Metalheads and Vegan Food

Metalheads and Vegan Food

Feel the beet

Story

The Ingredient

METALHEADS HAVE A REPUTATION AS THE HARDEST OF THE HARDCORE – AND YET ARE SAID TO HAVE MORE VEGETARIANS AND VEGANS THAN FANS OF OTHER GENRES. CAN THAT BE TRUE? WHERE BETTER TO FIND OUT THAN THE LOUDEST METAL FESTIVAL ON THE PLANET?

The world’s largest metal festival

The world’s largest metal festival

It’s 4 pm and the sun is shining down from a sky scattered with clouds when the band members of Heaven Shall Burn appear on the Harder Stage at Wacken. The sea of fans is roaring with excitement: it’s day three of the world’s largest metal festival and, by this stage, nobody needs a warm-up act. As the music hits the crowd, people start pogoing and mud starts flying; in front of the stage, mosh pits surface periodically as the gigantic maelstrom of bodies opens, Red Sea-like, into two halves – almost as if the move has been rehearsed.

Wall of Death

Lead singer Marcus Bischoff certainly doesn’t need to say anything for the ritual to start as the two “walls of death” storm towards each other, clashing to shouts of joy in the middle of the infield.

Collision course

Collision course

The force of the collision is so strong that even I, standing as I am on the outer reaches of the crowd, can still feel it as the participants return to headbanging. Bischoff bawls: “We're fighting to the last, driven by your hate awoken us, no long we surrender”. Thousands bawl back. It’s a war of sounds – and the din makes it, from my point of view, all the more unimaginable that the act will, after expending so many calories on stage retire to the artists’ area to refresh themselves with one of Maria Perna’s vegan snacks.

Sex, drugs and vegan rolls

Sex, drugs and vegan rolls

Local girl Perna, whose stand is backstage at Wacken, makes a range of delicious pancakes and bread dishes without using animal products because Heaven Shall Burn is just one of the many metal bands whose members are vegetarian or vegan. Perna, a newcomer to the vegan food industry and the woman behind the Beadonauts baking mix, is delighted to see yet another queue form in front of her stand. In one way, that’s not surprising: the number of vegans is going up all across the world. But isn’t heavy metal all about sex, drugs and alcohol?

Wacken Nacken

Can you keep on writing such lyrics, playing such sounds, when you refuse to have animal blood spilled for a juicy steak off the grill? “There is an above-average number of vegetarians and vegans among metal fans”, confirms Holger Hübner, the managing director of the festival. That is why the 75,000 hungry metalheads at the gigantic event have a choice which, besides classics spit-roast suckling pork, burgers and the “Wacken Nacken” steak, also encompasses a range of stands offering vegan and vegetarian options.

Seitan chicken and plastic skulls

This year, the festivals’ organizers went a step further and flew in YouTube star Brian Matthew Manowitz from Los Angeles. In his videos, Manowitz makes a quirky show of combining black metal music and vegan recipes – his pad thai video is currently cruising along at a cool 3,070,682 views. In the Foundation Camp area, it’s not hard to make out the spot where Brian, the Black Metal Vegan Chef is doing his thing: the crowd around the entrance to the tent is visible from far off.

Image gallery
Image gallery
Image gallery
Image gallery
Image gallery
Image gallery

Blood-red drops

His practised fingers with black painted nails dig into the beige mass as his voice booms through the tent, explaining the steps in the recipe. He trades quips with the audience and throws the dough ball into a cooking pot decorated with iron spikes; then he stirs chilli sauce in a bowl, grinning devilishly as he lets the blood-red mixture drip off the spoon. As he works, he explains why he became a YouTube chef: “I just wanted to show as many people as possible how easy it is to make really good meals from purely plant-based ingredients.”

Black hair and corpse paint

Blood-red drops

His practised fingers with black painted nails dig into the beige mass as his voice booms through the tent, explaining the steps in the recipe. He trades quips with the audience and throws the dough ball into a cooking pot decorated with iron spikes; then he stirs chilli sauce in a bowl, grinning devilishly as he lets the blood-red mixture drip off the spoon. As he works, he explains why he became a YouTube chef: “I just wanted to show as many people as possible how easy it is to make really good meals from purely plant-based ingredients.”

Black hair and corpse paint

On closer inspection, the smell of fried vegetables and garlic wafts through the air and the speakers are playing an uncompromising industrial black metal mix produced by Manowitz himself. To create some atmosphere, plastic skulls, candles and other accessories have been put up in the plain white tent, but the audience is absorbed by the display going on in the open-plan camp kitchen. The hardcore cook – all black hair, chainmail, shoulder armour, and corpse paint – has peppers and courgettes going in a pan as he kneads seitan dough.

Taste test

Taste test

While the show is nowhere near as dark as his YouTube sessions, it’s entertaining nonetheless. The thing that is most important to Manowitz is that his food passes the taste test when the audience give it a go. In fact, you have to move quickly if you want to get anything of the various nibbles being passed round. Johannes, too, who – with his long leather overalls covered in patches and shorn hair – looks at first sight like the toughest of rockers, gives the food a grinning thumbs up and suddenly looks a whole lot less threatening.

Soft metalheads

Soft metalheads

Johannes is about as vegan as they come and has been cooking Manowitz recipes for years now. “When they’re packing for a weekend like this, my friends will have beer, sausage and steaks in their cooler – and that’s it. I always come with a basic kit of vegetable-based spreads and other plant products.” Metalheads are, in his view, living proof that there is something to the old saying “tough on the outside, soft on the inside.”

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