Artists who adopted a plant-based life

Punk Week continues with an essay on gender veganism, led by Rise Against, Propagandhi and others. For more on Rise Against, check out our exclusive video interview with them here. And for more punk in your life, hang on the new “Punk Is Dead, Vive le Punk!” T-shirt at the Consequence Shop.

A few weeks ago, I texted my older sister asking if she had been on Rise Against when she was younger. Eight years older than me and graduating from high school in 2001, she was the perfect age for the rise of the Chicago punk group, which unleashed their Unraveling debut in April of the same year.

While we were texting, I was at one of their shows; they were playing on a pristine rooftop in lower Manhattan – a beautiful, if slightly odd, place to see a longtime punk rock band. Still, they played a very energetic set with the Descendents in support, and the crowd couldn’t be happier. Neither did my sister. “Stand up against [is] so good, ”she replied hastily. “They are all vegans,” she added. “I watched some of their clips and couldn’t eat meat for about three months …”

While she didn’t specify which videos she was referring to, it’s not hard to guess that she probably included the visuals done by Kevin Kerslake for “Ready to Fall” from 2006. In the clip, the frontman Tim McIlrath sings interspersed with dramatic but sadly realistic images of the destruction of planet Earth. The forests are demolished, the birds are covered in oil, the polar bears look devastated, and everything is in the hands of us, the human race. At the end of the video, McIlrath looks straight into your soul and says, “Every action has a reaction. We have a planet. A chance.”

As my sister said, Rise Against is notoriously herbal, with McIlrath in the lead – he’s candid about his mission and has partnered with PETA in the past. (Bassist Joe Principe also went vegan in 2017.)

While veganism today is generally viewed as peace, love, and plants, it is important to remember that beyond health reasons, individuals often choose to go vegan as a form of activism. . Ethical veganism is easier to understand than you might think: it is the ideology that it is 100% wrong to eat animals and their byproducts.

Animals are incapable of consenting to our taking from them, whether it is their fur, their milk or their body. In protecting the rights of these creatures, the choice of ethical vegans to eat only plants is activism in practice. So when a teenager sees people selling vegan products outside of a hardcore DIY place, it might seem odd at first, until they realize the natural intersection between punk and advocacy.

Because punk music and activism are intrinsically linked, it’s no surprise that the vegan subculture is a welcome part of punk culture. Just as punk is built in anarchy and anti-establishment thought, so too is veganism. Saying no to eating meat, refusing to wear leather, and fighting animal testing goes as much against the system as the ideology behind straight edge culture – exemplified in Rise Against, as well as in some number of groups that preceded them.

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