Feeling burned out? Not sure how to rekindle your faith in humanity? Today I bring you the perfect antidote to your (completely understandable) fatigue: vegan and wellness advice from multi-hyphenate rapper and artist Common. You might know him as a winner of a Golden Globe, multiple Grammies, and an Academy Award (for Best Original Song for the 2014 film Selma). He is also an actor, memoirist, poet, founder of a progressive charter school in Chicago (where they offer meditation instead of detention!), and vegan advocate—and he’s expanding on this last role with his new YouTube series, Com + Well.
In the first episode of the series, Common discusses what led him to go vegan in the first place. As a child growing up in the South Side of Chicago, he loved eating meat. Then he got exposed to Elijah Muhammad’s book, Eat to Live, and hardcore rapper KRS-One’s vegan lyrics. These writings emphasized the need to go vegan from both animal cruelty and social justice points of view. “Things we put in our bodies affect the way we think and how we act, and our energy,” Common says in the first episode. “Let’s face it. Some of the foods we eat was passed on because that was only some of the foods we had access to. And I say we and I’m talking about Black people specifically, coming from being enslaved. They’d say, here’s slop. Pig was slop.”
Sharing the message of healthy, peaceful, life-giving food with people of color was partly what motivated Common to launch the series. “For me, it’s about creating access. There are a lot of Black men, a lot of brown men, a lot of Black and brown women who have not had exposure to some of the things we’re talking about in the series. And I just think people in general would like to have that information, that access,” Common told Vogue.
After realizing the violence and racial injustice of eating meat, and quickly becoming vegetarian, Common says: “I felt so much light within myself at this time.” The physical benefits became more noticeable after going fully vegan. “When I decided to stop eating dairy, I got into the booth and was like, ‘I can breathe now.’ […] I’d jog saying my lyrics.”
He was amazed how his vegan diet made him a better rapper and artist. “Once I started eating vegan, I saw how things were improving in my life just by removing certain things from my diet—pizza, fried food, meat, all of that—and adding vegetables and plant-based foods. It became the true foundation to leading a better lifestyle, a happier one. And once I realized, man, I have control over myself to not eat certain addictive foods but to really be disciplined enough and make better choices for myself overall.”
Today Common starts each day with prayer and meditation. Then he breaks his fast with green juice, which he says is “like liquid energy.” By the way, watching Common open his pristine fridge and taking out a bottle of green juice with a gentle yet smoldering smile makes me thirsty, oh so thirsty—but I’m not sure if it’s the juice or the fridge or his gleaming skin. You be the judge.
So anyway, Common favors his green juice with celery, kale, Swiss chard, spinach, cucumber, ginger, and lemon. He also makes sure to take vitamin C and probiotics. He admits that he’s not a great cook, and that he made a choice to invest in hiring a personal chef—Lauren Von Der Pool, who formerly was the executive chef for Michelle Obama’s childhood obesity prevention campaign. In future episodes, he will be featuring Von Der Pool as well as other wellness experts in joy therapy, meditation, gardening therapy, workouts, and more.
“Watching the news and seeing what’s going on in the world, as human beings we all feel it, the anxiety and stress and depression,” Common said. “The core of Com+Well, and everything I do, is to uplift and inspire people. This is my life and I want to share it with people because I feel like it could be beneficial. It’s for everyone from all walks of life, but it’s great to be able to target it to people who haven’t been exposed to it, communities who don’t usually have access to this kind of information.”
As a Black cisgender male in the vegan movement, Common has the ability to appeal to a different demographic that has largely been untapped. But no matter what your background, you’ll be breathing more deeply after seeing his authentic approach to spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional health. Tune in every Tuesday on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.
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Photo: Common via Facebook