZA have teamed up to provide black-owned restaurants with $ 20,000 in grants through the Plant Grants program. The new program was launched by Violife parent company Upfield and aims to revitalize black-owned restaurants that often serve as cultural hubs for their communities and are disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 program, sponsored by RZA and Violife, aims to award five recipients $ 20,000 each to revitalize their businesses by including plant-based dishes on their menus.
“At Upfield, we’re excited to partner with community-based chefs, restaurateurs and plant-based visionaries who are driving the plant-based revolution in the United States to bring great tasting plant-based foods to more people. “Said Brian Orlando, chief marketing officer for Upfield North America. “With the new Plant Grants program, we can now effectively expand and nurture their incredible efforts to help them develop new menu items using plant-based ingredients, and create dishes and recipes so that more people choose plant-based foods for who they are delicious and better for you and better for the planet. “
To make the transition easier, the program includes a coaching element where plant-based pioneers Lemel Durrah (the entrepreneur behind the vegan soul food company Compton Vegan) and Laricia Chandler (co-owner of Chicago’s popular vegetarian restaurant I Can’t Believe It’s Not Meat) will guide recipients in adding plant-based options. The program also includes marketing and advertising support.
“I work with Violife because we share a similar philosophy about plant-based eating and we want plant-based eating to be more accessible, affordable and sustainable for everyone,” said RZA. “The influence of hip hop and the culinary history of the plant-based diet in black communities are contributing to a movement that embraces meatless options. I am proud to support Plant Grants to continue this movement and make plant-based food more readily available in Black-owned restaurants in the heart of the communities. “
Grant recipients will be selected based on a number of criteria including their commitment to adding plant-based options and engaging their community. The Plant Grants Program is open from now until July 31st and the recipients will be announced in September 2021.
Vegan Wu Tang members
Wu-Tang founding member RZA switched to veganism in the mid-1990s after biting a chicken wing and realizing it was a dead bird. Since then, the legendary musician has used his fame to advocate for animals in a variety of ways. RZA has been publishing vegan collections under its fashion brand 36 Chambers since 2016, including purses made from banana leaves instead of animal leather and down jackets filled with recycled ocean plastic instead of goose and duck feathers.
In 2019, RZA participated in the popular Joe Rogan Experience podcast to defend veganism. “No animal has to die for me to live, okay?” RZA told comedian Donnell Rawlings and Rogan, who has long been a critic of veganism. The Brooklyn native also penned a letter in 2019 to support laws that would ban the sale and manufacture of animal fur in New York City.
Along with Wu-Tang members GZA and Ghostface Killah, RZA helped promote the launch of the Impossible Slider at White Castle in 2018 when it became one of the first fast food chains to offer the plant-based patty. Through several space-themed campaigns – including an intergalactic hotline and a web series – Wu-Tang members helped make the then-novel Impossible Burger a popular menu item at White Castle locations across the country.
In a 2019 interview, Wu-Tang member Inspectah Deck revealed that around 80 percent of the group’s members – which include Ghostface Killah, RZ, and GZA as well as rap icons like Method Man and Raekwon – were vegans.