Most musicians I know would describe their touring diet as inconsistent. Long drives and shallow pockets often mean it gets tough to get three decent meals inside you. Much less achieve that fabled ‘balanced diet’ thing you hear about.
So, what happens when you decide to try a cruelty free diet for size. Absolving meat and dairy from your diet. I asked some friends in bands what there experiences of being vegan on tour have been like for them.
“It really isn’t a ‘weird’ thing to be a vegan anymore”
Ducking Punches, Bad Ideas, The Doublecross & more
I have never struggled at all being vegan on the road. Over the past 5 years of being vegan I’ve toured the UK, most of Europe and America and personally I have never found it hard. I have always kept in mind that this is my choice and that I would never whinge or feel hard done by if the options are limited — or there are none.
As a general rule of thumb I have found venues and promoters incredibly accommodating in the whole and I’ve just about perfected the art of sniffing out vegan food even in the unlikeliest of places.
I do try and prepare food for the journey in advance. If on tour that might mean making sandwiches or doing a pack up from left over food from the show the night before or if it’s a one-off show I’ll usually make something at home. My go to road trip food is a Tofurkey bagel with gherkins and veganise. Crisps, hummous (obvs!) carrots, nuts and dark chocolate rice cakes are pretty top of my list to! Oh and I always take a tub of vegan chocolate spread on tour, its easy food that you can have anytime of the day once you’ve picked up some bread.
I don’t think I’ve ever had an issue [with promoters] at all and if I have got somewhere and the food isn’t vegan, 99% of the time they will offer a buy-out or get something else in. I think each year it’s just getting bigger and bigger that it really isn’t a ‘weird’ thing to be a vegan anymore.
Pete’s advice to fellow Vegan musicians:
Always be on the look out for vegan food, if you see it, BUY IT, like right away, even if you’re not hungry. You’ll never be 100% certain when the opportunity will arise again. And if the options are limited and it seems everyone around you is gorging on the most impeccable food in the world, don’t be jealous, don’t be angry, just accept that in the grand scheme of things you’ve made the ultimate choice in being a caring, compassionate and selfless person. Peace.
“Europe is a little harder service station wise but the promoters are normally ace with riders“
Murderhouse, River Jumpers
I’m currently on my 7th day of a tour and [being Vegan] has been one of the easiest things I’ve ever done. This could be for 2 reasons though. One, every promoter being a pretty great “feeder” and the second reason being every member is as morally inclined as me. With a few previous tours I’ve been the only non-meat eater and had to eat fries for breakfast when the rest of the band decided to eat KFC for breakfast day after day.
Europe is a little harder service station wise but the promoters are normally ace with riders. Fruit, hummus, bread and peanut butter have been my go to van food during this tour. It’s all pretty basic but fruit is obviously good for you and I think it helps me mentally too. For example I drank a lot of beer last night and I’m feeling a little sorry for myself but I’ve gradually been ticking off the five a day list through this journey and I’m feeling a lot better for it.
Promoters are normally touring musicians or have been so I think everyone in our little punk touring community are all morally inclined or just understand at least one member of the punk band they’re putting up with will have a vegan diet.
James’s advice to fellow Vegan musicians:
I guess first make sure you mention vegan food in your email when booking the show. Don’t feel pushy when asking for food, it cost less than a tenner to make a bulky pasta. If you’re not being fed do a little bit of research. Discovering cool vegan restaurants is one of my favourite tasks of being vegan (we’re currently looking at site for this place called Mildred’s it looks amazing). Buy a pot of peanut butter whilst you’re picking up supplies of fruit etc. That stuff will go with everything and make that dry cheap loaf of bread you bought from ALDI so much better.
“Most people cook vegan food as default anyway, I’ve found”
Andrew Cream, The Ruined
I thought it would be difficult leading up to my first tour as a vegan, but we found the best way is to go to a Lidl every couple of days: Buy a loaf of bread, hummus, some salad and some vegan crisps and you’ve got yourself some tasty sandwiches — usually much better than anything non-vegan on offer anyway. Snack food usually consists of crisps, nuts and bananas from service stations.
Since being vegan, every promoter that has arranged food for me has been more than happy to accommodate. Most people cook vegan food as default anyway, I’ve found.
Andrew’s advice to fellow Vegan musicians:
Take a knife and spoon with you and go to a cheap supermarket every other day. You’ll eat healthy and have a good amount of choice.
“You’ll eat like a king while your mates are slopping up doner meat and garlic mayo like dickheads”
Despite sleeping on floors and spending half of your day staring at concrete, maintaining a vegan diet on tour is surprisingly easy. All it requires is actual thought and willingness to eat something other than chips.
I almost always prepare food in advance. If I have enough time before heading out to a show, I will make myself something just in case the local eateries don’t satisfy your needs. Saves money too. On tour though, I couldn’t just rummage through people’s fridges and then go mental at them for not having vitalite and marmite, but there are a few essential spots at service stations. Starbucks do this amazing falafel, quinoa and beetroot hummus salad — M&S (BP garages with M&S in them at a pinch) do a great vegetable samosa, as well as their own falafel, sweetcorn empanadas and some other good stuff.
I received carrot sticks and hummus at a venue once. I didn’t feel too bad because the other bands had a pot of cocktail sausages to share, so we all got a bit screwed there. I’ve never gone to a venue and expected a three-course meal, so while I’m still sleeping on floors, petrol money and someone buying a shirt is enough.
Conor’s advice for fellow Vegan musicians:
The main bit of advice I would offer is; explore your options! Don’t just settle for a bag of ready salted walkers. Ask bossman if he has any falafel behind the counter — you’ll eat like a king while your mates are slopping up doner meat and garlic mayo like dickheads. A lot of things can be made vegan real easy. For example, there’s this excellent burrito spot in Brighton (I’ve forgotten the name soz) all you need to do is order a burrito with no meat and no cheese. With that, you get extra beans, extra salsa, extra guacamole. Literally a no brainer. I recommend Pepenero’s in Bristol as well, vegan pizzas for days my friend.
Here are some great resources if you’re interested in taking up a Vegan lifestyle:
Go Vegan — http://www.govegan.org.uk/
The Vegan Society — https://www.vegansociety.com/
Skool of Vegan — https://www.facebook.com/SkoolofVeg...
Vegan Sidekick — http://vegansidekick.com/
BBC Good Food (Vegan recipes) — http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/...
Thug Kitchen (More recipes) — http://www.thugkitchen.com/recipes