Skip navigation

Day One Keynote: A Rap Against Beef

Bryant Terry, an Oakland, Calif.-based vegan chef and author, has a rap against beef. In fact, he recited lyrics to the song, "Beef," written and performed by an old hip-hop group called Boogie Down Productions. Here are some of the lyrics:

Let us begin now with the cow

The way it gets to your plate and how

The cow doesn't grow fast enough for man

So through his greed he makes a faster plan

He has drugs to make the cow grow quicker

Through the stress the cow gets sicker

Twenty-one different drugs are pumped

Into the cow in one big lump

Yep, this is a rap song, folks. The genre is not just about drugs and guns and crime... though this song does get pretty graphic in describing the slaughterhouse, to the point where it makes me think yet again about at least leading a more vegetarian lifestyle.

Terry, who grew up in a close, large family in the rural South, says the song changed his life and sent him embarking on a career that includes cooking, social change and education. He's written two books, Vegan Soul Kitchen and Grub: Ideas for an Urban Kitchen.

"It's all about growing our food and cooking in the kitchen and enjoying delicious food," he said of his activism against agribusiness and mass-produced processed foods. "These are radical ideas these days."

Much of Terry's work is devoted to tomorrow's generation of supermarket consumers. He spends a lot of time with young people educating them about "the pleasures of the table." That's a wonderfully evocative phrase that embraces his goal of connecting community, art and culture.

"Start with the visceral," he said. "Then move to the cerebral and finish with the political."

Terry's recipe for change will likely trickle up to food stores as these young people start to do their own shopping. Get ready.