Contrary to popular belief, the life of a touring musician isn’t all fun and games, in fact, it can be incredibly challenging. The concertgoer only sees a very small section of what it’s like to be on the road. They see their favorite musicians take to the stage for an hour surrounded by beers, adoring fans, photographers in the pit and people jumping off the PA system. It looks like the perfect life.

The most difficult aspect of life on the road for most musicians is quite literally that, life on the road. You can spend hours a day in the back of a small van in blistering heat, little food and quite often, a raging hangover. Unless you have the luxury of a record label paying your way on a fancy nightliner fitted with flat screen TVs, a shower, and a fridge packed full of food, touring is not for the faint-hearted.

If you like to increase your risk of a heart attack with a greasy truck stop style burger with extra fries in between gigs, then food is not a problem for you. Likewise, when you get to the city you’re playing in, you’ll have restaurants and fast food joints galore to replenish your tastebuds. If you're lucky, you’ll even have a meal on your rider.

So how does a vegan cope when they're on the road?

Well, if you consider the fact that some years ago you could ask for a veggie burger in Italy and they didn’t even know what a vegetarian was, you’d be greeted with an Italian vegan big mac, luckily, you can get a real vegan burger at McDonald's now with their new McVegan (Picture Below).

Left: Italian Vegan Big Mac 2011 / Right: Tasty McVegan 2017

Fancy your chances of a well-balanced meal in Spain as a vegan and you’d be ordering nothing but fries from a Spanish guy that literally looked like a Chorizo Sausage. And trying to explain what a vegan is to a guy holding a meat cleaver in his hand, about to carve off another ton of Kebab meat, is the dining equivalent of trying to explain the concept of pro tools to a chimp.

For many years, vegans on the road have had to make do with surviving off bread, Pringles, chips, salad and more often than not, kilograms of Pitta Bread soaked in houmous. If you were lucky enough to remember to bring a credit card on tour, you could even spread the houmous evenly on the pitta bread, what a time to be alive. You can only eat raw fruit for so long before you start to feel like an actual farm animal.

However, the dark days of a malnourished vegan on the road are becoming a thing of the past! Veganism, as a movement, has not only spread across the UK, USA, and mainland Europe, it has also found its way into restaurants, supermarkets, and fast food chains all over the globe!

Only recently, Mcdonalds launched a Vegan Burger across their Scandinavian outlets, selling tens of thousands in the first week. Whether you agree with capitalist ideals or not, is another subject altogether. Global statistics show that in 2017 the demand for meat-free food increased by 987% and Dairy giant Danone even invested $60 million in dairy-free products.

We spoke to Becky from Hands Off Gretel, dragSTER frontwoman Fi, and Vocalist, Kerrie Alexander, from metal outfit, Vanity, who spend a great deal of time on the road, to see what life is really like for vegan musicians on tour!

Touring as a vegan becomes so much easier when the rest of the band are also in the same boat
- Becky (Hands Off Gretel)

What aspects of veganism on the road have been difficult for you in the past?

Becky: I’ve done a lot of touring being the only one ‘making things difficult’ for the rest of the members and people working with us. A lot of sitting around watching other people get to eat and trying to not look upset by the situation or being in a random city knowing you’re going to have to take a walk on your own to find something for yourself while others are conveniently being provided for.

I’ve been there, and I can say it’s made me only more headstrong, I will not get peer pressured into acting against what I think is right.

Kerrie: In 2016’ we toured with Chelsea Grin (Moscow/St Petersburg) it was possible although a challenge, most food options were meat or dairy based, however, there were still basic options on offer... humous, falafel, wraps, salads, etc St Petersburg is now much more accommodating due to a surge of Veganism and awareness which is amazing.

Fi: Touring across Europe is always the highlight of the year, seeing crowds of people out to watch bands on a Monday or Tuesday night certainly nourishes the soul. In the past, however, what wasn’t nourished was mine and my fellow vegan band member’s bellies!

Paprika Pringles are a novelty for us Brits but, when they become a diet staple for two weeks that novelty soon wears off. Certainly doesn’t do anything for the mood of the band either, I for one get really HANGRY!

How have you seen the veganism change on the road in recent years?

Becky: Vegan food has become much more easily accessible in recent years. It’s great to stop on the motorway for the new vegan Greggs sausage rolls and we like getting a cheap curry at Wetherspoons.

But of course, one of the best bits about touring is being able to explore new places, so we always use the app to find something new that’s close to our venue. There’s such a huge variety of places now, we have to watch out for overeating!

Kerrie: In the space of a year, it is unbelievable the amount of options that have presented themselves. Not only do supermarkets have their own vegan ranges, the majority of restaurants now have a dedicated vegan range or menu whereas in the past chefs would have to tailor a dish to meet the Vegan requirements.

Fi: The problem was, service stations don’t really cater for vegans and when you’re touring there is rarely any time to stop for a supermarket or look for a restaurant or cafe that accidentally caters for vegans.

However, all that said, much has changed over the years and I’ve noticed some items in service stations are now labelled [vegan], there’s not much choice but at least there’s something other than crisps. The nice thing about touring in Europe is that a lot of venues provide food and accommodation.

Do you have some favourtie vegan hotspots when touring Europe?

Fi: The last tour dragSTER did in Europe did nothing for my waistline, pretty much every gig we played was well catered for. One venue we love is The Black Label in Leipzig, they have a vegan Mexican food stand in the beer garden and bands get a free meal, the bean burritos are to die for. They also do a mean vegan Piña Colada there! Down the road, there’s a vegan kebab shop too. Spoilt for choice.

I love the tofu dish that Tiki Heart (next door to Wild at Heart) in Berlin do for us too, unusual flavours. There’s also a vegan burger bar on the same strip that we visit regularly. Looking forward to our next tour, hoping the food is as good as the last time we were out there. If not, I could do with losing a few pounds.

So how has veganism changed over the years for touring bands?

The UK, especially, has seen an enormous boom in vegan options with nationwide pizza chains offering vegan pizzas, and 100s of vegan cafes have popped up all over the country helping to provide a much-needed vegan cure for many vegan hangovers.

German and Sweden have become two of the biggest leaders in veganism when it comes to consumable products such as food in Mainland Europe. With most supermarkets offering their own range of vegan goodies, you’re spoilt for choice. And if you’re gigging in Belgium and Germany, almost all beers brewed in these countries are vegan! There’s even a steakhouse in Prague that serves up a mean vegan steak and a fast food chain in Amsterdam that serve nothing but huge vegan burgers and crispy vegan onion rings.

And hey, if you have no idea where to get vegan food from in the city you’re about to rip a new one in, you have apps like Ubereats and Deliveroo that will literally bring tasty vegan food to your dressing room!

Long gone are the days of stuffing as much bread into your mouth as you can to survive the next few gigs. Being a vegan on the road has never been easier! The world is going vegan and the once-thought-to-be fad of a compassionate “trend” is becoming the norm.

Author Bio: AC Speed

Senior Editor

I started my career as a music journalist in 2013 and have been involved in the music industry as a touring musician, studio engineer and artist consultant since 2002, as well as previously being a signed artist. My passion for delivering high quality, informative music-related news is a daily driving force behind the content I create. Also a huge gaming nerd! Born in the United Kingdom and currently living in Sweden. Skål!


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