The Cro-Mags' John Joseph: 'To me, cooking is meditation, man'

Maybe you know him by the nickname “Bloodclot.” John Joseph is a punk rock singer, probably most famous for his work with the Cro-Mags. An unapologetic vegan, he is the author of Meat is for Pussies, which attacks the myth that men need meat to be fit and strong. He shared his recipes for Almond Flaxseed Burgers and Very Berry Peach Crisp.

Noelle Carter: Fronting a punk rock band is no small feat. It’s incredibly physical work, and I can just imagine the sort of toll that takes on your body. How long have you been a vegan? How did you come to embrace a plant-based diet?

John Joseph
John Joseph (Photo: Ray Lego)

John Joseph: Late '80, early '81 is when I made the switch. I actually really got into the raw food thing for a while in the beginning. I was working for one of the most famous punk rock bands of all time, the Bad Brains, and many of them in the band actually were vegetarian. The sound man, the late Jay Dublee -- rest in peace, Jay -- was a raw foodist and educated me.

I just started applying what I was learning to my life. I always ran, I would work out, I took up martial arts, boxed. When I started adhering to a plant-based diet, I was recovering quicker.

Also, it changed my consciousness. I really paid attention to everything else in my life -- getting off drugs and alcohol. It was the catalyst for major change in my life.

People today say, "You do the Cro-Mags to keep in shape for the Ironmans" that I do.  I’m like, "No, you got it backward, homey. I do Ironman to keep in shape for the Cro-Mags." If you’ve been to a Cro-Mag performance, then you really know what I’m talking about because it’s just energy non-stop for 1 hour straight.

NC: The book doesn’t just talk about a plant-based diet and getting off of meat. It encompasses the whole life thing. You talk about fitness, you talk about yoga, you talk about rethinking things mentally. It’s the whole package that you’re really talking about here.

JJ: Absolutely. Believe me, I’m not somebody wearing Birkenstocks and a tie-dye Grateful Dead shirt. I was raised in abusive foster homes, boys’ homes, orphanages, group homes. I was locked up; I did almost 2 years in one of the worst places in New York City and state, Spofford and then Lincolndale.

It wasn’t coming from a place of being some weak-type person. I was just searching for a way out of the madness. When you go out into the universe -- as they say, when the student is ready, the teacher will appear -- so many teachers came to my life and taught me.

That’s why I always accept that I don’t know it all. I’m always willing and trying to learn. It’s about paying forward the gifts that you get in life and helping the next person.

I try to be the example. I’m turning 52. I’m doing Ironmans. I’m never sick. I basically live this lifestyle so when people come out to the shows and they’re like, "How the hell are you doing this?" I show them how. I’m not somebody on a soapbox who is going to go out there and start preaching veganism and this and that. It’s just not my thing.

NC: Do you find much pleasure in the kitchen? I’m just trying to picture Bloodclot in the kitchen cooking. I just want to know: Do you love cooking and do you love eating?

JJ: I absolutely love it. I have a certain tone -- I like to have fun in the kitchen. It doesn’t need to be this regimented, uptight thing. To me, cooking is meditation, man. Preparing all the food yourself. It’s just one of the great things that I really enjoy doing, and having friends over and cooking for them too.

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