Jerry Garcia and Phil Lesh enjoying some health food, 1966
You’re more likely to associate vegetarian fare like falafel, hummus and ganja goo balls with the Grateful Dead and their parking-lot partisans than bloody steaks, and for good reason. The cookbook Cooking with the Dead collects “over 65 fabulous kynd [sic] and caring vegetarian recipes prepared with love” that Deadheads came up with to feed themselves and make money on the road. They took that “are you kind?” thing to heart.
But Owsley “Bear” Stanley, the Dead’s visionary soundman and the West Coast’s industrious LSD manufacturer, had some peculiar ideas about nutrition that might not have been welcome in the latter-day Deadheads’ tailgate scene. When the Dead moved down to Los Angeles for a few months in 1966, Owsley found a cheap house for rent in Watts—probably not a hard trick so soon after the riots—where the Dead and their retinue observed Owsley’s zero-carb, zero-fiber diet. From Rolling Stone:
In February 1966, Owsley and the Dead moved to Los Angeles for another series of Acid Tests. Owsley rented a pink stucco house in Watts, next door to a brothel, where they all lived together. For the Dead, the good news was that they now had nothing to do all day but jam. The bad news was that since Owsley was paying the rent, he expected them to adhere to his unconventional ideas and beliefs. He was convinced that human beings were natural carnivores, not meant to eat vegetables or fiber. “Roughage is the worst thing you can put through your body,” he says. “Letting vegetable matter go through a carnivorous intestine scratches it up and scars it and causes mucus that interferes with nutrition.”
For the next six weeks, the Grateful Dead and their girlfriends ate meat and milk for breakfast, lunch and dinner. “I’ll never forget that when you’d open the refrigerator, there were big slabs of beef in there,” Rosie McGee, Phil Lesh’s girlfriend at the time, later told Garcia biographer Jackson. “The shelves weren’t even in there — just these big hunks of meat. So of course behind his back, people were sneaking candy bars in. There were no greens or anything — he called it ‘rabbit food.’”
More on the idiosyncratic carnivorous diet of the young Grateful Dead after the jump…