“I think being vegan is the ultimate expression of hip-hop.”
So says musician and artist Justin Bua, who, having recently created a coffee table book called Legends of Hip-Hop, a series of portraits of artists whom he considers historically relevant, is incredibly knowledgeable about the hip-hop world. Citing vegans Russell Simmons, KRS-One, Dead Prez and DJ Qbert as examples, Bua thinks that the connection between hip-hop and compassionate eating has been on the rise for years.
Even Tupac was in on it, back in mid-90s.”‘Let’s change the way we eat, change the way we live, change the way we treat each other,’” Bua says, referencing the late rapper’s posthumous 1998 hit Changes. “Let’s change the way we eat? He was talking about going vegan.”
But what is the connection between abstaining from animal products and producing great music? According to Bua, “It’s irreverent, subversive, truth. It’s about having a clean head and mind.”
Bua is all about changing the world, and thinks that the hip-hop audience has the power to do it by embracing veganism and rejecting factory-farming. “The ultimate form of respect is to not eat each other,” he says. To that end, he’s considering creating an eco-festival aimed at the genre’s fans.
But first, he has to finish his latest health project: creating an affordable food drink for the masses, which he’s doing with vegan and nutrition expert David Wolfe. Citing Wolfe as the most knowledgeable person he’s ever met (a list that includes Bill Clinton and Cornell West), Bua says his goal for the drink is that “you have an experience when you drink it.”
For Bua, the first step to change is awareness. He says that people simply can’t rely on big corporations to take care of the public’s health. “They know that they’re putting garbage on your plate, but they don’t care because they want that money. We gotta eat simple. Seven billion people on this planet is unstable. You can’t feed the world meat.”
For more on Bua’s vegan thoughts, check out We Be Vegan, his health and cooking blog with girlfriend Ruby Roth.