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Common Reveals How His Vegetarian Diet Made Him a Better Rapper

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For Academy-Award winning rapper Common, living a holistic lifestyle isn’t just good for his health, it even makes  him a better at his craft.

In the December issue of Food & Wine, Common opened up about how healthy eating has affected his life and how he’s helping children get on board, too. “I believe that what you eat affects the way you feel, the way you think and how beautiful you can look, so I’m really passionate about introducing kids to a holistic, healthy, good life,” he says.

Common started the Common Ground Foundation in 2004, which allows inner city youth to participate in nutritional programs and learn from chefs who explain the importance of eating healthfully.

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The rapper, 44, says he grew up in Chicago eating a lot of traditional meat-heavy foods — like barbecue, hamburgers and bacon — but his outlook changed when musicians he admired started advocating a vegetarian lifestyle.

“Then I heard rappers, like KRS-One in ‘My Philosophy,’ say things about not eating meat, which was a real education, especially since it was coming from somebody cool. That stayed with me and made me want to learn more,” he says. “As soon as I removed meat from my diet, I started to feel a clarity I didn’t have before. It sounds funny, but I feel like I was rapping better.”

Now, Common is a pescatarian. “I was vegan for a while, then came back to the middle and started eating fish and seafood,” he says.

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But like anyone, he has his vices. “I’m a cookie monster. I like the gluten-free, sugar-free ones from Erin McKenna’s in NYC,” he says. “I’ll come home after working hard, and they’re my treat—I’ve earned them.”