Ever since his Thanksvegan rap and video went viral, people all over the internet have been talking about Grey. Aph Ko had the chance of interviewing him about his perspectives on veganism, anti-racism, and that incredible Thanksvegan video.
BVR: When did you first hear about the vegan diet, and when did you decide that it was right for you?
G: My girl introduced me to it. She wanted to transition into a plant based diet and started introducing meals to me. By the third meal I was convinced. She kicked the knowledge out to me while serving delicious dishes. "You mean to tell me this isn't meat, it's much healthier for me, and it's easy to make?..sign me up."
BVR: How did your friends and family react to your decision to go vegan?
G: I guess they couldn't believe that I would give up meat at first. However, as time went on, they saw I was serious and they supported it.
BVR: When you created your Thanksvegan rap, did you know it would be such a big hit? What was your inspiration for making it? What was it like to make a video for the song?
G: Not at all. I didn't even like the video to be honest. I almost deleted it. I saw the original video on Instagram and instantly loved the beat. I couldn't stop playing it. I told myself I have to spit something on this. I normally do freestyles in the car every Friday using the hashtag #GreyCantFreestyle So this was just another freestyle. I knew something was different about an hour after I posted it when i received way more likes and comments than usual. Once it went viral, I told myself I have to write a 2nd verse and we have to shoot a video for it ASAP. The video was a lot of fun.
BVR: Can you tell me a little bit more about your politics? Like, how do you see your vegan diet intersecting with issues like anti-racism or animal rights?
G: Well I'm fairly new to the plant based community; 8 months to be exact, so I'm still learning a lot everyday. I read and watch various documentaries which gives me insight and raises my awareness on the food that we eat. I'm definitely an advocate for animal rights and human rights. To me, food is similar to music in a way that it brings everyone together from all walks of life. That's a beautiful thing. As far as racism, vegetables sees no color. Everyone from every background can enjoy a healthy lifestyle with just a little bit of knowledge.
BVR: There are still a lot of black folks who reject veganism and plant-based eating because they think it's a "white person's" thing. This, in part, inspired me back in 2015 to create the first article that listed 100 Black Vegans to dispel the stereotype that veganism wasn't for them. (That list became the inspiration for my current website Black Vegans Rock). What advice do you have for some black folks who still say that veganism or plant-based eating is a "white person's thing?"
G: I tell people all the time that its just a lack of knowledge. There's just a disconnect between the black communities and veganism. We have been conditioned to eat the way we eat and believe what we believe about food because of what our families have passed down from generations as well as what the mainstream media has pushed on us (food chart, milk does a body good, etc.) Once you know better, you do better. Once you understand that vegans can eat pretty much everything that non-vegans can't...it's an eye opener. It's as simple as people not knowing that you can grab vegan Taco Bell and fast food. Again, it's just a lack of knowledge that isn't being pushed to our people the right way. I think that will change over time as more of us become more aware as a people of what we are taking into our bodies and how that directly cause diseases and conditions, which are told to us as being "hereditary" when in actuality it comes from our eating habits.
BVR: What's next for you?
G: With this video going viral and impacting the community in the way that it has, I feel there's a much larger purpose for me now. I love music and will always create music and will continue to release music. Right now, I feel it's more than just the music. I feel there's a need for me to help bridge the gap of knowledge about veganism and plant based diets, especially in the black communities. I recently partnered with an awesome company, Heart of Cool (heARTofcool.com), to help spread awareness in the forms of outreach, videos, fashion, music, etc. It's exciting! We have a lot of great things rolling out very soon.