A Heavy Metal Guide To Vegan Cooking
After touring the planet for almost two decades and experiencing how crappy catering can be on the road, Architects Of Chaoz guitarist Andreas Ballnus decided to publish his own vegan cookbook. Not only is the German heavy metal musician sharing his favourite vegan recipes, which are actually pretty easy to cook, but he also wants to give a shout to society for a better way of living, which involves the important topics: health, water, climate change, global hunger and of course animal cruelty.
Andreas Ballnus [by Kaleun Debus]
Veganism is a dedicated lifestyle and also more and more musicians are willing to embrace this way of life, which makes them important ambassadors for a better world as well. During the making of `R_evolution: A Heavy Metal Guide To Vegan Cooking’, Andreas got Alissa White-Gluz [Arch Enemy], Mark ,,Barney’’ Greenway [Napalm Death], Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein [The Misfits], Eviga [Dornereich], Kristoffer Gildenlöw [former Pain Of Salvation] and Asim Searah [Wintersun] on board to share their success dishes and vision on animal-free food and lifestyle. Last but not least a part of the income will go to animal welfare organizations. No doubt HeadBangers LifeStyle wants to support this initiative and decided to set up a book club meeting with the writer himself to discuss the how’s and the why’s.
,,All artists involved have a personal relation or meaning to me’’-Andreas Ballnus
How long are you vegan and what motivated you to do so?
,,My way to become vegan was a very long one [smiling]. Around twenty years ago I was a vegetarian for 3-4 years. For some reason at a certain point I switched back to eating meat. Although I have to say that I have never eaten meat in mass consumption. I come from a family where meat was something that was not available every day. Since a couple of years my nutrition was back on veggie for health reasons, but what really motivated me to go the full step and become vegan was when I met “Quambo”. Quambo is a Cameroon sheep goat who lives in a herd on the open willow where our horse is at. One day we happened to know that he was supposed to go to the slaughterhouse because he was not tall enough for breeding. We immediately bought him from his owner and now he lives happily ever after [smiling]. After that I started to dive deeper into the whole topic of veganism and then, for me, it was obvious to become vegan.’’
What sparked you to write a vegan cookbook and how was the road you took to complete it?
,,It basically started with taking photos of the meals I cooked. So I guess like nearly everybody does today, except for that I did not post these photos on Instagram, Facebook, etc. I just started to collect the photos and recipes for me, for my private cookbook. I am a graphic freak, so I started to visualize the recipes cookbook style. I think I already had 30-40 recipes written down when I saw a Facebook post of Kristoffer Gildenlöw about why he is vegetarian. That was the moment when it all began. I started to think about including other people with “guest recipes” and due to the fact that I am a metalhead I started to write to some artists from the metal sector and simply asked for their contribution. All artists involved have a personal relation or meaning to me and I am very proud that they are all part of it!’’
Kristoffer Gildenlöw [by Liselotte `Lilo’ Hegt]
Was it important to you to have a few well-known musicians on board, presenting their favourite recipe(s) in this cookbook as well?
,,Like I mentioned before, it was a quick idea that came to mind. It was not planned like that from the beginning. It just happened. But when I started to ask the musicians the only thing important for me was that there must be something personal for me. I have followed Kristoffer since his days in Pain Of Salvation and adore what he does musically. It also turned out that he is a very gentle and nice guy, so no doubt he was in [smiling]. I know Asim through our drummer Moe and he is a really funny guy and besides that, as far as I know, the only professional chef involved in the book! I have met Eviga on a regular basis on tour and it was when we played in Munich when I spoke about veganism with him backstage and realized that we had the same point of view. Barney was also on the list from the very beginning and between Arch Enemy and me there is a special relation since many years. Alissa brought in Doyle and since I was a fan of the Misfits in my youth, I couldn’t say no [smiling]. So it was not about name-dropping. There must have been something special for me about the artists involved.’’
Mark ,,Barney” Greenway of Napalm Death [promo photo by Century Media]
Why is the book written in German and English and not only in English?
,,It started with German, but since I had a couple of friends from around the world asking for my favourite recipes I also started to translate them into English. From the very early stage of the book I was in contact with a publishing company who said that it was a good idea to have it in German and English at the same time instead of releasing two books, so I just kept that idea.’’
How / Based on what did you choose the recipes? And are they your own recipes or a collection of your favourite recipes from other chefs?
,,The main idea was to take my own favourite recipes. “Grampa Joe’s Bratz” for example is a dish based upon a very old recipe of my grandfather Josef, which I “veganized”. That recipe was in my family since I was a little child. Some are recipes that I have been cooking for a long time and just changed some ingredients. There are also some really simple and basic recipes like “Penne Napoli” or “Cous Cous salad” in there for which you do not need much cooking experience. Some are also inspired by other chefs. “Facon” for example would have never come to my mind like that! I just changed the ingredients and tried out a lot, so that the recipe becomes cookable for everyone without ordering rare-to-find ingredients from the Internet. “Tagliatelle Noce” for example is my favourite dish in a restaurant I like to go to. They never gave me the recipe but I tried at home as long as it had the same taste. So it is a bit of everything.’’
Photo by Andreas Ballus
,,My first goal is to create more awareness about factory farming, environmental relations, etc.’’-Andreas Ballnus
There are many vegan cookbooks available and cookbooks in general, what makes your book different/stand out?
,,First and most obvious: the metal factor! I do not know any other cookbooks combining vegan recipes and heavy metal. Also I think that it is quite important that I am not a professional chef. If I can cook these dishes, everyone should be able to cook them. It is not three stars cooking magic. It is just passionate and honest cooking.’’
It is obvious there is more to this cookbook. What are you hoping to accomplish?
,,Well, my first goal is to create more awareness about factory farming, environmental relations, etc. In the foreword of this book I have written down my five points why being vegan is the right way and how we can easily avoid harm to other individuals and to ourselves! Like I said earlier, I was vegetarian already twenty years ago. And it was really hard to do so back in the days. But nowadays? You just walk into a supermarket and you can buy meat free and dairy free cutlets, nuggets, bread spreads…whatever you want. These days there simply is no excuse, because everything can be subbed by vegetarian or vegan products. If you walk in a supermarket and buy bacon that is half as expensive as the same amount of dog food in the next aisle, you do not even have to think about where this bacon is coming from and what the animals went through and how they suffered just because some people literally do not give a cent about their lives. So I am mainly trying to accomplish that people start to think if things are really that necessary at the expense of others.’’
Andreas with Quambo
Some people believe that cooking vegan is expensive or complicated. What is your personal experience?
,,I do not agree with that. Most vegan-based things are not more expensive than meat products. Of course if you are not familiar with vegan products it might seem to be complicated, but isn’t it the same with any kind of products you haven’t used before? In my experience most of the people saying that vegan products are expensive are the same people that are willing to pay 50€ for a steak in a restaurant because they think it’s “worth” it.’’
,,Some meat eaters seem to find it funny to send you pictures of raw meat’’-Andreas Ballnus
What is the main prejudice or misconception about veganism you would like to see clarified?
,,Most non-vegans think that a vegan nutrition is not healthy and mostly they come up with the argument of lack of vitamin D and B. In that case I just laugh, because if you are lacking of vitamin D there is just one simple answer. Go outside in the sun! Problem solved! And if that does not work for you, you can still take a vitamin pill. The argument followed by that answer often is: Why should I take a pill if I just can eat meat and drink milk? So, yes there is an excuse for everything and if you prefer to let others suffer instead of taking one little pill, there is not much left to say to these people. They just do not want to understand. There is one thing these days that annoys me much more than prejudices. Some meat eaters seem to find it funny to send you pictures of raw meat, from their BBQ parties with tons of meat on their grills etc., just because they want to show you “real” food. I mean, how low can the human spirit be to annoy or make jokes about others way of nutrition? I just do not get it or it is simply not my sense of humour.’’
Why should people buy your book? How much does it cost and where can they order it?
,,First they should buy it because there are many super tasty and easy to handle recipes in it [smiling].
It costs €12,95 and can be ordered via firstname.lastname@example.org.
After deduction of the printing costs etc. the income will go to animal welfare organizations, which brings us to the second reason why people should buy it. I am very glad that I was able to make a first donation to “Bullterrier in Not e.V.”, which is an organization based in Germany and takes care of abandoned and tortured pitbulls, staffs etc. Since I have four dogs myself, among which is also a pitbull, it was my personal wish to give something back to them for their great work. So, the more people order the book, the more money can be donated for a good cause. It is also planned to be released in book stores around March.’’
This has been a Do It Yourself project. Will there be a follow up and would you mind if a publisher gets interested after all?
,,No, not at all! If a publisher is interested, they would be welcome to get in contact with me! I was working with a publisher from the very beginning of the idea of this book, but due to various circumstances they drew back their offer. That is mainly why I decided to self-publish it, because I thought that it deserves to be released and that people will like it. Self-publishing is a nice way to keep control, but on the other hand as a private person it is not possible to take the risk of printing 1.000 books at once. So you have to go for 100 at a time, which makes the single book much more expensive. Of course you still have to sell it for a reasonable price, so what you are able to donate per book is not very much. Including a publisher with his connections and printing facilities would change that a lot.
To the first part of the question: Yes, I am already working on a follow up, though it will be a bit different. But that is still my little secret [smiling].
Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to do this interview and to all readers: Thank you very much for reading until here! If you are interested in the book, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me!’’
Andreas [by Nicole Volz]
Follow Andreas and his band Architects Of Chaoz on Facebook here
Visit the Website of Architects Of Chaoz here
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