Heavy metal music may be historically associated with drunken, raucous behavior and the occasional blood-letting or bat head eating. But if you’re hanging out with members of bands such as CroMags, the Misfits, Arch Enemy, or Deftones, they’ll tell you the most “metal” thing you can do is to chill out, think positive, and eat all the vegan things.
That was the message at recent “vegan roundtable” held at Brooklyn’s Modern Love for Kerrang.com. The restaurant, helmed by vegan chef Isa Moskowitz, hosted CroMags frontman John Joseph McGowan, Misfits’ Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein, Arch Enemy vocalist Alissa White-Gluz, and Deftones and Quicksand bassist Sergio Vega. The four discussed how veganism is a natural extension of metal and punk music — not a hippy contrast.
“Being vegan is the ultimate form of rebellion,” White-Gluz said. “It’s taking everything that you’re supposed to do, and going against it. That’s way more [expletive] badass than anything else you could do!”
Veganism and Music
For McGowan, the shift came after spending time with the pioneering DC-based punk band, Bad Brains.
“I was in the Navy in 1980, had just came out of jail,” McGowan said. “I grew up on the streets of New York that was super violent, with murders everywhere. I was a smuggler in the Navy, smuggling drugs. I went looking to smuggle some weed in Jamaica, and I met up with some Rastas. They don’t call it vegan, they call it ital. No processed foods or anything, that’s what they eat. A few months later, I met the Bad Brains, and that’s when they were just becoming Rastas. Hanging with them more, that’s how I got into it.”
McGowan, who battled drug addiction for years, is now an Ironman triathlete and an author; his most recent book, “The PMA Effect,” also stands in contrast to traditional metal stereotypes –it’s focused on the benefits of maintaining a positive mental attitude.
“I learned about veganism through punk rock like Crass and Conflict,” says Vega. “I always had a desire not to eat the meat, but I didn’t really know I had an option. My family is from Puerto Rico, and my parents would give me a leg to eat, and I would eat it because I thought I had no choice. When I started buying Crass records, I read the pamphlet [that came with them] that just broke everything down, and that’s when I started the vegan diet. Because of that, my mother, as well as a lot of my family, became vegan or vegetarian.”
There’s a bit of good old-fashioned punk rock antagonism in it all, too. Von Frankenstein says he revels in the reactions he gets when he talks about vegan food. “A huge perk for me is to just piss off people about it. I’ll put up a post [on social media], and not say anything, and just watch as the comments flood in.”
Earth Crisis were pioneers in the vegan punk movement, but today, a growing number of musicians in the metal and punk scenes are shifting to a vegan diet.
“All of Rob Zombie’s band is vegan,” says White-Gluz. “Rob, John 5, all of them. If you go to these summer festivals’ vegan sections, it’s absolutely packed. Rob Zombie, Kreator, even Cannibal Corpse! All these people you wouldn’t expect to be vegan are all there.”