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On her Happy Herbivore blog, Lindsay Nixon says on that she is a vegan for the animals, for the environment, and for her health. And, evidently, she was always destined to be a vegan.
Lindsay remembers a time when she was child and preferred raw vegetables and fruit and thought meat, eggs, and cheese tasted funny. Like many of us, she went through a stage in high school and college where she wanted to fit in, and she began to eat like most Americans. After a scare with pre-cancerous cells, she decided to eat healthy again.
She first cut out chemicals and ate organic foods, went vegetarian, and then became vegan. As Lindsay's diet changed, so did her interest in nutrition, and she began to read about veganism and the animal agriculture industry. This was important for her because it helped her decide not only to be a vegan, but as she says, going "from a boca burger vegan to a low-fat, whole foods vegan."
Within a year, she went from wearing a size 12 to wearing a 6, and then soon after starting wearing a 4. At that point her weight stabilized and she started exercising. Her husband has also lost a huge amount of weight and cured his early onset IBS and skin problems with his vegan diet.
Then the Happy Herbivore was born, and Lindsay's stories, pictures, and recipes have been helping people for years. Lindsay's first cookbook, called The Happy Herbivore Cookbook is a guide to making low-fat vegan dishes that are simple enough for even a new cook. It's packed with gorgeous pictures and simple recipes, like Lindsay's famous Black Bean Brownies and a yummy seitan recipe.
Lindsay's second cookbook, Everyday Happy Herbivore focuses on meals you can prepare in under 30 minutes and have on the table every night.
She also has Happy Herbivore Around the World, a vegan cookbook that is dedicated to international food, and Happy Herbivore Light & Lean, which is perfect for people who are looking to shed some pounds.
1. You've been a vegan for a few years now, but can probably still remember some of the challenges you had when going vegan. What would you say your biggest challenges were, and how did you overcome them?
In the beginning I was obsessing over all the things I couldn't have and it was so frustrating! I was on the verge of giving up when I made a list of all the things I could have. The list was so long! It totally changed my perspective.
Once I started concentrating on what I could eat rather than what I couldn't, veganism was a breeze.
Eating out with friends was another challenge. Back then, vegan or vegetarian fare was unheard of. Even the salads were laced with meat and cheese. If I wanted to order anything, I was going to have to heavily adapt a dish on the menu.
At first, I was uncomfortable speaking up and asking for all these requests -- I didn't want to see like a brat. I realized rather quickly that most restaurants and waiters don't mind helping you out if you ask nicely. After all, they want your money! I also made it a practice to tell the restaurant manager how grateful I was that they accommodated my needs. I even landed a few free meals that way.
2. You admit on your blog that your diet before veganism was not so healthy. Can you tell us about the major changes you've noticed in your health since going vegan?
Weight loss! My new diet also gave me increased energy. I was able to kick a life long addiction to caffeine, I felt inspired to workout everyday and I ran a marathon! (Just so you know, I had never even run a 5k before!). I went from a bona fide couch potato to an athlete. I climb mountains, I ride mountain bikes, I snowboard, I run marathons, I kick box and I try new, adventurous activities with ease.
I feel as though there is nothing I can’t do. I’m in the best shape of my life and I love it! Most importantly, my once shaky and unhealthy relationship with food (read: yo yo dieter/ED) is now a blessed one — I love food, eating and cooking!
3. As a vegan athlete, what types of foods do you add to your diet to give you plenty of energy and a quick recovery time?
I eat a lot of fruit, especially berries and melons, and whole grains such as steel cut oats and brown rice. Natural carbs give me all the energy I need. After an intense workout or long run I drink fresh veggie juice or the recovery drinks in The Thrive Diet. I swear by them.
4. What's your favorite go-to meal on nights you're too busy to think?
Whole Wheat, Oil-Free Banana Pancakes. Scott makes them on nights when I'm too tired to cook or simply too brain dead to think. We also eat a lot of bean & salsa burritos or sweet potato quesadillas.
5. Tell us about your different e-cookbooks-- what's good for what type of food and cook?
Pudge-Free Holidays is great for the holidays or when you have time to make a slightly more complex meal, but there are a few quick and dirty recipes in there as well.
Backyard Vegan is my favorite! It was designed for picnics, potlucks and BBQs but most of the recipes store well and use basic ingredients making it a great cookbook for beginners. A lot of the recipes are great for weeknight meals and lunches as well. I mean, who doesn't want a meatball sub for lunch?
Sneak Peak is perfect for those with a sweet tooth as it is certainly desserts heavy but it also has a lot of comfort foods such as quiches, fried chicken fingers and nacho dip -- all of which are fat-free, vegan and healthy.
6. Do you have any advice for people toying with the idea of becoming a vegan?
I'm going to be a little controversial here (but only because it is effective!) Really think about what you're eating. If you truly face what the animal product is, where it comes from and what it went through, you will suddenly find the inner conviction to be vegan and your health, the animals and this earth will be all the better for it.
Also, remember that you are not alone and that there are thousands of people here to help you find your way! Once you stop looking for meat on your plate and find a few dairy substitutes you really love, being vegan will be so easy you’ll wonder why you ever had doubts.
Interview June 2009
Thank you Happy Herbivore Lindsay!