On a recent episode of the Joe Rogan Experience — a video and audio podcast hosted by Joe Rogan — RZA discussed his vegan journey and what makes a “true vegan.”
The de facto leader of the rap group Wu-Tang Clan appeared on the podcast with American comedian and radio host Donnell Rawlings. The trio discussed their drinking habits, which led to a lengthy discussion about RZA’s vegan diet.
In response to a question from Rawlings about what makes a “true vegan,” both Rogan and RZA agreed that it’s both to do with health reasons and animal welfare. But for the rapper, it leans more toward the latter. He said, “to be honest with you bro, I just hit you with this right here, the reality of how I feel. No animal needs to die for me to live, ok?”
RZA hasn’t eaten red meat since 1995 and gave up poultry and fish in 1996 and 1997 respectively. He’s passed the vegan message down to his two sons, aged 18 and 21, who he claims are both strong and healthy.
“[My 21-year-old son] can bench over 200 pounds, six foot two, eight pack,” he explained to Rogan and Rawlings. “[He] plays guitar, piano, [he has a] great memory — never had a hot dog.”
He later adds, “I look at my household as a living example that you don’t need [animal products] to live.”
Making the Connection
While Rogan and Rawlings both eat meat, both agree that there are more options than ever before, including “bleeding” burgers like the Impossible Burger and the Beyond Burger. “When I ate the [Impossible Burger] it made me feel good,” says Rawlings. “Eating a burger that was all plant-based.”
They also discussed clean meat — where meat is grown in a lab from cells, with no slaughter required — which RZA said he wouldn’t eat, but he could get behind the idea.
It hasn’t always been an easy journey for RZA, who says he grew up loving poultry dishes like turkey and chicken wings. In 1996, he changed all of his red meat dishes to poultry, but he soon realized that wasn’t going to work either.
“I could knock back about 30 chicken wings. On the 29th chicken wing, my teeth hit the bone. My mind said: dead bird,” he explained.
He told himself, “‘you in New York City with all these pigeons flying around, and here you are, supposed to be an intelligent human being and you eating on a dead bird.’ I was like, that sounds pretty stupid to me. I never ate it again.”