Rock stars march to decidedly different diet drummer

June 16, 1993|By Knight-Ridder News Service

You don't ask Paul McCartney if he wants a hamburger.

And when you offer vegetables to Ted Nugent, they're usually to go with or on top of some slab of fresh meat -- quite possibly one from an animal he killed himself.

When it comes to meat, you'll find no two human beings as diametrically opposed as these veteran rockers. Ex-Beatle McCartney is the strictest of vegetarians, an animal rights activist who champions the development of mass-marketed vegetarian recipes -- some of them cooked up by his wife, Linda.

He even pushes the stadiums where he performs to add a vegetarian hot dog to their food offerings.

On the other hand, Mr. Nugent is a devout omnivore, an ardent hunter and a merchandiser who markets his own line of bows and hunting videos and magazines. He'll bend your ear about hunters' rights -- "We're more than just guys that drink beer and whack Bambi" -- and speak at length about how hunting not only serves the human race but also protects animal populations and the environment.

Needless to say, Mr. Nugent's not going to get any awards from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and McCartney won't be doing any pro-beef "Real Food for Real People" spots.

But using their platforms as rock stars, both men argue their positions with intelligence and passion. There's no way to get them together -- both are on tour -- but backstage before recent concerts, Mr. McCartney (in Kansas City) and Mr. Nugent (in Detroit) expressed their views on their causes -- and each other.

Mr. McCartney says: "Good ol' Ted. One of my favorite guitarists in the world -- not. That's somebody I like very little. . . . I actually think he's mad, stark raving mad. And he's not the only one; they really do think that what they're doing is helping the planet.

"I understand the mentality. When I was young, I used to kill little animals, just for fun. . . .

"People like Mr. Nugent just have to grow up, though I doubt whether he will. I'm sure he makes more money on those videos than on any record he ever made.

"The fact he didn't go to Vietnam doesn't look clever, either. You're the whackmaster; go take on someone with a gun or a bow as big as yours."

For his part, Mr. Nugent was impressed to learn that Mr. McCartney knew so much about his endeavors -- and even had the good graces to use the guitarist's "whackmaster" handle.

So Mr. Nugent stepped rather than charged into battle.

"We're talking about cuisine here," he said. "If we wanted to list Paul's and my priorities. . . . we both raise a family. We want to make sure our kids are intelligent and guided properly, and we probably agree on 99 percent of those elements.

"We are both members of a musical creator network, and I bet we'd agree that the origins of his spontaneity and his spirit for music is the rhythm 'n' blues, just like mine.

"So if we listed the top 100 motivations of life, we'd probably agree on everything but what we're having for dinner. That's not that big a deal."

That said, Mr. Nugent cautions that Mr. McCartney "has to be careful when he treads on a zone that's my lifestyle. I don't think he's looked into it. I don't think Paul's monitored many catfish marches with hip boots on lately. He hasn't climbed into the majestic mountains of Colorado and seen elk perishing because there's too many of them.

"We are the stewards, and to us goes the responsibility. . . . to keep these various species alive and healthy. We have to kill them in a managed way, a regulated way, so that the herd is still healthy. That's what I think Paul would want, but he's uncomfortable with the procedure to get to that end.

"He's going with some Disney fantasy. . . . but that doesn't work in the real world."

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