Part I: Donna Beaudoin
Donna Michelle Beaudoin is an Author and Motivator who inspires and puts the burning passion in you to lead a healthy, drama-free lifestyle as a vegetarian or vegan.
She is the author of Sister Vegetarian’s 31 Days of Drama-Free Vegetarian and Vegan Living. She is a 45 yr old Vegan who knows how it is to try for years to become a vegetarian and then a vegan. She is a a vegan who incorporates 20% to 50% raw vegan meals weekly into my vegan meals for optimum health benefits. She is a Certified Raw Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Raw Vegan Chef through Raw Vegan Network-Ekaya Institute of Living Food Education. She uses her certifications to help people transition to a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle by illustrating the importance of adding to weekly meals raw vegan and whole foods for increased health benefits.
Caryn Hartglass: Hello! This is Caryn Hartglass and you’re listening to It’s All About Food. Hello and how are you today? We have a great show coming up. I’m looking forward to both of my guests today.
This whole vegan thing, it’s been going on for a long time. And what we talk about on It’s All About Food is certainly food and how food affects our personal health, the health of the planet, and certainly the animals that we choose to either eat or not eat. What’s really wonderful is we’re gaining a lot of momentum and people are thinking about vegans differently than they used to, thinking about vegetarians differently than certainly when I got started, seems like centuries ago, maybe 30 some-odd years ago. The thing that we find is that everyone’s on a different journey. And we discover the vegetarian diet, the vegan diet, in a unique way, each one of us, we react to it in a unique way. And some of us decide to eat this type of diet, some of us choose not to. But each one of us has a different life experience and a different journey and so our decisions to do certain things are different, and how we do things are different. Okay, difference is the theme here. But some people find changing diets very easy, most people have challenges. And different people’s stories and message will resonate with certain people and not with others. And so that’s the great thing about what’s going on right now because there’s so many vegetarian voices out there that are going to connect with certain people and help them move to a better place in the food continuum. And we’ve got one of them today. We’re going to be talking to Sister Vegetarian. We’re going to be talking to Donna Beaudoin. Or you could correct me if I didn’t pronounce it correctly but she’s the author of a new book, Sister Vegetarian’s 31 Days of Drama-Free Living.
Welcome to It’s All About Food, Donna!
Donna Beaudoin: Thank you, Caryn! How are you doing?
Caryn Hartglass: Good. How do you say your last name?
Donna Beaudoin: Beaudoin.
Caryn Hartglass: Beaudoin! Okay. I was trying to make it French, like Boudoir or something.
Donna Beaudoin: That’s fine, that’s fine. Just call me Donna.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay. I just realized when I made some posts on Facebook and Twitter today that I made it Sistah Vegetarian, and not Sister Vegetarian because I was confusing it with Sistah Vegan and I apologize.
Donna Beaudoin: That’s fine. I call myself sister vegetarian because I see vegetarians and vegans as a part of the same family. We all want to get healthy, we want to the environment, we want to save animals. So I thought of sister as “I’m just a part of your family,” I’m your sister, I’m your aunt, I’m like a mother-figure. We’re all part of the same family so that’s why we’re all sisters.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, I like it. Because people may not realize it but we’re all one family on this planet, we’re all connected, all of our actions, however insignificant they may seem, are significant to everyone else on the planet. We breathe the same air. It’s really powerful. I was watching a Deepak Chopra video just this week and he was talking about this concept. It really was profound, down to the cellular level, how deeply connected we all are.
Donna Beaudoin: That is true. Yes. And that’s why my book speaks to vegetarians and vegans. A lot of us start as vegetarians and moved to a vegan but it speaks to everyone in trying to help people to become a vegetarian or become a vegan. The recipes are vegan with a vegetarian twist, if that’s what you want to be.
Caryn Hartglass: A vegetarian twist, or with a vegan twist. Or a little lemon or lime.
Donna Beaudoin: Exactly.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay. The challenge is people have a hard time on diets, period. I’m always saying it’s not a diet; it’s a lifestyle. Or at least this particular path.
Donna Beaudoin: I agree. I agree.
Caryn Hartglass: And that’s part of the secret to having stability and success when it’s not something you’re going to do for a short time to lose a few pounds; it becomes your life.
Donna Beaudoin: it is a part of your life. It is a journey. It’s a lifetime journey.
Caryn Hartglass: But as you mentioned throughout the book there, it’s all these drama!
Donna Beaudoin: It is. And some people go through being a vegetarian and vegan easily and some don’t. It’s based upon my experiences alone, not being a medical physician or in the medical field, I base on my experiences and talking a lot to people. We go through different types of societal mess and things we hear, maybe among friends or family, at work, that when we start out being a vegetarian or vegan, good intentions, and we hear that little buzz in the ear and then we stop.
I mentioned in the book someone was a vegan for six years and then they just couldn’t deal with all the emotional things going around and then they just stopped being a vegan. So my book is addressing all the drama that we come across because I realize there are so many cookbooks out there and how to be a vegetarian, eating vegetarian or vegan but nothing really addresses the societal mess and drama we come across from friends and family and co-workers and just society alone. It’s just out there to address it, to help you to become strong. Because in the book, in the beginning of the book, I mentioned that you have to have a strong will; you have to have a strong mind. And that’s what you really need along in this journey.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, you need that to succeed in everything.
Donna Beaudoin: Exactly.
Caryn Hartglass: I think that’s what I hear about most, the societal pressures that people have. I’m continually thinking that it’s not necessarily the diet or this lifestyle that really the issue; it just sort of brings out or magnifies everything going on in someone’s life. So if there are issues with relationships, or with the family, or with a co-worker, this is just an opportunity to make it work or bring it out, bridge the way.
Donna Beaudoin: Yeah. The recipes of being a vegetarian are wonderful. I’ve never hear anyone complain about eating the foods. It’s always just the little issues they have to deal with and maybe being the only person that they know who’s a vegetarian or vegan. That’s why I came up with 30 days, to try to help people through the different situations that they come across. Because as I said, we need to have a strong mind to know that we can do this, we can get over the mountain. We can climb up and just be on the top of the mountain shouting, “I am here forever! I’m a vegetarian or vegan forever!”
Caryn Hartglass: Whoooo!
Donna Beaudoin: So changing …Just because some person buzzes into our ear. So I wanted to make people strong, men and women, strong in being a vegetarian and vegan. I know they can dust themselves off. Everyone falls down but you have to know that you can get right back up. Dust yourself off and get right back up and keep walking.
Caryn Hartglass: This is a positive, motivational book, disguised as a vegetarian journey. But it really is something that we should apply to everything, kind of re-scripting those crazy voices in our heads.
Donna Beaudoin: Exactly, exactly. And towards the end of the book I give ten energy bars, I called it: powerful tips to help you along your way.
Caryn Hartglass: Very good. You might even market them as in the shape of an energy bar.
Donna Beaudoin: Exactly.
Caryn Hartglass: People can put them in their wallets. When they want to eat something, “No, read one of these.”
Donna Beaudoin: Exactly. I thought of energy bars because I run races and my husband hike, and energy bars give us energy in between the meals. And I’m thinking, “You know what, we need some energy, just little tidbits of energy to keep us going through the day in between our meals.” And that’s how I came up with those 10 energy bars, or 10 powerful points, to get us started.
Caryn Hartglass: Can you remember or did you have particularly difficult social situations, either with your family or work, that you might share?
Donna Beaudoin: Just being the only vegetarian, initially, mainly at work. So it is kind of difficult, initially, and then I started to convert maybe two people at work and people were starting to realize that, “Hey, this is a wonderful lifestyle.” I think my family was more accepting. My husband took awhile and he was very supportive though and now he’s a vegetarian.
Caryn Hartglass: I was going to ask you that because that wasn’t clear in the book.
Donna Beaudoin: Yeah, he’s a vegetarian now. He became one in June.
Caryn Hartglass: Congratulations! Tell him I congratulate him.
Donna Beaudoin: He’s very supportive but I think it was more so the outside. He spent a lot of time outside the home, in work situations and other types of groups and you get more pressure from there.
Caryn Hartglass: I think it’s the hardest in a relationship if you’re not eating similarly because eating is such an important even everyday.
Donna Beaudoin: It is. It’s definitely important.
Caryn Hartglass: And when you’re in a relationship, sharing…that’s such a great way to share.
Donna Beaudoin: That’s true. Initially, before he became vegetarian, cooking two different meals and it got kind of hard sometimes. And a lot of people asked me, “Well, if you’re spouse is not a vegetarian and you are, how do you work that out?” I mean, you still eat together; you still cook together. It can be done. A lot of people don’t want to become vegetarian or vegan as their spouse or their significant other is not, I say go for it. Just do it. A lot of people like to wait for the other person but if you do it, the other person is more than likely follow your lead also. You have to be the person that starts it.
Caryn Hartglass: I think …I’m on to something here and it’s not coming out. But I think you can definitely get on the vegetarian path and if your partner isn’t interested, you can ultimately prepare one meal but the other person who isn’t interested in being vegetarian can add the animal products.
Donna Beaudoin: That’s true.
Caryn Hartglass: You can always grate cheese on top of anything. And you can crumble it or put some grilled chicken on top of anything. You can ultimately eat the same thing.
Donna Beaudoin: That is true. I find out that with me and my husband, he’s a vegetarian and I’m a vegan, so we’ll have, maybe let’s say I’ll put out something easy like a pasta dish. And he, maybe, will, on his plate, grate cheese and I will probably have nutritional yeast, maybe on top of mine. But sure, you can add little things.
Caryn Hartglass: I lived in France in the early 90s and I used to make a lot of vegan dishes. That’s cheese country. Many of my friends, before even eating or try what I would offer, they were just grating all the cheese all over it. Okay, fine, that’s fine.
Donna Beaudoin: Exactly. I used to be a cheese nut too. That was one thing that was hard to give up, switching from vegetarian to vegan, and it was hard for a lot of vegetarians to give up.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s addicting.
Donna Beaudoin: It is addicting.
Caryn Hartglass: There’s a lot of evidence now that shows that it does stuff in our brains that has addictive properties.
Donna Beaudoin: Exactly. And I’ve felt so much lighter and just so … I don’t know what the word for it but just on top of the mountain when I gave up the cheese and just became a vegan. Just felt so much more alive.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, you’re tiny. I caught some of your videos on YouTube and you can really see how fit and trim and slim you are.
Donna Beaudoin: Thank you, thank you. It didn’t start that way.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, that’s what you described in the book.
Donna Beaudoin: Yes. I was always small and then I hit 40. About five years ago, I started to gain weight and in three years I went from a size 4 to a size 14. And couldn’t figure out what was wrong. I started to have a lot of stomachache problems too and I would say, probably, even before that in a 10-year period, I was hospitalized for a time for stomachache problems. Doctors couldn’t find anything wrong with me so I put matters into my own hands. Last time I was sick I just said, “I’m just going to do it myself.” I gave up meat. I became a vegetarian. It was actually more so probably 90% vegan I was eating. And all my stomachache problems of over 10 years disappeared. My weight dropped immediately. That’s why I said it’s not a diet; it’s a lifestyle change. I didn’t even do it to drop weight; it just ended up dropping. And my stomach problems stopped. I went from a size 14 to a size 4. I always did love to hike and exercise. And I never had back pains until I started to get heavy. I no longer have back pains or stomach pains. I mean. It’s just great.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s magic.
Donna Beaudoin: Yeah, yeah. I healed my body. Yeah, it’s great.
Caryn Hartglass: One of the things people often talked about losing weight is making smaller portions and eating less. I scream when I hear this because it’s hard for people to do that and to feel unsatisfied, not feel full, and yet when you’re eating correctly, and when I look at the plates of food that I eat, it’s ridiculous. I can’t get a bowl that’s big enough sometimes for the salads or the soups that I eat.
Donna Beaudoin: Exactly. Yeah. And people can’t believe how much I eat but yet won’t gain weight because I’m eating healthy foods and my body is being provided with nutrients and healthy foods that is just helps me to sustain my weight at what it should be.
Caryn Hartglass: Whole, minimally processed foods are so full of fiber, especially when they’re raw, they’re filled with water, and that makes the belly feel full and makes the brain satisfied because you’re getting the vitamins and nutrients that you need.
Donna Beaudoin: That’s true. And I eat a lot of raw foods. I incorporate raw foods in my meals everyday. Usually, I eat a lot of greens, I eat a lot of raw greens: collards greens, mustard greens, and turnip greens, beet greens. I eat a lot of raw greens everyday, rather as a part of a lunch like a wrap or a salad. Sometimes I’ll eat a raw vegan lasagna or raw vegan pesto. Or I make the pesto …
Caryn Hartglass: I like the mustard green pesto recipe in your book.
Donna Beaudoin: Thank you. And sometimes I put the mustard green pesto on top of shredded, raw collard greens. Collard greens act as a more of like pasta, instead of using a pasta.
Caryn Hartglass: Right. They have a good chew.
Donna Beaudoin: Yeah. It’s delicious.
Caryn Hartglass: I can’t say enough about eating greens. I really think that’s the secret to life.
Donna Beaudoin: It is. I’m not a physician and I tell you, I have not been sick in three years since I switched from eating meat to being a vegetarian, now vegan. Never had a flu shot in my life. And in three years, I haven’t had any colds, flu. Nothing.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s pretty good.
Donna Beaudoin: Nothing whatsoever. I don’t even take supplements or vitamins. So it’s something about living a plant-based diet.
Caryn Hartglass: Now you live in North Carolina.
Donna Beaudoin: I do.
Caryn Hartglass: Right. There’s a lot of problems in North Carolina. There’s a wide ride of lifestyles, from very rich to very poor, and lots in the middle. And there are areas that are called food deserts. And there’s a lot of animal agriculture that goes on there, most of it hidden. It’s a very interesting place. It’s got a lot of things going on.
Donna Beaudoin: It does. And solely the vegetarian/vegan community is rising, mainly in the Durham, Chapel Hill, Raleigh areas. In the Asheville area also, which is towards the mountains. Still lot of ways to go. We’re not similar to the communities more up north, maybe above Virginia but we still have a lot of ways to go. And North Carolina is still more so of the rib capital. They still love their ribs and barbequed meat. But we’re working on it.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. There’s a lot going on there. One of the problems people have if they want to eat better, some people are in neighborhoods where it’s really hard to access food. I think you even …. Did you mention something like that in the beginning of the book? I think I was reading where you were buying from a store near where you work …
Donna Beaudoin: Yes, one of my local stores near my home.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh, now I remember what it was.
Donna Beaudoin: They did not have a great selection of, I’ll say, vegetarian/vegan products. The produce was good but they need a little bit more. They used to have, actually they still have it, it’s called “Talk To …”, I won’t say the grocery name but it was “Talk To That Grocery Store.” You email them after your grocery experience and write them and give comments. The next week I was going to the store, I was like “Wow, they added this!” I remember I mentioned it in my email. And then I emailed again because … I would give them positive feedback also. My husband and I have been shopping in that store for years. And I give positive feedback on the staff also. But another week, I mentioned something and they have something else there.
Caryn Hartglass: Nice.
Donna Beaudoin: So the grocery stores do listen to you. If you’re in a food desert areas, don’t think the stores won’t listen to you; they will. Email them, call them on the phone, and talk to the manager in person. They will listen; don’t think they won’t. You should have what you want to have in that store. They’re servicing you; you’re not servicing them.
Caryn Hartglass: There’s so many good points there. It’s so important for us to act as individuals because we do matter in everything we do.
Donna Beaudoin: That’s correct.
Caryn Hartglass: Make a difference. Just by simply asking. Ask and you shall receive.
Donna Beaudoin: Exactly, exactly. And the great thing is, it’s so funny, after coming in all the time, the manager even posted something to the staff to say, “Hey, people are commenting on the email about the stores. Keep up the good work.” So they do listen. The stores do listen.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s nice. Okay so we have, I don’t know, about eight more minutes. One of the things about the recipes in your book, they’re really very straightforward; they’re pretty easy. It’s a really good beginning for diving in here. It’s based on beans, vegetables, and spices. All of this stuff is really flavorful.
Donna Beaudoin: And I love world recipes. I wanted to just put a lot of recipes in there that I enjoy and people throughout the world eat. There are many countries that are vegetarian-based and I put these recipes on here to make it not so hard. As a working person myself I know how hard it is to work all day and want to come home and cook a nice meal for your family. But in the middle of that, you both can, and everyone in the family can, just sit down and talk and enjoy. I have an Ethiopian dish there that is easy to make when you come from work that’s less than 15 minutes. You can have it on your table right away and with leftovers. It’s just meals that everyone can enjoy and introduces you to the world of vegetarian or vegan.
Caryn Hartglass: I was in …when was it, last year? I went to Argentina. Buenos Aires. I was always looking for the veggie healthy places. And I was in one, I think it was a Mediterranean restaurant, and I ordered hummus; I eat a lot of hummus. And it tasted okay but it tasted different. And then I realized it had peanut butter in it, not tahini. And I had never that before. I kind of chuckled because you mentioned in your book if you can’t find or don’t have tahini, you can use peanut butter. You certainly can but you should know because if you’re expecting one and getting the other, it’s like “Whoa!”
Donna Beaudoin: Yeah, it is a different taste. And then a lot of places don’t have tahini. Especially in the South parts, shopping, it is hard to find but you’ve been there, so that’s a good substitute to use. And then also I love hummus. I tend to make it every week. And I also let people know, experiment with hummus. Do different things. Just don’t do the basics. I love to experiment in making foods so one time I put beets in it and, oh my god, it turned out perfect. It had beets, smoked sauce and it was creamy; it was great. Another time I tried adding some raisins, giving it a little sweetness to it. Just experiment with hummus. Have fun with it.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, you can experiment just with the basic hummus, a base of garbanzo beans, chickpeas, or you can use other beans too.
Donna Beaudoin: Exactly. You can.
Caryn Hartglass: So the idea is that it’s a bean of fat and some flavoring.
Donna Beaudoin: Exactly. I have used navy beans, red beans, to make hummus, black beans. You can experiment with so many different beans.
Caryn Hartglass: And then what’s great about it is it’s so versatile. People don’t even realize how simple the variety to be. So it can be a great spread on a sandwich. And the variations are infinite based on the beans that you use, the spice that you use, the fat that you use, or no fat. Some people just like to make a garbanzo bean, seasoned, and mashed.
Donna Beaudoin: Right, right. Sometimes I do it as a spread on one of my vegan sandwiches. I’ll grill a Portobello mushroom and use it as a spread.
Caryn Hartglass: Right. Instead of mayonnaise or something, you could use this flavored bean spread. It’s infinite. Or you could thin it a little bit more and then it becomes a dip or a dressing.
Donna Beaudoin: Exactly. You’re making me hungry, girl!
Caryn Hartglass: Or it could be even as is like a pâté or something.
Donna Beaudoin: Exactly.
Caryn Hartglass: I’m nuts over beans, or beans over nuts. Or something like that.
Donna Beaudoin: I am too. You can’t catch me without some type of bean stew on my stove, usually on a Sunday.
Caryn Hartglass: I don’t know what it’s like in North Carolina but here in nyc, the greatest city in the world, we have everything and more.
Donna Beaudoin: You do. Yes. I grew up in New Jersey, actually.
Caryn Hartglass: Right. There you go. And because there are so many different cultures here, there are so many different stores with different foods. One of my favorite is this Indian store in Queens, in Flushing, the Chinatown in Flushing. And there are so many beans that I don’t even know if I’ll ever get to try them all. They all have different sizes, colors, and shapes. They all have different subtle flavors, texture differences. It’s a celebration.
Donna Beaudoin: It’s wonderful. I love it. I love it. I love finding new variety of beans and trying them out. It’s great.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. And the other thing is the colors are phenomenal.
Donna Beaudoin: They’re beautiful, yes.
Caryn Hartglass: And we have glass jars. We don’t have a lot of covered spaces so they’re all out on display in glass jars and they’re just lovely: yellow, orange, and pink.
Donna Beaudoin: That’s true. The cranberry beans are beautiful. The azuki beans, oh my gosh, yes. Like I said, you make me hungry! I’ll have a pot of bean soup on.
Caryn Hartglass: And you compare that with, I don’t know, a burger on white bread and it’s kind of a gray-brown food.
Donna Beaudoin: Exactly. I love just putting varieties in my beans, such as in a stew. I use a lot of greens, different varieties of greens in a stew just to thicken it. Yeah, it’s great.
Caryn Hartglass: Right. Okay, we have just a couple of minutes left. So you mentioned you’re eating more raw food. I think I read somewhere that you’re becoming certified as a raw food …
Donna Beaudoin: I just finished a certification in raw food. The purpose was mainly, because I do eat probably about 50 or more percent raw food a week, and just to show vegetarians and vegans to try to incorporate raw foods such as raw greens into their meals, either on a daily basis or every other day in some part of their meal, just for added nutritional benefits. Because like I said, I’m not a physician, but I tell you, in three years, in just eating vegan and some raw meals I really have kept colds and flus at bay. I haven’t caught anything. So it really does help us to stay healthy.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay. Well, thank you so much, Donna. Thanks for writing Sister Vegetarian’s 31 Days of Drama-Free Living.
Donna Beaudoin: Thank you, Caryn. Thanks for having me.
Caryn Hartglass: My pleasure. And keep doing it. You’re helping so many people.
Donna Beaudoin: thank you so much. And thank you everyone for supporting me, reading my blog …
Caryn Hartglass: What is that blog? Sister vegetarian….
Caryn Hartglass: Great! Thanks you so much.
Donna Beaudoin: Thank you, Caryn. You have a great and beautiful day.
Caryn Hartglass: I’m Caryn Hartglass. You’re listening to It’s All About Food. We’re going to take a quick break and be back with sticky fingers sweet Doron Peterson. We’ll be right back.
Transcribed by Diana O’Reilly, 2/17/2013