In a very interesting chat for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) called Vegan Roundtable (the Hip-Hop edition) from June, rapper Waka Flocka, singer Mya and entrepreneur Russell Simmons had a pretty serious conversation about why they decided to go vegan. For Waka, it took some missteps and real research before he stuck with it.
“I tried doing vegan in 2014,” he said. “I’m not going to lie, it only lasted three days.”
Around that time, he said he wanted to do something about the poor eating habits that caused him to pack on the pounds.
“I was fat. I had stretch marks. I woke up one morning and realized I gained 45 pounds,” he said. “You know how it is when you’re in the hood. You think caviar, steak, shrimps, you think that sh-t’s fancy. Benihanas. Man, I blew up like a blimp quick.”
“When you become a man you start realizing the mistakes you made as a boy,” he continued. “It’s like me eating steaks and sh-t. I was 300 pounds. I just got tired of it. Literally, I just got tired of it. By the end of 2014, towards the end of the summer, I got serious. I started dabbling in it. I got into it, went vegan too much, got off it for a month. Then I started doing my research to read [about] it, I started seeing there was mercury in seafood. So I’m like, ‘The mercury count! The parasites!’ Now I’m mindful of it so when I bite these little f–king shrimps, it’s bothering me.”
Eventually, Waka said getting some help from professionals helped him take the vegan lifestyle seriously, and from there, the weight fell off of him.
“I got the blessing to meet these doctors,” Waka said. “They put me on a detox. I lost 33, 34 pounds in two weeks. There were two things I was committed to: Dreadlocks — I got dreadlocks for patience because I was impatient — and trying vegan because I just wanted to be healthy.”
The results are quite apparent on the 31-year-old.
“Now I’m a f–king toothpick with dreads.”
As for Russell Simmons, he’s not new to the vegan lifestyle, and it’s the treatment of animals that really steered him.
“I’ve been vegan 20 years almost. It’s the 100 billion animals that I worry about when I think about the animal part,” Simmons said. “One hundred billion animals made to be born, they threw anything they could come up with to poison the people and poison the planet. Black women got diabetes. Every woman got problems, but 50 percent of Black women over 20 got some form of heart disease. It’s the food. And then they do that sh-t without any regard for the life of the animal at all. Hold him upside down, chop his head this way.”
Simmons said whatever way people come to the vegan lifestyle, it doesn’t take long for them to be changed by it.
“People start different places, they have different reasons. You start because you care about the animals and then you learn about the health. You start because of the health and then you start to talk to other vegans and they talk to you about the animals and the suffering. You’ve been ignoring it the whole time now, suddenly you start embracing it.”
As for Mya, the challenge of going vegan is what inspired her.
“I went vegan because it was a willpower challenge. I’ve been vegetarian, I’ve been pescetarian and vegan was the next thing,” she said. “This has been the seventh year of my willpower challenges and I’ve stuck to it. In the interim of all of that, you have to do research so you eliminate what you can not eat. I learned as I went. So, like you said, I was awakened to things my parents didn’t know. I was raised on dairy, I was raised on pork, chitterlings…everything. And everyone in my family pretty much of the older generation has diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, cancer — my mother is a two-time survivor. It’s in the food and it’s very disturbing.”
The 37-year-old singer said she knew nothing about eating healthy growing up, but once she actually did some research, she couldn’t ignore it.
“Once I opened my eyes and was seeking knowledge, that’s when I received all the information, which led me to stick to it. So now it’s a lifetime commitment because now I can’t turn back,” Mya said. “Like you said, when you’re looking at your plate, you see the process. You no longer see ‘Oh, prepared, packaged food that may happen to be an animal.’ You see the process of the throats being slit, the mistreatment of animals and the souls that they do have. You see it all and you receive it and you’re changed forever spiritually.”
Check out their intriguing conversation below, and see nine other stars who are proud vegans on the next few pages.