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A Decade of Seitanic Spells: In Conversation with the Vegan Black Metal Chef

Do you not love heavy metal?!?! Do you not love environmental conservation and the protection of the natural animal world?! If you can relate to any or all of the above, the wickedly evil, sinisterly delicious delights of the Vegan Black Metal Chef may be for you.

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Brian Manowitz, aka the Vegan Black Metal Chef, has been entertaining and enlightening the masses with his 'seitanic spells' for well over a decade, with this month marking 10 years since the debut episode since his black metal meets vegan-friendly cooking show hit YouTube.

Manowitz, a musician, actor and all-around entertainer by day, pleather, spikes and corpse-paint belter of the blackened arts by night, sat down with Metal Injection for a look back at his path to a vegan lifestyle, a decade of the Vegan Black Metal Chef, his crowd-funded cookbook (and coming soon followup), the metal/occult scene of his hometown of Tampa, Florida and much more!

On 10 Years of the Vegan Black Metal Chef

It’s pretty crazy. I mean, even a couple of years ago I was thinking damn, like this has been going on for way longer than probably anyone expected. But I mean, yeah, it’s pretty cool. The ten year anniversary of the Pad Thai heard ‘round the world. I’m humbled and honored that anyone still gives a damn, honestly.

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A lot of the virality and the initial views and probably even some of the views today are still probably a significant amount of what the fuck factor, just like what the fuck is this? But to me the most important thing about the videos is that the food is awesome. The recipes are doable for the masses and the food is awesome. That’s sort of to me like the guiding principles of the Vegan Black Metal Chef stuff is doable veganism for the masses.

On Origins & Progression of the Channel

Basically about 10 years ago now I kind of said, well, I think my food tastes really good. It’s not that difficult to make, and it’s pretty cheap. Kind of three things that people think veganism isn’t. So I was like, well, I want to have a way to show this to people. So I thought about making a cooking show, but cooking shows kind of bore me and put me to sleep. So I just wanted to make the one that I wanted to see and luckily a few other people wanted to see it too.

But in the end, it is really important to me that the food and the recipes and the instruction is awesome, because quite honestly, with vegan stuff you got to have something to prove. Honestly, I've got something to prove so every damn time it’s got to be spectacular. So that’s to me the most important aspect of everything. That's at least the aspect that I’m most proud of.

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I’m thankful that the videos have allowed me to grow as a musician and music producer, because if you watch the first one and you watched the last one, I write, mix, master and record everything that you see there. And the first one, basically I said I can make a passable recording now.

But as like actual music, it’s cool if you have a memory associated with it, but if it were to just pop on for a random person that has never heard of anything before it’s just whatever. But I’m thankful that the cooking instruction and the humor aspect kind of allows the different aspects of things to not have to be absolutely perfect to provide value to someone.

On Becoming Vegan

Basically I should have gone vegan earlier because I had a girlfriend in late high school that went vegetarian. When she first did it, I said you know what? I see that as the right way to go in life, but I’m not ready for that yet. And so I didn’t do anything. And then about a year passed and I looked back at it and like, well, she didn’t die. I was like if I recognize that as the right way to go, then really what am I so afraid of?

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I recognized it as a fear within myself. And it wasn’t a fear of anything real. It was just this weird, deep seated, conditioned fear of nothing. And I couldn’t just be afraid of nothing. I can’t just walk around with a fear of nothing in me.

So I faced that fear of nothing and went vegetarian for about a month or so, and then went to an animal rights group on campus at the University of Florida that had just started up. They showed a couple of videos, probably some PETA meet your meat videos because it was before the age of YouTube or whatever, and I said, OK, now I’m vegan. I haven’t looked back since.

That’s what I tell people, the hardest part about going vegan is not finding amazing delicious food to eat. That’s actually the easy part. The hard part is overcoming that social conditioning and deep seated fear of nothing that we all have in our brains that we don’t even consciously realize until entire paradigms are challenged or changed.

The first thing that’s going to happen when you go vegan is your grandmother is going to go, oh, why do you hate me? You’re not going to eat my casserole anymore? And your friends are going to say some stuff and your family. I guess that’s one thing that metal helps with is metal kind of has a history of bucking conventions and bucking norms. So maybe it helps you just a little bit along the path of that.

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On Response from Metal Fans

The general response is overwhelmingly positive, but with our brain, we’re trained to recognize threats more than positive things. I mean, you definitely see some amount of 'die you vegan f***t' or comments like that on YouTube occasionally. Especially over in Europe more so then the United States. Maybe there’s a little bit more of the really militant metalheads, but it’s still a very small set. Like a very small number of people. But your brain picks them out more because that’s just how we’re designed to work.

On Fan-backed Seitanic Spellbook

It wouldn’t have happened without the fans or the backers of the Kickstarter. That's absolutely what made the book happen. Maybe it would have happened in some other lesser form in a sense, but yeah, it would not be the book that it is today that I’m quite happy about, and I think that people really enjoy, without that. I owe everything to them and hope they like it and I hope they like the fact that it sparked the second printing of it with a traditional publisher.

I had to warehouse them all, and then when I moved to L.A., I had to get pallets shipped to LA and stored in my music studio. And I unloaded the truck with my little hand trucks and went up and down the elevator a million times to put stacks of ten boxes of books apiece in my music studio and ship them out to Amazon and a couple of different stores and wherever. At the end of the day it’s just hand trucks and moving boxes.

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That book I say took about three years, but maybe it would have gone faster if the end vision was perfectly clear from the beginning. But that’s just not how it works sometimes. Myself, I’m not even that good of a writer, so I had to rewrite each page four or five times until I was happy with it. And like each individual page, pouring over everything, until I was happy with it.

Also that end vision was not there from the beginning. I just had to sort of start going along and be sort of unhappy with things along the way and then try to figure things out and be like, OK, what’s the cookbook that I would want to see? And since I’m a very multimedia person and I’m a very visual person, I needed pictures of every step along the way,

On the Seitanic Spellbook II

I’ve begun writing for that. And some things will definitely change, but at least the basic vision is already pretty clear now.

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I was a little reluctant to write a second one, probably because in LA I had significantly less free time, because you have to spend a whole lot of your time making way more money just to live, even though most of the amazing things to do in L.A. are actually free or cheap. You have to just be able to afford to not work to do them. But things are flowing again. A new order of spikes has come in so I’m spiking out a bunch of new stuff for some photography (laughs).

On Discovering Heavy Metal

I’d gotten into metal in general, very young. Like when I was in kindergarten or first grade or something, I had a friend that was like two years older than me and was like check this out! And he gave me a Mötley CrüeDr. Feelgood tape. And I was like, yeah! That’s awesome! I got into that and Skid Row, like really, really early on. And then that led into Metallica, and a bunch of old school thrash bands.

I didn’t get into black metal until way later, unless you consider King Diamond black metal. I didn’t really get that much until I think my friend let me borrow Dimmu Borgir Spiritual Black Dimensions. And I was like who the hell put this keyboard in all my metal? And then the next day I was like, I wanna hear that again!

On Tampa's Metal/Occult Scene
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There was this place in Tampa that was like one of the most metal places in existence, as I remember it, a place called Ace's Records.And I think some of the people from Obituary used to work there. It had a couple of owners, but I think eventually this girl named Heather and she had these like giant Rottweilers or something behind the counter. Two or three huge dogs, some Rottweilers or maybe a Doberman or something like that? It was a long time ago, before the age of the internet. It was just like a metal store and had tons of metal shirts and bands and just everything.

Also Tampa has a surprisingly large occult scene. I used to work in various flea markets and things. There’d be four or five occult shops in the flea markets and a recruiting booth for some cult called the Holy Order of RaHoorKhuit. I used to go to these full moon circles at the pagan gathering places. And there’d be like a 100-plus people there for these things. There’s another store called Merlin’s Books that was just like a hub of Tampa's occult scene. A bunch of metalheads, occultists and nerds really.

On Music Career & Performing Live

I used to play a ton as like a local regional band before the Vegan Black Metal Chef stuff. And now I’m writing the next industrial black metal album, which will be similar to the first in style. The second album that I put out was more like an electronic industrial album. If I can make this album pretty awesome and hit pretty well, I’d love to be playing out with that stuff again.

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Actually I plan on re-recording all the old stuff to try to get it a bit more up to snuff in a sense. I’d really like to hit the live shows with that again if there’s interest in it. And if not then I’ll just keep writing more music until there is interest in it.

For the recordings and stuff I do everything. I play all the instruments and do all the recordings. I used to have a keyboardist and bass player and I played guitar and sang and we did drum machines. So I envision it probably being that again, having a keyboardist and a bass player. Once everything is made we’ll see what happens. I don’t set all my pieces in motion until I have other foundational things going again. I really enjoy playing shows.

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