Punk and veganism

Sax

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I first heard about veganism from a punk I went to high schoool with. In college I was served vegan meals at a punk house some friends lived at. A few years back the writings of Rudimentary Peni's Nick Blinko made me realize I couldn't live my values while continuing to eat animal products. Aus-Rotten's lyrical messages gave me the final push to make the change.

Last night I came across an essay, orginally published as a zine, on the links between punk and veganism. The sound and aesthetic of punk can turn a lot of people off so they might not be aware of the role it's played in spreading veganism and spurring activism.

The economic recession in the 70s, and violence and turmoil of the 20th century in general, helped infuse anarchism and anti-capitalism into the UK punk scene of the late seventies. Animal liberation naturally dovetails with those ideologies and it soon became one of the central lyrical themes of anarcho-punk. Punks played charity gigs for animal rights organizations like the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection and became heavily involved in direct action such as hunt sabotage. Among certain circles being vegan was almost a requirement, with some prominent vegan punks later reverting and saying they only went vegan to fit in.

Modern punk has evolved a lot since then and the animal rights theme has been diluted but the genres I most closely associate with old school UK anarcho-punk...crust punk and straight-edge hardcore...still feature it, either as the main topic or as one of many tragedies resulting from capitalism.

Anyhow, here's the essay:

Nailing Descartes to the Wall: animal rights, veganism and punk culture

And an example of the early anarcho-punk that helped form the connection:

 

Forest Nymph

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Well pretty much all of the counterculture had something to do with it. From about 1970 on veganism and more commonly vegetarianism was associated with hippies, and I actually own a book called Radical Vegetarianism written in the 70s where the guy already knew the environmental connection aside from animal rights. That floored me, I had no idea that vegans and vegetarians were arguing the environmental angle that far back. By radical vegetarianism, he meant veganism. He was also mostly raw which is just like whatever, but the philosophical side of the book is great.

Those people I think were mostly the "hippies." Paul McCartney of the Beatles is a good example of a really prominent hippie-type who was vegetarian who became vegan or near-vegan as an animal rights activist over the years. One of my favorite spots in L.A. is the Follow Your Heart restaurant which started as a vegetarian healthfood lunch counter in the 70s before Vegenaise was invented. Now they're considered a major vegan brand and you can veganize any item on their menu though they still have a lacto-veg restaurant overall (no eggs, no alcohol though).

Speaking of no alcohol, straight edge was a huge 1980s form of vegan punk including the band Vegan Reich.

Personally I'm too young to have experienced either of those things, but I recognize punks place in the animal rights movement, the idea of the aggressive angry vegan most likely began there. It requires a certain level of bravery and aggression to burn down factory farms, smash windows, or just break into private property at night to free lab animals.

Who I do remember from when I was younger though were all of the vegan or vegetarian artists in the 90s. There was Michael Stipe of REM and Kate Pierson of the B52s singing "Tame Yourself" in the early 90s, and of course the death of vegan actor River Phoenix (due to drugs, not veganism, older brother of Joaquin). I think the Phoenix family was probably my first introduction to the word vegan as a child. Another prominent vegan musician was Fiona Apple in the mid-to-late 90s. Funnily enough I always assumed that Morrissey was a vegan because of "Meat is Murder" but didn't find out until I grew up that he was actually a vegetarian for decades and only recently went vegan.
 
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Sax

Sax

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An interview with the Godfather of Vegan Straight Edge

(this guy was in Vegan Reich)

I'm not straight edge, or an anarchist, or even punk. I like the music though, and I think this aspect of veganism is a good compliment/counter-balance to the Martha Stewart-ey aspects and growing corporate buy-in.

From the article in my OP:

Ryan Gunderson believes the animal rights movement, and it would seem this could apply to certain punk scenes, have allowed themselves to be co-opted by cruelty-free capitalism, to the extent that activists ‘consume their identities as pseudo-political achievement.’ Rather than questioning structures of society and making links between varying forms of oppression, vegan consumers are willing to accept the ‘chocolate laxative’ offered by capitalism. For Gunderson, individualist ethical consumerism is not just limited and ineffective, it also ‘halts social justice movements from pursuing radical means of altering society because they have been co-opted.’
 
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betiPT

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You have just blown my mind...

I am vegan and a massive Stranglers fan! I generally love punk music, who would have known there was a correlation.

Now I have to read this essay. Thanks heaps :)

IMG_8407.jpeg
 

ThaiVegan

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there are trainloads of punks who are deeply anti vegan. basically its cherry picking to say punk and veganism is related, just bc some punks are vegan. Some moviestars are vegan, some sport heroes are vegan, some neonazis are vegan inspired by animal lover and vegetarian Adolf Hitler. Out brain always try to draw lines from dots and come up with some explanation or theory. Unless more than 50% of any group is vegan, i wouldnt connect dots.
 
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Sax

Sax

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Punk inspired me and many others to become vegan. What inspired you to become a wet blanket?