It’s been close to one month since we’ve posted a new edition of The Vegetarian Kitchen: Cooking with Creativity & Soul. The last installment featured Chef Karl Isaiah and some of our favorite music by Masta Conga & His Afro-Latin Vintage Orchestra. This time around, we’d like to feature both Dr. Martin Luther King and Ms. Coretta Scott King in a discussion about choosing a plant-based diet as a diet of peace. We also discuss A Tribe Called Quest and Dr. Fredrick Douglass Opie’s Hog & Hominy. As always, please note that not all features in this series are about vegans/vegetarians. Enjoy!
1. “I don’t eat no ham and eggs ‘cuz they’re high in cholesterol!”, raps hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest. The track ‘Ham N Eggs’ appeared on the 1990 album, People’s Instinctive Travels. At a time when “gangsta rap” emerged to the forefront of hip hop, A Tribe Called Quest continued to produce up-tempo, conscious tracks for a generation of fans primarily focused on money, violence and drugs. The group’s lyricists, Q-Tip and Phife, trade lyrics —“Asparagus tips look yummy, yummy, yummy; Candied yams inside my tummy” —about home cooked meals, dietary restrictions and more. They embrace an “occasional steak” and “chicken for lunch, chicken for my dinner” but include stewed tomatoes and beets. Listen to the full track below and tell us what you think!
2. Iron Skillet Pan: Food, specifically soul/southern cuisine played a huge role in the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. Black protestors, often traveling throughout the country via bus, stopped in black-owned restaurants for breakfast, lunch and dinner to experience a good meal while away from home. Traditional dishes, including BBQ ribs, friend chicken and collard greens were often paired with cornbread prepared in an iron skillet. Earlier this month, we brought the new year in with vegan version of Turntable Kitchen’s buttermilk skillet cornbread. We loved it! If you are looking to make an addition to your kitchen, check out an iron skillet pan that will allow you to recreate some special meals and recipes associated with the south. For starters, check out this Vegan Skillet Cornbread Recipe.
3. Last year, a Food Republic article asked readers if Martin Luther King was a vegetarian. While readers instantly find out that the answer is no, we do learn that King’s second son, Dexter, adopted a vegan diet as did his wife, Coretta Scott King, during the last ten years of her life. The article goes on to discuss the progress we’ve made around civil rights and equality in America, including the election of a multiracial president. King’s teachings, which were heavily influenced by Gandhi, was built on non-violence and peace but the author points out the discrepancies in choosing a life of peace/non-violence and still choosing to practice a diet that is harmful to animals. Long after King’s death, Coretta Scott King was influenced by her son to adopt a plant-based diet. Although we’ll never know if Dr. King would have chosen to adopt a plant-based diet later on in life, it is interesting to ponder the notion that a belief in non-violence towards other humans can be extended to include animals.
4. Hog & Hominy: Soul Food from Africa to America is an all inclusive guide to black culinary history. Dr. Fredrick Douglass Opie discusses culinary traditions from the Atlantic Slave Trade through, the fight for Civil Rights and the Black Power Movement. Based on interviews and research, Opie’s book gives his readers insight on the history of “soul food” from it’s beginnings to its decline amongst several communities, including “food rebels” like Dick Gregory and Elijah Muhammad. For more of Dr. Fredrick Douglass Opie’s work, check out his culinary history blog, ‘Food As A Lens’. Click here for Fredrick Douglass Opie’s extensive coverage on Dr. Martin Luther King. Listen here for Dr. Fredrick Douglass Opie’s interview with Nicole Taylor from the Heritage Network’s Hot Grease radio program.