When HarperCollins asked me to review John Joseph’s latest book, Meat is for Pussies, I had more than a little trepidation. I hate these labels that cast a negative light on females. You throw like a girl. Don’t be such a sissy. I think both men and women, boys and girls are afraid at times…so why are the girls stuck with the title? Putting that aside, I decided to read the book. Even though I began reading through a skeptical lens, I soon came to appreciate Joseph’s raw (and his language can be very, um, colorful at times) approach to the topic of vegetarianism and health. John Joseph has a message, and it’s mostly for men: you don’t have to eat meat to be strong. Joseph also tells his own story of transformation from his abusive foster home roots to becoming a punk rock icon who indulged daily in drugs, alcohol, and fast food to an Ironman triathlete dedicated to plant-based living. The book includes his own experience adapting to his lifestyle and offers advice, recipes, and workout regimes for anyone looking to follow in his path. Check out my interview with John Joseph below. And you know, I couldn’t read a book with recipes without trying one or two (or a few) for myself. With his permission, I’m sharing his recipe for Waffles with Mixed Berry Compote. Delicious! And you can even win a copy of the book for yourself. That’s right – this post has it all!
Joseph’s style of writing is real. In fact, here’s an excerpt from the beginning of the book: “I’m sick of these people who are ignorant of the facts—the kind that diss vegetarians because we care about animals or the environment. These fools have bought into the lies and propaganda put out there by the douche bags running the meat industry—the same douche bags who happen to be some of the country’s most powerful lobbyists.”
Yeah. That’s from the Introduction. In other words, it’s a no holds barred approach to talking about the issue. And you know what? It works…because it’s John Joseph being himself. Unplugged. Joseph has lived a pretty rough life by most people’s standards. He survived abusive foster homes. Juvenile Detention. The punk rock scene, including all the drugs and alcohol that goes along with it.
Sure, it’s a testosterone-driven, dominate the world, kind of book. But it’s also not the kind of posture you see in the vegetarian/vegan world all that often which is one of the reasons I find it refreshing.
I’m really glad that John Joseph is finally showing that vegans are some of the strongest, healthiest, and toughest people on the planet. — Moby
The subtitle for John Joseph’s book is, “A how-to guide for dudes who want to get fit, kick ass, and take names.” Women might be interested in reading the book for themselves…or they might prefer just sharing it with the dude in their life who could use a little healthy kick in the pants.
My Interview with John Joseph, Punk Rocker, Triathlete, and Author
I had the opportunity to direct a few questions to John Joseph, about the book and more.
Marly: Let’s just get this out of the way now, is the title of your book meant to be offensive to women?
John Joseph: Absolutely not. Let me just start of by saying a majority of the books purchased have been by women who knew a dude that refused to change how they were living in terms of diet and exercise and after reading the book did a complete 180. The title came after I was told time and time again for decades that people who don’t eat meat were pussies in those exact words too. It’s been driven into our consciousness by those industries making a buck off meat. So we decided to throw it back in their faces, in their language. And its working. I just had a twenty-something tough guy working in a store recognize me from the book tell me he picked up the book off the shelves because of the title and was like, “What? F*ck this dude!” Then he read it. Now he’s given up meat and the rest. So its’ been a success. The bottom line is the book is converting gang members, drug addicts, criminals, construction workers, cops and a demographic the whole vegan community has NOT been able to reach. So if you judge a thing by the result, it’s a success. Look, I come from a world of crime, drugs, jail, even abuse as a child in some of New York State’s worst foster homes. Changing my eating habits is what saved my life. I’m just paying that knowledge forward. So if you wanna get caught up on a word and not look to the great things the book is doing, then go ‘head, but truth be told thousands of women wrote and thanked me for the book.
Marly: It seems unusual for a Punk Rocker to also be an Ironman, plant-based, health focused athlete. That’s very complex. I think a lot of people feel like they can’t do a plant-based diet because their family or friends won’t support them or it’s just too hard. What’s your advice for people like that? How do you stay committed to a vegan diet and exercise even when everything around you is resistant to what you’re trying to do?
John Joseph: Well I started doing the plant based thing in early 1981 so it was really ridiculed. But those people ain’t laughing any more. At 52, I’m still out there kicking ass on stage and competing. And those guys that laughed at me are now are asking for my help to get them off their meds. I never worried about what people thought. You can’t live your life like that. You just have to know that what you’re doing is the right thing and roll with it. These days more and more pro athletes are going plant based thanks to guys like Brendan Brazier who get the science out. It’s the wave of the future and one of the ways we can save the planet for the next generations to come (watch the film: Cowspiracy). And for those who say its too hard, go get a quadruple bypass and give me a shout. Me… I’m down with the path of prevention.
Marly: I love your chapter on vegans. I’m vegan, but sometimes I get tired of the angry vegans out there. Why do you think the vegan community—that is so supportive of animals—is so hateful to people?
John Joseph: Man, they got issues. Maybe they are doing it for the wrong reasons. I’ve seen crazy hate being spewed over the years, that’s why I don’t identify with those people and neither have the masses. Thankfully there’s some very cool, compassionate vegans out there and they are the ones making real change in society.
Marly: Does it bother you when you go out with friends and they order a steak?
John Joseph: I NEVER eat with them. I don’t go to restaurants that serve meat. Why should I? If i have a meeting or a get together I make them come to my playing field. Places like Candle 79 or Angelica Kitchen, Pure Food and Wine, and they love it. Why should I lower my consciousness and eat at those places where cross-contamination takes place. I don’t support meat restaurants ever, I hope they all go under for the good of the planet, the animals and everyone else.
Marly: I love your emphasis on exercise and staying healthy. Do you have any apps you use to track your fitness and/or health?
John Joseph: My app is called, “Training with bad asses.” Ha ha—they push me to the limit to keep up. But I have Strava on my bike and now that I’m looking to qualify for Kona Ironman I’m paying more attention to my times.
Marly: Along the same lines, what’s your favorite music to listen to for working out?
John Joseph: Bad Brains and Metallica when I’m crushing it…when I’m doing trigger point and stretching…70’s soul music. Love me some Marvin Gaye and Teddy Pendergass.
Marly: My audience is mostly women and your book is obviously written for men. What would you say to women who have men in their lives they want to see living healthier?
John Joseph: I swear just get them the book. It works. It’s in their language and tone. I’m a dude’s dude and the book is on point. The ladies are so far ahead of the men in terms of diet, even spirituality. Veg and yoga spots are primarily women. Guys need a wake up call. When you start talking about boner pills and having to crap in colostomy bags it kinda’ hits home. Sorry for the graphic description but its the truth that need to be told. There’s even evidence that a heavy meat and dairy diet leads to Alzheimer’s Disease and if they get that they wont even remember where they put their boner pills.
Marly: The recipes in your book are great. And I noticed that you said you’ve lost weight after switching your diet. Do you think people should be counting calories?
John Joseph: I don’t count calories ever. I make smart food choices and keep fueled so i don’t overeat. I actually am working with my lady Erika Mitchener who’s designed a nutrition plan for me. She a certified personal trainer and has the Campbell Institute Plant Based Certification (Dr. Colin Campbell author: “The China Study”). She’s also a bad ass black belt and accomplished fitness competitor. She designs online training and nutrition programs for women and now men too which are centered around a plant based diet. I figured if she got her body looking like that I can learn a thing or two. Also, I’ve overheard some of these trainers at my gym telling people what to eat and I’m like, “Holy sh*t why don’t you just shoot ’em in the friggin’ head while you’re at it.” The fact is I’m constantly learning what works and doesn’t. But cutting the processed vegan food out…two thumbs way up.
Marly: You’re part of the punk rock band Cro-Mags and on the road touring. Is it hard to stick to your exercise and diet (daily eating) when you’re on the road?
John Joseph: I use the Happy Cow search engine and NEVER have a problem anywhere I go on the planet…and I’m constantly touring and racing. I’m doing Ironman Taiwan in April 2015 and found places to eat. I train even out on tour—running, swimming, the gym, whatever it takes. The whole sex, drugs and rock-n-roll fantasy life is just that…fantasy. I’ve been touring since 1981 and I’m sober 100%. You don’t see too many people still out there doing it who lived that destructive lifestyle and ate McDonald’s.
Marly: I read an interview where you said, “If you ain’t gonna give it your all and leave everything on the stage for the people, then don’t do it.” That’s great advice for musicians. Would that be advice you’d also give to people in all walks of life, doing whatever it is they do?
John Joseph: I’m also a writer and its the same advice—the investment you make into something is what you get back. I try and give my all to everything I do. I have friends who are Navy SEAL’s, Green Berets, Ultra Ironmancompetitors( like Rich Roll), female Ironman racers, and UFC fighters. These people are at the top of the food chain. I watch how they live and commit themselves to a task. It’s inspiring.
Marly: Punk Music is, well, energetic. And you also do Iron Man Triathlons. You have all that energy from eating a plant-based diet?
John Joseph: Definitely. But also my spiritual practice. All energy comes from a higher level of consciousness. You have to tap into that. I chant Hare Krsna and meditate every day. I keep that PMA—Positive Mental Attitude.
Marly: What’s your favorite go-to recipe?
John Joseph: I love steamed kale, quinoa, beans and tahini sauce with Nutritional yeast.
Marly: What inspires you?
John Joseph: People who take risks to achieve a goal. Playing it safe never accomplishes anything.
Waffles for Triathletes
Can you see that Joseph is the real deal? In his book he says, “Health is an investment and staying healthy becomes far easier once you get serious.” His book is more than just advice on how to lead a healthier life, he also includes some great recipes.
You know me, I love a good recipe so I was ready to try them out and, as a result, wanted to share one of them with you. I decided this recipe for dairy-free waffles with fresh mixed berry compote was the perfect one to share. Mostly because I’m always looking for great breakfast recipes and the photographs turned out so good!
I adapted the recipe slightly, by adding a little bit of whole wheat flour and some baking soda. If you want to see the original recipe, you should check out John’s book. Besides, you might find it to be an entertaining read.
Vegan Waffles with Berry Compote
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we have. It’s a great to make a batch of this over the weekend and then heat up a waffle or two in the toaster oven for your busy weekday breakfast.
This recipe is by John Joseph and slightly adapted by me.
Vegan Waffles with Mixed Berry Compote
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup whole wheat flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 cups soy milk
- 1 cup sunflower oil
- 4 tsp Ener-G Egg Replacer
- ¼ cup water
- Topping: Earth Balance butter substitute Maple Syrup, Mixed Berry Compote
Mixed Berry Compote:
- 2 cups mixed berries fresh or frozen
- ¼ cup agave nectar
- ¼ cup water
- Turn your waffle iron on so it can begin heating.
- In a large bowl sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together.
- In a separate bowl combine the soy milk and oil. Stir into the flour mixture.
- In a separate bowl mix together the Egg Replacer with the water, stir until foamy. Add the egg replacer mixture to the rest of the batter and stir until just combined.
- Coat the heated waffle iron with a little Earth Balance spread. Pour a dollop of batter in the center of the iron and spread it out with a spatula until all of the squares are covered. Cook until the edges turn golden brown and waffles fall off the iron without sticking.
- Serve with additional Earth Balance spread, Mixed Berry Compote, and maple syrup.
Mixed Berry Compote:
- Place berries, agave nectar (or sugar), and water in a small saucepan over very low heat.
- Allow the berries to cook down to a thick, juicy consistency (approximately 20 minutes).
- When done, remove from heat and set aside to cool.