09/30/2011 at 06:00 PM EDT
Three years after a horrific plane crash
landed him in the hospital, Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker says his life has changed in some surprising ways.
For starters, the rocker immediately adjusted his diet.
Saying he eats "fake meat," Barker explains, "I've been vegan since I got out of the hospital … It's another eye opener. It changed my life in a number of ways," he tells Rolling Stone
He makes exercise more of a priority than ever, and also managed to wean himself off of prescription medication.
"I mean, I run every day now," he says. "I never ran before. In the hospital, I promised myself that I ever walked again, that I would eat well and swim every day. Before the plane crash, I was battling a painkiller addiction. For years."
"I can proudly say I didn't even take any pain medication after I got out of the hospital. They told me I'd be on some of the medicine for the rest of my life, but I got off all of them. They made me a completely different person."
He and the band have also reignited their creative collaboration, and have just released a new album, Neighborhoods
. Barker, 35, acknowledges the record has some "dark" elements and there "is a lot of seriousness" – which, he says, has something to do with what he has gone through.
"I looked Death right in the face," he says of the crash.
The band, too, is doing better since Barker and bassist Mark Hoppus were able to clear the air with guitarist Tom DeLonge, who left the group in 2005.
"I'm sitting on a bed and the doctors are talking about possibly amputating my foot. I'm reading this letter from Tom and there's a picture of his kids," he recalls of the first step towards reconciliation. "It was heavy," he says, adding, "I wanted to reach out to him."
Not all the changes have been positive, however. Barker openly struggled in the aftermath
, which included the death
of his close friend and fellow crash victim Adam "DJ AM" Goldstein. One not-so-happy after-effect of the crash is his inability to get back on an airplane.
"Unfortunately I can't do as much touring as I would like because I don't fly," he says. "It's an obstacle. I'm working on it though. I'm trying to get hypnotized, trying to talk to a doctor who retrains your brain. Maybe he'll help me fly again one day."