In episode 477 of The Joe Rogan Experience, Rogan speaks with Dennis McKenna, brother of the late Terence McKenna, and Joshua Wickerham, co-founder and executive director of the Ethnobotanical Stewardship Council. About 42 minutes into the conversation, Wickerham says, “If you want to have a transformative experience with plants and you’re leery of psychedelics, try going on an all plant-based diet for a little while. Change your intestinal bacteria. In a way, you’ll have this sense of levity, of lightness. It will change the way you think about yourself – not as quickly as a psychedelic plant experience, and it takes discipline. Or try a fast. I mean, there are ways to have these transformative experiences without drugs.”
At this point, in what has otherwise been a thoughtful conversation, Joe Rogan gets defensive and overreacts. You can tell his blood is boiling; his breathing becomes audible even as Wickerham talks. He interrupts Wickerham midsentence and, fumbling over his words, says “The only transformative experience that I’ve ever experienced from, uh, dealing with people that have gone and completely trans… transforming their life in a completely plant-based diet is they can never shut the fuck up about the fact that they’re on a plant-based diet. God damn they want to beat you over the head with it!” (Never mind that Joe Rogan constantly beats his audience over the head with his macho fascination with hunting.)
This is not an isolated incident. Rogan has demonstrated repeatedly that he has a soft spot for veganism. This might not be surprising if you know Joe Rogan only as a mixed martial artist and UFC commentator with an antiquated concept of masculinity. But Rogan’s anti-veganism starts to seem bizarre when you take into account his advocacy of psychedelic drugs.
In a recent Rolling Stone interview, Rogan says that smoking DMT makes him “more compassionate, more aware, more vulnerable.” Yet he lacks the compassion to refrain from killing animals. He seems to lack the awareness, which usually comes with powerful psychedelic experiences, that all life is one, and that as human beings we should be stewards of the environment and protectors of other animals. Shortly after claiming to be compassionate and aware, he shows off the meat in his freezer: moose, pig, deer, bear. “And all this I killed myself,” he brags.
What’s particularly interesting about his reaction to Wickerham’s comments is that Wickerham simply suggested that a brief trial of a plant-based diet can produce a shift in consciousness. Terence McKenna and Robert Anton Wilson, two leading figures of the psychedelic movement, made similar suggestions. Given Rogan’s enthusiasm for altered states, you would expect him to be open to this idea. Instead, he exhibits narrow-mindedness by launching into an anti-vegan tirade with illogical justifications for his meat consumption.
I am not the only person to notice Rogan’s irrational, hypocritical attitude toward veganism. As one Redditor put it, “Funny thing is, [Rogan] sometimes talks about how factory farms are so gross and how great veggies are. And it seems like he appreciates scientifically factual information (and there’s a ton of good data supporting whole-foods veganism as the healthiest diet).“
Discussing episode 646, another Redditor notes that while Rogan talks “about deep introspection, using float tanks to tap into deeper realities, helping people recover from addiction and becoming the best version of yourself, and being authentic, yadda yadda,” he completely dismisses veganism. “It seems to me that people who aren’t open to the whole picture of animal suffering/environmentalism, despite their claims for being open-minded, simply won’t make room, mentally, for something they are complicit in. I find this to be fascinating, particularly for people who pride and market themselves as reasonable, sensitive, and compassionate people.”
The fact that Rogan likes to think of himself as open-minded and compassionate explains his irrational defense mechanisms on the subject of veganism. If he wants to be open-minded and compassionate, why doesn’t he just become a vegan? As Wickerham mentions, veganism takes discipline. Rogan might have the discipline to train for jiujitsu, but dietary changes require a higher level of discipline.
The aforementioned Rolling Stone article is titled How Joe Rogan Went From UFC Announcer to 21st-Century Timothy Leary. Joe Rogan is funny and lovable, and he plays an important role in making information on psychedelics accessible to people who might otherwise never consider it. But his irrational attitude toward veganism shows that the comparison to Timothy Leary is an insult to the good doctor’s memory. Rogan hasn’t evolved that much after all. He is little more than a curious lunk who gets stoned and rambles about shit he read on the Internet. He can ramble about DMT all he wants, but that doesn’t bring him close to the legendary status of Leary, a pioneer of psychedelic research and leader of the countercultural revolution of the Sixties.