We recently had the great fortune of catching up with Vegan of the Year Victoria Moran. Here’s how it went:
1. How does it feel to be ‘Vegan of the Year’?
Being “vegan of the year” is such an honor and such a surprise! I love that I’m sharing the spot this year with Dr. Michael Greger, one of my mentors. I know there are so many people out there doing serious good every day — rescuing animals off the street, going undercover into slaughterhouses — and they’re my heroes. I accept that my part as a writer, speaker, coach, and trainer of coaches through Main Street Vegan Academy is important, too. All of us together are getting the word out, helping the vegan message reach a far larger audience than I ever dreamed it would when I made the switch in the 1980s. Even though we have a long way to go and huge obstacles ahead of us — the meat, dairy, and pharmaceutical industries aren’t going to say, ‘Oh yes, veganism: grand idea’ and just step out of the way — it’s thrilling to see how far we’ve come and the momentum that’s building. I’m so grateful to be some small part of this incredible movement, and the Vegan of the Year recognition is both thrilling and humbling.
2. Please share with us a bit about your new book Main Street Vegan.
Main Street Vegan: Everything You Need to Know to Eat Healthfully and Live Compassionately in the Real World is a total guide to the vegan life, covering everything from health and nutrition to animal issues to dating, raising kids, buying shoes, and making the switch in your own way and at your own pace so that it lasts for life. Each of the 40 short chapters ends with an easy, tasty recipe that illustrates the ideas in the text just read — “Cheapish Chili” in the money-saving chapter, rocker John Joseph’s “Working Man Stew” in the “Rethink Macho” section, and “Catwalk Cobbler,” a veganized family recipe donated by Leanna Mai-ly Hilgart, founder and designer of the Vaute Couture line, following the “Choose Fashion with Compassion” chapter. VegNews magazine calls Main Street Vegan “The Vegan Bible, New Testament,” and says that it “overflows with heart and soul, a testament to our modern vegan era from an author who has lived the material as few others have.”
3. Do you have any words of advice for someone considering the switch to the vegan lifestyle?
If you’re thinking of making the switch, know yourself and change in the way that’s going to work for you. For some people nowadays, that’s going cold tofu: you get the information, you go vegan, pure and simple. I admire people like that so much and wish I could say that I was one of them. I wasn’t. And if you’re somebody who needs to take things in incremental stages, that works, too. Just keep your eye on the goal and move in the direction of all vegan/all the time.
It’s much easier to do this than it used to be, but still contrary to the culture. Sometimes it’s going to be a nuisance (i.e., “At the last airport I was in, I got kale salad. At this stupid airport, there isn’t even a Starbucks for soy milk!”) but those are the times to think about the animals: I may be annoyed at that airport, but they’re suffering on factory farms. For me, anyway, it puts it in perspective.
I’d also recommend that you get to know other vegans — in person, if possible, online otherwise — so you have support. For example, an acquaintance of mine attended a talk I gave about Main Street Vegan and went vegan right then and there; she had been, until that evening, a ‘contented omnivore.’ It’s been about three months with all going well, until yesterday when I got an SOS email. She’s been on vacation in the country for a month, and she was at a party where all the food seemed to be non-vegan and she couldn’t get to a store for anything suitable. I suggested that she take the cheese out of one of the (pre-made) sandwiches, stuff in extra veggies (so her sandwich wouldn’t seem restrictive and punitive), and try to find an avocado in her friend’s fridge to replace the fat and ‘staying power’ she’d have gotten from the cheese. She did it, and wrote back that it was all okay once she felt full and didn’t have to juggle low blood sugar along with being the odd vegan odd. If she hadn’t had a friend to contact, I don’t know what would have happened — she might have eaten the cheese and gone back to vegan the next day, or she may have simply decided that this is too hard and given up. Having a support system is absolutely vital.
Finally, I’ll borrow something from the 12 Step programs that works really well: the 24-hour plan. Commit to not eating animal foods (and highly processed foods, too, if your goal is to be a ‘whole-foods vegan,’ which I recommend) for this 24-hour period. What happens tomorrow or on your vacation next summer or when you get pregnant five years from now is irrelevant: today you’re vegan, for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, from morning till night. That’s it. That’s all you have to do. Anybody can do anything for a day. And the day is all we’ve got.
For more information about Victoria Moran and Main Street Vegan, see mainstreetvegan.net