animal liberation interview 2000
If you don't know who Bryan Adams is by now you've probably been living under a rock! This guy is dynamite incredibly talented and incredibly popular in most countries around the world.
In his book, BRYAN ADAMS: The Official Biography (Firefly Books 1995) Bryan says "I always knew I'd be in music in some sort of capacity. I didn't know if I'd be successful at it, but I knew I'd be doing something in it. Maybe get a job in a record store. Maybe even play in a band. I never got into this to be a star. The idea of being 'famous' wasn't part of the plan. When I was fifteen or sixteen, buying records and listening to The Who was all the escapism I needed. Nothing else really seemed to matter. School seemed unimportant, music being the only thing that gave me something to look forward to. There were a lot of years sitting on a bus or a station wagon, slipping on black ice, touring across America and Canada before things started to happen ... I remember those times ... there have been many more since then. Some of them are remembered in this book".
Bryan, unfortunately for his many Aussie fans, has no immediate plans to return 'Down Under'.
Bryan's current album is "The Best of Me" and he has a single that was #1 in the UK and #3 in Europe with dance artist "Chicane". The song is called "Don't Give Up" on Sony Records and is available as a hidden track on his "Best of Me" collection or on Chicane's new album "Behind The Sun".
Interview by June Bird.
June: Hi Bryan, I believe you're a vegan ..... when did you cut out all meat and dairy?
Bryan: I'm not completely vegan, I will accept tiny amounts of butter and I normally scrape off cheese when it's on top of pasta or something ... I completely stopped eating dead creatures in 1989.
June: Any difficulties with said veganism?
Bryan: Well, there is. Especially when you have to rely on restaurants. It can be grim. You never know what the soup base is made of or if they've slipped a little bacon into your sandwich ... I'm the worst dinner date!
June: What's the best part of being vegan for you?
Bryan: The concept that you're not ingesting rotting flesh sort of sums it up for me.
June: Why did you decide to go vegan?
Bryan: I ate a big steak in 1988 and never felt worse. That was it, boom, over. Never again.
June: Can you think of any significant events while growing up that shaped your compassionate thinking towards animals?
Bryan: Having dogs around us was great, that really shaped my compassion, but I also ride, and I love horses, so it wasn't hard to appreciate the beauty and intelligence of other creatures.
June: Do some people think that this is just a fad? That you'll change your mind and go back to eating animals?
Bryan: At first they did, but 11 years later .... no.
June: What do your parents and siblings think about you being vego?
Bryan: I have quietly convinced my mum, brother and my band to switch altho' they are just vegetarians not vegans.
June: In the future will there be any songs from you that would promote cruelty-free living?
Bryan: Never say never!
June: Do you hope (like I do) that everyone else will soon realise that there's no need to eat animals to stay healthy?
Bryan: I don't actively campaign for it, but I'd like to think so. Ultimately you can't change some people. For example, my dad doesn't want to know.
June: Funny that neither does my dad though my mother is 99% there.
So, exactly what sort of things do you weird vegos eat anyway?!
Bryan: Pastas, soups, roasted veggies, homemade pizzas, salads, potatoes ... it's endless.
June: When you're touring have you found that there's plenty of good vego fare around? What's the best and worst country for finding vegan grub?
Bryan: It's impossible and Germany is the worst, but then again so are most Far East countries. We travel with a cook on tour. Our schedule is so different to other people that we have to have someone looking after the food. Have you ever tried eating a full meal before you sing? It's impossible, you can only eat after the gig. that means dinner at 11:00 at night. What restaurant does that in every town ... ? Fuggedaboutit!
June: Are you a good cook?
Bryan: Baked potatoes and salad ... the best you've ever had!
June: Anyone ever make fun of your beliefs?
Bryan: Never! On the contrary, a lot of them have converted.
June: What about eating out at picnics etc with friends?
Bryan: I went out the other night with some Jamaican friends and they ate chicken ..... while I ate the rice and salad, and it was fine!
June: How far 'gone' are you with regards to wearing leather and using other animal by-products?
Bryan: I sometimes wear leather shoes and I have two different types of doonas. Admittedly, one still does have feathers.
June: Zoos, circuses with animals and rodeos your thoughts on these please.
Bryan: It really sickens me to see some of the creatures in small pens.
June: Any comments on factory farming: such as hens in battery cages, pigs in cramped stalls, and cattle feedlots?
Bryan: I absolutely hate it, and it's no wonder so many people are ill and get cancer of the bowel etc. In Britain, they were feeding animals with their own excrement! Mad cow disease started this way.
June: Yes, I believe that the animals are definitely fighting back!
Is there one particular area of animal exploitation that you find particularly disturbing?
Bryan: Supermarkets. It's too easy for people to just pick up hamburger and have no idea that it was a living cow at one time. People don't assimilate the two.
June: What about vego musician friends are there many of 'em around?
Bryan: Loads of them. Chrissie Hynde is the most intense of them all.
June: Oh yeah she's the person I want to interview next definitely!
How's your health since you went vego?
Bryan: I cured myself of many allergies that I thought were with me for my whole life. I used to have excema (skin rash). Within two weeks of eating fruit in the morning and nothing else, it went away. I still follow that regime and it has never returned. Other brilliant things include the fact that I've never had a weight problem and I definitely have more energy than most people I know.
June: Would you encourage your partner or children to eat a vegan diet?
Bryan: Without question. I couldn't go out with anyone unless they were veggie. My last girlfriend of 9 years converted to vegetarianism of her own will, but she knew I was passionate about it. Could you imagine kissing someone after a big hamburger? Yuck.
June: Yeah the thought that someone might have a chunk of cow stuck in their teeth is absolutely repulsive!
Vitamin supplements do you take them?
Bryan: No but I drink soya powder shakes with fresh carrot apple and apple juice everyday. You have to be careful about soya powders, as some can contain animal products. I use a product called "Source of life a burst of energy². You can get it in North America at: Natural Organics Labs, Amityville, NY, USA Tel: 516 9575600. It's delicious and vegan.
June: Sounds scrummy. I don't take supplements either why would you need to?!
Protesting for animals rights have you been at the coal face?
Bryan: Yes, for whales mostly. I successfully campaigned for the southern Antarctic Whale Sanctuary in the mid 90s. We gave out 500,000 postcards on tour asking people to write to different heads of state to vote for the sanctuary. It worked!
June: How many people do you think you've influenced towards a cruelty-free lifestyle since 'coming out' and informing people of your beliefs?
Bryan: A friend of mine just had a baby and she's been bringing him up totally vegan. I think it could be the greatest gift to have the choice to eat meat or not. I wish I had had the choice, but I have the knowledge now. That's what I call it, and once you have the knowledge, you can never go back. But it would be hard to say exactly how many people I've influenced over the years.
June: Last but not least Bryan what do you want people to know about veganism and animal rights?
Bryan: Very simply if you love animals; don't eat them. Also I think that everyone should read "Fit For Life 2".
June: Thanks for that Bryan and I hope I get invited around some day for some of them delicious sounding soy shakes, baked potatoes and salad!
NEW VEGETARIAN MAGAZINE 1997
Bryan Adams has been rocking the music scene for nearly fifteen
years. He appears to have the Midas touch when it comes to his hits
as most, if not all, his singles seem to charge straight to the top
10 with many peaking at No.1. Every day on the radio you are bound
to hear at least one of his many songs, including collaborations with
Barbara Streisand or Tina Turner, or perhaps his popular film
soundtrack theme songs. Belinda Stopar and Dermot Dennis were
privileged to meet with him prior to one of his Melbourne concerts
during his fourth tour of Australia. Considering that he doesn't do
many print interviews, and that this will probably be the only
interview he does exclusively on his vegetarian lifestyle, we proudly
present to you this world exclusive scoop.
Q. We'll start off with the most obvious question, why did you become
A. I guess it was destiny that I was going to become a vegetarian
because I was slowly but surely finding out that meat, meat products
and meat by-products were affecting me. In a physical sense it was
slowing me down and I didn't also like the idea of eating animals, it
was starting to gross me out a little bit. So when I was in Calgary,
in Alberta, which is steak country, Fillet Mignon country, I was
feeling pretty awful and my manager said "Oh well, just go and have a
steak, you'll feel better". So I went down with some friends and I
ate this thing, and I swear it stayed in my stomach for days
afterwards and I felt so horrible. It was the last piece of meat I
ate and that was nine years ago. Then over the months that passed I
weaned myself off chicken, and then I weaned myself off fish and all
fish products, and then I stopped eating eggs and then logically I
stopped eating milk. I never really ate milk that much anyway.
Q. Milk comes in everything like, biscuits.
A. I really avoid things like that now, and now the only thing I'll
occasionally have is a little bit of parmesan cheese, but it's very,
very seldom because I know that it's got rennet in it, so it's sort
of disturbing to think that I'm eating it.
Q. Did you feel different after the change?
A. Oh, absolutely. Yeah.
Q. In what way?
A. Well because I knew that I was slowly going to become a
vegetarian, not even knowing what a vegan was, I always thought a
vegan was a vegetarian, but it turns out there are many different
forms of veganism and vegetarianism. So I started reading up on it
and I read a few books that were interesting, one was "Diet for a New
America", and the other one I read was "Fit for Life", which was the
most profound book that I've ever read. It affected my life more
than any other book. In fact I still follow "Fit for Life". I'm not
as conscious combining wise, but definitely one thing I picked up on
was eating fruit in the morning and allowing yourself a chance to
detoxify daily. So every morning I start my day with fresh juice
and fresh fruit and don't eat anything else until noon, and that
gives my body a chance to flush itself out. When I read that book it
was like someone turned on a light for me. Every page I read I kept
thinking "Wow, of course, of course", and so it became my sort of
bible in terms of my vegetarian career.
Q. A lot of people have said that about that book.
A. And it's astonishing, it's written a little bit for fat overweight
Americans so it's not really written in a universal language, but you
can derive things from it because the philosophy is sensible.
Q. What was the reaction of those around you?
A. Oh, very, very harsh. Family were in an uproar and the guys in my
band kept bugging me about going to eat a hamburger. Now we have tree
vegans in the band. My mum has now become a vegetarian as a result
too. Everybody was against it but I never really got into preaching
about it, because it's very dangerous to get into that area of trying
to tell people what they should do with their lives. You don't do
that, so I just slowly but surely dropped the hint. I came back from
making a record and my manager said to me "God, you look fantastic!
What have you done?". I said "I'm a vegetarian and I sorted myself
out". I did lose a lot of weight in the transition. Eventually I
got my weight back again, but in that period it took some time for my
body to metabolise back. it did come back and that is the only thing
for people that do read that book, it will be a shock to their system
when they finally take the plunge and do follow the "Fit for Life"
regime. There is a point where you think "Oh my God, I actually
don't feel very well", and a lot of that is because your body is
Q. Did you find it harder to make the transition from meat eating to
vegetarianism or from vegetarianism to veganism?
A. Well to me vegetarianism is veganism. I mean it's just depending
on what your perception of what a vegetarian is. What tree does a
fish grow on? You're not a vegetarian if you eat fish, you're not a
vegetarian if you eat eggs. Eggs are not a plant, eggs are animal
products, so if you are a vegetarian you don't eat those things. If
you just eat a little bit of meat or chicken, or a little bit of
fish, or if you still dabble in eating eggs, you are not a
vegetarian, I'm sorry. Veganism is a word created for people that
are very, very strict about what they put inside themselves, and
really do avoid all animal products.
Q. Were you brought up in the middle of cattle country in Canada?
A. No, no, no, my parents are English and I was brought up on
Yorkshire pudding, roast beef and beans on toast.
Q. Beans on toast, that's still a good vegan stand-by.
A. Too much sugar in it though.
Q. How would people going vegetarian make a difference?
A. Well there are many different ways of looking at that. There are
people who say it would help a lot of different things in society
because there would be less agricultural problems. In many ways
people even read it back to the budget and the big picture of
economics, but you can't change the world, you can't stop people from
eating meat, you can't stop people from their regime that they have
been brought up on. As I told you earlier I was faced with great
opposition from friends and family, and although I have been able in
my own way to influence people around me, it's up to the individual
to really decide for themselves whether they are ready for the change
or not. You can almost tell when you meet somebody whether they're
ready for it or not. It's not a spiritual thing, but there is
something abut someone that's ready to move on, and are dissatisfied
with themselves in the way they have been carrying on.
Q. If you have children would you bring them up vegan?
A. Oh, absolutely. I would only because that's what would be
available at the house. I mean in the end an individual's choice is
their choice, and if I had children and they decided that they wanted
to eat hot dogs, I would do everything in my power to let them know
what was in a hot dog before they stuffed it into their mouth. You
know I wish someone had told me what was in it before I ate it, but
God knows no one did.
Q. I think we're all in the same boat there.
A. I'm afraid so.
Q. What do you do to educate others about vegetarianism?
A. Well I talk about it in a sort of round about way. I put out a
book last year and I talked about vegetarianism in that book. People
know that I'm vegetarian, you know that I've never spoken to you
before in my life, somehow you found out. I think there's a circle
of people that know. If you go on the internet and look up famous
vegetarians you probably will find my name.
Q. What do you think are the big myths associated with vegetarianism?
For example that vegetarians are all skinny and pale.
A. Well there are great communities of people in the world that are
vegetarians. The Indians, for example, and they get on fine, and I'm
living proof also of someone that hasn't even thought about a
supplement. I just eat very fresh food all the time.
Q. Not even a vitamin B12 supplement?
A. I don't do anything. I don't even take medication. I won't even
take an asprin for a headache. I try not to, I try everything I can
to avoid medication. When I was in France last year I had a bit of
hayfever because the pollen was out when we were out there. I got
some homoeopath remedies that worked brilliantly and I could have
easily gone to the shop and got some of those antihistamines, but God
knows they put you to sleep and whatever. You know there is hope for
homoeopathy in the world. I have some friends that are into it.
Q. Do you miss eating meat or dairy foods?
A. No, but occasionally if I see some I can reminisce about what it
was like. I can very easily remember what it was like to eat meat,
fish and chicken. You don't lose the memory of taste because if I
tell you about an orange or a lime right now, I'm sure your taste
buds will react accordingly. So the same thing when you see food.
If you are famished and you walk by a barbecued chicken, you will
suddenly get the sensation in your mouth of what might have been.
Q. What do you think of the meat substitutes like vegetarian sausages?
A. Oh superb, really, really great, we use them all the time. i've
got someone that cooks for us on tour here and a lot of the food we
use aside from pastas, potatoes and the usual things are tofu based.
Q. How far does you veganism go to in regard to the clothes you wear?
A. That's about the only spot where I still have leather shoes.
Q. Jackets or pants?
A. No, I haven't bought anything. It's all been given to me and all
that stuff is used from years ago, but I haven't gone out of my way
to buy things that are leather. I won't buy a leather jacket for
example. I have some vinyl shoes and I have some leather stuff, I
admit it. I've got some vinyl pants which look like leather.
Q. Do you find it difficult touring as a vegan?
A. Touring, no.
Q. Do you have a personal chef?
A. We've got a tour cook.
Q. Does he cook the same meals for everyone?
A. Basically it's available to anybody, but generally most of the
crew go for the old meat and two veg, and then there's a few of us
that have cooking by Emmanuel Luyton.
Q. Are there ant other vegans/vegetarians in your entourage?
A. Yeah, there's two others, my drummer and my guitarist are both
Q. Do you try out any vegetarian restaurants whilst on tour?
A. No. I don't really like vegetarian restaurants because generally
speaking the food is never really that interesting, they make it so
bland and so uninteresting. I'm not surprised people aren't more
interested in vegetarian cooking. Very, very, very seldom do I ever
come across one that's absolutely brilliant.
Q. I absolutely love vegetarian Chinese food.
A. I won't eat Chinese food that much because it's too greasy.
Q. Do you get the hotels you stay in to cater for you?
A. We bring our cook with us and if we need to use the hotel kitchens
we make arrangements with the hotels before we travel.
Q. So the hotels have never made meals for you?
A. Oh yeah, sure they have.
Q. How do they pass the test as far as vegan food goes?
A. No trouble, if you just tell people what you want and you're very
specific about what your diet is, most people are very, very
Q. So where are you living?
A. I'm based in England.
Q. What's the vegan scene like there?
A. Very strong. In fact in England The Vegetarian Society is very
strong. They actually label foods in supermarkets that are
vegetarian. Although a lot of it has cheese, and people like Linda
McCartney for example, who's come out very strong on vegetarianism,
even her line of food has eggs and cheese in it, so it's still a
little bit not really vegetarian in my books.
Q. I know that when I was there in 1991, I couldn't believe that in
the supermarkets there were two whole aisles of vegetarian frozen
A. I know it's superb. Although California is the best place for
vegetarians, I really think England is definitely second. America
generally is a great place for a vegetarian because it has all that
consumerism, especially California. Vancouver, where I grew up a lot
in my life, is actually very good for vegetarians. There's a great
sort of hippie movement that's always been there. Organisations like
Greenpeace and a lot of environmental organisations were formed
in Vancouver, so there's an incredible movement there of natural
Q. In America they've got the Tofutti ice cream.
A. That's America for you, you're not going to find that in France, I
Q. I was upset that when I was in England I didn't have cooking
facilities to try the vegetarian frozen foods.
A. Yeah, some of them are delicious. When we made an album called
"Waking Up The Neighbours" in England, we'd just go down to Marks and
Spencers because they had so many great things. you could get
stuffed peppers, you could get all kinds of things that were just
delicious, but do you know what my favourite meal is? One of my
favourite meals is just a basic baked potato and a salad.
Q. With coleslaw?
A. If it's mayonnaise free, but baked potato with a little, I don't
know, you can get different kinds of dressings you can put on a
potato, just a plain old potato and salad. My favourite salad
dressing for those that are interested is actually fresh lime juice,
not your cordial, and extra virgin olive oil equal proportions, with
salt and pepper, and to me that's the most yummy salad dressing.
Q. I don't know about the lime.
A. It's the same as a lemon, but there's something about a lime that
I picked up when I was living in Jamaica. They don't really have
lemon there, they only have lime. So I started eating lime and olive
oil dressing and it's so delicious, it's the nicest thing.
Q. I'll have to try that one.
A. Definitely, but equal portions, so if you use a tablespoon of
olive oil, use a tablespoon of lime.
Q. You can get vegan mayonnaise here. Can you get it there?
A. Oh certainly.
Q. You can get vegan condensed milk in England, can't you?
A. Certainly, you can get everything in England. Things like Rice
Dream, that's nice. I like that if I ever eat breakfast cereal.
Rice Dream and Weetabix is a very good combination.
Q. Vanilla flavoured Rice Dream?
A. Just the plain. See I used to love Weetabix when I was a kid.
Have you ever had cream of wheat? It's like a porridge. Cream of
wheat and Weetabix, I love those things, but I remembered what it was
like to have, so as soon as those new products came out I could eat
those things again.
Q. So do you prefer the Rice Dream to soy milk?
A. i do actually. I prefer Rice Dream to soy milk because soy
products generally, if you combine them with the wrong things you can
get gas, so Rice Dream doesn't do that.
Q. Hasn't the soy market boomed?
A. Soy milk is fantastic stuff, don't get me wrong, I think it's
fabulous, but like all things if you combine potatoes and steak you
can have gas.
Q. Have you noticed much change in the vegetarian/vegan scene since
you became one?
A. No, only amongst my friends that have changed themselves, and I've
influenced their friends. I guess the only thing I can say really is
that there are more products than there were ten years ago. I don't
think there's any sort of a revival or there's no real huge wave of
consciousness that is sweeping the world if that's what you mean.
Q. Is there any more awareness?
A. I don't think so, no. I think people are just as meat conscious.
Q. What about the Mad Cow Disease in England?
A. I think that stops people to an extent but then they switch over
and eat lamb. People don't really care, and anyway most people go to
their family butcher and he'll say "Look it's all right, don't worry
about it", and they say "Right-oh, I trust my butcher".
Q. Do you cook?
A. Yes,of course.
Q. Do you have any specialities apart from the baked potato?
A. I like to cook a lot of different things. One thing we've been
making lately is just a sort of tomato and potato galette, which is
just a round pan and you slice the potatoes quite finely, you put
them on the bottom with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, and then
you just cover the top with sliced tomato, pop it in the oven and in
I think it was about 40 minutes or whatever it takes to cook a
potato, you've got a fantastic dish that's just been roasted in the
oven. I love roasted vegetables. I love roast potatoes. I love
roast carrots and parsnips, and roasted onions. A little but of
olive oil and salt and pepper goes a long way.
Q. Are you into animal rights at all and/or animal welfare issues?
A. Yeah, well to an extent, again I can't really be a sort of flag
flying representative of something like that if I still wear
leather. I am against cruelty to animals. I'm very much involved
with the anti-whaling movement. I've done a lot of campaigning for
them - postcard mailouts, documentaries, interviews, and I'm just
about to narrate a documentary on dolphins on the west coast of
British Columbia, so I'm really into promoting that.
Q. So you're happy to stand up for any animal rights issues?
A. I do. I've signed a petition against fur if that's what you mean.
Q. Circuses, Rodeos, etc?
A. Oh, yeah. There's a very brilliant organisation in England called
Elefriends, which are friends of elephants, who try to campaign for
finding places for elephants that have been abandoned from circuses.
There's a farm in Tennessee which has actually take on a lot of stray
elephants and they campaign quietly to get money, because it's very
expensive to feed an elephant as you can imagine. There are people
in America that have really come to the help of stray and unwanted
Q. Do you have any pets?
Q. Did you grow up around pets?
A. Yeah, I grew up with dogs. My father loved wire hair fox terriers
which is a breed of English terrier. They have a long snout. They
were very popular in the 40's. I love dogs. I absolutely love dogs.
I'd love to have a dog, I'd love to be able to take care of a dog,
but I just haven't got the time.
Q. When you are not writing songs, recording or touring, what are
your favourite things to do?
A. Well I'm just putting a new kitchen in my house, so I love
cooking. I love spending time at the home. I love having friends
around for dinner and I always love to impress my friends with a nice
meal. It's great,I think it's one of the nicest things you can do,
and especially impressive if you can tell everybody after the meal,
"Hey, there were no animals involved in that meal". It takes a bit
of effort, thought, and that's the trouble why most people won't do
it, and it's more expensive to become vegetarian. It's much more
expensive to eat fresh fruit all the time and that's a deterrent
because most people can't afford to eat fresh food everyday. It's a
luxury unless you can grow vegetables and fruit in your garden. One
of the biggest reasons why I think a lot of people, general punters,
aren't vegetarians is the cost.
Q. Really, because when they've done budgets they always work out
that vegetarianism is cheaper?
A. I don't know about that. I eat fresh food every day and it costs
me a lot of money. I love going and buying paw paw, and I love
pineapples and blueberries, and I love all those fresh fruits, but
then at the end of the day I look at my food bill and think, "My God,
that's so expensive to buy all that fruit".
Q. Do you use organic products at all?
A. If I can, yeah.
Q. What are your goals and dreams for the future?
A. Just to carry on. I sort of live day by day, I don't really have
a super plan. I suppose I'd like to have my kitchen finished, so I
can put the kettle on and have a cup of tea.