Meatless in Miami: Vegetarians in Popular Song

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A couple of months ago, Sweat Records booked L.A. punk rock duo No Age. I knew they're vegan, so I made sure we were stocked with an array of sumptuous goodies to feed them. After their insanely high-energy show, the fact that they could replenish with local songstress Raffa's vegan chili nearly blew their minds.

Music and meatlessness go hand-in-hand quite often. Since middle school, one of my favorite bands has been the Smiths, and discovering them for me was a happy, veg-related accident. In the early dial-up days of the Internets, I had read mentions of this Manchester band but never had an opportunity to actually hear its music. How fortunate then, that my misunderstood, mercilessly teased-for-being-vegetarian, seventh-grade self happened upon the Smiths' Meat Is Murder album at Spec's in Kendall. I bought it based on title alone, and it changed my life.

If you follow music news at all, you know that Moz is a passionate, outspoken advocate for vegetarianism and animal rights. He has come out against vivisection and seal hunting, has banned meat from his gigs, and has a wicked sense of humor about it all, quipping, "I can smell burning flesh, and I hope to God it's human" after waves of meaty barbecue smell hit the stage during his performance at last year's Coachella festival.

My favorite vegtastic quote by him: "Nobody can come up with a good argument for eating animals -- nobody can. People as some kind of a joke say, well, 'It's tasty,' but it's only tasty once you garnish it and you put salt and pepper and you cook it and you have to do 300 things to it to disguise its true taste. If you put garnishes on a chair or fabric, it would probably taste quite nice."

Mozza is also in good company, as many other gifted musicians also call themselves flesh-free: Thom Yorke, Prince, Ian Mackaye (Fugazi), Conor Oberst, Andre3000, RZA, GZA and Masta Killa of Wu-Tang, Anthony Keidis, KRS-One, Rivers Cuomo, Carrie Underwood (though it's said she keeps it to herself so as not to alienate her meat-and-potatoes fans), Chrissie Hynde, Erykah Badu, Fiona Apple, Grace Slick, Siouxsie Sioux, Fred Schneider (the B52s), many of the Marleys, Michael Stipe, Geezer Butler, Bob Weir, Serj Tankian, Joan Jett, tons of punk/emo/hardcore bands/band members, and Sir Paul McCartney, to name a few. Even when Weird Al sings "Eat It," he's talking about vegetables.

Below are two of my favorite related tracks. First is the infamous Smiths tune, complete with slaughterhouse sound effects and cows crying for mercy. Second is KRS-One's classic "Beef" off his 1990 Edutainment album -- he packs nearly every good argument against eating meat into two and a half minutes.

The Smiths, "Meat Is Murder"


KRS-One, "Beef"


Last but not least, a shameless plug: Raffa will peddle her chili tonight at Sweat before the monthly acoustic showcase Can You Rock a Little Softer? It's mind-blowingly good and only $5 a serving.
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