Hip Hop Vegans| Talking Vegan Mac n Cheese and Business With Lazyboy Kitchen

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Every­where we look these days there is a sign in bold let­ters stat­ing ‘VEGAN’, from res­taur­ants, to fest­ivals, labels on jars and even TV. The rise of vegan­ism is now offi­cially main­stream, and with this rise comes a lot of choice, innov­at­ive vegan remakes, bud­ding busi­nesses and an ins­tagram feed full of meat and dairy free yum­mi­ness. Vegan pop up Lazy Boy Kit­chen (& I am Hip Hop Fam­ily) have been cook­ing up a storm in this mar­ket, known in the com­munity as the vegan world’s favour­ite Mac n Cheese… we meet founder Rodean Vafa to find out more!

How did Lazy Boy start? 

I love to cook and had always dreamed of own­ing my own food busi­ness. The prob­lem was I could nev­er decide on the right food to centre my brand around. In 2016 I had recently gone vegan and began exper­i­ment­ing with plant based recipes. I noticed the major­ity of avail­able vegan cheeses were using a lot of oils, starch and arti­fi­cial fla­vour­ings. I put myself on a mis­sion to cre­ate a bet­ter, health­i­er altern­at­ive. I tried a cashew cheese recipe with macar­oni and it was like a light­bulb went off in my head.

I am sure you get asked this a lot — why the name Lazy Boy?

I wanted a brand name that encap­su­lated the style of low-n-slow BBQ cook­ing we do whil­st also cap­tur­ing my per­son­al­ity. Although I am a lazy guy by nature, it is a bit of an iron­ic inside joke as any­one who runs a food busi­ness knows there is no time for lazi­ness.

Vegan­ism is on the rise — have you always been vegan? If not why did you make the decision?

I decided to go fully vegan about 2 years ago. The jour­ney star­ted men­tally. I always knew deep down that anim­als suf­fer in farm­ing and that com­pan­ies will add any $#it into the food for profit. How­ever when the horse meat scan­dal broke; it was a point of no return for me. I was amazed how so many people talked about how ter­rible it was, but refused to change their eat­ing habits. To me I felt if it could be horse­meat, then really it could be any­thing. From then the jour­ney began; cut­ting out pro­cessed meat first, then dairy, then massively redu­cing the amount of over­all anim­al pro­duct con­sump­tion. Then a friend came to vis­it me from abroad who had recently gone vegan. She asked me to take her to all the best vegan places and to try out being anim­al free with her for a week­end. I gave it a try, and saw how easy it was and how much bet­ter I felt men­tally. After that I stopped enjoy­ing the little amounts of chick­en that remained in my diet and haven’t had it since.

We have heard a lot about your mac n cheese, what is the secret that makes you stand out? 

The secret is love 😂. As cheesy as it sounds; mak­ing my cheese sauce is a labour of love. It is all homemade and takes days of man­power to pre­pare. Our cheese is also made from sim­ple, raw ingredi­ents. No pro­cessed or arti­fi­cial fla­vours here.

What has been the biggest chal­lenge in run­ning your own food pop? 

Mak­ing enough food to feed the masses. It’s like no mat­ter how much we pre­pare, how big we go; the people want more!

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What are your 3 favour­ite vegan quick fix dishes? 

I eat a lot of len­tils, grains, veg and raw shakes. Check out my Insta stor­ies for my daily quick fixes.

 What are some good nutri­tion­al tips for any­one plan­ning on going vegan? 

The key to healthy vegan diet is vari­ety. Make sure you eat enough of fruits, veg, grains and some treat foods. If you want to gain muscle then make sure you com­bine plant pro­teins with whole grains to get the full amino acid pro­file.

Whil­st there is a move towards the main­stream mar­ket, a lot of cul­tures have always been mak­ing vegan food as part of their daily diet. Many have argued that there is a lot of cul­tur­al appro­pri­ation in the vegan food mar­ket. What are your thoughts? 

Inter­est­ing ques­tion. Cul­tures like Indi­an and Carib­bean have had vegan con­cepts from day. Much like the emer­gence of pop­ular­ity with yoga; ancient life­styles often become fads in the west­ern con­sumer­ist soci­ety. Now that vegan­ism is on the rise, it’s inventible that more busi­nesses will pop up. How­ever run­ning a com­pany takes cap­it­al and requires the own­ers to sup­port them­selves fin­an­cially before the busi­ness becomes prof­it­able. Wheth­er we like it or not; some white, middle class people are in a bet­ter socio-eco­nom­ic pos­i­tion to do this than the BME com­munity; hence they can cap­it­al­ise off it. At the same time there are plenty of people of col­our offer­ing vegan spins on their cul­tur­al foods too. It’s up to the indi­vidu­al to decide who they want to spend their money on.

 A lot of Hip Hop artists have made a con­scious effort to share the fact that they are vegan, which has influ­enced a lot of the young­er gen­er­a­tion to also think about what they eat. Are there any artists who have stood out for you? 

Akala, Black the rip­per, JME have helped make vegan­ism cool, but to be hon­est I tend to look up more to body­build­ers, nutri­tion­ists and busi­ness own­ers as they are help­ing redefine the vegan ste­reo­types.

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Besides your­self what vegan food vendors should we check out? 

There are loadssss. My recom­mend­a­tion is to go to vegan food mar­kets and fest­ivals and try out a vari­ety.

Where can we see you next and What does the future hold for Lazy Boy Kit­chen ? 

We are a pop up at the moment so fol­low us on social media @lazyboykitchen for our next loc­a­tion. We hope to get a per­man­ent spot in 2018 — so hol­la if you got a place.

 

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Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal

Edit­or / PR Con­sult­ant at No Bounds
Rish­ma Dhali­wal has extens­ive exper­i­ence study­ing and work­ing in the music and media industry. Hav­ing writ­ten a thes­is on how Hip Hop acts as a social move­ment, she has spent years research­ing and con­nect­ing with artists who use the art form as a tool for bring­ing a voice to the voice­less. Cur­rently work­ing in TV, Rish­ma brings her PR and media know­ledge to I am Hip Hop and oth­er pro­jects by No Bounds.

About Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal
Rishma Dhaliwal has extensive experience studying and working in the music and media industry. Having written a thesis on how Hip Hop acts as a social movement, she has spent years researching and connecting with artists who use the art form as a tool for bringing a voice to the voiceless. Currently working in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media knowledge to I am Hip Hop and other projects by No Bounds.