Legendary hip-hop producer and songwriter Jermaine Dupri has left an immense imprint on the culture.
For the last three decades, he’s produced chart-topping hits for artists like Mariah Carey, TLC, and Usher. He has also discovered acts like Kris Kross, Xscape, and Da Brat, the first female solo rapper to go platinum while cultivating the careers of others like child rap phenomenon Bowwow.
The So So Def Recordings founder and owner further sealed his legacy as a hip-hop trailblazer in 2018 when he became the second hip-hop artist after Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Now, the 47-year-old entrepreneur is on to his next act: veganism.
JD’s Journey into Veganism
Dupri officially joined the plant-based-lifestyle platform The Beet as a creative advisor in July. Through his new role, he curates content about the benefits of veganism, which he stumbled into 15 years ago after doing a 25-day Master Cleanse.
“It was kind of accidental because I actually went on a fast for 25 days,” Dupri told BLACK ENTERPRISE.
Despite the challenge, the Atlanta-based hitmaker says he loved the results from the cleanse, like feeling lighter and waking up with more energy. To maintain his newfound level of energy, he inquired about nourishing foods that he should eat on an ongoing basis.
“I started asking questions,” he said. “I had a chef and I was asking him like ‘what can I do? What can I eat that’s gonna make my body stay like this because I don’t want to take myself back to where I was?’”
The majority of the people he spoke to advised Dupri to become a vegetarian. However, he did not like the side effects that diary had on his body, so he eventually adopted a vegan lifestyle.
“The difference between vegan and vegetarian that people don’t understand is the dairy. Vegetarians still eat cheese, they still drink milk, [which is] dairy,” he told BE. “Dairy, for me, partially part of my heaviness [and] partially part of the drag that I had or whatever I had that was going on with me. Getting the dairy out of my system was like a relief.”
He added, “The chase for me wanting to continue to feel as good as I was feeling led me down this vegan road and this vegan path.”
Making The Beet
Although many may not know Dupri is a long-time vegan, the rapper says he partnered with The Beet to not only advocate for the plant-based lifestyle but also to be a resource for others considering it or who are practicing it.
“Once they came to me and once I realized what it was, I was just like, ‘You know what, this is something that’s needed.’” Through the partnership, he’s able to share the knowledge he did not have when he began his journey. “I need it just as much as anybody else needs this information. I needed to know where to go. I needed to know what to do in different circumstances when it comes to veganism.”
The Veganism Boom
In addition, partnering with Lucy Danziger, The Beet’s editorial director, gives Dupri the opportunity to spread awareness about veganism as being both culturally and commercially viable.
“It’s one of the newest trends of business,” says the Grammy Award-winning record producer. “It’s a new business and the opportunities to grow are huge. Ain’t no telling what could possibly happen.”
According to research published by the Plant-Based Foods Association (PBFA) and the Good Food Institute, the sales of plant-based food in the U.S. went up by 8.1% from 2016 to 2017, topping $3.1 billion. Meanwhile, plant-based dairy alternatives are expected to represent 40% of the combined total of dairy and dairy alternative beverages by 2021, reports Forbes. Hence, Dupri says, business owners in the food industry like Pinky Cole, the owner of Slutty Vegan in Atlanta, have a promising outlook.
He points out that there are “no big vegan restaurants in the airports,” which would be a lucrative business or franchise opportunity once the COVID travel restrictions are completely relaxed.
“If Pinky puts a Slutty Vegan at Hartsfield airport, the line that she has [now that] she thinks is crazy–the line for that will be just as crazy!”
Watch Jermaine Dupri’s full interview on The New Norm with Selena Hill below.
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