Napalm Death is legendary. There is nothing they do that isn’t known far and wide by anyone who’s anyone in the metal world. Frontman Mark “Barney” Greenway recently sat down with peta2 to discuss his lifelong dedication to a vegetarian diet.
P2: How long have you been vegetarian?
Barney: I’ve been vegetarian since I was 14 years old, which is 21 years now. The reason I became vegetarian was I was kind of shocked into action. The school was mindful enough to show a video of an abattoir, and from that moment on, I just couldn’t bring myself to think about eating meat again. And I went vegetarian overnight literally and I haven’t looked back since. I’m absolutely 100 percent certain I will be vegetarian, it was a lifelong decision for me.
P2: If someone hasn’t seen the videos and they’re not familiar with what happens on factory farms, could you just describe what they do to the animals?
B: Even all those years ago, it still really wasn’t any different from what there is now. It was the footage of cows being shot to the head with bolts. That was the main image for me really, but there are all kinds of associated images like the rivers of blood where they drain off blood down channels and feed it into sewage tanks, which was really pretty disgusting.
P2: Animal testing is another issue that’s important to you …
B: For many, many, many years, I’ve never used any kind of tested products. I was a PETA member in the really early days, and I got a lot of that information from them, so it was always very helpful to me.
P2: Where can people find alternatives to leather?
B: Well, there’s all sorts of things, but they come up in the unlikeliest places—and I say that because they actually are not necessarily targeted as animal-friendly clothes, they just are by their very nature. I mean, there’s a shop in Brighton on the south coast, which is quite famous actually—the name of which is “Vegetarian Shoes.” It’s down on the south coast of England. It just does exclusively nonleather shoes and also Doc Marten’s. They actually do a full range of nonleather stuff, which a lot of people don’t actually know about. But there certainly are places and of course, like I said, just because something isn’t necessarily being absolutely trumpeted as being nonleather, it doesn’t mean you can’t find them—you just have to go out and look. I mean, most sport shops on the high street will do trainers—which you call sneakers in America of course—that are completely free of leather or animal suede or anything like that, so they are fairly easy to find.
P2: When you sing about animal rights in your songs, what’s the message for your fans?
B: When I write about animal rights, I try to write using a lot of wordplay. For example, we have a song called “Food Chains.” People always talk about the natural order of the food chain and obviously Napalm Death mean it from the perspective of your food being chained, restrained, and kept against its will. The whole approach of it was to put a human being in an animal’s shoes. Maybe when a cow wakes up one morning, what he’s got to look forward to is a bolt to the head. What a battery chicken’s got to look forward to is life in a cage. She’s got a miserable life. I wouldn’t necessarily go nuts on anyone that wasn’t vegetarian, but I do think that people should be educated on all levels and should be aware of where their food comes from.
P2: Have you ever had anybody come up and tell you they’ve gone vegetarian because of the band?
B: Yeah, yeah absolutely, which of course is absolutely fantastic. That’s why music is such a powerful tool.
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