Beethoven Brendan Grey.
I had high hopes that the B in ‘Jim B. Grey’ stood for Beethoven, but I was wrong and was left with Brendan with an A.
A tad crushed, I set on to battle a Skype conversation with the long-haired (at least for now) legend from the almighty C-Horse, Jim Grey.
C-Horse is in fact Caligula’s Horse, a progressive metal band from Brisbane, Australia.
(And yes, Caligula rescued his horse, never rode it, and fed it a nourishing vegan diet).
I discovered Jimothy (sorry, Jim, we’re mates now having conversed twice) had been vegan for almost two years, and was vegetarian for three or four years before that. He described it as an “inevitable process” and once he realised he’d actually been eating vegan for a while, thought “Hey, let’s do it”.
We got on to some of the horrific stats of animal agriculture and what not, and he told me that learning about the number of cattle killed every day for the meat industry was just “mind crushing” and compelled him to make that first step towards veganism.
“The numbers hit me like a freight train. […] I got on the phone to my wife immediately after and just went like ‘I don’t think I can do this anymore’. And then every time I saw meat after that — you know how your compartmentalisation just kind of breaks and all the boxes that you’ve built around your care for animals, start to break and — I started seeing my dog’s face in meat and just realising… And that was my snap moment and I just went 100% veggo at that stage.
“The vegan thing happened later and, again, just started with the fact that I hadn’t had dairy in a very long time and very rarely ate eggs. I was still in really good shape and healthy and went, ‘you know what, this is where I want to be. This is what I want to do.’ And I increasingly became vocal about being vegan.”
I wondered what being vegan in the rock and metal music industry would be like. So, this being an interview and all, I simply asked.
Jim found it “cool” in the coolest of ways. He was looking forward to travelling with his band and being catered for, but mentioned that it can make things a little tougher when on the road. “You kind of learn how to order Maccas…”
I then discovered that four out of the five members of Caligula’s Horse are “at least vegetarian”.
“That’s actually been a really interesting thing” Jim said. “It just started out with me and Sam, and then it just expanded to the others. Josh in particular, our drummer, has seen some really, really good health benefits from it. He was never somebody that was into training or vegetarianism or anything, and I think, through our example, he’s kind of picked it all up and he’s lost a heap of weight and feeling really good.
“It’s been a cool transition actually. We’re a bunch of healthy boys.”
Talking of training, I’d spotted a few gym/Jim selfies on the vocalist’s Instagram story.
“I can’t help myself,” he admitted. “They’re always the ones where you’re at the end of a session, you’re kind of looking around and there’s no one, and … quick snap. I don’t want to spend too long with that camera in front of the mirror!
“Fortunately, I train late at night at a 24-hour gym, so most of the time I have the weights all to myself, so I can snap a selfie or two. It’s fine.”
I had to know.
Where did Jim get his protein?!
“That’s the funniest thing actually, because people ask, and particularly when you’re training and if they see you as a vegan supplementing your protein or you’re taking creatine or whatever else, and they look at that and say ‘See, you need this stuff!’
“Man! […] Any of the meat-eating trainers, people that are really, really lifting all the weight at the gym or are bodybuilders or whatever, they’re all supplementing protein anyway and mine’s just made from peas.
“But yeah, you get the question. It’s quite funny.”
We then went on a tasty turn.’ What are your favourite vegan foods,’ I asked.
“I’m going to now take back everything I’ve said about being healthy,” he said, laughing.
“I follow this YouTube channel that I recommend to every single person – not just vegans, but meat-eaters. […] It’s called Avant Garde Vegan. It’s this dude Gaz who’s from Wales and does the most exciting and delicious, well-presented vegan food, but also articulates it in such a way that you can recreate it yourself and impress people. Like, I made a heap of vegan steaks. I made KFC for my mate who’s really into KFC…
“So for me really there’s not a favourite, but my favourite thing to do is cook exciting, delicious vegan food for my meat-eating friends and for all of my friends.
“My whole thing is, I don’t like aggressive activism because I feel like the time for that is done. That’s from a different time. If you want to change people’s mind nowadays, you do it by setting a good example and making sure that they know, by example, that they don’t have to miss out on anything and that they can have all the sweet treats or all the special foods that they want. That’s my whole big thing.
“My favourite vegan food is food I cook for other people – is the short answer.”
Leading by example was exactly my thing too. Jim, we are so similar. We should totally be besties.
“It’s that ‘emotive arguments’ thing. I feel like now, particularly our generation, people like to come to their own conclusions. So if you’re able to show by example that you’re living a perfectly healthy life, they start maybe questioning whether they should be cutting down on their meat. And that’s the first step.
“I’ve had that happen with so many people now, where it’s like, they go ‘By the way Jim, I just started doing Meat-Free Mondays’ and I go ‘Good for you’. And you just watch the little steps get taken. But yeah, by example is definitely the way and once the cogs start turning for themselves, they can start asking themselves the questions and then when they’re open-minded enough you can hit them with the stats. If someone gets hit with the cow numbers […] and they’re still in that box, they’re still able to compartmentalise; they can quite easily shrug that off, but if you’ve widdled away at them and they’ve started asking questions themselves, they might get hit with that and go ‘Oh wow, holy shit, I’ve got to do something’.
“A lot of people ask ‘What is it that you actually eat?’ – beyond the whole ‘Where do you get your protein from?’ and the answer is ‘F***ing plants’ – but people beyond that ask, like, ‘What’s a vegan breakfast?’ They always picture a breakfast has bacon and eggs. […] And for me, I don’t understand why people think it’s so hard. I mean, put a shake together; a whole stack of fruits and seeds and stuff, and some protein powder. I can have my breakfast in five seconds. It’s not like it’s a hard thing to do.”
I had to know more.
Jim’s smoothie consisted of banana, berries, a whole stack of seeds like sunflower, flax, chia and pepitas, pea and rice protein and “you know those pre-packaged frozen things of spinach and kale? Like a single serve ice cubed size?”. He chucks a couple of those in there as well and suddenly he’s getting a “whole stack of whatever” and is then “pretty well full until lunch time, which is awesome”.
But what about fake meats, what was Jim’s take on those?
“I love making the fake meats” he said. “A lot of the store bought stuff is a bit sub-par. I don’t vibe on it. There’s a couple of really good ones, but for me, there’s nothing better than making your own seitan or something because you can put as much flavour as you want into it.
“You can have something that’s bold and umami and makes your eyes roll.
“I make these hot dog things from one of Gaz’s recipes and they’re like a chorizo sausage (and it’s not because you don’t get that fat and whatever), but it’s really full-flavoured and awesome. So I think that’s the best stuff, the stuff you make yourself.”
But what about soy?
“I’m totally behind it.”
OMG me too.
“I haven’t done any scientific peer-reviewed kind of reading on that because I think… what’s the mum of equivalent of bro-science?… I don’t get behind a lot of the stuff that’s anti soy.
“I drink soy milk all the time and I try to get the ones that are fortified with b12 as well, so with that plus my supplement I’m definitely getting what I need and I’m perfectly healthy so, yep, I’m behind it.”
“If you’re bodybuilding and training and stuff, you have really got to try to cover all of your bases. There are dudes out there eating nothing but peanut butter, broccoli and a whole chicken. It’s like, I’ve got to match that, man! I’m going to eat a whole stack of tofu and make it look a chicken!”
Mr Grey is leading the way, by superb example. Setting the scene for rockin’, fit and healthy vegans. Breaking stereotypes and cooking up vegan storms.
“My trigger was the ethical conundrum of ‘Holy shit, this is genocide’,” he said.
“Compassion is the crux of it, but there are so many other factors and so many other reasons which might be a way to convince people to go vegan.”
Many thanks for the chat, Jimothy.