Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mike Ness is my hero & Why I'm vegan

Learn more about Mike Ness at

After seeing this video from, Mike Ness has been bumped up to the top of my personal heroes list. I didn't know he was vegetarian and I really think it is rad that he is. I wish I had known last summer when I interviewed him for Shooting Stars Magazine bc I def would have asked him about it.

I don't like to get up on a soapbox about vegan. It's a personal decision I made back when I was 17 (I became vegetarian at 13), but I don't like to lecture people on what they should and should not do seeing as that is one of my pet peeves about organized religion.

However this whole swine flu thing kind of gets me into vegan/environmentalist mode. If we didn't consume so much meat, we wouldn't have crazy huge factory farms and if we didn't have those, we wouldn't have people interacting with swine in such close proximity for there to be a swine flu epidemic. Even my dad, who's the executive director of public health in Kane County, agreed with me on that. Not to mention, as Mike Ness points out, meat is not green. Meat creates more greenhouse gases than cars, trucks, etc combined. Your Prius does not cancel out your burger habit.

Seeing Mike Ness get out there and use his platform to explain his personal choices makes me think I might as well use mine too (though mine is much much much smaller). I'm not judging you or telling you what to do. I will never EVER do that. I'm also not interested in debating. These are my views and I have a right to them, just as you have your views and your right to them. I'm simply explaining why I've made the choices I've made. As one of my online friends Heather said the other day, it's good to speak your mind because ignorance is bliss and knowledge is power. 

I became vegan because of animal rights. I saw an episode about animal testing on Degrassi Junior High when I was 10 and me and my friend Jessie started calling all the companies on the backs of our tolietry products and asking them if they tested on animals. If they did, we told them how outraged we were and we stopped buying their products. 

Jessie was vegetarian, as was my friend Alison. I continued to eat meat for the usual reasons (it tasted good; I was lazy) for a few years, but they did continue to point out how the animals suffered. When I was in eighth grade, I cut into a steak, my fave food at the time, and watched the blood drip out of it. I put it in my mouth and tasted it. I was too grossed out to eat the rest. I went completely vegetarian (ie no red meat, chicken or fish) as my New Years Resolution of 1993.

When I was a junior in high school, I was getting way more into the political side of the punk scene and meeting a lot of people who were vegan including one of my dearest friends, Tai. Tai had worked on an animal rescue farm and told me the way cows and chickens were abused in the dairy and egg industry. Again, I held out for a little bit because I liked cheese and ice cream, etc, etc. But I quickly realized that my pleasure wasn't worth so much suffering and besides there were plenty of good substitutes! (Yes, I know, decent vegan cheese is really hard to find, but the Follow Your Heart brand is actually quite good and does melt and through much experimentation, I've found some homemade substitutes too!)

So my choice to become vegetarian and later vegan was based pretty much entirely on me being a sensitive, emotional, Cancer girl who couldn't stomach the idea of animals suffering. A lot of people will shrug that off and say whatever.

However, I now feel like I remain vegan because of a sense of larger responsibility. Factory farming is destroying our planet. Maybe I won't be alive to see it all go down the shitter and maybe I won't have kids, but I do have cousins and friends with adorable little babies and I want them to be able to have nice, green, safe planet to grow up on. And because of this I walk and take public transportation whenever possible and share a car and when it comes time to replace said car, it will be hybrid. I also recycle. I garden. I use energy efficient bulbs etc. But most importantly I do not eat meat or dairy. 

My friend Polly and I had a great conversation while I was in Seattle (and part of the reason I miss her so is these sorts of great conversations) about how we do see the difference now between meat/dairy raised on a small farm and factory farming. I could never personally eat any animal, but if you are getting your meat/dairy from a local small farm, it's a lot different when it comes to the effects on the earth. We were also talking about her decision to eat only locally grown produce and only when it is in season. I think in Seattle, she has a bit better access to do that than I do. I was relating to her my struggles of chosing pesticide covered local produce or organic produce from across the country or in South America during the winter in Chicago when there are no farmers markets. 

Anyway, I'm really going on a tangent now about environmentally friendly food. But my point is that you should think about what you eat, where it comes from, and what sort of effect it is having on the world as a whole. Less selfish actions by all of us will make the world a better place. And honestly, we are getting to the point where we need to be less selfish if we want to have a clean and healthy place to live in at all!

Okay, I'm off my soapbox and will get back to doing that fictional writing that you guys probably enjoy way more.  


cupcakewitch said...

freakin' LOVE social d. im so surprised he's veg too!

Anonymous said...

wow. i'm also surprised to find out mike ness is a vegeterian.
and yes, social distorion does, indeed, kick ass. :)


Heather said...

Whoa! I did not know Mike's a vegetarian! That's freaking awesome! Like you, my love for him just doubled. I think I may actually being seeing him in Anaheim this month... *crosses fingers*

Anyhow, you rock for writing this. I only recently became vegan (November 2007, but now I can't ever imagine going back. It's something I feel SO strongly about and am proud to share with anyone I meet. Being that I never had anyone confront me about my meat eating - and I wish someone had sooner! - I make an effort to share my opinions with anyone willing to listen. I never preach or rant, but explain. I've actually been the cause of two new vegans, which is such a good feeling.

It's amazing what a few comments can do. :)

Tasha said...

First of all I loved your post and it was completely inspirational! I've been a vegan now for about a year and a half (I'm only 16) because of animal cruelty and the like, but also because of the enviroment. It meant a lot to hear an older, well established, woman discuss veganism/vegetarianism in a good light, as being a teenager I usually always get sneered at. Like you I try not to preach at all (usually due to the sneers), but I think especially with the "pandemic" of swine flu I might speak up a little bit. Thanks for the post, it completely made my day.

simmone said...

hear hear. i have been veg for nigh on 15 years now and it never ceases to amaze me how weird (and humorous) meat-eaters find us. and the whole fear of tofu, it's not weird to eat something that was once alive? in australia the meat industry (huge) paid actor sam neill to do these smug ads that were all about how eating meat made you smart, was necessary etc etc 100 billion cavemen can't be wrong- the fact that they even have to advertise ...) anyway. i could go on. I feel like I'm only just starting to become aware of the big picture - hope it gets prettier ...

Jason_Ray said...

All I can say is the Mike Ness I know from years ago would slap you and tell you to keep your opinions to yourself and get out of his face. As far as him with peta2 and the interview he gave.... I don't even want to think what the Mike Ness from 20 years ago would do to that rich dumb mouthed bastard that spouted his views on a platform like that.

That being said I am totally blown away from the fact he is a vegan and I support his choice to keep a clean healthy lifestyle for himself.

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

Heather and Tasha, you both inspire me as vegan young women and I'm proud of you for speaking out--not getting in people's faces, but speaking out and sharing your knowledge, go you!

Simmone that is crazy about the meat industry commercials! But not surprising.

Wow Jason Ray so punk rock is about shutting up and keeping your opinions to yourself? And I wasn't getting in anyone's face, I was stating my feelings on my blog. Really, I don't see why you have to be so mean about it.

Jason_Ray said...

I guess I am just old school punk if you don't get it. For me, being a punk meant I do it my way because the rest of the world isn't seeing it my way and I don't care to have them view or concern themselves with my opinions or life or the choices I make. I just wanted to be me and &*$! the rest of the world because I had it hard enough as did most punks that grew up in the 80's.

Times have changed as I now buy re-usable grocery bags and bake my own bread. I use a cup to shave and brush my teeth and don't use nasty cancer causing chemicals to wash my floors for the sake of my child the list of hippie stuff goes on like not using toilet paper to smear poop on my but but instead use washable baby wipes (thats the funniest one). So the old school punk has turned into a modern day hippie. If I met myself 20 years ago I would kick my own ass.

We all change and evolve and don't take my comment the wrong way. In 10 years think about your ways back in highschool and the things you would say to that person.

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

Jason Ray- I get you now. I guess I immediately get defensive because I was a punk in the early 90s and apparently since punks then didn't have to put up with so much bullshit from the outside world, they kind of turned on each other and I got so much shit for not being punk enough or whatever from people who were overly concerned about being perceived as cool as opposed to getting into punk like I did because I didn't feel like I fit with the rest of the world, which sounds pretty similar to your perspective on things... So yeah, sadly I'm used to having to defend myself to people from my own scene or whatever. Well, I was... now I'm more of a be my own person and fuck the rest mentality.

Anyway, not explaining myself perfectly because I have a wicked head cold, but I totally get what you are saying. 15 year old me would certainly have a lot to say to 30 year old me.

Jason_Ray said...

feel better. I know the attitude... trust me I love when I meet up with my crew and we hang out. I am so different today than I was then and so are they.... it is all about love now then it was about something a lot further away from love.

Good luck in all you do.

xRebelene said...

Oh wow, I just now stumbled upon your blog by searching for Mike Ness on google haha. I knew he was vegetarian for a while, he talked a bit about it on the extra's of the Social Distortion Live in Orange County DVD. But I just wanted to say that it's so cool that you got to interview him! I just read it and I think you did a very good job on your questions, very different from what other interviewers ask him. I'm a huge Social Distortion fan, if I could I would go see them play every night.

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

Thank you, Rebelene! I would go see them every night if I could, too!

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