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The Real-Life Diet of John Joseph, the 56-Year-Old Punk Icon Who Hates Meat

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Before I even get a question out, John Joseph tells me he’s having surgery in less than 24 hours. “Nothing major, just a hernia,” he says. “I raced my last two Ironmans with it actually—you can see a picture of me at an Ironman in Thailand, and I’m running and holding the fucking hernia.”

Joseph, the longtime singer for the legendary hardcore band the Cro-Mags, is a tough dude. He’s still touring and performing, and he’s raced in 10 Ironmans. His secret for staying so tough? A plant-based diet. The 56-year-old will eat a little bit of anything, and cook a little bit of anything on his YouTube channel, as long as there are no animal products involved. He was even given the honor of naming a meal at the vegan Organic Grill in New York City—he anointed the pulled jackfruit sandwich as the “Triple J.”

Joseph spoke to GQ about the benefits of eating veggies, his fond memories of cooking big family dinners with the members of Motörhead and Bad Brains, and his favorite vegan restaurants from around the world.

GQ: You maintain a plant-based diet, right?

John Joseph: Absolutely, 100 percent organic and locally-sourced as much as possible. I’ll tell you what, man, I had a really tough upbringing. I was raised in the foster system, got out in ‘77, hit the streets and started getting into trouble for a few years. After that, I joined the Navy, and met some Rastas in Jamaica in 1980. They ended up schooling me on “Ital,” which is a pure vegan diet. It didn’t really resonate with me for a bit, but the seed was planted.

Right, so when did you go all the way with it?

A few months later, I met the Bad Brains at a gig in Norfolk, Virginia. H.R. [the lead singer] took me aside and schooled me on keeping a positive mental attitude and eating a plant-based diet. After my tour in the Navy was over, I came back to New York, and who do I see standing on the corner of Avenue A? H.R.—he’s there with the Beastie Boys.

I started hanging with them, and they got me a job in a health-food store. While I was working there, I started doing research and came to the conclusion that cutting out all the meat, dairy, and processed foods was the right thing to do. It helped me out so much.

How so?

Back then, I walked around with a lot of anger. When I started to eat like this, that anger began subsiding. With all I was reading those days—different books about spirituality and such—I realized that we were ingesting the suffering of these animals by consuming their flesh. After that, I was like, “I ain't ever going back,” and I never have.

It was really a decision that was firstly for the animals. “Rastafari” means “prince of peace,” and it was broken down to me by H.R. that we want peace on this planet, but we’re creating a hell and torturing animals by unnecessarily thinking that they’re our food.

I got deeper into it, started studying with the nutritionist Viktoras Kulvinskas about the raw food diet, and how it can fight and prevent disease. In the United States and most of the world, medicine is all about treating disease after it comes, but I started trying to prevent it in my body.

It sounds like that was a pretty radical shift in your life.

From where I was, yeah. People can’t even believe the shit that I went through as a kid on the streets—I got shot at, I sold drugs, I watched someone almost get killed in front of me. Just insane stuff that no 14-year-old kid should have to go through, especially in this system with my brothers in basically an insane asylum of a foster home. You know, people may look at who I am in 2019, but they don’t understand the 40 years of work to get to this point. And I’m still a work in progress.


via DMT.NEWS, Gabe Conte, Khareem Sudlow