This quiz comes to you compliments of HealthIQ.com, part of a life insurance company that believes that vegans and other health-conscious people should pay less for insurance. Share your score with #veganIQ.
Listen to Podcast 093015: We open with an animal rights story with Danielle Legg, registrar for Main Street Vegan Academy and assistant to pastry chef Fran Costigan, cookbook authors Annie and Dan Shannon, Candle Cafe and Candle owners Joy Pierson and Bart Potenza, and me. And her roommate owns Dunwell Doughnuts. In other words: she knows the NYC vegan scene inside and out. Danielle lives in Brooklyn and there’s a chicken slaughterhouse in her neighborhood. For her 35th birthday last month, she wanted to save a chicken, so she asked. Now, she’d already spoken with a couple of the workers there; she was always nice, and even though they knew she was vegan and opposed their line of work, the lines of communication were open, so when she asked for a chicken to take to the new Skylands Animal Sanctuary in New Jersey, they said yes. A few days later, she brought them vegan doughnuts to say thanks. They said, “What do we owe you for the doughnuts?” She started to say, “Nothing,” but then blurted out, “I’d really like another chicken,” and they gave her one.
Only problem: These two girls are broilers, a very different kind of chicken from the egg layers currently living at Skylands. In order to accommodate the new residents, they’re having to build a separate chicken house, at an expense Danielle had not expected to shackle them with. To defray the costs, she’s established a crowd-funding venture: https://www.crowdrise.com/newchickenhouseforre. Thanks for helping if you can. And follow Danielle on Twitter @ThisGirlIsVeg.
Then we were joined by Garth Davis, MD, a Houston bariatric surgeon and plant-based physician whose brand new book, Proteinaholic: How Our Obsession with Meat Is Killing Us and What We Can Do About It, tells the truth about the health and obesity crisis in no uncertain terms. And he and co-author Howard Jacobson, Ph.D, do this in a way that’s so gripping, you’d think you were reading a novel. Everyone who eats food could learn something from this book — and anyone practicing medicine needs to read it. On the show, Dr. Davis says some brilliant stuff. When I asked him about the docs who go on TV and spout the old high-protein line, he said, “They act as if science doesn’t exist.” Enough said.
Note: I didn’t get a chance to read Proteinaholic before the interview, but I have now and it is stunning — a real page-turner: friendly, funny in places, and presents the scientific info brilliantly for lay readers. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to any vegan (and their paleo pals). ~ VM
Blast from the past: We love our vegan docs. Check out this show from 2013 featuring plant-based physician and host of the Dr. Don Show, Don Wagner, D.O. ~ http://www.unity.fm/episode/MainStreetVegan_04031
My husband and I did a three-day juice cleanse last week, and the aftereffects are dazzling. Even though it was short as “cleanses” go – if you’ve watched the documentary, Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead, you saw appealing Aussie Joe Cross do juice for a whopping sixty days – our mini-experience was the perfect segue from winter to spring.
The main changes we both noticed after going back to solid food yesterday and today are:
- The desire to keep juicing as part of daily life – two glasses a day seem about right
- A readiness for a mostly-raw way of eating as the weather warms
- A somewhat decreased appetite overall and no desire whatsoever, at this point anyway, for rich, heavy food
- And of course the “glow” that comes from giving the digestive system a break and filling on the phytochemicals in those colorful, tasty, fresh juices.
You know, I just said that juices are “tasty.” They can be. But you can also juice up some concoctions that may be plenty healthy, but you want to drink them with a clothespin on your nose! To the rescue comes veteran cookbook author, Robin Asbell, with her brand new and gorgeous book: Juice It! Energizing Blends for Today’s Juicers. Every single one of these lovely blends is sheer delight – both to your taste buds and your 50 trillion cells looking for the best nourishment you can give them.
Robin invited me to be part of a blog potluck for the new book, meaning that I got to try out glorious gallons of her tantalizing juice blends (Mango Mellow Out, Kale Country, Superfruit Sangria!) and share with you one of my favorites: Green Lemonade.
I’ve enjoyed other green lemonades, and recipe maven Robin (no surprise) has a different take on this classic. The result: yum, yum, yum; a beautiful color; and incredibly easy to make. (I have to admit that I used prewashed spinach to make this juice in my easy-to-clean Breville Juice Fountain, so the time I spent making enough of this juice to serve both hubby and me was pretty close to no time at all.)
cucumber * spinach * apple * lemon
from Juice It! © Robin Asbell 2014, Chronicle Books
Makes about 2 cups (480 ml.)
1 medium cucumber
4 cups/115 g packed spinach
1 large apple, cored
½ lemon, peeled and seeded
This green juice is refreshing and balanced, with a tangy finish. Lemon juice serves two purposes: It brightenes the sweet, mineral flavor of the spinach, and it adds vitamin C, which makes all that iron more absorbable.
Juice the cucumber, spinach, apple, and lemon, in that order. Run the pulp through again to extract as much liquid as possible. Serve immediately.
If you’d like to win a copy of Robin Asbell’s Juice It! post here or on my Facebook page (VictoriaMoranAuthor): your answer to the question:
What single action makes you feel healthiest?
The contest is open April 27 to May 9 midnight, U.S. residents only (sorry, Canadian friends – publisher’s criterion). The winner will be chosen at random and announced May 10.
If you’d like to check out my fellow bloggers’ take on Robin’s juices – and get more recipes to try – visit:
Chef Fran Costigan:
And of course the lady herself, Robin Asbell!
At the age of 44 I transitioned from a vegetarian diet to a vegan one. Now 48, the majority of my professional work is focused on veganism – something I never intended, or expected, nearly four years ago.
When I went vegan it was all about the food. I wasn’t too handy around the kitchen so I wasn’t sure if this “phase” would last. I started following a few vegan nutrition sites, like TheVeganRD, and learned that eating vegan was not all that complicated: eat vegetables, fruit, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds. Okay, but what do I do with them? I started collecting vegan cookbooks and reading blogs – as well as following vegans on Facebook and Twitter – and suddenly I was feeling confident in the kitchen. I could prepare nutritious and delicious plant-based meals.
I started writing about this transformation – vegetarian to vegan, non-cook to recipe developer – on my blog. As I wrote about my hits and misses in the kitchen I continued to learn from other writers and bloggers. One blog I followed with regularity was Choosing Raw by Gena Hamshaw. One day Gena wrote about her visit to a farm sanctuary. For some reason, in that moment, I got it. I got that for me veganism could not longer be just about the food. It was bigger than me and it wasn’t just about what I ate. I was inspired to find an animal sanctuary near me and a quick Google search later I was on the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary (WFAS) website clicking through images of rescued animals. Within an hour I became a monthly donor to support Clover, a rambunctious goat I met via video on the WFAS site. A few months later I met Clover in person when I visited the farm for the first time. I was forever changed and from that point my veganism was clear to me. It was about the animals.
During this time I found myself enjoying writing my blog – and for other online venues – immensely. More than I loved my “day job”, actually. I started going to all kinds of vegan events – social gatherings, activist meetings, conferences. I was really getting into the “vegan thing”. At a vegan blogging conference I finally met Ginny Messina, the author behind the aforementioned TheVeganRD website; a few months later she emailed me out of the blue to invite me to work with her on her next book, a book for vegan women. Of course I said yes!
It was then that I began to rethink what I was doing with my life. My professional life, that is. I was so incredibly passionate about veganism and knew that my “niche” was changing minds with food – and in the process educating them about animals. I decided it was time to come up with a plan that would position me to take a huge career leap of faith. I knew that I needed to learn more about what I loved; I needed to become student of my passions.
I began taking public culinary classes so that I could improve how I communicated home cooking techniques to the veg-curious. I took writing workshops to sharpen my skills. But I wanted more. I was out for a run one morning and listening to an Our Hen House podcast. Victoria Moran was the guest, talking about her latest book Main Street Vegan. Almost as an afterthought, as the interview was concluding, Victoria said something like, “Oh, wait! I wanted to tell you about the new Main Street Vegan Academy! I will be training vegan lifestyle coaches!” What?! I ran back to my house, went to her website, downloaded the application and the next day I heard from Victoria – I was admitted in her inaugural MSV Academy. This was it. This is what I was looking for.
I attended the weeklong, transformative training. I made life-long friends during those six days, including Victoria, and I found clarity. I found the way in which I could start doing what I loved for a living. I launched my own business that year and 18 months later I am now a published author
and am working on my second book. I offer private kitchen coaching, I teach classes, and I counsel clients one-on-one. I do cooking demonstrations at Veg Festivals and on local TV stations. I provide plant-based corporate consulting. I also volunteer for the local vegan and vegetarian Meetup and I serve on the board of directors of Our Hen House. I am living my vegan dream, personally and professionally.
I run into a lot of people who ask, “How can I become a ‘professional vegan’?” and my answer is always the same:…
I pride myself on staying current. Boomer I may be, but I keep up. I’ve embraced technology, love Twitter, and juggle iDevices with some adroitness. Even so, I’ve never warmed to blogging.
I know exactly why: I started writing for a couple of pop music magazines when I was only fourteen. They paid me – 35 cents a word to start, then fifty, but they paid me, and the fact that they did told me that I was a serious writer. Now, eleven books and several hundred articles later, the assertion “I am a writer” comprises a huge chunk of my identity. And there’s the rub: blogging is writing. Some of it is exceedingly good writing. But it’s not professional writing, even when done by professional writers, because, unlike magazine articles and essays for anthologies and corporate reports and technical manuals, this is writing for which writers are not paid.
You may be thinking that I’m an awfully greedy person to put so much stock in financial reward, but I don’t expect to get paid for other things I do. I’ll sing for you for free (although you might pay me to stop) because I’m not a professional singer. I’ll offer you legal advice or medical advice, and its worth will be zero because I’m neither an attorney nor a physician. I’ll feed your dog, listen to your dilemmas, and take you shopping, all for free, because I’m not a pet-sitter, a therapist, or an image consultant. But asking a professional writer to write for free seems like your dentist to do a root canal or your accountant to do your taxes and not send a bill. Besides, I’m working on a new book – my twelfth: with a number like that, it ought to be a magnum opus. I don’t want to blog away my best ideas and favored phrases.
So, I have a sort of writer’s block, I guess: blogger’s block. And I believe that having it somehow holds up the profession of the journalist and the author. Lord knows, somebody has to. And yet, I’m supposed to blog. As a person with a message, as an author and speaker and someone with experience to share, blogging – perhaps even more than tweeting and Facebooking and YouTubing and Instagramming — is expected. Not to blog is not to show up in the world. Are you sensing a conundrum?…
My bestselling book (so far) is Creating a Charmed Life. It’s not new anymore – it was actually published in 1999: another millennium! – but I feel it was a gift, a book that came more through me than from me. Since I wrote that book, and a tenth anniversary sequel, Living a Charmed Life, people always ask me what are the building blocks of my own charmed Life. These are what they look like to me today. If you can use any of them, help yourself:Remembering every minute of my life that I’m never alone and always loved
- Being grateful for the big and little miracles of my life, starting with a 10-item gratitude list as my first thought each morning
- Talking with my beautiful “action partner” at 6:45 a.m.: we hold each other accountable for living our dreams
- Stretching before bed and upon arising – in yoga they say “You’re as young as your spine”
- Juicing apple, kale, celery, and lemon to take to the gym – it’s a vitality infusion
- Appreciating my husband, my daughter, and my whole extended family — dogs included, of course
- Doing a little something every day to help alleviate some little part of the suffering in the world
- Putting my whole self into whatever writing, speaking, teaching, and coaching are on my calendar
- Enjoying fresh, healthy vegan food — lots of it raw
- Delighting in the wonder that God and I got me New York City and, after thirteen years, living here still thrills me.
I hope my little list will jump-start yours. What’s in your life today that is downright magical? Love it, grab it, do it — take it off the back burner if that’s where it’s been. There are no accidents: you’re only reading this because you deserve a charmed life.
Main Street Vegan Academy graduate Ilse Singer wrote this to me this morning. It made my day. I worked to get the spacing right and can’t devote any more time to that (fantasy: assistant…full-time…from my keyboard to God’s ears…), but you get the gist. This is so moving.
I wanted to share this with you, because you, and MSVA, are the catalyst that has aligned me with purpose ..and I finally know, no matter the current challenges, that this IS what I am meant to do, in one capacity or another. Being a vehicle for the message is what will guide my life.
Last week I randomly walked into a deli (that I never go into)in my Harlem neighborhood, and there was woman — older, poor, with a dog, a cocker spaniel, that was so horrifically matted she couldn’t walk properly. She was encased in a hard shell — a cruelty case by virtue of neglect. So, I gave the woman my number, delicately explained that this was causing her dog a great deal of pain and suffering, and asked if she would please let me help, and take the dog to my vet. At first I bitched (to myself) because I cannot take on one more rescue and don’t have money to spare, didn’t need this today, blah, blah. And then I got grateful: for being put in that place, at that time, and given the opportunity to be of service, and alleviate suffering in another being.
The picnic table consists of: Wonder bread, mac and cheese, SWEET drinks, ribs, burgers — you know the deal. And the woman who invited me is diabetic — she just had 2 toes amputated — and all of her friends are sick in one way or another and on multiple meds. One of her grandkids is having surgery for an issue that is 100 percent caused by dairy ..and here I am trying to, I don’t know, not say anything, but I did. And they listened. We talked about dairy, and refined carbohydrates, and animal protein/too much protein. And we then talked about beans, and quinoa, and salads and kale and veg sources of protein! And my host — her name is Norma — got excited!
She committed to starting 2 nights a week, subbing for her usual meat and white rice a big salad with all of her fave veggies, with beans, and some nuts, and some grain she likes, and lemon and olive oil. She is totally into it, and so is one of her friends. And we will stay in touch, I’ll work with her. And out of the most unlikely crossing of paths, and very unlikely crossing of people and worlds, a wonderful lesson was given to me: I AM a coach. And I am passionate about it, and about sharing the truth. Something in me has the ability to reach people. And this is exactly what I am supposed to be doing.
If you care to donate few dollars to help Ilse pay the vet bills for Norma’s dog, Honey, her PayPal account is BPPilates@aol.com
I’m glad I did this. I’ve learned that if I ever feel the need for a vacation, I can take one in Chinatown and save the airfare and time zone changes. I’ve learned that, as a writer, I need stimulation. Since having a dog, I’ve tried to write more at home and less at Starbucks. It doesn’t work for me: I write out of activity and input. And I’ve learned that writing is less scary when I do it than when I don’t, but except for those magical times when the Muse is dictating, it’s always scary. It’s creation. It’s putting something on this planet that wasn’t here before.
Yesterday I walked with Forbes, and wrote. ‘Walked Forbes and got a manicure and pedicure, and wrote. ‘Walked Forbes yet again, had dinner in little Italy with my husband — he’s leaving today for work in Bangkok — and my stepson and stepdaughter, visiting from Toronto. And I wrote a little bit more. It keeps coming, shaping, forming itself. I changed the working title. And this morning I’m going to go over the Table of Contents and enliven that. What I have there now is basic, but I want each of the chapter-essays to be a little art piece, infinitely practical, but nevertheless have the capacity to fly.
I’d hoped to press “send” and get the proposal to my agent today, but it’s the weekend and she won’t see it till Monday anyway, so I’m going to keep honing this evening (I’m speaking today at 3 — Integral Yoga Day for Your Health) and a few concentrated hours tomorrow. Then it has to go — imperfections and all. Monday and Tuesday will be whirlwind days getting ready for the August Main Street Vegan Academy session starting Tuesday evening. Once the program begins, we go nonstop (except for sleeping) for 5-and-a-half days. The proposal will be in the hands of my agent and editor and I’ll be focused on the needs of my students and faculty. And then, when they’re graduated and setting off to work wonders in the world, I’ll be the one at Starbucks — in gym clothes, no makeup, corner table near a plug — going from proposal to book. I can’t do it. Never could. But I trust that the Power that’s made its way into this world through writers for a long, long time will do it one more time with me.
Things picked up. It started with that podcast yesterday morning, and the living energy of the raw food I bought at Juice Plus. Then I reached out to actual humans. Writing is a solitary pursuit, but I’m an extrovert. That’s why I often write at Starbucks — and I’ve gotten flack for it. When I used to blog for Beliefnet.com, people commented, “You talk about Starbucks too much. Are you on their payroll?” Well, no (although that would be nice)…It’s just that Starbucks lets you sit all day with a plug and WiFi and soy milk. But the real gift for me is the people, their energy, their eccentricities, the views out the windows. The best of these came when I first arrived in New York and I looked out the Columbus Avenue window of an Upper West Side Starbucks and a fellow whizzed past, on a unicycle, talking on his cell phone and carrying his cup of coffee. I translate those images and the feelings they evoke into what I’m writing. I’ve written half a dozen books at Starbucks. Of course I’d prefer a ma and pa place, but they don’t take kindly to having somebody hang out all day, even though I buy something , if only a water, every hour. It’s my rent.
It seems to me, then, that if just having people around helps me write, what about having people’s input? Tah,dah! I was spoiled in my early years as an author because I had the most amazing agent on earth, Patti Breitman. She retired at forty-seven to be a full-time philanthropist, always her goal and vision, but on the books we did together — The Love-Powered Diet, Get the Fat Out, Shelter for the Spirit, Creating a Charmed Life, Lit from Within, and Fit from Within — she was almost a collaborator as well as an agent. She read every chapter, every essay, and gave me her feedback. It was perfect for an extroverted writer like me and I’ve missed her input and her caring. So: I called her. And also Karen Kelly, the superb writer’s writer who picked up The Love-Powered Diet after it went out of print to republish as Love Yourself Thin in 1997 when she was the editor at Daybreak, a now defunct imprint of Rodale. The two of them understood me perfectly and told me just what I needed to hear. Then I got in touch with Lisa Pitman, the Toronto recipe creator and food photographer who’s doing the recipes for the new book, and she lined up her scrumptious, healthy, mostly raw recipes so that there’s one perfect pairing for each of the forty chapters of the book-to-be.
Today I’ll go over the proposal again and tweak, in particular, the “brief overview,” the very first part of the proposal. That needs to be perfect: it’s what will grab the editor and the others on her team, and it’ll end up in press materials and on the back cover when the embryo on my hard drive becomes a book with a cover. Then I’ll get it off to my agent and the wheels will start turning. What it means for me: I’ll be back in writing mode, my favorite state of being.
I also realized yesterday as I walked Forbes in the afternoon that these few days are vacation. I don’t tend to take vacations: since I travel so much to speak, staying home is a treat. And yet this really is a lovely little working vacation — unconventional since I’m alone except for Forbes, and I don’t want to leave him by himself much so I’m not doing much outside the room except long walks with him, but those walks are so nourishing. This morning we hiked through the Lower East Side to Organic Avenue on Suffolk Street and I stocked up for breakfast and lunch: a matcha chia smoothie (yummy does not begin to describe it), and green juice, Greek salad, and kale chips for later. After I post this, I’ll tend to the proposal and if I get it done, I’ll treat myself to a reflexology treatment — a real bargain in this neighborhood.
Rudolph Nureyev once said of ballet: “It never becomes easy, but it does become possible.” I find writing like that — not this kind of writing, a quick post, a journal entry, an email — but real writing, a book or an article for a magazine. It causes you dig so deep and care so much it hurts, but there’s something to it when you’re done. And that’s why, despite the all the “content” online for free, this kind of writing is worth paying for, and reading over again, and keeping the book on a bedside table where you can access it at will and allow it to change your life.
Well, I’m reporting on the second day from the third morning. I didn’t write last night because I didn’t have the heart, or the energy. Chinatown is fun and I’m having a nice little vacation-with-dog. They’re easygoing about dogs around here and people don’t seem to mind having Forbes in their stores, so the environmental inspiration is top-notch. But I’m still blocked. I want the book to be so real, so honest, and so helpful that I think I expect to write the Bible. I need to be okay with just writing something from me to the reader. Maybe it will set the world on fire, maybe not. But it will be out there to help somebody.
So, yesterday Forbes and I walked to Soho and had breakfast at a place with dog-friendly outdoor seating. Then I wrote — on three different proposals. Maybe I need to accept that I’m writing three books.
At midday we went to the Lower East Side, looked for shoes at Mooshoes (they’re having a huge sale on Saturday if you’re nearby), and had strawberry shortcake for lunch at Babycakes. A little more writing, then a break for the radio show, which was really wonderful — a client of mine who went from couch potato to marathon runner, then Jinjee Talifero, a raw-food mother of five, and finally Sid Garza-Hillman, author of Approaching the Natural: A Health Manifesto. It all worked. It felt great. And I didn’t know any more what to write about afterwards than before.
So I walked Forbes again and picked up broccoli with black mushrooms and brown rice from Vegetarian Dim Sum House for dinner. Shortly thereafter I was asleep — no construction noise last night like there was the night before — and woke up refreshed, but still blocked.
I headed out this morning at 7:15, an inspirational podcast coming through my earphones, and trekked through the Lower East Side with Forbes. Someone on the podcast said “Depression can’t get to you when you’re moving,” which was an uplifting thought: I’m down here attempting to write book #12; I get an A for action. And he also talked about not deflecting ideas of others when they could be helpful. I haven’t talked with a lot of people about this book, but I’ve gotten a lot of ideas from my Higher Power and I think I’m deflecting those. I need to just pick one and write it. Even if it’s not perfect. Even if it doesn’t make the New York Times Bestseller List. Even if it’s just one more book out of many that reaches a few people and changes a few lives. That takes willingness. And humility.
When the podcast ended, I found myself in front of the Juice Press
shop on Rivington Street and felt this was an invitation to go in and get provisions for the day: Fountain of Youth Smoothie (c’mon, who could resist?), raw falafel salad, green juice, and cacao balls. Good food for good thoughts.