Receiving a copy of the monumental Soy, Not Oi!: Volume 2 cookbook has opened the floodgate of my memory banks. I'm specifically visualizing the years 1990 - 1991, when I corresponded via snail mail with "JacknJoel" of Hippycore fanzine. This wonderful zine out of Tempe, Arizona seamlessly blended '60s counterculture values with '80s hardcore music, a peace punk aesthetic, and an unabashed affinity for heavy metal of the non-cheesy variety. They also vigorously promoted anarchist viewpoints, social justice, environmental causes, and a vegan diet and lifestyle.
It is this last but definitely not least cause, the vegan one, that would ultimately be their enduring legacy through the original digest-sized Soy, Not Oi! fanzine of recipes they published in 1989. This small tract spread like wildfire throughout the worldwide D.I.Y. hardcore community, becoming a staple at every communal "punk house" far and near.
I can't say I ever became a gung-ho, actively involved cooking aficionado. I'm more of the "if it's not ready in under 10 minutes, it's not worth it" school of cooking, but I've always admired how they synthesized different influences and put it in a practical manual about something tangible, because there's nothing quite as direct as what you consume and the social/philosophical underpinnings behind those choices.
Heady stuff, but lest you think this is some humorless, dogmatic tract that pummels you with facts and figures coupled with rote, by the numbers recipes, that couldn't be further from the truth.
Blending in imaginative illustrations (done by the ultra talented Eryc Why), like the hilarious Infest shorts-wearing soybean character on the cover, there are well over 200 original vegan recipes—and inspired soundtrack choices for making dishes like vegan schnitzels or croquette "steaks" (blast some Kukl and UK anarcho punk band Riot/Clone, of course). It's all in good fun, adding a lively vibe to the joys of vegan cooking. There is a wide range from easy-to-make recipes for non-cooks like me to instructions on how to make your own seitan/bread/homebrew from scratch, and everything in between. You don't have to be into punk/hardcore, be vegan or vegetarian, or even care much for cooking in order to appreciate the underlying values and message that resonate throughout the book. Like seminal '90s tomes such as Threat by Example and Book Your Own Fucking Life, Soy, Not Oi! has inspired several generations to build their own lives centered on deeds that reflect it's all more than just music: be it of the ethical/political/career/relationships, or in this case, the dietary choice.
I never got to meet in person the Joel Olson of the "JacknJoel" duo that created Hippycore and the original version of this cookbook in 1989, but I will always refer to him by the cherished, antiquated "penpal" moniker. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2012, but it is his enduring spirit and vision that guides this expanded edition in 2015. Editor Jack Kahn has done an amazing job in assembling this fitting tribute to his old comrade, and by bringing in a whole new crew of contributors, he's ensured a lasting legacy.
The words they wrote eons ago in a vastly different punk landscape, still resonate with depth and meaning 26 years later.
From the original Soy, Not Oi!:
Save the earth, save animals, help yourself, and give those capitalist bastards a good kick in the Liberal Humanist ass at the same time... go vegan!
R.I.P. Joel Olson, 1967 - 2012.