Photo Courtesy of Fat Wreck Chords

I’ve got some friends that are in a band. They’re called Old Man Markley, and they play a bang-up style of bluegrass and punk music. Some like to call it “newgrass,” but to me, it’s just awesome. Knowing that the band has several veg members that are big fans of PETA and peta2 only make them that much cooler!

On the heels of their latest Fat Wreck Chords EP, Party Shack, I present to you: A Coffee Table Chat with Old Man Markley on Vegetarianism, Puppies, and the Awesomeness of Soy Milk. Be sure to read the whole thing, cuz we’ve got a few copies of Party Shack up for grabs!

1. What prompted you to become vegetarian? Were there any bands, books, etc. that influenced your decision?

JOHNNY: For me, the decision to become vegetarian came about foremost because I’ve always loved animals. It was through PETA, in fact. I saw a video from a campaign against the meat industry. It was really well done, about something I didn’t realize was happening to animals, and it brought me to tears. Before I chose to stop eating meat, I was overweight and unhealthy, and completely unconscious of how my diet was affecting my life. Once I made that choice, my entire life changed. I immediately lost weight. As I realized what nutrition was, I started to pursue alternate protein sources. I’m vegetarian right now, and go back and forth between being vegan and vegetarian.

RYAN: I was inspired by Johnny of Old Man Markley. (Laughs)

2. What are some of your favorite vegetarian and/or vegan foods?

JOHNNY: Tofurky. We make a lot of sandwiches on tour. For instance, we’ll wrap a Smart Dog in a piece of whole wheat bread with fresh avocado, some soy cheese, and ketchup and mustard. It’s cheap and easy and SO good.

ANNIE: Soy latte from Starbucks! That’s an easy thing to do on the road even if you’re not vegan–pass on the half and half and get soy milk instead. It’s delicious! Also, at home we cook with a lot of spinach and kale. They can be wilted into almost any recipe: stir fry, soup, beans … the possibilities are endless! They are also great raw in salads.

KATIE: Bananas with peanut butter are my favorite snack in the entire world. I could live off of it for days. Actually, sometimes on tour I do. And I have yet to meet a Morningstar product I don’t like.

RYAN: Chips and salsa. And beer.

3. Of all of the major animal rights issues (animal testing, factory farming, animals used in entertainment, dog fighting, etc.) are there any issues that are particularly close to your heart?

JOHNNY: The fur industry. What happens to these animals is horrifying. Dogs and cats, and lots of other kinds of animals, are being skinned alive for “fashion.” The whole process—from how the animals are bred and raised, to how they are transported to be slaughtered, to how they are actually killed—is unbelievably awful. Luckily, there are things we can do to help stop it. Make sure you read the labels on your clothes; don’t wear leather, and don’t wear fur even if it says it’s fake. You have so much power to stop these companies with the choices you make about what to buy and wear.

KATIE: Really, I wish more people would get shelter animals rather than designer pets.

ANNIE: I agree with my best friend Katie. Puppy mills are so depressing. If more people would pay attention to the conditions that their expensive puppy came from, they might think twice about their purchase. The mama dogs are kept in such horrifying conditions. I’m very proud to say that my half-breed adopted pup, Lucy, is designer to me!

4. If a fan were to approach you with questions about how to get involved with animal rights, what advice would you give him or her?

JOHNNY: Join PETA! I’ve been a PETA member for four years, ever since I became vegetarian. I’ve even considered funding one of their starter kit racks on my street. I would love to do that, and I plan to someday. But the easiest way to start making a difference is to be conscious of what you’re eating. Be conscious of where your food comes from. If you’re conscious of where your meat comes from and you can live with it and that works for you, fine. But really understand the foods you eat. You may find that you don’t support everything that happens between where your food began and how it landed on your plate. Every dollar you spend or don’t spend on meat affects the industry. Small, easy decisions not to support it will change the world. Save the world, even. Let’s save the world! (Laughs)

KATIE: The peta2 website is a perfect starting place for info and recipes, but don’t just park yourself in front of a computer. Go out and volunteer at an SPCA, foster an animal, or request that your local grocery store stock better veggie-friendly options and organic foods. And write a letter! Companies take letters really seriously, and almost always answer them, since so few people actually take the time to write to them. The little effort it takes goes a really long way.

Johnny, Ryan, Annie and Katie, you all RULE! Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us. OMM takes off for a North East tour with NOFX and peta2 besties Anti-Flag this week, so be sure to check their tour dates and go see them when they hit your area!

In the meantime, we have 3 copies of OMM’s new 7″ EP, Party Shack, up for grabs. Each winning EP will also include an extra special recipe for the band’s oh-so-yummy bread pudding. And it’s VEGAN! Could these stakes be any cool—er, yummier?

For your chance to win, let us know your favorite kind of vegan pudding (or vegan dessert) in the comments below. Comments must be received by September 30, 2011 and two winners will be chosen at random and notified on October 4, 2011.

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