You know Greg Ginn as the guitarist, songwriter and founding member of seminal hardcore band Black Flag. What you probably don’t know is the 58-year-old has been vegan for approximately 15 years and vegetarian since he was 17. Recently, Ginn has toured in an array of acts—including Good For You, JAMBANG, the Taylor Texas Corrugators, and Greg Ginn and The Royal We—but this summer, he is reuniting Black Flag with vocalist Ron Reyes to record a new album. The band will also be kicking off national and international tours (both featuring Ginn’s other project, Good For You). We caught up with the iconic songwriter-guitarist to find out what he’s most looking forward to (and chowing down on).
VegNews: What’s the difference between touring as an herbivore in the ‘80s and now?
Greg Ginn: The perception [of veganism] has changed. When I was younger, I hid the fact that I was vegetarian. If somebody didn’t know it, I would [covertly] avoid meat because people would say, “You’re going to get sick. You have to eat some meat. You’re so skinny. You’ll get anemic,” and blah, blah, blah. Now, it’s changed 180 degrees. Now if someone finds out you’re a vegetarian or vegan, they say, “Oh, you’re so healthy.” It’s completely opposite, and that’s good because it makes it easier to travel. It’s a lot easier to find good food—or at least decent—on the road. Denny’s would have a salad with iceberg lettuce, a little chuck of tomato that got kind of ripened on the way there, a little thing of onion and some sort of ranch dressing. Now, even places that are junk food will have some selections that are edible.
VN: Any tips for snacking on the road when between cities?
GG: I like to have nuts around. We have a cooler in the van where I can put coconut water or fruit and vegetables.
VN: It sounds like you eat primarily raw. How do you feel about more processed vegan products, such as faux meat?
GG: I’m not big on it, but we have it around occasionally. A lot of the fake meat is very processed food. A lot of times those things are good for someone looking for a meat replacement—I just don’t have any craving for it. Sometimes I’ll eat tofu in a restaurant, so I’m not against it, but I don’t eat it much. For people who are switching from a meat diet, I would totally recommend it. It’s good to have for flavoring, but I eat more hummus and nuts for protein. If you look at some of the labels on some of those fake meats, the ingredients are as scary as anything.
VN: Have you noticed a difference in your playing since you went vegan?
GG: I don’t mind eating relatively soon before I play because it’s not going to weigh on me, whereas I know people who eat meat who say, “I can’t eat. It’s two hours before we play.” And I’m going, “Two hours? Come on.”
VN: Are there any cities or restaurants you look forward to on tour?
GG: There are very few vegan restaurants around the country and unfortunately I can’t always go across town to eat. There are a few that stand out. Spiral Diner in Fort Worth and Dallas is about the best vegan restaurant I can think of.
VN: What kind of feedback did you get last time the band reunited [in 2003]?
GG: For the most part, it was really good. Prior to those shows, I did a lot of interviews, so I took the opportunity to talk about cats and adoptions and all the various issues around that.
VN: Is there a connection between veganism and being an artist?
GG: I can only speculate that it’s people who are thinking about issues and taking a certain perspective on it. I could see it might be more introspective people. There are plenty of meat-chomping rockers—veganism is still very much a minority thing. We make a lot of noise, but they’re still building new McDonald’s, and Spiral Diners are slow to get built.