Metalhead =/= Meathead

…or, “damn; that’s a lot of vegetarians or vegans out there.”

Episode 4 of Vegan Black Metal Chef

To be fair, many things are being written for the general public about the vegetarian lifestyle and veganism. Be it about the horrors of the meat industry, scientific articles against eating the flesh of other creatures and so on, it’s become increasingly difficult to avoid culinary lifestyle debates wherever one turns.

Of course, this extends to music and the various subcultures tied into it, including punk, hardcore and metal.

In Oslo, I picked up one of the brochures from the Inferno Festival kick-off party. Later when I flipped through it, I saw a short, introductory article by Anne Gaelle Manceau on why metalheads might adopt a vegetarian lifestyle. She suggests animal rights to be the main reason, “perhaps linked to [metalheads’] nilhilistic and misanthropic sides”, before adding that “the worship of the forces of nature, and nature itself, a common theme in metal lyrics, could lead to an all-embracing respect for… its creatures” (pp.23).

Manceau then lists a number of musicians who have publicly stated themselves to be vegetarian (Angela Gossow and Gaahl naturally pop up somewhere among the names), yet to imply that they made such choices based on nihilism, misanthropy or even an encompassing love for the natural world is hasty and assumptive.

Gossow, for one, has indeed cited animal rights as part of why she’s adopted a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle, but she’s also mentioned that part of it was lactose-intolerance. Gaahl (real name, Kristian Elvind Espedal), though he and even his mother have stated that he’s a vegetarian, could just be a fussy eater.

To eat meat or not to eat meat is largely an individual choice, though some people are hooked to the idea of connecting vegeterianism or veganism to a misanthropic outlook. In regards to subcultural lifestyles, this could be stretched to popular notions of the 1960’s and the hippie movement which is thought to have introduced such diets as a trend, based on love and peace. Though in regards to extreme music (of which extreme metal is merely an example), it is interesting that people immediately throw ideas of nihilism and disdain for mankind into play.

While these admittedly could be solid reasonings behind such choices, it also sounds tongue-in-cheek at the same time.


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