Erykah Badu

Texas-born singer/songwriter and practicing vegan Erykah Badu—who plays the VooDoo Festival in New Orleans on October 25—talks to VegNews about her views on soul food, veg values, and the real hip-hop.

VegNews: How did you decide to become veg?
Erykah Badu: I've been vegan for two years and vegetarian for 20 years. I used to be a dancer, and so health and vitality have always been important to me. I wouldn't say it took any one big event, vegetarianism just always made sense to me. [What farmed animals] endure is just terrible. It's horrible.

VN: What do you think of the prevailing misconception that veganism is an elitist, white lifestyle?
EB: I mean we-black people, poor people-we've not really been introduced to the injustices behind what we eat. Of course, people who have to worry about finding food, clothing, and shelter are not going to be as concerned about what they're eating. I mean, you almost have to have a record deal to shop at Whole Foods!

VN: Are people are born with empathy, or is it learned?
EB: It's both, but it has to be nurtured in children by teaching them to be honest. The more you are honest with yourself, the more you realize that everyone experiences the same pain, and when you see that, you can relate to people. You can be emotionally disturbed by what someone does, but when you realize where they come from, logically, you can understand why. It's pretty difficult to judge someone when you know you've felt exactly the same.

VN: Is vegan food the new soul food?
EB: Vegan food is soul food in its truest form. Soul food means to feed the soul. And, to me, your soul is your intent. If your intent is pure, you are pure.

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