How punk rock turned me into a vegan – by Niall McGurk
“My soul for the sole of your shoe” –
Being raised as a a Catholic in a completely different Ireland to 21st Century those words had such an effect on a 14 year old aspiring punk rocker from Dublin. My older brothers introduced me to music. Their weekends consisted of bringing home the latest vinyl from Advance records and pounding our stereo speakers with sounds from the Sex Pistols, Clash, The Ruts and Ian Dury. Mine was spent looking up to them. After a while it was less about pink socks and bondage trousers and more about the words. The Clash played a huge part in this but without question it was Crass that upped the levy. The questions were flying thick and thin. You want politics, we got them in Ireland. Britain had the Miners Strike we had a hunger strike!! Ten Men Died after deciding it was better NOT to eat food than wear a prison uniform.
My Dad had a name for me and my friends, the Saturday afternoon gang. Our Saturdays consisted of leafletting or protesting whatever cause was looking for support, all done to a soundtrack of whatever independently released record came out that week. Crass, Flux, Omega Tribe on the Anarcho punk side to Three Johns, Membranes, Redskins on the independent team.
Want to organise a boycott? Just call us in. This was the case for a number of years and when Flux started questioning our food consumption it just made sense not to eat meat. Chumbawamba sent on tapes and with them came information about vivisection and cruelty to animals. Our choice was made for us. Meat was up there with Thatcher and Reagan. Evil!!!
Our community was one of letter writing penpals. Soaped stamps and communication was key. Fanzines reprinted whatever leaflets were left over. “Wanna help with Martin Foran being released from prison?” Sure thing. “Do you agree with No More Censorhip” Definitely. “How about Merrell Dow locating to Ireland” No way. As for Apartheid, boycott them all and spread the gospel through our photocopied publications.
Our 50 copies was your 5000 facebook friends!!!
The next step was to get a band together to supplement the words. We questioned everything. Every decision was political. All politics is local, all local activity scrutinised. Our bands played gigs that people could afford to attend, we then spread the wings to try and get bands to come to our country. We used our community to get these bands and the community spread the word like wildfire. We then were able to give these bands some food, all vegetarian.
After a few years of no nestle, coca cola or unilever products it just seeemed logical to take the next step. Remove all dairy. the Smiths made vegetarianism ok with their meat means murder lp. Recent terrestial TV station, Channel 4, showed a powerful tv programme about meat production. Sure it isn’t it the same for Dairy. Still the same cycle of torture and dominance. And so it continued. Vegan for life!!!
And then the tories were kicked out, peace came to our country, Saturday afternoons moved to football, lots of gigs happened, lots of bands started travelling and it became the norm. We still tried to kick against the pricks but they were made of rubber. In Ireland we had a celtic Tiger. A lot more people got a lot more disposable income but the gap between rich and poor kept increasing. The celtic tiger got septic whilst our mortgages all kicked in. Meat still means murder, dairy still means torture and maybe, just maybe our Saturday afternoons will liven up once more now that we are penniless.