Moby, Gristle

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Moby was born in New York City, but grew up in Connecticut, where he started making music when he was 9 years old. he released his first single, ‘go’ in 1991(listed as one of rolling stones best records of all time), and has been making albums ever since. his own records have sold over 20,000,000 copies worldwide, and he’s also produced and remixed scores of other artists, including david bowie, metallica, the beastie boys, public enemy, among others. Moby has toured extensively, playing well over 3,000 concerts in his career. he has also had his music used in hundreds of different films, including ‘heat’, ‘any given sunday’, ‘tomorrow never dies’, and ‘the beach’, among others. Currently he’s touring in support of his most recent album, ‘wait for me’, as well as working closely with a variety of different charities, including the humane society and the institute for music and neurologic function. Moby recently edited a collection of meat-related essays entitled Gristle. Moby’s simple agenda: to end animal suffering.

TRANSCRIPTION:

Caryn: Hi, I’m Caryn Hartglass, and you’re listening to It’s All About Food. In a few minutes I’ll bring on my guest, Moby. Really excited to be talking about him and his new book, Gristle. But before we get to that, I’m going to talk a little bit about the feathered vegetable. Feathered vegetable: chicken. I was reading a book that came out in 2005. Read it a while ago, and it’s not about anyone who’s trying to promote a vegetarian diet, but he was talking about Chicken: The Dangerous Transformation of America’s Favorite Food, Steve Striffler. Lot of scary information in this book; it’s about the history of the chicken industry. How it started and how it got to where it is today. And frankly I don’t know why the author himself didn’t become vegetarian after doing all this research, but at the very least it might make you think twice about the feathered vegetable. In the opening part of this book he writes, “Chicken, an afterthought on American farms before World War II, has been transformed into the most studied and industrialized animal in the world. It has gone from one of the most expensive and least desirable meats to an affordable source of protein that most Americans today consume frequently and with unthinking regularity. Herbert Hoover’s 1928 campaign promise seemed like political hyperbole at the time, but for most of the post-war period there has been a chicken in every pot. And when health-conscious consumers began to turn away from red meat in the 1970s, white meat producers were ready for the increase in demand.” And it goes on from there. But a lot of interesting information in that book. One is about companies like Tyson and the horrible conditions they have in their factories and the terrible things that they do, not only to the chickens, but to their employees. Here’s just the tip of the iceberg. I was just reading—this is something that came out June 3rd—Tyson agreed to pay workers for time donning safety gear. So people had to wear all kinds of sanitary gear before getting to work. Things like gloves, clothing, masks, whatever. And then washing themselves afterwards. The employee was not paid for this time. Like I said, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Of the things that they will do to squeeze every little bit out of every person, every animal, and not pay for their time. But fortunately there’s hope that there’ll be a settlement and employees will be reimbursed a bit. Under the agreement here the company will pay 500,000 dollars in overtime back wages to nearly 3,000 workers in its Alabama plant. Tyson Foods, not very nice. We’ve been seeing a lot of commercials lately with Perdue saying that they don’t add any antibiotics to their chickens. This is really an interesting thing that you really can’t be sure of what you’re getting in your food. Couple years ago there was a class action suit with Tyson because they were labeling their chicken as raised without antibiotics, and so the conscious consumer was thinking that they were getting meat without antibiotics in it. Maybe not thinking enough about the meat and all of the other things that would come with factory farmed meat, which isn’t healthy. But nonetheless, we discovered that Tyson was putting antibiotics in the egg before the egg hatched into a chicken. So the chicken did get antibiotics in it, but they used funny fancy language to get away with it. Fortunately they agreed to settle a class action suit, and I believe it was something for like around 5 million dollars. Lawyers got around 3 million dollars, the public gets around 5 million dollars, it’s really just a drop in the bucket. But these are little things that they do. Now why would they need to give the animals that they’re feeding antibiotics? Have you ever had a chance to see the pictures of chickens in factory farms? There’s a Perdue commercial that’s out right now, and it just really drives me crazy because it makes the chickens look so happy and they’re not deformed, they’re not de-beaked, and they’re not crammed. There’s just like a couple of cartoonlike chickens in the commercial. But the reality is, if they’re not crammed four or five to a tiny cage about the size of a piece of paper, then they’re crammed on the surface of a floor with no room to move. They’ve been de-beaked so that they don’t peck at each other, and they live in their own excrement and filth. What happens? This gets into the meat, and the whole process is just horrifying. The meat ultimately—the chickens once they’ve been killed, and some of them aren’t even killed—are thrown into a boiling vat where all those germs kind of fester into a lovely fecal, bacteria-laden soup. If some of the birds aren’t sick by then, they certainly are afterwards because they all mix up in the same goo. Yum! This is what’s in your chicken. To a certain amount cooking can kill some of this stuff, but is that what you really want to be eating? Is it okay to marinate and baste and broil and fry something that’s just fecal matter and germs and torture and pain and suffering? What more can I say? Now there are so many wonderful alternatives that, if you really love chicken, there are so many that are made from wheat and soy and other plant proteins that have basically the same flavor and that really I don’t know why more of the fast food companies aren’t going with some of these foods. Chicken, the feathered vegetable.

Caryn: Okay. So we’re talking about chickens, the most abused animals on the planet. The thing is, not only the animals are treated poorly—like I mentioned before with the people that work in these factories—there’s actually a great article in the book we’re going to be talking about momentarily, Gristle, that talks about the conditions of the workers in some of these factory farms. Do you really want to support that? People often feel so frustrated about what’s going on the planet and feel like there’s nothing that they can do about it, but it’s really so simple. You have power to speak with your dollar. If you want to be empowered, then what I recommend is to buy things that support what you believe in and don’t put your money to things that you don’t believe in. It’s really simple. Now of course one person doing it doesn’t really matter, but it’s the power of the many ones. It’s talking and influencing your friends and family. It’s buying different wonderful cookbooks and books we talk about on this show and sharing them with other people. The power of one plus one plus one is tremendous. You can make a difference and know at least that you’re not participating in this crazy sci-fi picture of factory farming. Let’s get to our guest. Moby?

Moby: Hi, how are you?

Caryn: Hi, how are you? Thanks for joining me today. I don’t really feel like I have to say much about you. Most people that go by a first name only, people are pretty familiar with. Certainly your talents in music over the decades have touched so many in a very positive way. But what I want to talk about in these few minutes is the book Gristle, and also about vegetarian diets and how important they are because this show is all about food.

Moby: Okay, great.

Caryn: Okay. So you became a vegetarian at nineteen, or so I read.

Moby: Yeah, which was twenty-five years ago.

Caryn: A little while ago. And then vegan some time after that.

Moby: Yeah, I guess I’ve been vegan for about twenty-two years.

Caryn: Yeah, good for you.

Moby: As a vegan I’ve had periods of like, truly annoying vegan militancy and periods where I basically like—my vegan wasn’t necessarily making the world a better place, it was just irritating my friends. So I’m still a vegan now, but I am hopefully a much less annoying vegan than I used to be.

Caryn: Well that’s interesting; I think a lot of us go through that. Especially as we age we become more accepting as we realize that that militant attitude really isn’t something that’s going to change people.

Moby: Well in some ways, ironically I found that when I was at my most militant I changed people into even having a dimmer view of animal rights and veganism. I sort of then tried to think of it. When I was seventeen years old in high school, I was a militant carnivore. I only ate at Burger King, McDonalds, and I had nothing but ridicule and disdain for vegans. And I realized when I was seventeen, if someone had come to me and tried to, in a very didactic way, convert me to the cause of veganism, I would’ve just ridiculed them. I realize now the best way for me to talk about my beliefs with people is just to communicate and it’s sort of like as respectful a way as possible.

Caryn: I like that. My partner, Gary, whose vegan now was somewhat of a militant carnivore. He says that he alone was responsible for global warming with the amount of meat that he ate. But yeah, it’s interesting. Now did you have some… Were you influenced by certain people or certain things that you read?

Moby: I guess, and I hope this doesn’t sound too pithy, but I was most influenced by my cat when I was growing up. I had this simple sort of realization when I was about eighteen years old. I was petting my cat, whose name was Tucker, and I realized that I loved Tucker more than I love more than most people on the planet, and I would never want to be in any way involved in any action that would cause suffering to Tucker. So then by extrapolation, I realized I shouldn’t be involved in any process that causes suffering for other animals. If I had to point to like a genesis of my animal rights interest, it was hanging out when I was eighteen years old with my cat, Tucker.

Caryn: Well thank you Tucker. But you know, there’s so much that we can learn from animals and so many people take that for granted.

Moby: Yeah. I mean, I grew up around the strangest assortment of animals. I was growing up, we had iguanas and mice and rats and cats and dogs and goats, chickens, just creatures everywhere. I guess, far be it from me to be too critical of an industry, but it seems like the meat industry, one of their goals is sort of to get people to not pay too much attention to the fact that what they’re buying in the supermarket at one point was a living, breathing, sentient creature.

Caryn: Yeah. They’re really good at that.

Moby: That’s one of the ideas behind the book, Gristle, isn’t necessarily to convert people to veganism but really just to talk about the consequences of factory farming and industrialized animal production.

Caryn: Yeah, I love the way that you did that because you have a number of different authors in here that touch on different subjects. I want to get to some of them, but it’s really a very all-inclusive range. You have some pig farmers that write in the book.

Moby: Yeah. The people who own Niman Pork Ranch wrote our chapter on communities. So if ever anyone accuses it of being a vegan book, I don’t know how a vegan book can have a pig farmer as a contributor.

Caryn: Were you the one who selected these writers, or how did they get chosen to participate in this book?

Moby: Well, my friend Miyun Park and I came up with the book—I guess the idea for the book, five or six years ago. We came up with a wish list of different possible contributors, and so when it came time to actually make the book we approached our wish list of contributors and for the most part everybody we wanted was willing to do it.

Caryn: I wouldn’t see why they wouldn’t be, because everyone here pretty much—we’re all on the same page where we want to get this planet to a better place, a healthier environment, healthier people, and less pain and suffering. So any opportunity to do that, yes!

Moby: Yeah. People were really responsive when we asked them. Again, as I said the goal of the book—even though I’m a vegan and Miyun, the other person listed on the book, is a vegan—it’s a book for meat-eaters, it’s a book for vegetarians. It’s a book for anybody who’s concerned about the consequences of factory farming and industrialized animal production.

Caryn: Right. So what’s really great is you’ve covered a wide range of information, and it’s a teeny book. If you don’t mind me using the word “teeny”; it’s a 140 pages and it’s small and easy to carry. What I like about it is that I live in New York City and I’m on the subway quite frequently—this is a great subway read. You can read one chapter at a time and move on.

Moby: Well that’s great. There’s nothing in the book that’s all that proprietary. Almost all the information in the book is available in other places, but it’s usually available in more like academic papers and sources that are fairly dry. So we felt we would compile it all in one place in a very—and so a very bad pun—a very digestible way. So that someone can get really involved in the information or they can just open it up and flip through it and look at some of the charts and the graphs. It’s hopefully a more reader-friendly book than some of the more academic papers we drew from.

Caryn: It is reader-friendly, but it certainly is packed. Some of these articles are just bang-bang-bang-bang because what’s going on is horrible.

Moby: Yeah. It’s hard not to be too didactic when I talk about this—or at least sound didactic—because some of this information, the information itself just to talk about it is so horrifying. Especially the part that seems to affect a lot of people is the part about climate change, where twenty-five percent of climate change is a result of animal production. The UN, I believe just last week, actually released a report advocating a vegetarian or vegan diet to stave off environmental disaster.

Caryn: Right, I was talking about it earlier in the show. Great report.

Moby: Yeah, basically saying that anyone who’s concerned with the environment has to very seriously think about not just the car they drive and the light bulbs they use, but also the way they eat.

Caryn: I don’t even think people are thinking about it. It’s definitely going to be where we have to go if we’re going to support a planet of nine million people in 2050.

Moby: Yeah. It seems that way. Basically we’re just burning through all these resources and polluting our water supply and devastating our communities so that we can produce a product that ultimately decimates and destroys the end user. That’s the terrible irony of industrial animal production, is it’s heavily subsidized by our tax dollars, the factory farms and the processing plants completely ruin communities, and the people who end up buying the product are made sick by it. So it’s really—I just can’t see much good in factory farming and industrial food production.

Caryn: In this book, which I highly recommend people picking up—it’s a great stocking stuffer at Christmas time ‘cause it’ll fit in a stocking.

Moby: Might not be the most fun, lighthearted Christmas read, but yeah.

Caryn: Well, I’m going to pick out the positive points of the book first. That is, this is the thing that I’m always trying to do, that it’s a joyful, wonderful thing to eat plants. It makes you look great, you age slower, you have energy. The first chapter is on health, and you’ve got Brendan Brazier. I’ve had him on the show. I love him, he’s just a sweet guy and he’s a phenomenal athlete. And he talks about having superior athletic performance on a diet of fruits and vegetables.

Moby: Yeah, and I know quite a lot of athletes and boxers. I used to study Muay Thai and kickboxing. One of my teachers was a vegan, and as far as I know he’s an undefeated Muay Thai fighter. He’s vegan. He doesn’t really advertise it. I mean, just look at study after study, and you look at all the deleterious health consequences of eating animal products. It does seem like for the most part, people would be well advised to at least partially shift over to a more sort of like plant-based diet.

Caryn: Well here’s what I think, and maybe you can tell me if you agree because you’re in a celebrity kind of environment. I think people respond most to what’s going to make them look good.

Moby: Oh yeah. Without question. I mean, there are some people who can respond out of a sense of altruism or out of a sense of compassion or animals, but at the end of the day we all want to look good. We all want to be healthy, we all want to be thin and fit and look great. I think people are slowly realizing that what you put inside your body eventually affects how you look.

Caryn: I think that’s the best way to promote this, personally. Maybe by not being militant about it, but just being the best that you can. And then people say, “What are you doing? You’re radiating. You look so young, you look so great. What’s your secret?”

Moby: Yup. I was actually thinking about at some point putting out a book or a website which is basically portraits of vegans. Because a lot of people think of vegans as being sick and scrawny and sad-looking, and a lot of the vegans I know—

Caryn: Are hot.

Moby: Yeah, I mean, they’re in really great shape and their skin is great. I do think that certainly in our culture, appealing to people’s vanity is probably the best way to promote something.

Caryn: Well, if you want to do it—I can’t tell you what to do but I highly encourage you to follow your instinct because fortunately you’re in a position where people are going to at least hear what you have to say.

Moby: It’s funny if you look at it. The most successful vegan book of all time is Rory Freedman’s Skinny Bitch. It’s not a book about animal rights; it’s a book about vanity. I do think it is sort of telling of our culture. Rory’s a good friend of mine; I really appreciate the work that she does. But it is very telling of our culture that the most successful animal rights, animal welfare book of all time is a book that does appeal to people’s vanity.

Caryn: Yeah. Oh well.

Moby: I’m just as guilty of it as everybody else. Given a choice between looking healthy and fit and having a radiant glow, or being obese and sick—everyone wants to look healthy and fit.

Caryn: Absolutely, and it’s so easy to do. So just before you go. You have an opportunity to go all around the world and eat everywhere. Where do you like to go, what do you like to eat?

Moby: Well. Boy, we could talk for the next hour about that.

Caryn: That’s fine with me, that’s all I like to talk about is food.

Moby: I love the places where you expect the food to be good, and the food is good. Like if you’re in Los Angeles or Toronto or Vancouver, Sydney, Australia—you sort of expect high-quality food and more often than not it is good, quality food. But every now and then I’m completely surprised. Some of the best vegan food I ever had is in Lisbon, Portugal. And one of the best restaurants I ever went to, also for vegan food, was in Warsaw in Poland.

Caryn: Wow. Really?

Moby: Really, because Eastern Europe is quite difficult. Being vegan in Eastern Europe isn’t that easy, but every now and then you stumble across a little restaurant where the food’s really homemade, passionately prepared, and it’s just great and surprising.

Caryn: Well, I’m going to run to Poland now. Didn’t know that.

Moby: It might not be open anymore, and I don’t remember what it was actually called.

Caryn: Yeah, okay. That’s fine. Do you have a favorite dish?

Moby: Uh, let me think. I have to say Real Food Daily in Los Angeles, they have—

Caryn: I love it.

Moby: —the vegan tacos there, they’re pretty great.

Caryn: Yes, great. Well Moby, thank you so much. I love what you’re doing, love your music, love who you are. Just keep doing more of it.

Moby: Well thank you very much. It was a pleasure talking to you.

Caryn: Okay. Thank you so much.

Moby: Bye-bye.

Caryn: Bye. Okay. Well that was Moby, and there’s so much more to say about him. I just want to mention that he is so generous. He works with a lot of nonprofits. The proceeds from this book, Gristle, will be going to a number of different nonprofits. I remember being at a PCRM gala event several years ago—Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine—and Alec Baldwin was the host, and Moby was there as well. They both got up at some point during an auction and volunteered to auction off their time and their apartments for a sizable amount of money for someone who might want to have dinner with them. It was really very generous, it was really very funny. But he does things like that, and I only wish that more of the people that have a face in the public were doing the things that he is doing. It’s so important. And for some reason as a culture, not only are we vain as we were just talking about, but we do like to know what celebrities are doing, we want to be more like them. So Moby is a kind of model that I would like to follow.

Caryn: You’re listening to It’s All About Food. I’m Caryn Hartglass. You can send any comments and questions to info@realmeals.org. Okay so before we had Moby on I was talking about chicken, the feathered vegetable, and why it really isn’t a healthy food to eat, and yet it seems so many people eat a lot of chicken and think that it’s a healthy food. Just like red meat, there are a lot of things in chicken that you don’t need—cholesterol, saturated fat, no fiber, and as I was describing before in these very filthy factories that almost all chickens are raised in. You get a whole host of things you don’t really want in your food. There are a lot of food illnesses, food contamination, and we don’t even hear about as many as there are to know how prevalent it is.

Caryn: And in these last few minutes, I thought I might talk about the pussy vegetable: milk. Why do I call it the pussy vegetable? Because the government allows a certain amount of pus from cows to get into the milk. Why might there be pus? Because most of the cows in America today are fed antibiotics and hormones—growth hormones—and are bred in such a way that they have giant udders and can give a lot of milk. As a result, they have a lot of infections in the udder and that causes the creation of pus. And that goes into your milk. But then pus with sugar and vanilla tastes pretty good. Mmm. Right. But whether it tastes good or not—first of all the thought of it is not very appealing—milk is connected to so many health problems. In fact, when I talk to people about healthy diets, they’re surprised when I tell them that if I was going to eliminate animal products the first thing I would eliminate was dairy. Dairy is associated with so many health problems. Highly correlated with breast, prostate, and ovarian cancer. It’s related to lots of autoimmune diseases—multiple sclerosis, arthritis, type 1 diabetes, that’s child diabetes. The list is endless. Bronchitis, sinusitis. I’ve got a number of friends now that are getting on in years. Not too old, but maybe reaching forty or fifty, and they’re finding that their joints hurt and it’s really hard to exercise when they are feeling all of this pain. A number of them have listened to my recommendations of eliminating dairy from their diet, and the pain goes away. It’s amazing. We don’t need dairy in our diet. Mammals don’t drink their own milk as an adult. The baby animal is weaned off of that milk at an early age. It’s designed for that baby to grow tremendously fast in a short amount of time. Then we don’t need it. And there’s really no reason to consume dairy anymore. There are so many different plant-based milks. Plant milks. Plant cheeses. There’s now Daiya cheese—D-A-I-Y-A—Whole Foods has it and it’s amazing. I really believe that the cheese, plant-based cheese, technology is going to explode in the next few years, where people are going to be creating lots of wonderful cheese products made from nuts and other plant foods. We don’t need dairy for calcium, we don’t need dairy for strong bones. We need lots of leafy green wonderful vegetables for strong bones and for strong immune systems. Dairy products also kind of concentrate all those other toxins that are rolling around—DDT and dioxins. In butter and cheese, of course there are lots of saturated fats that you don’t need. Here are a number of things that can cause concern about dairy products. The milk protein—cow’s milk protein, and this is in all dairy products, milk protein—it’s the leading cause of food allergies in adults and children. Okay. So many people have allergies today, and some people think when the seasons change that it’s the environment that’s causing their allergies. Here’s what I believe: that their sinuses are already inflamed or sensitive from allergies to milk, and then when the pollen comes they’re aggravated even more. So then you feel the symptoms. But if you got rid of the milk, you would barely feel any kind of allergic reaction or it would be significantly less when the seasons change. Milk is the leading cause of iron deficiency anemia in children. Milk is deficient in iron. And milk can also bind with iron that’s found in other foods and prevent its absorption. So if you’re having any anemia issues, think about the milk. Also I mentioned before there’s evidence that milk is linked to immune system reactions to dairy proteins that cause or aggravate arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis. Of course the protein in dairy products can damage the arteries. High levels of antibodies to milk proteins have been found in people that have severe arterial sclerosis. Even if you’re using low-fat or fat-free dairy products, it’s not a good choice because those products have higher protein. More of that milk protein that causes all the problems I’ve already talked about. Just like other animal foods, dairy products have no fiber. And foods without fiber have a way of contributing to constipation and other things like varicose veins, hemorrhoids. Sound pretty good? The pussy vegetable. Milk is considered nature’s perfect food, and yet there are many different people on this planet that are lactose-intolerant. You’ve got people—Asians and African Americans and Hispanic Americans—a huge percentage of these folks are lactose-intolerant. What is nature telling us? How could it be a perfect food if people can’t digest what’s in it? Then we do this crazy thing in the United States where we inject dairy milk cows with bovine growth hormone. Now there are some other countries like Canada that read the reports and the studies on bovine growth hormone and said it wasn’t a good thing and don’t allow it. But we do. What happens is it causes milks to give more milk. Now, this growth hormone is related to another growth hormone, IGF-1, which is related to risk for cancer. So the belief is that this growth hormone that is injected in the cows will also encourage cancer. And then of course there is all that saturated fat in milk, and that’s linked of course to heart attacks and cancer, the things that kill most Americans. Mmm. So scoop me up a big scoop of ice cream. But the wonderful thing is, there are so many wonderful plant-based ice creams. I always like to end on a sweet, happy, delicious note. There are coconut-based frozen desserts, and coconut is so yummy. You can make your own nut-based ice creams in an ice cream maker by soaking cashews and making a cream from that. There are soy-based ice creams, there are rice milk-based ice creams. Or do something really super simple. Frozen fruit in a blender or if you have a juicer—there are some like a Champion juicer—and you put bananas and other frozen berries in it, comes out like soft-serve. Amazing. So there are lots of wonderful alternatives that are healthy, good for the planet, gentle on the planet, kind to animals. I haven’t even talked about how devastating to the environment raising dairy cows is. Organic milk is not much better. It still has milk proteins, it still has saturated fat, it still has no fiber. So it might be a little teeny bit better than regular milk, but the best thing is no milk.

Caryn: Okay. So there you have it. It’s All About Food, we talked about the scaly vegetable, the feathered vegetable, the pussy vegetable, and had a moment with the amazing Moby. I really want to thank you for joining me today. We’re going to be talking about some raw food delights with Ani Phyo next week. Thanks for listening. Bye-bye.

Transcribed by JC, 5/13/2016

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