Jona Weinhofen on the Influence of the Punk Rock Vegan Movement and Using Fame for Animal Rights
At the age of 17, he formed his second band, I KILLED THE PROM QUEEN, in 2000. He joined California metalcore pioneers Bleeding Through in 2007, and spent three years with UK major label juggernauts Bring Me the Horizon starting in 2009. He's an avid animal rights activist, and has been vegan for almost 17 years. Jona is an Australian native, currently living in Orange County, California.
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Q: How has a vegan diet shaped your life? How has it impacted you?
A: I discovered veganism back when I was 17. Making the transition back then was a little more difficult as we didn’t quite have the range of amazing vegan/replacement foods and comfort foods as we do now, at least in Australia anyway. On a dietary level, I love being vegan. I am healthier, fitter, and happier than I’ve ever been before, cooking and meal planning is always fun and interesting, and I get to do it all knowing I am helping animals and having a greater positive impact on the environment. Over the years, and especially as a result of any notoriety I have gained through my music and social media, I have found that my passion for activism has become greater also. I am so lucky that I have a platform to speak on and reach a keen audience, and I love using that to spread positivity, not just with veganism in particular but a more general message to always be kind, considerate, compassionate, and aware, and also spread that awareness.
Q: What influenced you to become vegan?
A: I discovered veganism through music, specifically hardcore and punk rock. I learned that many members of my favorite bands at the time were vegan, bands such as Day Of Contempt, Earth Crisis, and One King Down. These bands were spreading a positive message through their music and performance, sometimes directly, other times more indirectly. When I went to my first local hardcore shows in Adelaide, South Australia, where I grew up in my teenage years, I noticed people selling veggie dogs and homemade vegan cakes at these shows. We were starving after a night of moshing, so it was really cool to try these new foods and learn about how avoiding animal products in food and lifestyle can really have an immense positive impact. It wasn’t long after beginning to attend these shows I found myself researching veganism online at school and eating more vegan foods, until I decided at 17 that being vegan was the right path for me.
Q: Do you notice a difference in your health?
A: I have always been a fairly lucky person in the health aspect of my life. I have an athletic physique, but I was always really skinny as a child. After I went vegan, I found myself more interested in food and nutrition. I have put on more weight in the form of muscle mass and have had my blood levels checked regularly and they have always been optimal or above. I do not often supplement, but I will on occasion if I feel like I need to. All around, I feel fantastic as a vegan.
Q: What are some of your favorite meals to make at home?
A: I love to cook at home, and one of my favorite things is taking old recipes I loved as an omnivore and altering them so that they’re vegan. I make a mean spaghetti bolognese, usually using Gardein or Boca mince. I love to make pizza, roast vegetables with a balsamic agave glaze. Mostly I just try to make stuff up. The other day I made a really nice bowl. The base was organic brown rice, quinoa, red lentils, Himalayan salt and paprika, and chopped up Field Roast sausage. The topping was kale, sundried tomatoes, raw mushroom, and chickpeas with goddess salad dressing. It was incredible! I also have a gnarly vegan cheesecake recipe that I bust out on special occasions.
Q: What is a truth you know for sure?
A: Humanity as a species and our planet can not and will not survive without love, kindness, and compassion.
Photos, top to bottom: Casey Lee, Ian Maddox