(Updated September 16, 2021) | RZA is helping Black-owned restaurants go vegan. The Wu-Tang Clan member donated a $100,000 grant to help businesses include more plant-based dishes on their menus.
RZA’s grant was made in partnership with Upfield-owned brand Violife. The plant-based foods manufacturer launched a multi-year grant program, Plant Grants, in June. It promotes eating vegan through funding, education, and mentorship opportunities.
Violife selected five Black-owned restaurants to each receive $20,000 grants. This year’s recipients are Seasoned Vegan, Meek’s Vegan Pizza, Supreme Oasis Bakery and Deli, Vegans on the Run LLC, and Plant Power Café & Juice Bar.
According to the vegan company, this year’s initiative aims to help Black-owned restaurants that are struggling due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Minority-owned businesses have suffered disproportionately amid the COVID-19 crisis. According to a 2020 report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Black-owned businesses in America fell by 41 percent from February to April. Latinx business owners declined by 32 percent. Asian-owned businesses dropped by 26 percent.
“Supporting Plant Grants is important to me because it will fund Black-owned restaurants who are the fabric of their communities,” RZA said.
RZA and Plant Grants
The rapper’s generous donation to a vegan cause should come as no surprise. He ditched animal products in the 90s. Since then, he’s been outspoken about the positive impacts of consuming a plant-based diet.
“When you think of a better tomorrow, you think about veganism in the world,” RZA said. “I don’t need a dead animal or a dead piece of flesh to go into my live body,” he added. “There’s not nothing on this planet that doesn’t want to live.”
In addition to receiving financial support, the Black-owned businesses will learn how to develop plant-based menu offerings through the program.
Pioneering vegan chefs Lemel Durrah and Laricia Chandler Baker will teach grant recipients how to cook with plant-based ingredients. Durrah is the founder of Los Angeles-based vegan soul food company Compton Vegan. Chandler Baker is the co-owner of Chicago vegetarian restaurant I Can’t Believe It’s Not Meat.
“With the 2021 Plant Grants program, we’re tackling plant-based food inequity head-on by empowering Black-owned restaurants to offer more plant-based dishes to their communities—dishes that will delight customers and keep them coming back for more,” Lisa Akey, Violife’s Head of Away from Home Marketing, said.