Raury: On Being Vegan
Fame, fortune, Instagram likes – the disease of our capitalist society, where art and commerce are inextricably linked.
But 19-year-old artist Raury lives and makes music for reasons far beyond these transient cycles of popularity.
With his music, Raury is proving that you can blend consciousness with success and be an agent of change. You can make music with a deeper message that pushes the boundaries and breaks the cycle of commodification. You can spread the message of love, life, revolution, and peace, and re-define what it means to be successful.
At present, he is creating a movement borne out of his own spiritual journey and the desire to live a conscious life.
Part of living a conscious life is being aware that what you put in your body and the food you ingest has an effect not only on yourself, but also on this planet as a whole.
When Raury decided to turn vegan, he did it only to save himself from the ills he saw plaguing his community as a result of their meat-heavy diet, but also out of his aspiration to reduce the burden on our planet.
Seed Street had the pleasure of sitting down with Raury to discuss how his eating habits are part of his desire to create a new consciousness.
How did you grow up eating?
I grew up in the South, in a lower middle class home, in Stone Mountain Georgia.
We didn’t think about it, we just ate whatever – pork, beef, chicken, and cookouts.
We ate fast foods; I was eating fast food ever since I was a toddler.
Because my mom raised me by myself, we didn’t have much money, we had to eat what we could, and it tasted good – it was awesome, it was dope.
Sometimes my mom was home enough to cook, but she would be at work at lot, so she would have to come back home and get fast food, because she needed to go to sleep to go to work again.
Did you have any home cooked meals?
Home cooked meals happened here and there sometimes, but most of the time it was food from other places. On occasion we had cookouts; soul food from the South.
What’s soul food?
Soul food means pork chops, country fried steaks, macaroni, collard greens, beans, baked beans. But collard greens would have a turkey neck, baked beans would have pieces of beef in it. There was just a lot of meat, burgers, and hot dogs especially.
I used to put more meat on my plate than anything, never thinking about vegetables.
The idea I had was that the more meat I would eat, the stronger I would be.
Was there anyone in your community that felt differently?
Not at all, it was normal, if there was someone who wouldn’t be eating red meat, they would only be trying it out for a week. I didn’t see many vegetarians.
Culture – this is what we eat! If we have been eating the same way for the past 100 years, there is no way my grandma would go vegan.
It is what it is –this is what life is supposed to be. Why not eat this hamburger? What’s wrong with you if you don’t want to eat it?
Is culture the only factor?
When it came to having a heavily fast food based diet – that’s when it comes to lack of time, lack of money – a single mom has to come home and bring Popeyes, Chick Fil A, instead of being at home to cook.
I think things would be different if there was a household with two parent. More often than not, a lot of kids around my hometown were raised without their dads, so their mom has to make it work.
Is the lack of health and awareness a conscious concern amongst members of the community?
The majority of the people, especially older people in my community, family members, they may be overweight, but that’s a normal thing – everyone gets old and fat – to be it is just a normal thing.
What about kids?
It’s a normal thing – probably in school – at least one out of five kids are fat.
A lot of people age picked on for being fat, but at this point we are just so used to it.
When did you start making different choices?
It started from my aunt, who was like a mother to me because my mom was away so much.
So my aunt would babysit me, and she was very overweight – she was nearly 500 pounds. When I was 14 she had passed away and I was devastated. I went through a stage of depression, and I thought about it – heart problems run in my family. My sister had to have open-heart surgery when she was three! More often than not people in my family had died of a heart attack in their early fifties, or sixties, but more often always a heart attack.
I didn’t want to die from a heart attack – I don’t want to end up like everybody else, and I decided to try not eating meat.
How did that go?
My eyesight going better, I woke up just feeling a lot better. I would go to school at 6am, and everything felt lighter, because my blood got more fluid, my joints were less clogged up, I just felt like a better me for some reason.
Did you stick with it?
I stuck with it for three years! But around my senior year of high school I had some bacon, and I went back into eating meat.
But when I got back on tour when I graduated, around December 2014, I was feeling sluggish sometimes, so I thought – I’m going to go vegan, taking out dairy completely.
How did that go?
I did it cold turkey the next day, I wasn’t messing with anything else.
It was the same result that I felt when I was 14, but tenfold, I got like this extra battery charge.
How do you make healthy food choices when there is so much temptation?
More often than not, I have my go-to places , like Mexican or Indian, Chinese, Thai. you can always find that in any city. Whenever you don’t have groceries you can order from these places.
If everybody went vegan, what would the world look like?
It would be amazing! There are some serious problems that are coming from people being dependent and focused on the meat industry.
What kind of problems?
There is a documentary called Cowspiracy – it tells you about how the livestock industry is responsible for a hundredfold of the Greenhouse gases going into air compared to the electricity and fossil fuels – the meat industry is the number one perpetrator of damage to the environment!
We think of so many people starving but we use 80% of our farming land in the world to grow vegetables to feed to meat, to feed to livestock!
Imagine if all that stuff was used to feed people. I feel like in a vegan world, a lot of people would feel better, think clearer, and we would save a lot and gain a lot as far as environment and starvation goes.
Culturally, how difficult would it be so adopt veganism?
For me it was hard, I’m a black kid in Atlanta, Georgia – people would call you out for not eating meat, as if you aren’t a man, you’re not getting enough protein
But that’s mostly a lack of education – there are NFL players and bodybuilders that are vegan. Really, the whole food pyramid that we have been taught isn’t right, as far as what we need.
How do you think people can be re-educated?
Culturally, that is the problem – it’s hard, you can’t go and convince someone to be vegan.
I don’t look down on eating meat, I’m aware that its amazing, Even right now I’m thinking of eating seafood, it was dope, it was part of my life, and its kind of difficult especially when I travel so much. In some towns if I say I’m vegan they don’t even know what I means, they look at me like I’m crazy.
I just think that people – and it’s the same thing with racism and discrimination – they don’t understand it and they shun it.
But vegetarianism is really good for you, and it’s cool.
What do you think it will take in order to make it cool?
For cool people to be vegan! Dope restaurants actually starting a change, like vegan fast food. Vegan fast food can also be healthy because it doesn’t take long to cook vegetables.
That’s an interesting concept.
It is a gold mine – I am dying to start my own restaurant – in the next 25 years I want it to be McDonalds, that’s what needs to happen, that’s what will turn it to people!
That’s why people turn to McDonalds – it’s convenient, it’s right there, and you don’t have to slow your life down for it, especially if you are impoverished and poor, it need to be available and culturally accepted.
It’s the cool people that will make it culturally acceptable.
Who were some of your other influences that made you turn vegan?
Andre 3000 one of my favorite artists – he won sexiest vegetarian of the year – when I found out he was vegetarian that made it easier for me to become vegetarian because I saw that he has. Wakka Flakka is a vegan.
Do you feel optimistic about kids our age turning vegan?
So many breakthroughs will happen because of millenials. Millenial health will become a movement.
Thank you Raury!
We have the power to not only change our individual lives but also to change the face of the planet.