Demetrius “Meek” Walker is a serial entrepreneur, author, public speaker, and DJ. He co-founded The Black Travel Club in 2017. With his latest venture, Meek's Vegan Pizza, Demetrius plans to introduce people to veganism through America's favorite food.
Demetrius has traveled the world as a public speaker, previously being featured on the Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour, and has spoken at dozens of universities with Great Black Speakers. In the past few years, Demetrius has been featured on BET and NBC. In addition, Inc. Magazine and Black Enterprise have both profiled Demetrius for their publications. Demetrius’ first book, I Am A Black Man: The Evolution of a Dangerous Negro, was released in 2017.
Demetrius currently resides in Houston, Texas, with his ten-year-old son. He is a graduate of The Taft School and Vanderbilt University (BA Economics). He also completed a graduate program in Nonprofit Management at Texas A&M.
Dive into the mind of a Black man who is doing great things and steadily working to improve himself.
Fancy: How would you describe your swagger? What makes Meek, Meek?
Meek: I’d describe myself as a compassionate rebel who’s not afraid to evolve when confronted with new information. I have an insatiable thirst for knowledge and new experiences, plus I find comfort in going against the grain. The universe dealt me a Capricorn Sun, Cancer Moon, and Aquarius Rising.
Growing up, I guess you could say I was the coolest nerd on the block… the kid who loved proving he was the smartest in the room and the guy most of the bullies respected.
Fancy: So you are an author, speaker, dj, cofounder of The Black Travel Club, and owner of Meek’s Vegan Pizza. Why pizza?
Meek: I grew up in New York City, which, based on all my travels, had the best pizza in the world. Ever since moving to The South in 2000, I struggled to find real New York pizza. I came across lots of pizzerias that claimed to make New York pizza, but I could always tell the real from the fake, and I was frequently disappointed. Despite loving The South, I longed for that hometown taste. So, trying to find that New York pizza taste locally haunted me.
Then I abruptly went vegan four years ago, which came as a huge shock to my friends and family, most notably my son. Since I have primary custody and I refrain from purchasing animal food products, I had to find something he could enjoy. The one food kids unanimously crave is pizza, so I scoured the city of Houston in pursuit of a suitable vegan replacement. My son is an even pickier eater than I was growing up, so he’d take one bite and be like, “Dad, this ain’t it.” It was frustrating. But I’ve always loved a good challenge, so this was a problem I was determined to solve. And while I was at it, I figured I might as well make it taste as good as the New York Pizza I grew up with. Scratch that… I wanted it to taste even better by incorporating Southern flavors and spices. I decided I was going to put Houston pizza on the map. That’s how Meek’s Vegan Pizza was born.
Fancy: What was your vegan journey like?
Meek: I went vegan cold turkey. Honestly, it wasn’t something I really planned out. While scrolling through Instagram one night, I came across a plate of pigs’ feet topped with chickens’ feet, doused in hot sauce. The caption read something like, “I’m bout to tear this up!” and there were a dozen comments under the post talking about how delicious it looked. Ever since childhood, I could never understand how my friends and family ate animal feet. Yuck! I was triggered.
Then I caught myself being a hypocrite. I realized eating the ribs, legs, thighs, or any other part of an animal made me no better. I was still consuming the body parts of poor, defenseless animals. Anybody that knows me knows I love animals. I'm somewhat of an animal whisperer. I form relationships with any animals I encounter… wild or domesticated. I’ve always known I didn’t have it in me to kill a cow, pig, chicken, or even a fish, so why the hell was I paying other people to do it for me out of convenience? I decided I wouldn’t eat any animals for the next 24 hours because I suddenly felt like a coward for doing so all my life. I considered being vegetarian, which meant I could still eat pizza, yogurt, and a bunch of other stuff. But in that same instant, I imagined what it’d be like if I were a cow, unable to escape the hands of humans or machines pulling on my nipples from sunup to sundown every day of my life. I said, “Damn, that has to be hell on Earth.” So I decided to nix animal products altogether for the next 24 hours.
That day came and went, and I didn’t pass out. So I figured I’d go a week. Then that week came and went, and I couldn’t think of a good reason to go back to eating animal foods. I started reading books on nutrition, as well as the ethical, political, economic, and environmental factors surrounding food consumption, and I realized the extent of my miseducation.
Fancy: So aside from catering to vegans, what else might attract patrons to your restaurant?
Meek: The funny thing is half my customers are not vegan. Many of them are simply people curious about what vegan food tastes like. Pizza is the most popular food in America, so I believe that serving pizza that tastes just as good, if not better, than the pizza people are accustomed to eating can serve as a gateway to veganism for many.
But to answer your question directly, aside from catering to vegans and vegan-curious folks, I also serve CBD-infused pizzas and drinks. As America has increasingly embraced cannabis over the past decade, lots of people have found out about the benefits of CBD for treating anxiety, insomnia, inflammation, and a host of other things. Recent studies even indicate CBD may help cells block COVID-19 from gaining access. So pro-cannabis consumers are definitely attracted to my restaurant.
Fancy: Which pizza is the fan-favorite?
Meek: By far, my best seller is The Meathead. It features vegan hamburger, sausage, bacon, and pepperonis. Most people are shocked by how much it tastes like traditional pizza. I also really like The Plug's Lawyer and The Mexican Connected pizzas because they offer a good mix of vegan meat and veggies.
Fancy: What does a typical day look like for you?
Meek: Fatherhood is my most important job, so my day starts with driving my son to school. From there, I take my dog to the park to run off some energy. After that, it's time to head to my shop to check inventory and get it prepared for opening. Depending on how many employees I have scheduled, I may hand over the pizza-making to focus on marketing, accounting, and operations for both of my businesses. I might dip out to DJ a party for a few hours on the weekends. I'm extremely busy on a day-to-day basis. When I'm not being productive, I feel pretty lousy.
Fancy: What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far, and how did you overcome it?
Meek: The biggest challenge I've faced so far is figuring out my purpose in the universe. I've always known I was gifted, but translating my intelligence into something that provides the greatest benefit to myself and others has been an elusive goal. Accepting that life is an unpredictable journey that's fulfilling as long as I work hard, maintain my integrity, and show compassion to all, brings me peace.
Fancy: Please tell us a little about your book, I Am a Black Man…
Meek: I got to a point in my life where I was unable to be productive because I had so many buried emotions and unpacked thoughts blocking my ability to function. My time working at a mentally draining call center came to an end a few months after my divorce was finalized. I sold my house and had just enough money to chill for a year to figure out how I ended up where I was in life. I started digging deep down into my core, from childhood, to understand why I made all the decisions that led to my current situation. Thoughts began spilling out of my mind and onto the page. It was really therapeutic.
I discovered I had unresolved daddy issues, the church had broken my heart, and white supremacy impacted my decision-making more than I had consciously acknowledged. Most of all, these were generational curses I refused to pass down to my son. That was the premise of my book.
Fancy: Out of the many hats you wear, which role do you enjoy most?
Meek: I most enjoy being a Dad and providing a safe enough space for my son to be himself, in spite of society and culture trying to tell him who he needs to be.
Fancy: What does it mean for you to be a Black man in business?
Meek: Being a Black man in business means, I'm creating a legacy for not just my family but for all people in my orbit. It's the most powerful feeling in the world. Hundreds of years of struggle have led to this moment, and it's my responsibility to raise the bar as high as I'm capable.
Fancy: Who are some Black men that influenced you growing up?
Meek: Like most kids, my father was my first superhero. My grandfather and my uncles all left indelible imprints on me as well. Also, I can't forget the brothers from other mothers I've amassed from childhood until now.
The man that really piqued my interest in politics and showed me the value of being a servant to my community was my upstairs neighbor (and my boy Eddie's Dad), George Crouch. I can't thank him enough for engaging me in real conversations about how the world operates.
Fancy: How do you practice self-care?
Meek: I practice self-care by owning my personal development through constant education. I firmly believe that if you're not evolving, you're dying. So I read at least one book a week, all non-fiction, so I can leverage the wisdom of others.
I also do my best to hit my meditation bench to empty out my brain, release stress, and sharpen my cognitive focus.
Finally, after wearing myself thin with all my jobs, I let loose by traveling multiple times a year. I feel like vacation Meek is peak Meek.
Connect with Meek and Meek's Vegan Pizza below.
Francheska “Fancy” Felder is a quiet Southern, media mogul in the making. In 2010, she launched SwagHer Magazine, an empowerment and lifestyle publication for the progressive Black community.
Fancy’s passion for all things creative combined with her love for writing, Black culture, and business guided her to also offer her public relations, creative, and branding services, making the magazine more of a media boutique having its own subscription clients as well as advertisers, hence why the name changed to SwagHer Magazine & Media.
SwagHer Magazine uses positive media and storytelling to create new narratives and mindsets around Black people, their communities, and the businesses and organizations they lead. Fancy executes campaigns for Black women-led businesses, coaches, authors, and girl bosses so that they receive more visibility and establish themselves as an authority.
The Mississippi native is also one half of Theories & Thoughts Podcast, a discussion-driven show that tackles Black issues and taboo subjects with a kitchen table talk feel, which she hosts with Arnya T.M. Davis. The two also co-produce and host Theories & Thoughts Deep Dive, a millennial talk show.
The former teen mom graduated from Southwest Mississippi Community College with her associate’s in marketing management and studied mass communications with a focus in public relations from Southern University A&M College.