Parkway Drive’s Winston McCall On How To Smash Veganuary
Struggling with Veganuary? Or thinking about joining the party, albeit a little late? Well, Parkway Drive frontman Winston McCall is here with some words of encouragement. He might not be an actual vegan, but he eats a tonne of meat-free, dairy-free, actually, just-everything-that-comes-from-an-animal-free food. Oh, and he’s been vegetarian for 36 years, which makes him pretty qualified.
“My parents are vegetarian and it’s literally all I’ve ever known,” explains Winston. “Growing up as a vegetarian through the ’80s and ’90s as a kid, the concept of it was just so out there for people. You had to explain, ‘No I don’t eat sausages, I don’t eat steak…’ You’d rock up at school, and they’d be like, ‘It’s just a ham sandwich! It’s sick! Have a go!’ But every time I’ve tried meat, I fucking hated the taste (laughs). I just don’t like it. The last time would have been 15 years ago or something. My stomach couldn’t cope and I ended up vomiting it back up.”
And on that delightful note, take it away, Winston…
1. Think Of All The Health Benefits
“When you take up a vegan or vegetarian diet, you start feeling a physical health change. So many people have said it, it’s not bullshit. I’ve seen it! I grew up as the one guy in my band that was vegetarian, with a bunch of guys who’d order steak with every single meal. And now, three out of the five of us are vegetarian or vegan. And the rest eat very, very healthily. And the ones who’ve stopped eating meat say, ‘I can’t believe the difference in my health, the way I feel physically and mentally because of the diet, it’s insane.’ On a very simple level, you will feel better, so give it a fucking go. If you’re gonna give (detox drink) FitTea a shot, try giving this a shot. It’s a lot easier, and it’s not bullshit (laughs)!”
2. Do It For Your Tastebuds
“One of the things I noticed when I tried meat in the past, is the flavour is incredibly strong, to the point of it being dominating. If you cut it out of your diet, you start realising there’s a hell of a lot of flavour in everything, it’s just your taste buds have simply adapted to not tasting anymore because meat has too much seasoning. So everything starts tasting better, you find your palette expanding, and you’ll start getting a lot more enjoyment out of food. So not only will you feel better, but things will taste awesome.”
3. Learn How To Cook
“Simply go on YouTube or Instagram, as I find social media’s pretty good at popping up a random recipe, or watch a fucking episode of Jamie Oliver or something. A lot of people just don’t cook. I’m a reasonably good cook. It’s a 90/10 split for me cooking for myself and my wife at home. And I love it! For me, it’s a grounding thing coming back from tour, because as awesome as it sounds to be catered for every night. I do enjoy simply creating something.
“Also, learn about the food that you’re making - that act alone gives you so much fulfilment, and you’ve then gained the knowledge about what you’re eating. You’ll find yourself realising that a lot of the stuff you’re eating when you going out, you’re paying a shit tonne of money for and you can make better at home! So it’s a very basic connection.”
4. Stock Up On Healthy Snacks
“Don’t be a junk food vegan and just eat Oreos. I think veganism is at its best when it’s not trying to fill the hole that has been left by meat by simply trying to imitate it. I try to avoid sugar as much as I can now. My nickname within the band was ‘Sugar Brain’ because the amount of sugar I used to eat. Then I eventually cut it out because my wife did, and I found it was a straight-up addiction! I have it in things here and there, but where I used to crave it, now it makes me feel sick.
“Healthy vegan snacks tend to steer clear of processed sugar, and when you start going away from that source of sweetener, it makes a snack so much fucking better! Find yourself a local vegan place and see what they’ve got. Even if it’s some weird version of a Snickers bar, or a Mars bar, which doesn’t look like the one you’re gonna get in a packet, there’s a good chance it’ll taste better and fill you up more, and you won’t be left with that shitty feeling you get after eating chocolate. You get all the enjoyment without the sugar hangover.”
5. Do Some Research
“I’ve never watched any documentaries because it was never something that had to be explained to me, but Cowspiracy switched our drummer [Ben Gordon] over. He was super into the gym and was the one that told me, ‘You’re never gonna look fully ripped if you don’t eat steak!’ I was like, ‘Alright, thanks, whatever, I don’t give a fuck!’ And now he’s blown my mind! I don’t bring up the fact he used to give me shit (laughs).
“Get online and actually have a look at the research surrounding what goes into the meat and dairy industries. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if you’re cooking that many meat patties a day in McDonald’s, where the fuck is all that coming from? And what is the effect on the environment? It’s fucking psycho! I don’t know if people think there’s just these wonderful green paddocks with frolicking cows with bells around their necks, having a wonderful time that are separated from the product that they’re getting at the end of the day, which has got a different name [beef]. That shit is gnarly! It’s pretty fucking nuts.”
6. Try As Many Vegan Restaurants As Possible
“If you’re gonna do this really awesome thing, consider it your month of adventure, because you want an adventure? Then taste is such a simple thing that you can embark on! This is the perfect opportunity to step outside your comfort zone and try a bunch of stuff. I find it really rare to get bad vegan food these days - it’s really hard to do that (laughs)! Hit up [vegan restaurant website/app] HappyCow - HappyCow’s pretty good. You often find some places with some interesting characters as well (laughs). The thing is to simply treat it as an adventure. At least you’re never gonna get poisoned. You’re gonna come out the other end with a new appreciation of food, having tried something, and knowing you will feel good at the end of it. It’s win-win!”
Words: Jennyfer J.Walker