I’m super happy to announce a new part of Guac & Roll. It’s something I’ve been working on for a while, as it’s always bugged me that while I can rattle on about chilli tofu all day, I’d love to include some other voices here, and some other experiences. Heard It From A Vegan is a new kinda-series where I’ll be interviewing vegans I admire from loads of different backgrounds, industries, creative drives and outlooks. Sometimes we’ll agree on everything. Sometimes it’s good to hear from something that makes you check back over your own ideas.
I can’t remember the first time I came across Dee Dee’s Instagram, but in-between photos of touring and performing with her band, Dum Dum Girls (and shout-outs to her Dad who looks like the coolest), she also makes some great vegan recommendations and shares amazing hot buttered rum recipes on there, when the season calls for it. In fact she's got so many recommendations for a vegan lifestyle I can hardly fit them all in here- over email Dee Dee also mentions Reformation, an eco-fashion brand totally shaking things up in the States that we haven't heard as much from over here. Suspecting that if anyone would know how to handle being vegan away from home for long stretches of time it would be her, I asked Dee Dee if she would mind telling me a bit about being vegan and on tour. I wanted to hear about her experience with deciding to go meat-free, and any tips she has for vegans also on the road.
Hi Dee Dee, thanks for spending the time to speak to Guac! Can you tell me how long have you been vegan for, and why you decided to be vegan?
This is my second time around living vegan, and it's been about two years at this point (my calculation is based on touring, where everything is a bit fuzzy). I went vegetarian at 13, then vegan from that 17-22, then non-defined variations of the two with a brief stint at fish (tears) until 31, when I read Morrissey’s' autobiography which rekindled my drive to be actively vegan.
My diet decisions were always based on a combination of animal and ecological welfare, and my motivation now is non-judgmental, lead-by-example peak of that coupled with a serious health concern. I'm super anti processed food! It also really upsets me how much food is wasted.
What’s the hardest part of being vegan on tour, and what’s the best part?
I don't mind the prep work that goes into being vegan while traveling, so it's really not that hard for me. Provincial France is maybe the hardest cuz gas stations don't sell greens but do gorgeous cheese baguettes in spades. Grocery shopping in Italy is always amazing cuz the quality of produce is mind-blowing.
Where’s your favourite country to visit for the vegan food? What about it made that place great?
I'm relatively self-sufficient, meaning I don't need to find vegan restaurants to be happy with food, but places that source locally and keep it simple are always inspiring.
How do you work out where to try? Do you get tip-offs or is it more about searching online?
Do you bring any food along with you on the road or have any recipes you make up in case there aren’t any vegan options?
It's almost comical how I travel -- I bring stackable tiffin tins that fit into this soft insulated cooler originally intended for Redbull (a festival gift) and basically stock up on rider leftovers (our backstage requests read like a Whole Foods shopping spree) so that I can make future meals. I'm VERY salad based :) I also bring Clif bars and raw veggie greens packets for days with slim pickings. I even took my Nutribullet on a few tours to make green smoothies but ultimately, I like simple and minimal, and it eventually proved underused and cumbersome.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve eaten or best vegan food discovery you’ve made whilst being away?
I love fermented everything, so nato was a big discovery for me while in Tokyo. One time I was djing a small punk/garage bar in Dallas after our set, and under the booth I nibbled on kimchi for hours. My band was like, you're insane and that smells horrible. I was like, dudes, I found it at this tiny heaven of a market and I have to eat it all tonight cuz it won't travel well. C'est la vie.
And what’s the best place you’ve discovered?
Oddly enough, it's in NYC. My friend Kiki has a homestyle Greek place in Chinatown (called Kiki's) with quite a few naturally-vegan dishes. INCREDIBLE. Also discovered the classic Greek frappé there which fuelled my summer mornings.
Thank you Dee Dee for all the amazing recommendations, and for your help with putting this together. You’ve no doubt given some much-needed recognition to stealth kimchi fans too!