Phil Collen of Def Leppard Went Vegetarian to Get Away from ‘Barbaric’ Meat

Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen gave up alcohol and meat in the early 1980s, and the lifestyle seems to agree with him

Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

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Def Leppard guitarist and songwriter Phil Collen revels in smashing stereotypes. For this legendary rocker— vegetarian, indulgence these days means thrice-daily workouts and late-night chocolate. As he prepared for Def Leppard’’s summer tour, which kicks off June 15, Collen spoke to VT from his Laguna Hills, Calif., home.

Vegetarian Times: A lot of musicians have become vocal about vegetarianism. But when you gave up meat, it wasn’t exactly something rockers would talk about on MTV. What’’s changed?

Phil Collen: When I became a vegetarian in 1983, it was still a bit rare and even weird. I always thought meat was barbaric, though. It was not a health thing for me, but a moral thing. I wasn’t going to put something in my mouth that was slaughtered for my entertainment. It’’s a very ego-based way of eating.

VT: What do you say to bodybuilders and competitive athletes who think you can’’t achieve peak performance on a plant-based diet?

PC: I bench-pressed twice my body weight a couple of years ago. That’s what a pro athlete would do.

VT: This summer the band is releasing its first-ever live album, Mirrorball. For Def Leppard newbies, which album makes the best introduction?

PC: Hysteria, our most successful to date. It went Diamond, selling more than 14 million copies. Or Vault, our greatest hits. It has a bit of everything.


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