Emcee, producer, engineer, Gulf War veteran, and vegan JoChris got his start behind the scenes of the popular hip-hop show Lyricist..s Lounge. Right now you can catch him performing at various venues in the Big Apple or check out his releases From the Booth and The Great Scott Project, which can be purchased on iTunes. JoChris sat down with PETAWorld and talked about how his manager..s knowledge on health influenced him to change his lifestyle. After watching ..Chew on This,.. he also shared his thoughts on the deplorable ways that animals are treated in animal factories. The artist and man of many talents stressed that education is vital when choosing any lifestyle..so read on and get the facts.
First off, how long have you been vegan?
I..ve been a vegan for three years..three years goin.. strong.
What made you go veg?
Well, my manager, Shannon, actually. When she became my manager, she was already a vegan, so she just basically educated me about health and food intake and what it does to your body. I had a couple vegetarian friends; they were always telling me, ..Yo, you should stop eating meat, you should stop eating meat,.. but they really never gave reasons why. And Shannon, she went to school and has a degree in chemistry, and she really, really broke down the effects of certain foods that you put in your body and what effects it has on it. So, being educated in that aspect, I couldn..t allow myself to, like, wow, you know. Once you receive that kind of education, if you really care about yourself, you would really take action, you know?
Right. So from what she told you, what were your biggest concerns? Was it high cholesterol? Heart disease? What were you most worried about?
Whew..all of it, because I..m adopted, you know what I..m sayin..? I was abandoned at birth, so I have no family medical history that I..m aware of. So everything that I can do to prevent myself from undergoing certain ailments, I would take those measures to prevent it. So everything was basically a concern for me. Nothin.. over the other, you know what I mean? Whether it be high blood pressure or high cholesterol or even cardiovascular issues.
So what was your transition like? Did you ease into it, or did you quit cold turkey?
Nah, I quit cold turkey, because there were substitutes. I really did quit cold turkey. I was just so driven by making sure that my health was important that ceasing to eat those kinds of things wasn..t a problem for me. [Shannon..s] a holistic chef also. So the way that she would cook, it was like, ..Wow, I..m not really even missing anything...
OK, so with all the health reasons why people should go vegetarian, especially considering the ailments that specifically affect the black community ..
And given that 75 percent of us are lactose-intolerant, why do you think we keep eating meat and consuming dairy products?
I actually have a good answer for that. I..ve been studying why black people actually eat the way we eat. It..s because of where we come from. I call it the slave diet. So basically, the diet that we..ve been introduced to through our ancestors who were slaves, it..s been passed generation to generation to generation. And it..s so amazing that you have people walking around here that eat the way they eat, and they don..t understand why they..re 300 pounds and 18 years old or 21 years old and having these health problems that an old person should have, you know what I mean?
And you have the influence of media, commercials, and stuff like that. They try to influence you to think the food that they try to sell to you, these products, are healthy for you. They even say it: ..Pork is the new white meat.. and it..s healthy for you. There..s protein in pork and protein in beef, but they don..t understand that it..s dead meat. It..s dead. I don..t even consider that food. It..s a dead substance that you put in your body, and people expect to sustain a life with it. It..s kind of oxymoronic. They even call big people healthy. You know that, right? Hah.
Hah, right, right.
So it..s really an oxymoron, but it..s just a mind condition. I even have a couple of friends that I try to talk to, and they just be like, boom. You know, everyone has their choice or whatever, but like I said, once you receive education about certain things and you don..t take action upon it, it just shows that you don..t believe the education that you..re receiving or you probably feel like it doesn..t apply to you.
So, after watching the PETA video, how do you feel about how animals are treated in slaughterhouses and animal factories?
I think it..s definitely cruel. I mean, it..s crazy. It made me analyze the people that have the job of doing it. And it..s one of two things..either they just totally have no regard for life itself or they..re just habitually working and they..re just numb to it. There..s no way that I could even do that ..cause I respect life too much. They just don..t have respect for life..that..s all there is.
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So, being in Brooklyn, you must have a ton of vegan options. I like Food Swings myself. What..s your favorite restaurant?
You know what? They have a restaurant called VP2 that I really like, which is Vegetarian..s Paradise, and Red Bamboo.
Oh yeah, I..ve been to Red Bamboo.
Yeah, Red Bamboo is nice, and VP2. But I really try to eat home a lot. You know what I..m sayin..? I really try to eat home a lot.
So, what advice would you give to somebody who was trying to transition to a vegetarian or vegan diet?
You know, I..d say that it would be the easiest thing, because it would. I would tell them what worked for me, and what worked for me is not listening to people say ..stop,.. but just educate yourself..do the research. And once you do the research, you realize what these foods do to your body. Then hopefully, it would help you make a sound decision for yourself health-wise.
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