It's been quite a while since we came up with a rather controversial and untypical feature here at VOICES FROM THE DARKSIDE. The most talked about probably was the interview that our good friend Dan Swanö did with MARILLION frontman Steve Hogarth way back in 1996... But worth a mention should also be the features on Carl McCoy (FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM / THE NEFILIM) or DEAD CAN DANCE of course. Since all of them have already been done many many years ago (when VOICES was still a printed magazine) and still dealed with music in general, we figured it was about time to come up with something completely different, yet connected to the VOICES FROM THE DARKSIDE concept somehow anyway. So, we contacted five wellknown musicians from the extreme Metal underground in order to talk to them about their vegetarian / vegan lifestyle... Being vegetarians / vegans ourselves, we know about the necessity to explain this ethical and healthy lifestyle to other people as well, so our sincere thanks goes out to Mille (KREATOR), Tom (TRIPTYKON), Barney (NAPALM DEATH), Angela (ARCH ENEMY) and Leif (DEW-SCENTED), who immediately supported the idea of this special. Don't get us wrong, we are certainly not here to preach, we just wanna show you that being a vegetarian / vegan in this business is more than cool and that you can respect our fellow earthlings and be successful and real healthy at the same time... Hope you'll enjoy this feature as much as we enjoyed doing it!
For how long do you live as a vegan or vegetarian now?
Mille: "I have been a vegan for four years."
Angela: "I have been vegan for about 2 years now... I kinda stopped eating milk products and eggs step by step."
Barney: "I went vegetarian 29 years ago, and I started moving closer to veganism only 5 or so years ago, actually. I live at home as a vegan because I have complete control over my diet and I can balance it out, but on the road it is a lot harder to do that without missing out on some essential dietary elements."
Leif: "I have been a vegetarian since the early 90s, so basically 20 years by now!"
Have the vegans among you started out (like almost anyone else) as vegetarians first?
Angela: "Yes, I grew up vegetarian. My parents were pretty alternative and different from the mainstream. I moved out early and tried meat. Didn't like it, didn't make me feel good, so I reverted back to being a vegetarian."
Barney: "Yes, embracing vegetarianism is in itself a progressive process - I think you'll find few people who jump in 100% right away. The meat tends to go first, then maybe the dairy, then leather and suede and animal-tested products etc."
How do you see vegetarians? Is it a good thing, a first step or just not good enough?
Mille: "I try not to force my opinion on others. Being vegetarian is a huge step into the right direction."
Angela: "It is good and as long as they consume ecological milk products and free range eggs no harm is done to the animals and the environment. I am absolutely cool with the vegetarian lifestyle."
Barney: "I'm not completely vegan, as I already mentioned earlier - I kind of straddle the fence between vegetarianism and veganism. I'd much rather go completely vegan in the ideal world, but I need to maintain a certain fitness for NAPALM playing live, and honestly the food I get on the road doesn't always have everything I need - soy protein you don't always get and personally I really have to have that for energy. So, when I don't get it, I need to replace that with other stuff - which unfortunately sometimes has a dairy element to it. Look, if there's one thing I don't like in these situations, it's elitism. It's not a competition - it's better that more people have an awareness and a willingness to do something and move with it at their own pace than feel intimidated that they're not elite vegetarians or vegans and perhaps ultimately lose their motivation. That's just not productive and doesn't help the ultimate goal of real animal welfare. And I'd say that was more important than trying to be more of a fundamentalist than the next person. To my mind, If you're even thinking about even trying vegetarianism, you're heading in a positive direction."
And how about you, Tom and Leif… how do you see vegans?
Leif: "I have a lot of respect for vegans, but it just wasn't for me. It comes hand in hand with stricter rules to follow and a lot of the food I enjoy the most would not be available. I have friends who have been vegan for a long time by now and that's great to see. As long as everyone is happy with where he / she is at in life and acts or actually lives consciously, that's a good thing. I also know many people who eat no meat, but will still stick to fish. It wouldn't morally be for me either, but I think it's a good step in the right direction anyways! And obviously I know many people (also amongst my closer friends) who aren't vegetarian at all too, so…"
Tom: "It really isn't my place to voice an opinion about that. Becoming a vegan is an individual's personal and private decision, and it is thus none of my business. Being a vegan would be a bit too extreme for me personally, but if anybody decides to follow that path, I am in support of that decision. As long as it prevents an animal from being subjected to the human industrial mass extermination process, I personally feel it's a good thing."
What have been your main motivations to become a vegan or vegetarian? Animal rights? The environment? Health? Something else... or maybe all those connected?
Mille: "All those connected, kind of."
Angela: "All those reasons combined. Changing your diet is a very complex issue. In my case milk products made me feel sluggish and built up mucus. Not great for a singer, so I cut it out. I feel best on a clean, fruit and vegetable raw food diet. I have tons of energy, I never get sick, I work out hard and my body feels lean, light and very flexible. I am an environmentalist, so I buy everything in eco, locally produced. And I am an animal rights activist and it makes me feel good, knowing that I am not harming any animals with my lifestyle. I am a very aware person - this world is a beautiful place that comes with the responsibility to preserve that beauty for the next generations to come. I def do my part in making sure I don't use up more resources and energy than necessary."
Barney: "All of those are connected - like stepping stones. Animal rights was my first concern, my actions lead to less environmental damage and of course my diet is a large part of a healthier life. It makes me happy all-round and I could not go back to my lifestyle preceding it."
Leif: "A good mix of everything, but initially it was mainly the moral aspect. Why believe in something "unnecessary"? You obviously won't starve if avoiding meat, so why not try and skip it in order to contribute my own small personal bit towards a good universal cause. I like to think I sleep better knowing that no animal has to die just for my appetite. I always found it wrong and cruel how animals were seen as "food" for / by humans. They are living beings with feelings, a heart and a soul too. And I like to respect that."
Tom: "Quite simply my own understanding of the world we live in. I detest the egotism, selfishness, and limitless greed human beings apply in their conduct on the planet we all share. And we are sharing it not just among ourselves, we are sharing it with uncounted other living beings. Although I fully realize we human beings are meat-eating mammals, and although I was raised a meat-eater as a kid, the older I became the less I was able to justify to myself the self-centered, limitless harvesting of anything and everything as pursued by us human beings on this planet. We are calling ourselves "civilized" and yet truly being civilized implies humility, modesty, an understanding of the global environmental context, and respect for the needs and rights of the other inhabitants of this world - many of whom have been here for far, far longer than us. And, quite simply, I love animals and became increasingly unable to justify any meat consumption of my own versus the facts and realities of the industrial mass breeding and mass butchering of animals."
Have you consequently also stopped wearing leather jackets and shoes? How about tattoo ink, alcohol, medicine etc.?
Mille: "I don't know if my tattoos are vegan, since most of them are over 10 years old. I don't buy leather products and I still drink a little alcohol occasionally. I do not check on wine, I admit. I would only take medicine capsules if I really really had to."
Angela: "I only wear fake leather = pleather. I have no tattoos, I don't drink alcohol (I only smoke weed - vegan, haha), I don't take any medicine at all. No pills, no sprays, nothing."
Barney: "Yes, I don't wear leather or animal skin and I check everything quite thoroughly. For example, Guinness is a no-no and also many varieties of red wine. I try to avoid using medicines full-stop and if I do need something I know where to get approved medicines. My tattoos were done, to be honest, before I knew about the issue with inks, but I don't plan on having any more and even if I did, next time I would insist on vegan-friendly ink, no question."
Leif: "I am not a big fan of leather anyways and I don't dig tattoos, so that's not really a big issue to me. When I know products are wrong or sketchy I obviously try to avoid them, but I don't strictly second guess all of my moves apart from nutrition!"
Tom: "I don't drink, and I am not tattooed. And the only medicine I am currently required to take is one to help regulating the effects of my diabetes. As far as leather jackets and shoes are concerned, I have never felt the need for a wardrobe of expensive clothes or large quantities of clothes. My personal lifestyle is very simple. When I own a leather jacket, I thus wear it literally for decades. And I never wear leather trousers. My need for such items is therefore utterly minimal. Moreover, there is never a moment when I am not aware where the jacket came from; that an animal gave its life for it. It is an almost sacred awareness, one that was natural for many ancient cultures but has gradually been lost in today's world. Millions of animals are being killed every day to satisfy the needs of those who eat meat, many of these animals being cattle. The leather jacket I have been wearing for ages came from one of those animals. No animal has to die specifically for me to have a leather jacket - much less a fur coat or the likes. Moreover, I have never felt that leather increases my masculinity. I am just as happy in clothes made from other materials."
Do you have any animals at home yourself?
Angela: "No. I think animals should live in their natural habitat, roaming freely. Caged, in-house pets are not happy creatures."
Barney: "No, I don't have the time being at home and therefore it's unfair to take on that commitment. When I was really young, me and a friend owned a red-kneed Tarantula and a Tegu lizard. With the benefit of hindsight, though, unless it's a conservation environment, I think in a regular living space we cannot hope to re-create decent conditions for such complex creatures. Cages and tanks of that nature now just seem so depressing to me."
Leif: "Yes, currently 2 cats (Mimi and Modio). I was raised in constant company of animals (mainly dogs, etc.) and think it shaped me well. I really love animals and see them as good friends instead of good food. I like the saying "Animals are my friends and I don't eat my friends!"."
Tom: "I was raised in a home filled with animals, and for all of my life, I have had dogs and, sometimes, cats."
Are you involved in any kind of environmental- or animal-protection organizations somehow (helping out yourself or through financial donations)?
Mille: "I work with PETA2 a lot and I write for the German vegan magazine "Kochen ohne Knochen" sometimes."
Angela: "Yes, I have been running campaigns for Djurens Raett, the Swedish Animal rights organization and we have collaborated with Amnesty International (Human Rights, Art4Amnesty) and PETA."
Barney: "Yes, although I'd rather keep that private at this point. Nothing sinister about that - it's just a preference for me."
Leif: "No, not really. I should be more active but I haven't been in a while, to be honest. Being vegetarian went to become a very quiet, rather personal thing for me in these past years, while I was pretty vocal about it in the early days. I probably have been part of too many 'boring' discussions / talks about vegetarian lifestyle, that I felt I didn't need to convert others into my beliefs. It's however great to see the awareness and possibilities for vegetarian nutrition grow so much in the last decade especially. I feel things are turning for the better with a new generation of educated 'users' people, who probably already carry the torch from their more open-minded parents?! I mean, at least it's good to see the "oh really, how can you survive without meat?" attitude disappear more and more…"
Tom: "Yes, I have been involved in such organisations at various points in my life, and I undoubtedly will be again. Moreover, besides an involvement on an organized level, I have been active all of my life in trying to save animals in dire situations. The dogs I have owned, for example, have all been rescued from abusive situations."
Are you the only vegan or vegetarian member in your band?
Angela: "Yes, I am the only vegan. The other ARCH boys are vegetarians."
Barney: "Yes, although Mitch our guitarist has a partial vegetarian diet because Veronika his wife is also vegetarian. I do promote good vegetarian food and other related stuff to the other guys, and they do have an appreciation of animal welfare, but they are really quite heavily rooted in meat culture and it's hard to get past that sometimes."
Leif: "In the current line-up we have a second one, Rory (the guitarist). We used to have up to 3 vegetarian members in the past, but we never saw it as a group thing, which is also why it doesn't play a big role in our lyrics or band's presentation. In fact, I believe in the fact that such lifestyle and behaviour should be a very personal and well-thought move rather than a "group thing". Just as religion or general taste."
Tom: "No, our bassist, Vanja Slajh, is also a vegetarian (and has been for quite some time), and so are some members of our crew."
Are you "just" a vegan / vegetarian or do you also live a total "straight edge" lifestyle?
Mille: "I hardly drink and drugs haven't been an issue to me for many years now. But I'm not straight edge."
Angela: "I really like weed, haha. So I am not straight edge. But I don't drink any alcohol and I'd never smoke a cigarette. I have a beautiful vaporizer or I simply bake vegan space cookies ;-) "
Barney: "Vegetarianism / veganism is a humane choice; "straight edge" in my opinion is purely a personal lifestyle choice. There's a difference. A few years ago, I guess I may have ticked a few of the "straight edge" boxes like no alcohol, cigarettes or "drugs", but I was keen not to fit into the 'edge clique - it was my choice and not to somehow make me appear better than others. It certainly didn't define me as a person. I thought the really extreme straight edge thing of hassling alcohol drinkers was always totally mindless. In the US I even saw idiot macho straight-edgers attacking people with pool balls in socks. To me, that's about ego and some form of worrying superiority complex."
Leif: "Just a vegetarian, sorry! ;-)" (hey, no need for excuses here, Leif - Frank)
Tom: "I have never looked at it militantly or applied a title such as "straight-edge" to it. I simply try to lead the life I can justify for myself. That I don't drink, don't smoke, don't take drugs, and have never owned a car is, again, simply a very personal decision. My "addictions", if you will, may be found elsewhere."
How do friends react on your lifestyle? Do they understand your decision? Do you often get to hear excuses like "I rarely eat meat myself"? Do you have friends that are vegans or vegetarians as well?
Mille: "Many of my friends are vegan / vegetarians, but I have also carnivore friends. And yes, I have heard the only happy cow's meat theory before :-) Like I said, I try not to make it a problem since I do not want to preach my lifestyle on others. I have heard many very stupid jokes about vegans though. If those were at least funny, I'd laugh about them. I try not to make it an issue, but a discussion is sometimes forced on me."
Angela: "Most sensible people are very open to a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle and many I know adapt it sooner or later either for health reasons or ecological reasons. I guess I have surrounded myself with intelligent and open-minded people, haha. At the end of the day it's a personal decision, but if you look at the facts and figures going vegetarian is really the thing to do if you care just a little about animals, the planet and your health."
Barney: "My friends never made an issue out of it or treated me any differently. In some way, I think they appreciate my dedication - although of course to me it's entirely natural to not eat or use animal products. Yes, you do hear the thing about rarely eating meat. I wouldn't mock anybody for saying that. But I would follow up with: "if you only eat it rarely, go one better - don't eat it at all!" Yes, I have plenty of vegetarian and vegan friends - you do tend to make them when you become involved with related things. The general music scene I'm in also has plenty of people who care and also choose to follow the path."
Leif: "Yeah, of course they understand it. I believe you make best friends with people that you might have some (relevant) things in common with, right? And many of my friends happen to be vegetarians as well, coincidence or not. And yes, the "I rarely eat meat myself" thing comes up every now in a while too and it's nice to hear that they at least try to be conscious about it…even though I feel sometimes people say that, just to avoid a conflicting opinion. But like I said before, I believe in the freedom to choose whatever is best for you, so nobody owes me an apology for eating meat, even though I myself find it wrong ;-)"
Tom: "Well, if they are actual friends, there should never be a problem. Otherwise I wouldn't consider them friends. Moreover, I have never felt the need to align with someone simply to be a part of something. If some of the people who come in contact with me do not approve of my lifestyle, it is their prerogative. As it is mine to ignore them and go on living said lifestyle."
From my experiences the Metal scene is still pretty narrow minded when it comes to a vegetarian / vegan lifestyle… I suppose it has something to do with Metal being a very macho type genre (you gotta eat meat to be accepted as a "real man")… So, how do people react that you meet on tour (promoters, fans, journalists, other bands…) when they find out that you are a vegan or vegetarian?
Mille: "Non-intelligent jokes, manly behaviour, steaks, BBQ's - the full treatment. I try to avoid this kind of company, but luckily most people are at least respectful. There is a small veggie-movement in Metal nowadays and it's getting bigger. What annoys me a lot more, is ignorant promoters who can not read the catering-rider we send out."
Angela: "Oh... CANNIBAL CORPSE, CARCASS, NAPALM DEATH, HEAVEN SHALL BURN - they all request a vegetarian catering. Just like ARCH ENEMY. I know a lot of musicians who are vegetarian or vegan. Heavy Metal is an alternative music and part of that culture is to also accept alternative lifestyles. I hardly get the 'in-your-face' hardcore meat-eater response ever. Never from promoters. They are very used to provide a meat-free option. Neither journalists or other bands have ever approached me in a negative way. Most of the time they are curious and want to know more as of why I have changed my diet. I am sure it helps that I look very healthy and very, very fit. They rather wonder how I keep in such great shape with all the workload and touring that I do. I manage Arch ENEMY so I am very involved in tourbooking, catering riders etc and got my finger on the pulse."
Barney: "There is a certain tedious machismo / Alpha Male aspect to the general scene, yes, but, honestly, I think it's in a minority. I think you'll also find a lot more people in the scene who recognise how ridiculous that is. As I mentioned in my last answer, most people don't react at all when they find out you are vegetarian or vegan - it's just another thing. The only challenge seems to come when some promoters don't read the food requirements when you're out on the road and you end up with nothing resembling a healthy and balanced meal."
Leif: "It's actually getting better and better. It seems information and more 'possibilities' to eat vegetarian are opening things up some more these days. I remember in the 90s I often had to explain myself and make sure people understand it's not a joke and that I won't touch / eat it when "it was just a tiny bit of ham in the meal". These days there seems to be a better acceptance and understanding that a larger part of this music community wants to live without eating animals. Most touring parties have a handful of vegetarians on board, so we actually end up getting some food as well, hahaha, Of course there is still a strong "meat or nothing at all" type of attitude about some guys (and I have even had that in my own band…), and in some countries more than others. But like I said before…I don't believe in preaching and forcing my opinions and beliefs onto others. I trust the fact that everyone who wants to change his life for the better will get a chance to do so when the time is right?!"
Tom: "Your observations are quite correct. Nevertheless, it isn't really the place of promoters, fans, journalists, or other bands to tell me what to eat or how to live my life. I thus don't care about such reactions. Moreover, if one books TRIPTYKON for a concert, there is a contract which stipulates what foods the band and crew require. Period."
Is it a problem to get vegan or vegetarian catering when you're on tour? Do the companies actually really know what vegan food is all about these days or do you have to give them a detailed list upfront?
Mille: "Yeah, there is a VERY detailed list, even with suggestions for those who never heard of veganism before. 95% of the times, they take care of me. But even on a tour with 4 bands and 30 people, I am sometimes the only vegan, which doesn't make things easier :-)."
Angela: "Oh, they all know. I usually just order a big veggie platter with olive oil and a baked potato. I love simple food and there is not much room for error, haha. Everybody can cut up some veggies and bake a potato. At least I hope so."
Barney: "Erm, I hate to shatter people's illusions, but NAPALM doesn't have the luxury of catering companies. It's usually what the promoter has made for us, or a food buyout. The quality varies with the former but it's getting consistently better as the years go by and the understanding of vegetarianism and veganism increases. That said, yes, you do have to give a detailed list sometimes. I do understand it sometimes when promoter's don't quite pick up on the finer details of animal by-products, but when they get around that by giving you…a plate of salad or plain vegetables and a few potatoes, well, that doesn't really work so well."
Leif: "Most promoters and touring agencies are used to take care of vegetarians these days. Very often the freshly prepared food on the road is pretty good for vegetarians, often resulting in non-vegetarians preferably wanting to eat it as well. On the tour we did with HEAVEN SHALL BURN in 2010 we had some of the best vegetarian / vegan catering every night that I have ever seen on tour. And most festivals these days have good vegetarian options backstage as well as on site. Actually quite some musicians avoid excessive meat consumption when on the road, probably because of health concerns / issues. That's fine to me as well. I often don't care if someone can't help with veggie food at a show, then I simply go my own way and look for something in town. No worries…"
Tom: "No, it isn't really a problem anymore these days. There are so many vegetarians in so many bands and crews that it has become fairly commonplace. Most well-organized festivals, for example, offer vegetarian dishes even without any specific requirement by the bands. Having said that, there is always the odd ignorant exception. This usually reflects on them, however, not on us."
Have you already had to face situations on tour where you didn't get something to eat at all, because vegan or vegetarian food wasn't available anywhere?
Mille: "I can always eat nuts and buy my own food. Like I said, being the ONLY vegan is not always easy, but I have my happy cow app on my iPhone, so I'll find something."
Angela: "No. I have lived of a bag of carrots, bananas and apples for a day or two though, haha. I don't care. I eat to live, I don't live to eat. I am happy with very simple food."
Barney: "I can't say I have been in a situation where I haven't eaten anything at all, but what I generally try to do is carry with me a banana, a bag of unsalted nuts and dried fruit (best are raisins). In the worst case scenario of not getting hot food, these foods at least give you a potassium and energy boost to (hopefully) play a ripping show."
Leif: "Yeah that happens, as there are still those places where all you get is meat with meat. But you can always settle with some small salad or simply potatoes for the time being, rather than make it a drama for someone else, right?! It's getting better with every new year though, as the awareness for good nutrition and individual choices seems to be growing…"
Tom: "Such occurrences are very rare. Vanja and I often have a far smaller selection of foods to choose from, but as this lifestyle is our own choice and entirely voluntary, I have never felt the need to lament about that. In addition, I am quite used to being drastically restricted in what I can eat due to my diabetes."
I know of someone who travels through India alot that vegetarian food isn't much of a problem overthere, but trying to get vegan food should be quite a challenge and almost impossible... Have you made similar experiences while you've been overthere recently, Mille?
Mille: "Good thing was: the hotel we stayed at was a very nice 5 star place. Vegan food was not a problem at all."
How do you handle things in your private life… do you have any shops that sell vegan or vegetarian stuff in the area where you life or do you also have to order certain things from specialized mailorder companies? Is bio quality important to you as well?
Mille: "Bio quality is important. I used to have my own little piece of land on a bio-farm. I shop at Vegan Wonderland, which is a mail-order company."
Angela: "In Germany it's big... We have lots of bio-supermarkets where you can get all you need in eco quality. Most normal supermarkets carry biologicial products and produce these days. Like I said - I love simple food, so I am not looking for fancy rare items really. I eat fruits, veggies, rice, millet, potatos and bring a bunch of stuff like rice protein, hemp seeds, chia seeds etc with me on tour."
Barney: "Our big chain in the UK is Holland and Barrett, which you can find on most high streets and in shopping centres. There has been criticism about the ethics of one or two of their business practices because people rightly expect such a store not to indulge in anything approaching suspect business, but generally they stock a lot of vegetarian / vegan products, fair trade and natural stuff - things you just could not hope to get in regular chain stores (which I try and avoid anyway). My brother lives in Devon on the UK south coast, and when I visit him I make a point of also visiting the village of Totnes, which is kind of a veg / vegan / fair trade / organic / natural paradise! There is a fucking marvellous supermarket there called Green Life. Mail order is really well covered and I shop regularly at places like Oxfam, Ethical Superstore and other places. Bio is very important to me - who really wants growth hormones and nasty pesticides in their food? And something which is as important for me as animal rights is fair trade / direct trade. I believe in rights for all sentient beings - human and non-human - and it is equally important that workers involved in the production of goods are treated fairly and are paid a living wage - even better if it is a co-operative and they get an equal share of company proceeds."
Leif: "Yes, I pick up most of the vegetarian products in local ecological shops and we recently had a special veggie-only store open in town as well: www.vegilicious-shop.de. Some other stuff I get from mailorders or actually from the Netherlands, where for example Quorn (www.quorn.com) is already pretty established, as compared to Germany. But the great news of the week is that Edeka is apparently starting to bring in Quorn to Germany at last as well. Check this out: www.quorn.de. Also, it seems that even all other regular supermarket-chains are adding quite some good amount of vegetarian product to their selection these days (probably because they see the demand…), so you find something good and affordable everywhere. Additionally, I have a pretty solid Asia-Supermarket nearby where I live so I get certain fake meat and fresh stuff there as well. My fave new discovery has to be the vegetarian tuna. Simply awesome!!!"
Tom: "As I stated earlier, I lead a very simple, even spartan, life. I hardly ever feel a need for fancy foods. What I like and what I eat can be found pretty much everywhere, although I occasionally do shop at health food places."
What's your fave international cuisine?
Mille: "Indian Curries."
Angela: "Indian food is very rich in flavor and usually all vegan."
Barney: "Generally I would say Italian food. If you get a basic whole-wheat pasta with a rich tomato sauce, seitan pieces and avocado topping, it's the best things on earth and so, so simple to make."
Leif: "It's probably Mexican and some of the options in Indian or Thai-food. I don't cook any of that myself though, so I'm limited to eat that at restaurants or bars when we go out. However, I need to add that most Mexican food is pretty bad over here. When I visit Mexico (my sister lives there…), that's when the beauty of their meals and spices really kicks in. They truly know how to eat spicy and fresh over there - Love it! And yeah, generally all that is nicely spicy and vegetarian will at least be tried at some point. I am not too stubborn when it comes to food yet…"
Tom: "It's as simple as pasta or salads."
Have you ever seen any episode of "The Vegan Black Metal Chef" on YouTube? What do you think about that?
Mille: "The Vegan Black Metal Chef rules! Here you have a great example for the change in the Metal scene."
Angela: "Very funny and a cool way to open up people's minds."
Barney: "I think it's fucking wonderful - irony, clichés, humour and of course increasing the awareness of veganism. From what I know about the guy and read about his outlook on things, he has a real sense of humanity about him."
Leif: "Yeah I have seen some of it - Pretty well made! At first I thought it was purely a joke, but there seems to be some good content there, so that's obviously cool with me. It seems to entertain people and get some spotlight, which is a good way to get some message across these days. All in all, I think the internet has been a great tool to provide info and source of inspiration for people regarding vegetarian / vegan lifestyle or even if only to share recipes etc. I really used to like the "simple veggie cooking" books by the German OX Punk magazine, which feature tons of cool alternative recipes for everyone to actually succeed with. I have spent some good kitchen-time with these 4 books in the past too. The books are in German only though, but check them out here - you might actually find them pretty entertaining."
Tom: "It was funny at first, but it also wore out after a few minutes."
Are you able to cook yourself properly? Have you already tried to introduce a vegan or vegetarian meal to people that are visiting you?
Mille: "I'm an ok, cook, I guess. At least, that's what I've heard. My parents came over one day and I've made seitan schnitzel for them. They could not tell the difference and thought there were eating meat unitl I told them."
Angela: "Oh yes, I am a very good cook and love a garden full of herbs and spices. Yes, I cook for other people - everything tastes great when you spice it up right! A dash of muskat, some fresh oregano, garlic, kardamon, etc and even the most simply dish tastes like heaven :-)"
Barney: "My apartment is so small that if you wanted to put a table out and have one more person to dinner, you would have to knock down a wall first. But yes, I am able to cook. I think everybody can cook - they just have to take the time, and one of the problems of the modern world is that people think they don't have the time to take. And, don't get me wrong, in many ways, I am equally guilty of that. It is easy to follow recipes, so when you have done it once you can then experiment with refining those recipes to your own tastes."
Leif: "I used to cook a lot more than I do today. I have to admit that most of the cooking these days in our place is being handled by my girlfriend, but she's vegetarian as well. She knows exactly what I like best and we seem to agree on a good amount of the taste matters, so that's making our choices easier. Yes, obviously we wouldn't do anything else than vegetarian for visitors, so that's not a mission but simply a fact with us. I have heard people who aren't vegetarian themselves enjoy having a veggie dinner with us for a change or because it has introduced them to new options. A nice guy I used to work with has recently opened a service that offers (vegetarian) food at festivals or other (music) events. Check him out here: www.untervegs.de or here: www.facebook.com/untervegs. More power to Gerrit! ;-)"
Tom: "As I have spent my youth largely on my own from the age of six or seven onwards, I did learn to cook very early on. I do enjoy cooking, but not so much just on my own. I would never try to coerce people into something simply because I think it's right. I'd much rather leave that to religious fanatics and the like."
Are you also familiar with the prejudices / opinions that vegetarian / vegan food can only consist of salad, carrots, grains and stuff like that and therefore doesn't taste at all?
Mille: "I've heard all those ignorant comments before, yes."
Angela: "This only comes from people who can't cook themselves and don't know how to spice it up. A bland piece of steak tastes of nothing as well... But you add rosemary, cracked pepper and sea salt with garlic butter to it and I am sure it tastes very fragrant suddenly. The same applies to ALL dishes, including vegan ones."
Barney: "Yes, I am familiar with that train of thought. Ignorance is bliss though, isn't it? I do remember a time when salad was my only option before one gig. I said I needed hot food…so they offered to heat the salad. No kidding."
Leif: "Yeah, well it does in some cases, doesn't it?! Unfortunately some (carnivore) people think that vegetarian eating is about skipping the meat only. They don't seem to know that the taste-making ingredients are actually some of the 'other stuff'. I mean, a good sauce or marinade helps in all cases, but to me it's really about how you prepare and spice your selection of food. I personally don't really like raw food at all because of the lack of taste and spice. I understand why people choose to go for that, especially when with a diet or health background, but it's really not for me. I drink a lot of water, but I would never claim it's got a great taste, haha! It can be refreshing too, but I mainly stick to cooked or fried stuff…"
Tom: "Well, of course I am. And yet, ludicrous prejudice and blatant human ignorance isn't limited to this topic alone."
Another prejudice related to the vegan lifestyle still is that you're facing deficiency symptoms, because of the lack of meat, eggs and milk products… have you experienced those comments yourself as well already? What do you respond?
Mille: "Many people are still victims of the meat / pharma industry propaganda. My response is: do your homework before you talk to me about those things. Funny thing is, that most people who get on my nerves with these comments don't know nothing about food in general."
Angela: "Ever looked at a strong ox? Where is he getting his protein from? Exactly. Gras. Greens are very dense in plant protein which is much more readily available for the body than mammal protein. You eat enough fruits and veggies you get all the nutritions you need. It's a fact - I get myself tested from time to time and I have never had any deficiencies and my body is pure muscle. I am the living proof that any of these remarks are complete rubbish and made by people who are too weak to change their lifestyle and looking for excuses. Eat hemp if you need extra protein. It is very powerful. There's a whole bunch of Olympic athletes who are vegans... Some of them winning gold medals. The proof is in the pudding so to speak ;-) "
Barney: "Honestly, it's not something that offends me on a personal level and doesn't come up too often anyway. My only concern is that those kinds of beliefs wrongly represent the vegan / vegetarian diet and possibly puts people off."
Have you also noticed a somehow positive evolution towards vegetarian / vegan related things over the years? What do you think is the reason that it almost has become some sort of trend these days to start living as a vegan?
Mille: "For some it might be just a trend, but it's ok if people think about what they put into their bodies. Trend or not."
Angela: "People are more aware of the health benefits of a vegetarian diet and they are also better educated about the ecological impact the mass cattle production has on the planet and the suffering it causes to the animals. The more information and alternative choice is out there, the easier it gets for the consumers to change their habits."
Barney: "Well, one sure sign is how many foods / general items are now marked up as vegetarian / vegan-friendly - that is the sign that consciousness is continually growing. To be honest, I don't really care if it is labelled as a trend or not. Most important is that people understand about animal welfare, and beyond that if they decide to persevere with it after the initial appeal, great."
Leif: "Yes indeed, and I think I have raised this fact before, in an earlier part of the interview. I see progress and change for the better on all levels with such products right now: Selection, quality, pricing, availability, awareness, tolerance and acceptance. Call it trend if you wish, but any trend with a good message is fine with me, really! I mean, if all of a sudden TROUBLE would be the most requested band ever and if there was this massive TROUBLE hype so that all "commercial kids" would buy their albums and their merchandise, I would be simply pretty happy for them! It would hopefully not change how I feel about their music myself!? I am not vegetarian to feel special or elite. I became vegetarian because it's just and makes me feel better about life! So yeah, more power to anyone that decides to make a change for himself, even though I wanna point out that it should always be a personal and conscious decision, because then it will last longer and come through with better foundation and impact!"
Tom: "There has been a significant increase in awareness regarding a healthy, respectful, and reasonable lifestyle in recent years. It certainly helps that it is easier today to obtain relevant information and facts than it has ever been before. And it is also a positive signal that so many people engaged in very public professions, such as musicians for example, are following such a lifestyle. There still remains an incredibly huge mountain to surmount, however."
Have you met a lot of other vegetarian / vegan musicians on tour over the years? If so, please tell us some names here…
Mille: "Many. All of HEAVEN SHALL BURN, some people in CALIBAN, John from the CRO-MAGS, Barney from NAPALM DEATH, to name only a few."
Angela: "Pat from CANNIBAL CORPSE, Mille from KREATOR, Jeff and Bill from CARCASS, Barney from NAPALM DEATH… There are many, many vegetarian musicians in the scene these days. We are LEGION."
Barney: "You know what, I have just had a brain-freeze…but I can tell you it's been many, many people down the years. My most recent one was meeting again our old hairy friend Armand from SICK OF IT ALL. He's vegetarian, and he also has this thing about not eating any food out of, like, plastic or polystyrene packaging because of the toxins etc. People laugh at stuff like that, but there are some nasty fucking chemicals lurking in some of that packaging. That kind of stuff has parallels with the health awareness aspects of vegetarianism and veganism."
Leif: "Tons, really! I would even know where to start…and it seems the choice to become vegetarian is still in motion with several people. I have been pretty close to the HC / Punk scenes from the very beginning of my musical interest and many of my early friends were rather part of those scenes. Being vegetarian seemed more established and common in those circles already than in the world of Metal. But yeah, it has all quickly changed in these past years. As I said before, at a certain point of time we even had a vegetarian majority in the DEW-SCENTED line-up ranks. Right now it's pretty even again, haha! But I like the fact that everyone seems quite conscious about the matter…"
Tom: "In the three decades I have been part of the music industry, I have met literally uncounted people who are vegetarians or vegans. Both those onstage as well as those who work behind the scenes."
Mille, you and your wife also work for the vegan magazine "Kochen ohne Knochen" (cooking without bones) here in Germany… how did you get together with them and what do you exactly contribute? Do you get paid for that or is it just for fun?
Mille: "We've known Joachim and Uschi from "Kochen ohne Knochen" for many years. We did a couple of food and restaurant testings. We get paid in great food and nice evenings with good friends :-). It's a lot of fun, believe me!"
Did you watch the appearance of Kim Wonderland (owner of Vegan Wonderland and author of a vegan baking book) in that TV show "Das Perfekte Dinner" (German version of "Come Dine With Me")? Could you imagine to do something like that, to introduce the vegan lifestyle to a bigger audience?
Mille: "Yeah, I watched all 5 episodes and I thought Kim was very charming and was perfect to bring the vegan lifestyle to the masses. I could imagine doing it, yes. But Kim did such an awesome job, so there is no need at the moment :-)"
Angela: "I do exactly that - I talk openily about my vegan lifestyle and give some advice on my facebook page, reaching hundreds of thousands of people. I don't need to take part in a TV show for that. I rather stick to my scene and my people :-)"
Barney: "I didn't see that, but I could imagine that was a blast. I want to go on the record here to say that the Vegan Wonderland café in Dortmund is an incredible place. I try not to be a huge cake eater - as even vegan cakes can pile on the pounds! - but I went nuts in their cake shop and almost put myself into a sugar coma (I made exactly the same experience, haha - Tina). They had this green-coloured cake that was absolutely incredible. I'm not sure if I would want to go on a dining show to be honest. I wouldn't mind cooking for other people, but not on camera. There is a certain side of cooking for me mentally that remains a very private experience, even as much as I like to spread the benefits of the veg diet."
Leif: "No, I didn't watch that episode but it's Kim who runs that shop I buy stuff from in Dortmund. I heard that her TV spotlight was seen and followed by a lot of people, so it actually managed to turn some heads. That's awesome indeed and I think she does a great job in bringing a positive message and know-how to the younger generation as well, who are maybe on the verge of choosing what path to walk, basically! Sure, I wouldn't have a problem with being part of a show like that, but I'm not a cook nor am I a preacher, really. I prefer to keep things on a personal level and amongst the people I know and who care about my opinion. But by the way, I actually really like that TV series "Das Perfekte Dinner" and especially "Das Perfekte Promi Dinner" (on Sundays…), so whether you knew that or not, it's funny this came up! I watch that program quite regularly and find it interesting to see 'that side' of some of the guesting celebrities (even if only B or C-types…) as well. I wouldn't mind being part of such a program one day, regardless of my lack of cooking skills. I probably still wouldn't do worse than Gunter Gabriel did some while ago, haha!"
Tom: "As I hardly ever watch TV, I have not seen that show. And as I said earlier, I am very hesitant with regard to being a missionary. Doing this interview is a step into exactly that direction, however, isn't it?" (it definitely is, Tom! - Frank)
I guess you're all familiar with the vegetarian hymn 'Murder' by EXTREME NOISE TERROR. What about writing a vegan hymn for your band?
Mille: "Of course, it's a classic :). KREATOR vegan hymn? Not a bad idea…"
Angela: "We wrote 'Cruelty Without Beauty' (on "Khaos Legions") which is basically a vegan hymn, haha."
Barney: "Of course - 'Murder' is a classic track and doesn't mess around lyrically. I already wrote quite a direct song myself called 'Food Chains'. It addresses the myth that meat and animal products are needed to survive and that without them our diet is doomed. There are also many NAPALM tracks that reference regard for all sentient beings, so although animal welfare is not mentioned specifically it is a given in the context of the lyrics."
Leif: "I am aware of that song, yes. In fact our previous drummer always wanted us to cover an EXTREME NOISE TERROR song, but it would have been a different one! I like bands that have something to say, even if maybe not all of their audience would agree to the subjects. However, I am not sure this would really fit our musical style and 'performances' well enough. Basically, I don't think I would wanna write a vegetarian hymn with my own band for one, like I said before, I don't need to push my opinion onto others and for also, I wouldn't wanna forget the fact that if there are 5 people in a band like ours, such matters should only be addressed as band-topic if everyone is behind it in a way. I mean, I obviously have my own opinion and also an individual agenda, as lyricist. I will be happy to voice my opinion in interviews or if people ask me at shows etc, but I do not need to shoot randomly. Like you see with this interview: I am more than glad to participate and give you some outlook of my side of things! I appreciate this opportunity and your interest in having me featured, by the way!"
Tom: "I have never heard the song in question. Under the right circumstances, I could envision TRIPTYKON addressing the topic in a song. It would never be anything like a "hymn", however. TRIPTYKON's lyrics are full of symbolism and clandestine connotations, and I would thus presumably try to deal with this topic in our very own way."
Mille, the video you did for the song 'Violent Revolution' already includes some very interesting footage in that direction… was the whole concept your own idea? Please tell us a bit more about the intention of it…
Mille: "That was the director's idea but it fits the song perfectly! We shot the video in a Döner-Kebab factory and the smell was very annoying. It is still among my favorite KREATOR videos."
Did anyone of you ever discuss your lifestyle with Tom Angelripper from SODOM? I'm asking because he loves hunting and killing animals…
Mille: "Yeah, we discussed it. I am a very tolerant person and so is Tom. Whatever makes him happy."
Tom: "I am aware that he is a hunter. I have never discussed this nor any other aspects of my life with him."
I personally think that in 100 or maybe 200 years mankind will look upon eating animals with that same disgust as we look upon slavery today... Would you agree or do you think animals will be still abused then?
Mille: "100% agreed! There is this one sentence in the SciFI classic "Logan's Run" that sums it up."
Angela: "I sincerely wish this will be the case in the future - that we've abandoned our ways of slaughtering other living creatures. It requires a change in tradition, attitude, empathy and a massive and very powerful industry. But change has to happen as we can't keep destroying this planet to produce more cattle. It will be a change on both the physical but also the spiritual level.. and that takes time. Mankind evolves slowly. Probably too slow for us to survive. This planet is dying and we are still discussing basic obvious changes we have to make… Sad really."
Barney: "It's hard to say absolutely, but I think that we have made great steps forward with regard to animal welfare. Technology will also play a part, and there are some quite curious developments going on as regards to meat substitutes. On the negative side, as the human population increases and the voracious appetite for gathering resources intensifies, animals might be disregarded all over again. Time will tell, I suppose."
Leif: "Well possible…and hopefully so! But I don't think everyone is made to think this way. It has a lot to do with education and also your personal situation in life, so I wouldn't wanna judge about others too easily. It's also a cultural background almost, so probably it is not only gonna be 100 years to see a drastic change. But I think the more media and social awareness that is given to the wrong treatment of animals and the dangers in the current way of dealing with animal food production, the quicker such change will start. People simply need to come to the understanding that if they don't pay attention to the details of where your food is coming from, they are most likely silently supporting industrial cruelty against animals! I mean, I remember how massive the wave of people skipping meat / beef was during the BSE scandal heights. Apparently nobody had a problem to drop or avoid their beloved steak for the time of their personal possible danger-risk…and I guess in the end of the day, certain people used that moment in time to change their nutrition habits too?! But that's really a bit too extreme of a measure. I think people shouldn't change based on fear and short attention span media hysteria. I think they should change because of following their belief or at least reasoning. I don't wanna sound too emo now, but the change should mainly be in someone's heart and not in his brain. This isn't only about common sense and rationality (even though that's also a factor…), it's about compassion and humility. Bottom line: why make other living creatures suffer or be sacrificed without real reason? We don't starve if we don't eat animals!"
Tom: "It is my opinion that for as long as human beings will exist on this planet, there will be violence, cruelty, injustice, and greed in this world. Even though I do wish for the opposite, of course. But we have been acting like insatiable, egotistical parasites on this planet ever since we left the caves, and in spite of limitless rhetoric on how advanced and civilized we have become, these very same instincts still dominate us. On the contrary, it seems that we are using most of our acquired intelligence and advances to perfect our perfidiousness."
Ok, that's all for now… thanks a lot to all of you for taking the time. All the best for you and your bands. The last words are yours…
Mille: "Great interview! Keep up the good work and support the future of vegan Metal awareness :-)."
Angela: "Live and let live. In the true sense of the word! If slaughterhouses would have walls of glass, nobody would be eating meat anymore. Join the green revolution now :-)"
Barney: "Seitan lives...on a delicious burger creation and not in some biblical story book!"
Leif: "Thanks for having me! This feature and some of your questions actually ended up being quite demanding and I had to think about certain stuff quite a bit. But that's cool indeed, so thanks for giving me the chance to take some time off and reflect this topic again ;-) I think this feature you are working on is a good step forwards to continue raising the awareness of the matter, also in "our music scene". Take care and much success!!!"
Interview: Hacker, Tina Ehmke, Frank Stöver
Tom & Leif picture by: Claudia Hemmann
< back | print | report errors