With obesity and diabetes rates on the rise, a popular rapper with Brooklyn roots is spreading his own message about healthy eating.
As a member of the Wu-Tang Clan, he's known as Masta Killa. And with a stage-name like that, you'd think the rapper born Elgin Turner, who now goes by Jamel Irief, would be a carnivore.
But when he isn't in the studio working on his latest solo album, due this spring with producer P.F. Cuttin, Irief's been spreading another message: "Go Veg."
Recently teaming up with PETA in a new ad campaign with his four-year-old son Eternal, the Brooklyn native encourages us to clean up our diets and eat vegetarian.
"We don't think any creature should have to suffer our dinner and there are so many foods for us to choose from," said Irief.
Irief, who has been a vegetarian for 14 years, treated us to a veggie lunch at one of his favorite restaurants, Brawta Caribbean Cafe in Boerum Hill, where he explained why he thought it was so important to get involved in the campaign.
"To eat right is to think right. Energy is everything. What we put in our bodies, we don't realize how crucial that is to the body," said Irief.
With diabetes and obesity rates disproportionately high among blacks, Irief says sharing messages about giving more thought to food choices is especially important.
"We kind of lost the natural way of ourselves, so it made us think differently and it made us eat differently. So of course, that affected my family just like a lot of other black families in the community. So without the proper knowledge itself, its impossible to really eat right," said Irief.
Brawta's itself isn't a vegetarian restaurant, but Irief says it's a perfect example of being able to find healthy options anywhere.
Restaurant owner Jennifer Ewers says it's important to have lots of options on the table.
"I've seen people really, really make healthier choices. You know, coming in now people are asking for more vegetarian stuff, or whole wheat, they are more health conscious now," said Ewers.
It's a sentiment Irief says he's not trying to force on anyone, but one he's hoping his audience now and generations to come can learn from.