The vegan cookbook brand Thug Kitchen just announced plans to change names and re-evaluate their material. This vegan company was founded in 2012 by Matt Holloway and Michelle Davis. In 2014, they launched their first cookbook, Eat Like You Give a F*ck. Holloway and Davis’ use of vulgar writing in combination with bright, innovative recipes is what caught the attention of consumers all over––vegan and non-vegan. Their book gained popularity and quickly became a #1 New York Times bestseller.
But in 2014, Black chef and author Bryant Terry wrote an article on CNN addressing the racial insensitivities of this cookbook and brand name that was founded by a white couple. “Swearing isn't exclusive to African-Americans. But many of the site's captions, usually dreamed up by Davis to accompany Holloway's striking visuals, rely heavily on phrases from black rap lyrics, stand-up routines and films, which eventually went mainstream,” Terry said. After years of criticism about their branding, the duo behind Thug Kitchen recently shared plans to change names and re-work their content to be more inclusive and empathic.
“When we first launched Thug Kitchen in 2012, we wanted our name to signal our brand’s grit in the otherwise polished and elitist food scene. We realize, however, that whatever our original intention, our use of it reflected our privilege and ignored the reality that the word is assigned to Black people in an attempt to dehumanize them. That’s f*cked up and not at all what we want to stand for. We apologize. We recognize we need to do better.” said Holloway and Davis.
Although Holloway and Davis have not announced what their new company and website name will be, they did state plans to discontinue the use of the title “Thug Kitchen” on their website and all previous cookbooks. “We want our body of work to reflect inclusivity and empathy,” they shared. “We’re serious about being advocates for change and that starts with us.”