Punk rock turned me vegan

Punk rock turned me vegan

The anarcho-punk scene of the 1980s was fuelled by animal rights – not just veganism before veganism was cool, but actual animal rights.

Many of us who have been vegan for a while – we’re talking 10 years or more – lament how the animal rights movement of the ‘80s and ‘90s was bigger and more effective than it is now – despite the massive rise in veganism. And that movement had a soundtrack.

Bands such as Crass, Conflict, The Poison Girls, Flux of Pink Indians, Dirt and Icons of Filth wore their hearts on their sleeves in advocating direct action, singing about slaughterhouses, animal experiments and fox hunting. Remember, there was no Hunting Act at all then, so sabotaging a hunt came with a real risk of both arrest and physical confrontation.

This brand of punk was raw, angry, passionate and very diverse. In Meat Still Means Murder, Conflict sang: “From newborn throats, red rivers flood.” The lyrics were direct, powerful and these bands really did mean it.

Some of these bands still exist and the likes of Goldfinger and Propagandhi from the States still have strong vegan and animal rights messages.

The rawness of the anarcho bands really struck a chord with me. As someone who came to punk through thrash metal and grindcore bands such as Napalm Death and Carcass, I found the aggression and anger appealing. And reading comments on punk threads and hearing comments from crowd members during gigs, I know for a fact they are not preaching to the converted.

With the rise of veganism has come the rise of vegan celebrities. Singers such as Thom Yorke from Radiohead and Miley Cyrus mean there’s a vegan for all tastes in music – although I’ve yet to hear a song from either advocating direct action, protest or describing how baby cows are slaughtered. But I guess I could be wrong – I’m not an avid Miley Cyrus follower, her target audience isn’t really middle-aged men though!

Punk rock has always been about rebellion and I love the fact that bands such as Active Slaughter are still flying the flag for animal rights today, but it does worry me that more people are concerned about new flavours of ice cream than are getting involved in protests – protest which attracted tens of thousands in the ‘90s, before the internet, before Facebook and before the advent of keyboard warriors. Why is this?

There is an argument, of course, that the single biggest thing you can do to save lives is to go vegan. And that’s true, but, globally, meat consumption is rising, so, if a farmer can’t sell his animals here for meat, won’t he just ship them abroad?

People have differing comfort zones, but maybe it’s time to ask, not what won’t I do for animal rights, but what can I do?

Vegan pop-up kitchen with punk ethics

Ribs
BBQ Sticky Ribs from Resist!

Resist! Vegan Kitchen feeds street food to hungry gig-goers and those attending special events in the UK.

Based in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, and run by Gareth, the kitchen makes everything from scratch – including the seitan – which forms the basis for many of the dishes. I love the idea of pop-ups and independent vegan businesses – especially ones that adhere to the DIY ethic of punk – something that has come to mean a lot to me over the years. But I also love the fact that people are spreading the vegan message by showing others how great the food does taste. So, I took the opportunity to ask Gareth to tell us more about Resist:

“Resist! started after I left The Scary Clown Presents (a punk collective based in Peterborough which promotes local gigs), we’d done Seitan’s Garden vegan barbecues at some of the SCP gigs and served food for all the charity events we organised with that. After leaving, I wanted to continue doing food and music in some form but leave Seitan’s Garden behind as that was SCP. I came up with Resist! Vegan Kitchen, where we’d do vegan food alongside really good intimate gigs with incredible touring artists. We want to support independent venues and collectives in Peterborough. We’re anti-fascist, pro-feminist, animal friendly, and want to promote that. That’s very important to us. We’re for the animals. Currently we are a pop-up kitchen doing takeovers across Peterborough, but also available for events, functions or gigs.

“At the moment we’re doing outside winter barbecues for the Battle Lines art events at The Ostrich pub, in Peterborough, this is more street food orientated I guess, so we’re doing donner kebabs, sticky BBQ ribs, slow pulled Jackfruit, burgers and that kind of thing. We’re hoping to do a sit-down menu event soon to showcase the full range of what we do. We love challenges, and if there is something people ‘miss’ since going vegan, or that helps them to go vegan they can let us know. If we can create something that tastes and looks similar and nothing died in the process then we’re winning.

“Battle Lines at The Ostrich is a brilliant event. The first event had a very ‘omni’ crowd, so we created a menu that was for everyone and would work there. It sold out within an hour. The latest Battle Lines had more vegans show up (and vegan discussions going on), which was a really great thing to see, it’s one of the best nights in Peterborough at the moment: Independent, creative, and with vegan grub to boot.”

Jackfruit & salad
Pulled Jackfruit from Resist!

Resist! food reviewed

I went along to the latest Battle Lines event and tried what Resist! had on offer. Here’s my short review:

The donner kebabs were so packed with good stuff, they were hard to get my big mouth around them.

Being vegan, I totally enjoyed the abundance of salad – and I’ve always been a huge fan of onion anyway. Adding the available mint sauce and a splash of chilli sauce certainly brought out the flavours.

Seitan – when prepared correctly – is a great “meat” of choice for a vegan kebab. Resist! Kitchen slice the “meat” thinly and it has a chewy, but not too soft texture. It’s great at working with the other flavours in the salad and, in particular, the sauce.

It is also telling that the naan bread used to wrap it didn’t dominate on the flavour front, but added enough bulk to fill your belly during a night out.

The Sticky Ribs are certainly very sticky. Time has obviously been spent on the texture of the seitan, which is pretty much perfect. They are chewy, but not overly so, and they’re not too soft. The sticky, barbecue-style sauce is sweet, but not too sweet with a spicy hit that doesn’t overpower the sweetness – but is enough to keep it in the realms of an overtly savoury offering. It’s exactly what you’d expect from a sticky barbecue dish.

I’ve tried Gareth’s Pulled Jackfruit before, and it’s a dish that delights every time – in fact, I make pulled jackfruit at home, but it’s never quite up to the standards set by Resist! Vegan Kitchen. Jackfruit absorbs flavours and takes in all the spices used in its preparation. I have no clue what pulled pork tastes like, but I’m told that pulled jackfruit is indistinguishable from it – just 100 per cent natural and cruelty-free.

meringue
Meringue from Resist!

Shirts for sale

T-shirt

Dan from the band Ducking Punches (vegan artist) has designed the T-shirts for Gareth, and these are for sale at Resist! events.

 

You can contact Gareth at https://www.facebook.com/resistvegankitchen/

Email: Resistvegankitchen@gmail.com

Instagram: @resistvegankitchen

Resist logo2