Can’t believe it’s 2019, even though we’re 3 weeks in. I know this isn’t my first post of the year, but I’m glad to be back home and writing again. I also can’t believe I haven’t covered this topic already on my blog. I’m pretty outspoken about being a vegan on Twitter and I’ve mentioned it here before on my travel blogs. Thank you for bearing with me! So to celebrate Veganuary, let’s talk about classic rockers who are vegan or vegetarian.
Veganuary is a movement to get people to pledge to go vegan for January, and hopefully beyond. The website provides resources to help people make the transition from eating meat to eating plant based: such as what dishes at restaurants are vegan, what products are accidentally vegan, and recipes.
Of course, you can make changes any time. Why wait until next year? I challenged my husband to go vegetarian about a year ago and he stuck with it. I’m proud of him.
If you’re reading this and it’s not January and you’re interested in trying vegan, why not go for Challenge 22? The reason it’s 22 days is because it takes 3 weeks to create good habits and by that 22nd day of being vegan, it’s like second nature. When you sign up for Challenge 22, you get online guidance from experienced vegan mentors and registered dieticians and recipes sent to your email inbox every day.
Why are you vegan?
Just a quick note about myself. I’ve been vegan since 2017 and (consistently) vegetarian since I was 15. I went vegetarian at 13, but quit after a year and then a year later picked it up again. I regret that year when I ate meat.
Reasons? I had a bunch of vegetarian friends in grade 8, I wanted to lose weight and get healthier, I like animals, and I want to do what I can to save the planet. It was tough to give up shrimp and chicken, but after some time I didn’t miss eating meat anymore. Like a lot of people, I really loved cheese and that made it tricky to go vegan.
As for why I finally went vegan, I became lactose intolerant when I was 20 and after a year, I decided I needed to stop eating cheese. Lactose free dairy products did not help at all. It was hurting my stomach. Reactions were getting worse as time went by.
Then gradually I cut out all dairy, then eggs, then honey. Then I applied veganism to other parts of my life (I was a dietary vegan for a bit). I do not buy any new leather (secondhand is okay!) and I don’t buy makeup, haircare, or skincare tested on animals. I don’t cook or buy any meat or eggs, but I’m okay making my husband a quesadilla or grilled cheese.
This may be an unpopular opinion in vegan circles, but I don’t care. Any reason to go vegan or vegetarian is valid. Whether it’s for your health, the animals, the environment, your religion, or you don’t like the taste of meat. It’s best to make changes little by little and remember that it’s not all or nothing. We’re all in this together.
Veggie rock stars
Finally, let’s just get to the fun part, talking about rock stars! Maybe one of your favourites is on here. I know some of mine are.
If I can find quotes from these musicians about why they’re vegetarian or vegan, I’ll share them in their section. Living and dead rock stars will both be included in this list. Ex-veggies will not be. If they’re vegan, I’ll put it next to their name.
Disclaimer: I’m trying my best with research. My sources are the websites: Happy Cow, International Vegetarian Union, Viva, and Wikipedia (sorry not sorry, this isn’t a school assignment). I’m not the vegan police so I don’t know how strict everyone is and it’s really up to each individual how they practise.
I also know that comments sections on social issues can get heated. Hasn’t been a problem yet on my blog, but it’s nice to have a reminder. As always, be kind to one another. Thanks!
Adriano Celentano – Italian pop/rock singer-songwriter. Went vegetarian in 2005 and is a big supporter of animal rights.
Alan Wilder – Member of Depeche Mode. Went vegetarian in 1983 for health reasons.
An interesting vegetarian related story about Depeche Mode: Axl Rose was a fan of Depeche Mode, even dedicating a song to them. When Axl Rose allegedly shot a pig at a friend’s barbecue, the band swiftly released a statement saying they didn’t want anything to do with him.
Anni-Frid Lyngstad – Member of ABBA and she’s a princess too – through her marriage to Heinrich Ruzzo, Prince Reuss of Plauen! She has been a vegetarian since the 90s. As for animal rights activism, she participates in charity work in Switzerland, where she lives.
Annie Haslam – Singer of the prog rock band Renaissance. She joined that band in 1971 and she is known for her five octave vocal range. She also has collaborated with fellow vegetarian Steve Howe.
Of her lifestyle she said in 2006,
“As many of you know, I have been a vegetarian for many years, but I did not know until recent years the horrific details of how animals are slaughtered.”
She also said that being vegetarian saved her when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in the 90s.
Annie Lennox – Lead singer of the Eurythmics. She went vegetarian because of her husband, who was a Hare Krishna. She said this about it:
“Being vegetarian makes me feel more responsible. When I see people eating meat, I’m aware of the slaughter that’s gone on so instead of simply eating a meat pie when I’m hungry, I renounce it. From a Karmic way of looking at it -and I know people are going to think I’m a complete nutcase now – one incurs a great deal of very bad karma through eating meat.”
Barry Gibb – The oldest of the three Gibb Brothers in the Bee Gees, one of the most successful pop groups of all time. The band wrote all their own original music, which is incredible! From my research, it seems like Barry Gibb has been vegetarian since the 70s.
In an article about him and his younger brother, Andy, their eating habits were compared and contrasted. Andy liked junk foods, while Barry liked to eat healthy. He said,
“We became vegetarians a month ago. I don’t mean to be insulting, but the meat in America is treated too much. It’s treated in England too, but not as much. I don’t think it’s good for you.”
Belinda Carlisle – Singer of 80s group The Go-Gos. She went vegetarian for animal rights reasons because she found out about how animals are treated on factory farms.
The Go-Gos were in PETA’s first naked ad (Note: I don’t agree with PETA, just stating facts). She said she stopped being vegetarian, but then started again thanks to yoga and its teachings of nonviolence. She’s even a yoga teacher now! In April 2017, she tweeted that she is proudly a vegetarian and hopes to get to a point where she can eat vegan every day.
Bill Ward – vegan – Drummer for Black Sabbath. He went vegetarian in 1989 and later went vegan. He once said,
“I’m nonviolent at all costs, but at the same time, I’m a human being. I know that people get angry. I’ve done that in my lifetime. I don’t find fault with that. I think it’s a natural human instinct. I know these things happen. There’s not much I can do about that except take care of myself and my family as best I can.”
Billy Ocean – Trinidad born singer from England well known for songs “Red Light Spells Danger”, “Caribbean Queen (No More Love on the Run)”, and “Love Really Hurts Without You”.
He went vegetarian in 1992. In this article, he says that what sparked the change was his mother dying from ovarian cancer a few years before. He said about his meat free lifestyle,
“I looked at how she’d lived — a hard-working woman, only to die just three years after I was successful enough to take care of her. I realised I had to take care of myself. So I took a five-year break from music to spend time with my wife and three children. I became more spiritual and just went off meat.”
Bob Weir – Guitarist and founding member of The Grateful Dead. He likes to cook. I also found that among Deadheads, there are a lot of vegetarians.
“Even those of us who never really got beyond American Beauty (present company included) have some sense of the tailgating scene at a Dead show: lots of hippies in VW vans smoking pot, wearing tie-dye shirts and ponchos, and eating vegetarian food.”
A man named Gene Baur who founded Farm Sanctuary had a veggie dog stand and would follow The Grateful Dead for weeks at a time selling veggie dogs. In recent years, he and Bob Weird worked together to petition Aramark to offer vegan options at Soldier Field for a reunion concert.
Boy George – vegan – Lead singer of Culture Club. He went on a macrobiotic diet in 1988 and published the Karma Cookbook in 2001. He later went raw vegan.
Brad Delp – Lead vocalist of Boston. Went vegetarian in the 70s and did not drink or use drugs. He supported many charitable causes: anti-violence, music education, and of course, animal rights. He was known for being very humble, and some considered him “the nicest guy in rock ’n’ roll’.
Brian May – vegan – Not only the guitarist of Queen, but also an astrophysicist and an animal rights activist! The earliest article I’ve seen mentioning he was a vegetarian was in some magazine from the mid 1970s with profiles of all the Queen members, said his favourite food “all vegetables (he’s a vegetarian) and lots of grapefruit juice”.
In the book Queen in 3D, he mentioned that even in the 70s he felt that sheepskin coats were inhumane and opted for wool coats instead (I know vegans are going to go, ‘but wool is evil too’, but at least it’s not as bad as sheepskin).
He started the Save Me Trust with Anne Brummer in 2009, a charity that fights for animal rights. On his Instagram and other social media, you’ll see him talk about hedgehogs, badgers, and animal rights stuff. Plenty of awesome quotes there. Here’s are a few of his rants:
”Hey Tesco … How about next year you guys act responsibly towards animals, and show how Christmas can be enjoyed without a dead bird in the middle of the dinner table?”
“I will never forget being forced to eat lamb as a small child. It tasted like rubber bands to me … and then I found out it was a piece of flesh from one of those fluffy little animals we petted at the zoo. That was the end for me.”
As for a more wholesome quote: “There’s really no doubt now that a good vegetarian diet is the best for health. Bri”
He went vegan in 2020.
Brigitte Bardot – Note – I know about her racist remarks about immigrants, however, I’m not going to deny what she’s done for animal rights – I state facts on this blog, you are welcome to make up your minds. French actress and singer who worked with Serge Gainsbourg.
After retiring in 1973, she got really into animal rights activism, starting her own foundation by raising money auctioning off her belongings. I like this one quote of hers:
“I gave my beauty and my youth to men. I am going to give my wisdom and experience to animals.”
Bryan Adams – vegan – Canadian singer popular in the 80s. Besides music, he is well known for his activism for humanitarian causes and animal rights. Bryan went vegan in 1989.
In 2016, he told Vegan Life Magazine that veganism is “absolutely the best thing you can do for yourself.” He’s reported that he has a better immune system and that he can easily get all the protein he needs. In 2019, he sad that the meat industry is lying to consumers about protein. He spoke out on a now-deleted post on Instagram,
“Well, don’t believe the meat industry propaganda that if you are eating animals and fish you’re eating protein, because all foods need to be turned into amino acids in your stomach before your body turns them into proteins.”
Carl Palmer – vegan – Drummer for ELP and Asia. Was awarded Prog God at the 2017 Progressive Music Awards.
“I don’t eat any dairy, cheese, milk, meat or whatever. I can’t eat anything that’s got a face. I just never want to be this ill again.”
Charlie Watts – The quiet Rolling Stones drummer was a vegetarian. Besides that, he did not drink alcohol.
Chrissie Hynde – vegan – Lead singer of The Pretenders. Went vegetarian in 1969 and later went vegan. She’s done a lot for animal rights over the years including: destroying leather products from The Gap as a protest, protesting KFC, and she opened a vegan restaurant called The Vegiterranean (which sadly closed in 2011).
She talks about being vegan in this interview. One of my favourite quotes:
“I don’t see what the point of a life is if you’re not living by your principles.”
Note: I do not endorse destroying private property in the name of animal rights activism. Instead, write letters, protest peacefully, volunteer, think carefully about purchases, and cook delicious plant based food for your family and friends.
Dave Davies – Lead guitarist of The Kinks. He went vegetarian and quit smoking for health reasons, but later saw the ethical side of it, according to a feature in Vegetarian Times. He said:
“The thought of eating meat actually repulses me now. I don’t miss it at all. And I don’t like the principle of killing animals to eat. I don’t think we really need to survive on the dead carcasses of animals.”
In his autobiography, Kink, he mentions that after years of the sex, drugs, and rock and roll lifestyle, he got cleaned up and even stopped smoking weed, started doing yoga, got spiritual, and gave up meat around 1972. He even goes into a rant on why eating meat is wrong. Great stuff to read.
However, it wasn’t always happy or easy. When The Kinks went on tour, it was really hard to find food suitable for the two vegetarian Davies Brothers. Dave said that he’d live off pizzas and protein powder, but he said that Indian restaurants were a lifesaver because he could always find something to eat.
Davy Jones – Mancunian member of The Monkees. He made his TV debut on Coronation Street in 1961. Before he was a Monkee, he played The Artful Dodger in Oliver! even appearing on the same Ed Sullivan Show episode as The Beatles.
Davy Jones likely went completely vegetarian sometime in the 80s. Interestingly enough, when he first got famous, he often liked to treat himself to steak, because his family couldn’t afford it. He told Vegetarian Times in 1987,
“In the 60s, we were all very much into flower power and eating right – sunflower seeds and the rest of it, but to me it was just a game.”
What he meant was that in order to get out of being drafted and sent to Vietnam, his last resort was to go on a crash diet to become underweight. So he lost 20 pounds in 3 weeks. After he was rejected from the Army, he had trouble eating red meat and little by little decided to stop eating meat.
Vegans and ethical vegetarians might take issue with the fact that he was a jockey and owned race horses. People are vegetarians for more reasons than just animal welfare and many people are not aware of the cruelty of horse racing. I am here to present facts, not to be disrespectful or to downplay anyone’s vegetarianism.
After he passed away in 2012, a vegetarian cookbook called Written in Our Hearts was published in his memory.
Dick Dale – Legendary and influential surf rock guitarist. He was a cancer survivor. Because of America’s healthcare system that favours profits over people, the famous lefty guitarist still plays concerts so he can pay his medical bills. He never took drugs and he didn’t drink alcohol. I can’t find much else on his eating habits, but he has said that he’s read a lot about vegetarianism over the years.
Update 17/3/2019: Dick Dale passed away on the 16th of March 2019. RIP.
Donovan Leitch – Folk and psychedelic rock singer. In the late 60s he got into Hindu and Buddhist philosophy and started eating vegetarian. As a child he got polio, which left him disabled. Being vegetarian is one of the ways he keeps healthy. He likes to go for walks and swim too.
Eddy Grant – Lead singer of The Equals who went on to have a solo career in the 70s and 80s. It seems like he’s been vegetarian since the late 60s or early 70s.
In an interview with the Daily Express, he said that he was surprised when he suffered a heart attack on New Years Day 1971 because he was an athletic vegetarian and teetotaller. Because of these health problems, he left The Equals in 1972. He told The Independent in 2008 that he likes to eat simple things like a bowl of fruit rather than eat food that isn’t good for you.
Emmylou Harris – Country singer popular in the 70s and 80s. She is a PETA supporter and founded a dog rescue called Bonaparte’s Retreat in 2004. She named the organisation after one of her dogs. She also wrote a letter to Tennessee’s governor to veto the Ag Gag bill, which would make it illegal to investigate animal abuse at farms and slaughterhouses through undercover filming.
George Harrison – Lead guitarist of The Beatles, and personally, my favourite Beatle. It seems like he was the first Beatle to go vegetarian, quitting eating meat in 1965 (even though Paul McCartney is way more high profile in the veggie world). That was the year that he started getting into Indian culture. He later converted to Hinduism, a religion with many vegetarian followers.
In a concert, he held up a shirt that said “Animals are my friends and I don’t eat my friends.” He also said that meat is “one of the worst things anybody can eat” and that eating meat isn’t healthy or natural.
Geezer Butler – vegan – Bassist of Black Sabbath. A vegetarian since he was 8 years old, he became disgusted with meat when he cut into a piece and saw the blood flowing. He asked his mum where meat came from and she told him that it came from animals.
Not only did he stop eating meat, he stopped using leather products and urged fans to boycott luxury department store Fortnum & Mason until they stopped selling foie gras.
Grace Slick – vegan – Singer of Jefferson Airplane/Jefferson Starship. Retired from music since the 90s, she now does art.
She told USA Today in 2001, “Vegetarian is a slippery word” and “I don’t eat cheese, I don’t eat duck – the point is I’m vegan.”
Ilan Chester – Israeli-Venezuelan singer. He converted to Hinduism in the 70s and as part of his religious beliefs he is a vegetarian.
Jeff Beck – Former Yardbirds guitarist who later went on to have a successful solo career. He went vegetarian in 1969. He said,
“I realised what a fool I’d been eating meat at all because, you know, you can’t just carve animals up. It’s not necessary.”
He is a patron of Folly Wildlife Rescue Trust, a charity that works for wildlife in Kent and Sussex. The organisation take in 3500 injured, orphaned, or sick wild animals every year and they nurse them back to health.
Jerry Garcia – Founding member of The Grateful Dead. While he wasn’t vegetarian most of his life, he was one for the last few years of his life to improve his health. Before going vegetarian, Jerry Garcia’s diet was basically hot dogs and milkshakes, not healthy at all! This New York Times article mentions Jerry Garcia going vegetarian with Bob Weir.
Joan Armatrading – Singer born in St Kitts and raised in Birmingham, England. She dropped out of school at the age of 15 and got a job, but was fired for playing guitar on breaks. She’s shy, a vegetarian, teetotaller, and doesn’t smoke or use profanity. Wholesome! Can’t find many quotes on her vegetarianism since she doesn’t often give interviews and likes to live a private life.
Joan Jett – (nearly) vegan – Went from being one of the members of The Runaways to having a successful solo career. She went vegetarian because while she was on tour she wanted to stay healthy and felt better eating vegetarian.
She also realised that there wasn’t any difference between cats, dogs, cows, or chickens they’re all animals. In 2018, Jett said that she is nearly vegan now, not buying any new leather anymore and trying to find vegan options for everything.
Johnny Marr – vegan – Guitarist and songwriter for The Smiths. He went vegetarian in 1985 when The Smiths recorded their famous album Meat is Murder. That album inspired a lot of people to give up meat. Twenty years later, he went vegan after moving to Portland. He also does not drink and he likes to exercise.
He said that going vegetarian made him feel more empathy towards animals. His family are all vegetarian. His wife was vegetarian since the age of 14, and he said had The Smiths not made Meat is Murder, he would have gone vegetarian anyway.
Kate Bush – Popular singer from the 70s and 80s. She seems to have gone vegetarian in the late 70s or early 80s. This page lists a bunch of quotes from her about being a vegetarian. On wearing leather she said “There’s no excuse for the mass production of leather.” She doesn’t own any fur coats.
She said this about why she went vegetarian:
“Well, I think ever since I’ve been quite young I’ve always felt, not bad, but a bit guilty about eating meat because the fact that animals are killed and in a lot of cases in a very necessary way, you know, where it’s a big exploitation of animals. And one day I just had this feeling and tried to a bit of meat and this feeling – it was so raw that I just identified immediately with the fact that it was an animal. That this thing was alive and it had been killed for me to eat it and I thought, ‘no, I’m not into this.’ So I thought I’d become a vegetarian.”
Kevin Godley – Drummer of 10cc and half of the legendary MTV era music video directing team, Godley & Creme. Went vegetarian in the 90s and worked on a charity production called One World One Voice, that focused on the environment. In this 2016 interview with The Telegraph, he said that he and his wife are vegetarians and that he doesn’t own his dog, he loves his dog.
Lene Lovich – American born singer who spent most of her life in England. She and Nina Hagen released a song called “Don’t Kill The Animals”.
Linda McCartney – She was not just Paul McCartney’s wife. She deserves a lot of respect. She was her own person and accomplished so much in her own right: a photographer, a keyboard player, an author, an entrepreneur, and an animal rights activist.
She and Paul became vegetarians in 1971. They were living on a farm in Scotland and raised horses and sheep. Paul looked out the window and saw their sheep running around while eating a roast dinner. They made the connection between farm and plate and swore off meat for good.
In the 80s and 90s, Linda McCartney published cookbooks like Linda McCartney’s Home Cooking, Linda’s Kitchen, and Linda McCartney on Tour: Over 200 Meat-free Dishes from Around the World.
In 1991, she started her own line of vegetarian foods, Linda McCartney Foods. The line is available in the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. Hopefully one day it comes to the US. The company make meat free sausages, sausage rolls, meatballs, burgers, pies, and pizza. I’ve tried the country pie and the sausage rolls – I like both of them and they’re vegan.
She supported PETA, the Council for the Protection of Rural England, and Friends of the Earth.
In 1995, she and Paul McCartney appeared as themselves in The Simpsons episode “Lisa the Vegetarian”. Linda, Paul, and Apu (who is a vegan) all inspire Lisa to stick to being a vegetarian, but also teach her that people will all have their own points of view on the issue.
Link Wray – Legendary guitarist and pioneer of power chords. He was a lifelong vegetarian who liked to exercise and did not smoke or do drugs.
Martin Gore – Founding member of Depeche Mode. Went vegetarian in 1983 because of the animals and for his health. He has mentioned that he likes wearing leather jackets, but recognises that this is hypocritical.
Melanie Safka – Folk singer who performed at Woodstock. She went vegetarian in the late 60s or early 70s for health reasons. One of her records even has a picture of her hugging a cow.
She wrote a song called “I Don’t Eat Animals”. In the lyrics, you’ll hear her mentioning eating cheese, but consider that going vegetarian was radical even in the early 2000s. Going vegan now is easier than going vegetarian in the 70s.
Mike Love – Longtime vegetarian who practices Transcendental Meditation, wears Indian Ayurveda rings, and partakes in Hindu ceremonies. In this The Daily Meal article, he shares his favourite places to eat in Lake Tahoe, where he currently lives. He loves soup and quinoa.
Morrissey – vegan – Lead singer and songwriter of The Smiths. A polarising figure in the vegetarian world. People either live for him or they find him annoying. I feel a bit mixed. I like his music, but I hate his politics and sometimes his approach to veganism can be a bit much, reminds me of YouTuber Vegan Gains. Too in your face, acts way too self righteous. Sadly, that turns people off.
During a concert, fans pelted him with sausages with the words “Meat is Murder”. He said that eating meat is the most disgusting thing he could think of and that it’s like “biting into your grandmother.”
He pulls no punches when it comes to talking about animal rights. That approach may not work for everyone, but he’s not wrong. One of my favourite quotes of his is
“Serving meat and dairy products at an event to combat climate change is like selling pistols at a gun-control rally.”
When Morrissey plays concerts, he requests that the venue not serve any meat. In 2013, he attempted to convince the Staples Center to not serve any meat, but his wishes weren’t respected. The McDonalds inside the venue was closed, but meat options being served elsewhere. The backstage catering for crew though, was fully vegetarian. These demands didn’t end there. He keeps fighting for the animals.
In 2016 at Chicago’s Riot Fest, he demanded no meat be served during his set. That’s a tall order. Lobbying for vegan options? That’s realistic. Demanding no meat be served at all? If they won’t do that for the loveable Paul McCartney, they’re not going to listen to Morrissey. One cream puff vendor didn’t take kindly to his demands and named a meat and dairy filled sandwich after him as satire.
As for his eating habits… Let’s just say they’re not the healthiest or the most varied. He lives off pasta, bread, potatoes, and nuts. Where are the fruits and veggies? Spin’s headline from 6 June 2018 reads “Morrissey Eats Like a Toddler”.
Love or hate his approach, Morrissey has definitely brought attention to veganism. Has it been for the better or worse? That’s another discussion.
Nick Beggs – Bass player for Kajagoogoo, Steven Wilson (who is also a vegetarian), and The Mute Gods. Before going vegetarian, he was a pescatarian. His reason for going vegetarian was because of factory farming.
In this interview with a French website called Heavy Metal Food (video is in English with French subtitles), he said that while on tour he eats a lot of salad and he’s the cook in his household.
On the 8th of October 2018, he tweeted,
“Today I heard a remarkable statement from a scientist. They said, ‘If you are still eating meat you are not serious about stopping climate change.'”
Nina Hagen – German punk singer from East Berlin. She went vegetarian likely sometime in the 80s. In 1986, she and Lene Lovich released a song called “Don’t Kill The Animals”. This song was an anthem for PETA and they used it to promote their message. In this video, they discuss their song and the meaning of it.
Paul McCartney – vegan – Is it even necessary to introduce Paul McCartney? He’s not only a Beatle, his band Wings were successful and he has a pretty good solo career. This article is about animal rights so we’ll focus on those contributions.
As said in the section on Linda McCartney, they went vegetarian together in 1971. Since then, he’s done a lot of work doing campaigns for PETA. Paul started the Meat Free Monday campaign with his daughters, Mary and Stella to raise awareness of the consequences of eating meat: it hurts the planet, health, and animals. What the campaign aims to do is get people on the path to eating plant based, one small change at a time. If people consumed less meat, it would make a huge difference.
One of his most famous quotes is:
“If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.”
In more recent years, he’s gone vegan. His daughter Stella, is a fashion designer and nothing in her line of bags or clothing uses leather or fur. Paul has been criticised for wearing a Canada Goose parka, which uses down and fur. In this video where he discusses nutrition, he said that he doesn’t miss eating meat at all and he can walk by a field of animals with a clear conscience.
Peter Frampton – Started off in bands like The Herd and Humble Pie and became a star with his live album Frampton Comes Alive. Famous for using a talk box with his guitar as heard in “Do You Feel Like We Do”.
Can’t find too much information about his history with vegetarianism, but he is described as a strict vegetarian, although not vegan, as he clarified on Twitter in 2015. In that tweet he said he would like to open a vegan restaurant. When that day comes, I’d love to give it a try!
Peter Gabriel – Original lead singer of Genesis, later left and had a successful solo career and got into world music. He went vegetarian in the 70s. He had done work with PETA, raising awareness of Air France’s involvement in trafficking monkeys for animal testing.
Peter Tosh – Reggae musician and a member of The Wailers. As part of his Rastafarian beliefs, he stuck to a strict vegetarian diet because the body is to be treated like a temple and learnt Amharic (the official language of Ethiopia). Rastafari is an Afrocentric religion that started in Jamaica in the 30s. He also liked to read, practise martial arts, and he had an interest in herbal medicine.
According to this article in The Standard, when Peter Tosh came to Zimbabwe, he was going to go to a restaurant, but he questioned what food was going to be served there and said, “Never you forget that I and I is a rastaman. Me no believe in killing animals. So I and I don’t touch any kind of meat. Ital is vital, seen!”
He wrote a song called “Mystic Man”, which has lyrics that are against hard drugs and support eating vegan,
“I man don’t eat up your fried chicken. Not lickin’. I man don’t eat up them frankfurters. Garbage. I man don’t eat down the hamburger. Can’t do that”.
Phil Collen – vegan – Lead guitarist of Def Leppard. Went vegetarian in the 70s or 80s and went vegan in 2011. He is also into martial arts.
In an interview with Ecorazzi, he said that he stopped eating meat for ethical reasons. What turned him vegan was the book The China Study and the documentary Forks Over Knives. In that same interview he said he thinks a lot of male rock stars aren’t vegetarian because of peer pressure and because of the whole fear of not being macho and not wanting to be seen as a hippie. His son is also a vegetarian.
Phil Lesh – Founding member of The Grateful Dead. He became vegetarian in the 90s after being diagnosed with Hep C so he could strengthen his immune system.
Prince – Needs no introduction: talented, one of a kind singer and multi-instrumentalist. He told Vegetarian Times in 1997 that he “always had a preference for all things vegetarian”. In the song, “Animal Kingdom” he sang “No Member of the animal kingdom ever did a thing to me, it’s why I don’t eat red meat or white fish. Don’t give me no blue cheese. We’re all members of the animal kingdom. Leave your brothers and sisters in the sea.” PETA named him Sexiest Vegetarian Celebrity in 2006.
If you decide to visit Paisley Park Studios and go to the Paisley Park Kitchen, all the food there is vegetarian and there are plenty of vegan options.
Ray Davies – Main songwriter, lead singer, and rhythm guitarist of The Kinks. Interestingly enough, his father was a slaughterhouse worker.
As for Kinks songs that mention being a vegetarian, the song “Apeman” off Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One, tells the story of a man who wants to get away from the modern world and live simply. Some interesting lyrics from the song:
“So I’m no better than the animals sitting in their cages in the zoo man. Because compared to the flowers and the birds and the trees, I am an Apeman. I think I’m so educational and I’m so civilised ‘cause I’m a strict vegetarian, but with the overpopulation and inflation and starvation and the crazy politicians, I don’t feel safe in this world no more. I don’t want to die in a nuclear war. I want to sail away to a distant shore and make like an Apeman.”
In this interview, he said this about his cooking, “I love to surprise non-veggies – they say: “That was incredible”, and then they’re totally shocked to hear that there’s no meat in it.”
Richie Havens – Singer-songwriter and guitarist who famously was the first act to perform at Woodstock. Can’t find much on him being a vegetarian, but in a 1994 issue of Vegetarian Times, he was listed as a vegetarian.
Rick Allen – Drummer of Def Leppard. He went vegetarian in the 80s. He lost his left arm in a car accident and while in hospital, it was difficult to stay vegetarian. Producer Mutt Lange saved the day and got a couple Hare Krishnas to cook food for him. He also likes to swim and go to the gym.
In the summer of 2018, he launched a line of luxury vegan bags called BonSac. The bags are made of waxed cotton, soft upholstery fabric, and Kevlar.
Ringo Starr – Drummer of The Beatles. Went vegetarian in the 60s after watching a bullfight in Spain. He has meditated regularly since he was introduced to it in the late 60s.
Robin Gibb – vegan – Was a member of the Bee Gees. Not only was he a vegan, he was also a teetotaller. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any information on when he went vegan or why he went vegan.
Siouxie Sioux – Lead singer of Siouxsie and the Banshees. She hasn’t talked much about being a vegetarian besides just mentioning the fact.
Steve Howe – Guitarist of Yes. Went vegetarian in 1972 and sticks to a healthy lifestyle: meditation, not taking any non-prescription drugs, and rarely drinking. Most of the members of the classic 70s lineup went vegetarian in the 70s, with the exception of Rick Wakeman, who has told stories of his eating meat at dinner in front of everyone else. Steve Howe is the only one in the band who stuck with it.
In an interview with Rock Cellar Magazine, he cited his father, who was a chef, as a big reason for him to go vegetarian. Chefs care about high quality food, and Steve’s father passed that on to him. He said that over the years there’s been a change in attitude and everything’s gotten easier. In London in the 70s, the only vegetarian restaurant was Cranks, which has since closed down decades ago.
Here’s an interesting quote from that interview:
“For me, vegetarianism is intertwined with learning about the world and where the hell we are in the universe. I find it all really interesting, and for the last 10 years I’ve really been going green. And it’s something I’m always working on, and it’s all part of my interest with health, both from a dietary point of view and from a mental point of view.”
Stevie Wonder – vegan – R&B singer and multi-instrumentalist. He went vegan in 2014 and while on Carpool Karaoke, he proudly talked about it. He said he misses chicken a lot.
He told AOL that being vegan helps him look and feel his best. He also talked about the benefits for the environment,
“We have to be about making our planet more greener, the urban areas more sustainable for the children. We can’t just talk about it, we have to be about it.”
Tom Petty – Singer-songwriter, leader of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, and member of the Travelling Wilburys. Towards the end of his life, he went vegetarian. He said this about his healthy lifestyle to Rolling Stone in his last interview with the magazine:
“I eat very sensibly. I’ve been a vegetarian for almost five years. I don’t eat fish and chicken and all that. But I will have some eggs. So I’m not technically a vegan. But I eat pretty sensibly, and before a tour, I will usually work out a lot. I’ll get a trainer, or I have a guy I’ve known a long time.”
Tom Scholz – vegan – Founder and guitarist of Boston. He’s also done a lot of other incredible stuff: he has a Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from MIT, worked for Polaroid as a senior product design engineer, invented the Rockman portable guitar amplifier, and he cares a lot about animal rights. Wow! He went vegetarian in the 70s or 80s.
He started the DTS Charitable Foundation and one of the causes the foundation supports is animal rescues and sanctuaries. In 2015, he won the Celebrity Animal Advocate of the Year award.
“I love animals, I love all animals and I feel strongly about them. That’s the only reason why I am a vegetarian. I’ve been a vegetarian since the Scorpions days, only because of the animals. It’s not that I didn’t like the taste of meat, it’s just one day it clicked, and I thought that I didn’t want to go there.”
Like the sounds of classic rock and the people who have shaped it, the vegetarians and vegans of classic rock are a diverse bunch! Some started their journeys decades ago, some started more recently. No matter when you start your journey, you’re making a difference.
Which veg(etari)an rock star is your favourite? Did a rock star on this list surprise you, inspire you?Are you a vegetarian or vegan or are you thinking of it? Share your thoughts in the comments below! Share your story, favourite quotes, anything! Just be kind to one another. Thank you!
Shout out to my good friend and Topaz level Patron, Patrick.
Loved this post and want to see more great posts like this and show your appreciation for The Diversity of Classic Rock? Chip in some money on Patreon (monthly donation) or Ko-Fi (one-time donation). Or buy my merch or my photography prints on RedBubble. This is totally optional, but extremely helpful. Every little bit helps.
All Diversity of Classic Rock content will remain free, but Patrons get some nice perks, like early access to blog posts, birthday cards, Skype calls with me, and exclusive behind the scenes posts. Every dollar helps. If you cannot afford to donate to The Diversity of Classic Rock, there are many free ways to support the blog: clicking that follow button on my website, turning off your AdBlock, following me on Facebook or Twitter, liking posts, sharing posts, leaving nice comments, or sending your music for review. Thank you!