New program aims to make plant-based eating more accessible with support from legendary hip-hop artist RZA and vegan chef pioneers Lemel Durrah and Laricia Chandler Baker
Upfield’s Violife® vegan cheese brand today announced the recipients of its 2021 Plant Grants, a new program aimed at making plant-based meals more delicious, affordable, and available in local communities. This year’s program aims to address the disproportionate challenges faced by Black-owned restaurants and communities, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Five Black-owned restaurants have been selected to receive $20,000 each, as well as education and mentorship, to add new plant-based dishes to their menu and perform outreach in their communities. Restaurants are often the economic and cultural centers of their neighborhoods, and the goal of the Plant Grants program is to help these restaurants give everyone – vegans, flexitarians, and the plant curious alike – an easy and inspired way to eat more plant-based food every day.
“With the 2021 Plant Grants program, we’re tackling plant-based food inequity head on by empowering Black-owned restaurants to offer more plant-based dishes to their communities – dishes that will delight customers and keep them coming back for more,” said Lisa Akey, Head of Away from Home Marketing for Violife® USA. The 2021 Plant Grants program is the first year of a planned annual initiative.
Moving Plant-Based Eating Forward
Inspiring more people to eat plant-based is at the heart of the Plant Grants program.
RZA, the legendary hip-hop artist and outspoken vegan advocate, is sharing his personal story of going plant-based, as well as what motivated him to become involved with Plant Grants. “I’m excited to work with the Plant Grants restaurants because they are on the front line of the plant-based revolution in their communities, through their recipes and the individual touch they put on their dishes to give their customers a great meal,” said RZA. “We are what we eat. For me, that means I still get to eat cheese – vegan cheese from Violife – and with their help, I get to convince people to switch to foods made from plants because they taste good, they’re affordable, and there is a whole lot of variety to choose from. It’s a journey, which is why we need more restaurants like these grantees to help show us the way with delicious plant-based food.”
Two vegan chef pioneers have also signed on to help the grantees create new plant-based recipes and get their communities involved. Chefs Lemel Durrah of California’s Compton Vegan and Laricia Chandler Baker (aka “Chef Fab”) of Chicago’s Can’t Believe It’s Not Meat have been at the forefront of the plant-based movement for years. As the 2021 Plant Grants Chef Mentors, they are working side-by-side with the grantees to provide guidance on everything from menu development to community outreach, as well as building a successful plant-based restaurant business.
The 2021 Plant Grants recipients share a passion for plant-based eating and have already started making a positive impact in their communities though their food.
- Seasoned Vegan is owned and operated by mother-and-son team Brenda and Aaron Beener and located in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood. Their menu of organic, 100% vegan meals are a unique type of cuisine that the Beeners call gourmet vegan soul food – globally-inspired dishes with a soulful twist.
- Meek’s Vegan Pizza is operated by native New Yorker Demetrius Walker, who brings New York-style vegan pizza to Houston, Texas with the intention of introducing people to veganism through one of America’s favorite foods. Demetrius was inspired to establish Meek’s Vegan Pizza as a result of the struggle to find vegan foods for his nine-year-old son. Demetrius is making the transition to vegan easy and delicious through the familiarity of a comfort food staple.
- Supreme Oasis Bakery and Deli (SOBAD) is based in Philadelphia and run by Nuyen Emanuel and her daughter, Shon, who has been deemed the “Vegan Goddess” by loyal customers. The restaurant was founded by Nuyen’s father in Baltimore 30 years ago, and she honors his legacy with delicious wholesome food at affordable prices, that is pork-free, MSG-free, trans-fat free and increasingly vegan. SOBAD partners with a local university, hospitals, and other organizations to provide free meals to their community.
- Vegans on the Run LLC of Shreveport, Louisiana is family-owned and operated by three generations of women including owner Dr. Joslin Mar-Dai Pickens, her daughter, Jalynn Mar’Dai, mother Linda Pickens, and sister Dr. Kimberly. They are on a mission to introduce plant-based eating to customers and give back to the community through providing free “Grab ‘n Go” meals for the elderly and partnering with a local university by offering free cooking classes to college students. Joslin offers traditional comfort foods that she grew up eating but with a unique 100% vegan twist, with an aim to change the face and taste of vegan food in her community.
- Plant Power Café & Juice Bar is based in Chattanooga, Tennessee and run by Aurellia Alexandre. Opened in November 2016, the restaurant has been a turning point for the community which had not had a vegan restaurant before then. It boasts one of the largest vegan comfort food menus in the city with easy access, availability, and reasonable fares so more people can experience a plant-based lifestyle. Plant Power Café & Juice Bar believes in feeding anyone who comes in the café, if they can afford a meal or not, and has a history of feeding the homeless at no cost.
To learn more about the 2021 Plant Grants program, please visit www.plantgrants.com.
Violife is a range of award-winning 100% vegan cheese products. All Violife vegan cheese products are free from dairy, preservatives, casein, lactose, gluten, nuts, and soy. Violife comes in a wide variety of flavors and formats.
Upfield is the largest plant-based consumer food products company in the world, producing plant-based spreads and plant butters. In the U.S., Upfield’s iconic brands include Country Crock®, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! ®, Brummel & Brown®, and Imperial®. Violife® 100% vegan cheese products were added to the Upfield portfolio with the acquisition of Arivia in 2020. Upfield is on a mission to deliver plant-based nutrition that is better for you and better for the planet and is helping to create a “Better Plant-based Future” for all. For more information, visit www.Upfield.com.
Black Restaurant Week San Antonio
Before the weekend is over, its not too late to spend your dollars supporting Black restaurants in San Antonio, TX. Black Restaurant Week San Antonio is back for its third year spotlighting Black-owned local culinary businesses and business owners. The charitable event kicked off during Black History Month on February 21st and will run thru Monday, March 7, 2022 with over 30 Black-owned restaurants, food trucks and other food-related businesses participating.
Each business will offer a special dish, and a portion of its proceeds, along with additional funds donated by the Tim Duncan Foundation and Spurs Give, will go to the San Antonio Food Bank. For each special dish ordered, the food bank says it will be able to provide 21 meals to San Antonians in need.
Find a full list of participating venues at blackrestaurantweeksanantonio.com.
Boyd Collaborates With KJ Marley
Boyd Collaborates With KJ Marley To Address White Farmer Claims of Reverse Discrimination and Lawsuits Blocking $5Billion
White Farmers are suing for Reverse Discrimination to prevent $5Billion in Emergency Relief for Black, Native American and other Farmers of Color. Civil rights leader John Boyd and KJ Skippa Mak Marley collaborated with Kara Brewer Boyd, Association of American Indian Farmers, to release a song “The Land” to highlight historical and ongoing broken promises, broken treaties, racial discrimination and land loss suffered by Native Americans and Black Farmers in the US.
John Boyd, Jr., Founder and President, National Black Farmers Association, 4th generation Black Farmer in Mecklenburg County, Virginia sued the US Dept of Agriculture (USDA) and received a Fact of Finding for Racial Discrimination which led to the 1st USDA Discrimination settlement by an individual. Boyd went on to assist 10,000s of other Black and minority farmers to file discrimination complaints, lawsuits and class actions against USDA. Farming is our oldest occupation. In freedom we treasured having land to work for ourselves, our families and racial progress. “Forty acres and a mule,” was an embedded aspiration.
KJ “Skippa Mak” Marley, son of Kymani Marley, is an international hip-hop artist infusing reggae and dancehall, while invoking the unmistakable musical spirit of his legendary grandfather Bob Marley to speak Truth to Power.
“I think it’s shameful on behalf of white farmers who didn’t reach out to me to say they have any sort of issue with this—they went straight to federal court,” Boyd said.
The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 program represents remedial relief for Black farmers who have had to fight USDA discrimination through the courts to get loans in the first place. “This is not ‘reparations’ as it’s been explained by white farmers, it’s not a ‘windfall,’ it’s not a new loan program,” he said.
“In 30-plus years of advocacy, I have never seen this level of racial tension in America. As I strive to encourage a new generation, time is against us. It’s been white farmers the whole time who have gotten debt relief from USDA, and all of these years it was Black and other Farmers of Color who were not getting it. That’s why I went through the courts and Congress to get remedial action. It finally passed under the covid spending bill,” Boyd said.
“I never heard them say it was harmful when they got debt relief,” said Boyd. “It’s a continuation of what Black farmers have been facing in this country, what you’re seeing going on in these courts.”
We want our land, we want our money, and we want reparations! Pay US Now!!!
“The Land” featuring John Boyd Jr. and KJ Skippa Mak Marley speaks volumes to the challenges we still face.
I call upon my fellow farmers, neighbors and friends to join us in facing them together.
Change is Brewing Across the Nation!
Ben & Jerry’s new cold brew ice cream supports a new vision for public safety
You don’t have to be a barista to enjoy Ben & Jerry’s newest Limited Batch flavor—a cool combination of cold brew coffee ice cream, marshmallow swirls and fudge brownies. “Change is Brewing” was created to help transform the nation’s approach to public safety to one that prioritizes community needs.
Change is Brewing is part of Ben & Jerry’s ongoing work to advance racial justice, calling for the nation to divest from a broken criminal legal system and invest in services that help communities thrive, like mental health treatment, counseling, substance use treatment, and healthcare.
Ben & Jerry’s is joining more than 70 other organizations in supporting The People’s Response Act, landmark legislation introduced by Congresswoman Cori Bush. The legislation was written to transform a system that disproportionately criminalizes Black and Brown people into a system that provides resources to help every community, and especially communities of color, thrive.
The People’s Response Act was developed in partnership with community organizers, grassroots organizations, and movement partners, including the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL).
“The Movement for Black Lives welcomes Ben & Jerry’s support of The People’s Response Act, which would expand a new vision for public safety rooted in public health; and their investment in local organizations working every day in service of a new future for Black people,” said Monifa Bandele, member of the leadership of M4BL’s Policy Table. “Now is the time for Congress to embrace bold, courageous leadership and join Congresswoman Cori Bush in co-sponsoring The People’s Response Act and ensuring its final passage.”
“We appreciate Congresswoman Cori Bush for having the courage and vision to introduce the People’s Response Act, legislation that would boldly transform public safety in America,” said Jabari Paul, US Activism Manager for Ben & Jerry’s. “We’ve come to understand that public safety is also a matter of public health. Congresswoman Bush’s legislation begins to make that important link by creating a public safety division within the Department of Health and Human Services.”
The deep, rich coffee flavor in Change is Brewing is from BLK & Bold, the first Black-owned, nationally distributed coffee company that gives 5% of its profits to initiatives that support youth in need. Greyston Bakery, a values-led supplier and longtime Ben & Jerry’s partner, provides the scrumptious fudge brownies. The bakery has an “open hiring” policy that provides opportunities for people facing barriers to employment. On the pint, Black multi-disciplinary artist Laci Jordan paints a colorful picture of what the world might look like when Black people feel safe and all communities can thrive.
Change is Brewing will be available as a Limited Batch flavor at participating Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shops and on store shelves for a suggested price of $4.49-5.69. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Change is Brewing will go to grassroots groups working to transform public safety in America. To learn more, visit benjerry.com/change.
About Ben & Jerry’s
Ben & Jerry’s is an aspiring social justice company that believes in a greater calling than simply making and selling the world’s best ice cream. The company produces a wide variety of super-premium ice cream and Non-Dairy/vegan desserts using high-quality ingredients and lots of big chunks and swirls. As a certified B Corp, Ben & Jerry’s incorporates its vision of Linked Prosperity into its business practices via values-led sourcing initiatives when purchasing ingredients. Ben & Jerry’s is distributed in more than 35 countries in supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, franchised Scoop Shops, and via on-demand delivery services. Ben & Jerry’s, a Vermont corporation and wholly owned subsidiary of Unilever, operates its business on a three-part Mission Statement emphasizing product quality; a fair financial return; and social, racial, and environmental injustice around the globe. The Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, guided by Ben & Jerry’s employees, granted $3.4MM in 2020 to support progressive, justice-focused grassroots organizing around the country. For up-to-date information, visit benjerry.com.
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