We get a lot of questions concerning the way we live and eat. So, we figure we should answer the most common ones here for everyone to see!
Why are you vegan?
We have three reasons for being vegan: for the animals, for our health, and for the well-being of the environment. We made the decision to go from vegetarian to vegan once we watched Earthlings and Forks Over Knives. Having already been vegetarians for moral reasons, we simply opened our eyes to the cruelty of the dairy industry. We have always been interested in leading happy & healthy lives, so nixing ALL animal products was inevitable.
How long have you been vegetarian/vegan?
We have been vegetarian since 2001. We both decided to go vegan in August 2011.
Where do you get protein?
This is the number one question all vegetarians and vegans get. And there’s one reason we hear it all the time-the meat and dairy industry’s sleek advertising. It’s amazing how no one cares about what you eat and how you get protein or nutrients until you tell them you don’t consume animals. Have you ever met anyone with a protein deficiency? Nope-didn’t think so-(but I bet you know many people with heart disease and cancer, right? think about it…) Protein deficiency only exists in poor countries in cases of extreme starvation. If you’re eating enough calories-you’re getting enough protein. You cannot be protein defiecient without being calorie-deficient. Also, where do you think the animals that humans eat get their protein? Wait for it…here it comes….THE GRASS! That’s right-there is protein and calcium and iron and everything you need in plants! Some of the strongest animals on this plant are herbivores-elephants, horses, rhinos, gorillas…healthy blood and chlorophyll build cells which build muscle.
People eat meat and think they will become as strong as an ox, forgetting that the ox eats grass. ~ Pino Caruso
Do you have any tips for someone trying to become vegetarian or vegan?
Of course! We suggest you do your research, first and foremost. Read blogs and books and watch documentaries on the subject of food, health, and agriculture today. Read research papers, learn how to spot skewed science versus accurate science. When you know why you’re doing what you’re trying to do, it makes the decisions and choices that go along with it much easier. Also, find a community either online or in your city for vegetarians and vegans. Having a friend or two to lean on during your transition is extremely helpful-and if you can’t find one-we’re always here! Feel free to email us with any questions you may have and we will try to help in the best way we can! firstname.lastname@example.org
Are you two the only ones in your family who avoid animal products?
Nope! There are actually many people in our family who avoid different animal products for different reasons. Some of us are vegans, some are vegetarians, some are pescatarians. When we became vegan, we inspired several people around us to transition their diet into a healthier one. Kelli’s husband, Jason, became a weekday vegan and weekend vegetarian. Our mom and stepfather went completely vegan as well – immediately after Forks Over Knives. It’s incredibly rewarding to help inspire others to transition and improve their health and well being.
Do you avoid animal products like leather, suede, and honey?
First of all, let us just say that we don’t believe being vegan is about being perfect, it’s about doing the best you can. We like to make conscious decisions about what we buy and from where we buy it, etc. So, yes, we have been avoiding buying new items with animal products for quite a few years now. We try to avoid it as best as we can. We understand the power of our dollar and how every dollar we spend casts a vote for the future. Of course, there will be times when it’s nearly un-avoidable (ex: most cars – whether they have leather seats or not-do contain some leather). You can’t live on this earth without causing some destruction by default. But when faced with the choice, we always opt for the alternative. Honey is a hot topic among vegans. Some eat it, some do not. We do try to avoid it now for the most part.
Do you avoid products tested on animals?
We certainly do avoid them. When it comes to cleaning and home products or bath and beauty products, we always check for not only harmful ingredients for us, but also if it is distributed by a company who tests their products on animals. The sad part is, most of what is in the mainstream at groceries and beauty aisles is tested on animals. Some stuff isn’t, but you just have to be aware of it. For help with this, here’s PETA’s list of Cruelty-Free companies and products: Click to follow the cruelty-free bunny!
Do you count calories or fat?
No! That’s one perk of a plant-based vegan lifestyle! We eat until we’re satisfied. As long as it comes from the earth (fruits, vegetables, whole grains), it is good for us and won’t make us fat or unhealthy! We do try to take it easy on the sugar-laden sweets though since processed and refined sugar is quite the little devil! We save that for special occasions and parties. We also try to limit our intake of added oils.
How do you stay physically fit, other than your diet. Do you exersize regularly?
We try to. This is one area we are constantly getting better at and improving. We believe that it is important to be physically active as well as it is to eat correctly. We enjoy activities such as yoga, running, going to the gym, and walking as much as we can.
Do you spend more money at the grocery now that you are eating a plant-based vegan diet? Any tips for those on a budget?
Meat and dairy products are out-the-box more expensive than plants and other whole foods. If you are buying meat and dairy substitutes, then you’ll probably spend the same amount that you’d spend eating meat and dairy (and most of the time the substitutes are super-processed) so save those for special occasions – like 4th of July when everyone else is eating hot dogs-you bring out those delicious veggie dogs and show ’em how it’s done!
We suggest you shop the perimeter of the store, buy from the bulk bins, and avoid boxed and canned goods as much as you can to save even more money. Check the unit prices of your food items. That’s a tip we learned from Ellen Jaffe Jones of Eat Vegan on $4 a Day. Beans and rice are some of the cheapest foods on the planet! Buy those in bulk and you’re good to go! Plan ahead and buy only what you need for your meals that week. Make extra and freeze it.
Do you judge others who are not vegan or vegetarian?
No, we certainly do not. Our own diets have been a personal journey. We have gone through many transitions with our diet and continue to go through them as we learn more and more from our own bodies. While our #1 reason for living this lifestyle remains ethical in nature, we are also concerned about our health and the health of our planet. The only thing we encourage is that everyone take the responsibility for educating themselves about their own health and their decisions because those decisions do affect the world around us all.
Do you get judged a lot for living this lifestyle?
All the time. We live in a meat and dairy-laden society. We have learned that food is an extremely touchy subject for people. It tends to offend some people when they learn we do not eat what is expected of a typical person to eat. We get it – but that is no reason not to live out our values and better our own health and the environment.
Do you really think that by avoiding animal products you are making a difference?
Absolutely! Over 12 years ago when we first started avoiding all meat, we got funny looks at restaurants and a vegetarian menu was hardly anywhere to be found. Today, there is no question. Most restaurants have at least a one, usually several, vegetarian options already on their menus! Waiters and waitresses understand what vegetarian means and the word “vegan” is becoming more and more understood. Supermarkets are fulfilling the demand for vegetarian and vegan products as well. Heck, even fast-food chains have picked up on it. The world is starting to catch up a little. We’ll get there one day. We recently read an article that stated that over 60% of Americans are now cutting back animal products in some way or another. That’s huge and that number will only get bigger! It has to in order for us to begin to reverse the damage that this planet has suffered because of over-fishing, and the meat/dairy industries. It is an economic game and we are confident that we’ll take back our health and the health of this planet and animals.
What about Vitamin B-12?
It can’t be stated better than by Dr. McDougall himself: http://drmcdougall.com/misc/2007nl/nov/b12.htm
Are alcoholic beverages vegan? Do either of you drink alcohol?
Some alcoholic beverages are not vegan due to fish or egg-derived clarifying/filtering agents used in making beer and wine. But, luckily for us, a lot of our favorite alcoholic beverages are vegan! A great reference guide that we use is Barnivore.com.
We do drink alcohol on special occasions and sometimes with dinner or when hanging out with friends and family. We consider ourselves “lightweights” – 1 or 2 glasses of wine is pretty much as far as we tend to go by choice.
Do you buy only organic?
We try to when we can, but when we can’t we generally tend to stick to the dirty dozen/clean 15 rule. Here’s a link to a reference for it: http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/
Do you plan on raising your future children as vegans?
We do. Based on the knowledge that we have on the health aspect of it, we can’t see a better route to take in feeding our kids one day. We cannot imagine feeding our children food that we don’t consider good enough for ourselves to eat.
We were at an Engine 2 event at Whole Foods where Rip Esselstyn spoke and he commented that the best gift you can give your children is the gift of a clean palette. We could not agree more. The American Dietetic Association states, “It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.” You can read more from them here: http://www.eatright.org/about/content.aspx?id=8357
If you were on a desert island, would you eat meat?
Believe it or not, we get asked this hypothetical question. People seem to want to always “catch” us making an exception for eating animals. It’s like they want to see us push aside our ethics to, in some way, justify such a thing. So, let’s just get this straight here and now. We aren’t on a desert island in dire straits trying to find food. We’re in America where food is so in your face that even poor people can be obese. We Do NOT need animal products to make us healthy-in fact we’re healthier without them. And, hypothetically, if we did get stranded somehow on a desert island-would this island lack plants and trees? Is this island not on the ocean where seaweed grows? And if the island supports life-such as the hogs and whatnot you want us to eat-couldn’t we just track them to find the food that they eat? Wouldn’t that be more sustainable anyways? We would do everything possible to not eat the animal life on the island. Bottom line, this question holds no weight in debating a plant-based diet.
What health-related books do you recommend on this subject?
We love (to name a few):
The China Study by Colin T. Campbell
Whole by Colin T. Campbell
The Engine 2 Diet by Rip Esselstyn
Crazy, Sexy Diet by Kris Carr
The PH Miracle by Robert O. Young PhD
Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin
The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-based Nutrition by M.S., R.D., C.P.T., Julieanna Hever
Thrive Foods by Brendan Brazier
Thrive Fitness by Brendan Brazier
How to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., MD
Natural Cures They Don’t Want You to Know About by Kevin Trudeau (not a vegan book but very very good and eye-opening)
The Food Revolution by John Robbins
What cookbooks do you recommend for a beginner?
We LOVE Happy Herbivore’s website (she has free recipes on there) and her books, The Happy Herbivore and Everyday Happy Herbivore by Lindsay S. Nixon
Engine 2 Diet has delicious and familiar recipes as well. Everything that we have made from it has been great!!
What websites do you recommend?
What movies/documentaries do you recommend?
We LOVE documentaries so buckle up! Here are some we think you should see:
Forks Over Knives (www.forksoverknives.com)
Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead (www.fatsickandnearlydead.com)
The End of the Line (www.endoftheline.com)
Food Matters (http://foodmatters.tv/)
Hungry For Change (http://www.hungryforchange.tv/)
The Gerson Miracle
The Beautiful Truth
Crazy, Sexy Cancer
Pirate For The Sea
No Impact Man