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We’re always on the lookout for hip-hop heads who can share a little wisdom and shed light on why they made the choice to go vegetarian. Tajai, part of the Hieroglyphics crew and one-quarter of Souls of Mischief, took some time out of his busy schedule of being an emcee and the owner of Clear Label Records to answer a few questions about his vegetarian diet and animal rights.
What we’re trying to do is introduce vegetarianism and animal rights to the hip-hop community. What do you think about that?
To me, it’s great, it’s good—anything that has to do with health. I’m black, so in the black community, to me, it’s important.
What do you think about the animal rights issue?
Well, you know, I don’t eat meat. I believe in animal rights, you know, like I don’t wear fur. It’s not like I’m on the front line, but at the same time, I’m definitely down for animal rights and against animal cruelty.
How long have you been a vegetarian?
What prompted you to go vegetarian?
Really it was a lifestyle more so than a philosophical change. You know, I’m in the music field; we smoked hella weed and drank hella drink. I don’t do that anymore, but at the time I did, and I felt like I had to give up something to ensure longevity. Actually, my daughter was born in ’97, so I was like, OK, I need to change my lifestyle in order to ensure that I’m gonna see my grandkids and things like that, and I haven’t regretted the change. I feel 100 percent better, and I see people when they eat meat and a lot of the ailments they have and a lot of the physical problems they have. I see it, you know? I think my diet has a lot to do with the fact that I don’t get sick, and I feel lighter.
What advice would you give to your fans who are considering going vegetarian?
I say do it. Don’t think that you’re missing out on anything. Actually, to a large extent, meat is added to a lot of things. So I think you can eat well, eat better—it really encourages you to do more with your food as far as spices. So I say go for it. I think it’s definitely a good lifestyle change.
What are some of your favorite vegetarian dishes?
There are so many choices. I think people look at it as a step back, but I’m actually hella more involved in what I eat now that I don’t eat meat, and it taught me how to cook.
Right now, we have a campaign against KFC urging the company to adopt more humane ways of raising and slaughtering its chickens, and so far, KFC hasn’t done anything. What do you think about that?
It’s a bottom line. It’s about pricing. You know, we need more humane ways of mass-manufacturing clothes for people, too, but we got slaves doing it, you know?
Oh yeah, definitely.
Humanity is not what it’s about; it’s about the bottom line, and that’s basically “How can we produce this cheap, quickly, and effectively for the masses?” And as long as people don’t care, it doesn’t matter.
Actually, what we’ve proposed is a method of killing that’s a lot more humane and cheaper.
Wow. I didn’t know that. I guess it’s just obstinacy or the company cost of changing is a lot higher. You know, like it’ll be a long-term realization because it’s cheaper, but the cost of changing will be too high. I mean, for somebody not to save money—especially a capitalist, especially a capitalist from Kentucky—it would have to mean that it’s a cost thing. I don’t think it’s a matter of lack of conscience or anything like that. It’s more like “Hey, this is cheaper, and we’re used to it.”
You mentioned that you don’t wear fur. What do you think about the fur fad?
I think they look gaudy and corny. You look like a big-ass bear wearin’ that shit.
What’s your position on dogfighting?
That shit is retarded. I think two men should get in the ring and box to the death if they want to destroy their pets. If you really love your pet, it’s your companion. Would you have your wife box out with another chick, to where she’s bleedin’ and shit?
Do you have any other thoughts on any other animal rights issues or health issues related to eating meat?
I’m just like this, man: We have been given this beautiful environment as a gift. Let’s start treating it like that and not like we own it, because honestly, we’re of the Earth; the Earth is not of us. And that includes our sovereignty, or supposed sovereignty, over animals. And like you said, we’re at the point where our technology is such that we don’t need to use a lot of animal products, so why do it? I’m Muslim, so you’re supposed to show respect for animals; it’s in the Qur’an. Really, if you can’t treat animals right, you’re not gonna treat no human right. And stop wearing fur, ‘cause that shit is corny.
I’ll make sure that I include that quote.
And stop wearing big-ass gold chains, ‘cause that shit is corny, too; like, get over it. Figure out another way to flaunt your dough.
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For most people, it’s a no-brainer that chaining dogs, forcing dogs to fight, and wearing fur aren’t cool, but have you considered that eating animals isn’t either? Stop supporting an industry that tortures and kills animals and fills your body with saturated fat, cholesterol, chemicals, and other gross things commonly found in animal products.