Colleen Holland, VegNews
Passionate about media, Colleen Holland is the publisher and co-founder of VegNews Magazine. Since the company’s founding in 2000, she has grown the vegan lifestyle brand into an award-winning, international media company complete with a flagship magazine, digital properties, events, e-cookbooks, and global vacations. A graduate of UCLA and the Natural Gourmet Institute culinary school, Colleen is one of just six people worldwide to have been inducted into both the Vegetarian Hall of Fame and the Animal Rights Hall of Fame. A 20-year ethical vegan, she is a die-hard foodie and yogi.
Hello everyone. I’m back. I’m Caryn Hartglass and you’re listening to It’s All About Food. Thank you for joining me today.
And before we move to our next guest, who I am so excited to have on the program, I wanted to talk about something in the news right now that I’m finding fascinating. And that has to do with the pork crisis in France. I don’t know if you’ve been reading about it. I do like to read some of the French papers online. I spent four years living in the south of France in the early ‘90s. I just have an affinity with France and I like to keep up with what’s going on there.
So there’s this pork crisis going on. And there’s two things in particular that are going on that I wanted to bring up and then share my solution, which is the same for both. And one is that at a French court last Thursday upheld a local move to stop offering alternatives to pork in the school cafeterias, and this sparked some trouble with the Muslim leaders and is possibly setting a precedent for cities elsewhere in the country to do the same.
And the thing about France, which I love, is how their laic state, which means they really separate Church and State. We say we do were in the States, but we don’t. And I studied a little bit when I was living in France, and they really go out of their way to make a clear line between between the two. So that means in schools, they can’t make an exception or an accommodation for religion. Including making special meals for religious peoples. But I find it curious because what do vegetarians and vegans do? Those people who, not for religious reasons, but for ethical reasons, want to avoid eating flesh. And unfortunately, I don’t believe they make accommodations for them. I remember a new policy being put into place a little over a year ago, making it mandatory that meat be served. And not given a replacement for it unless the student comes with a doctor’s note, or something along those lines. I don’t like that.
And then another that’s going on with pork is the price of port. Apparently, it takes more in France to produce pork then it does in other countries like Germany and Poland. And as a result their prices are higher, but the pork is selling for a lower price these days.
And one of the things that I’ve always loved about the French people, especially when I was living there, is that they don’t take things sitting down that they don’t like. They strike. I remember that the farmers were so annoyed that they just dropped truckloads of peaches along the autoroute so people couldn’t pass. They make their feelings known.
And they’re protesting now against these high prices where they’re not getting a profitable price for the pork that they’re selling. And they’re also saying that they other, cheaper products are inferior. They’re not as good tasting and they’re not as high in quality. And of course, I don’t believe in selling these precious animals, these pigs for meat and for human consumption. You know that I’m against that, right?
So my solution two these two major problems, pork crisis, is I’m going to quote my dad and one of his favorite expressions, “If you can’t solve the problem, eliminate the problem.” And the way to eliminate this problem is to eliminate eating animals. The problem goes away in schools with the religious problems, and the problem goes away with the pricing. End of story. That’s my solution. And you heard it right here on It’s all About Food.
And you can send me comments, questions or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alright. Now let’s move on to my next guest. I’ve been trying to get her on the program for a really, really long time, but she’s a very busy woman. Colleen Holland is passionate about media. She’s the publisher and co-founder of VegNews Magazine. Since the company’s founding in 2000, she has grown the vegan lifestyle brand into an award winning, international media company, complete with a flagship magazine, digital properties, events, e-cookbooks and global vacation. She’s a graduate of UCLA in the Natural Gourmet Institute Culinary School. Colleen is just one of six people worldwide to have been inducted into both the Vegetarian Hall of Fame and the Animal Rights Hall of Fame. A 20 year ethical vegan, she is a diehard foodie and yogi.
Caryn Hartglass: Colleen. How are you?
Colleen Holland: Caryn. I can’t believe this moment has finally arrived. My god, we’re finally meeting. I mean we know each other, but we’re finally doing this interview, I’m so happy.
Caryn Hartglass: Me too. It’s taken me years to get you.
Colleen Holland: I’m so sorry. It’s just been an interesting couple of years. But I’m so thrilled to be with you right now. It’s great to be here.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. Now we don’t need to go into the details of that big hump that you got over. But you are a very strong and powerful woman. I don’t know if you want to mention any of that. But I’m glad you got to the other side and are triumphing.
Colleen Holland: Caryn, thank you so much. I’m a believer in positive thinking and looking forward and not looking backwards. And so all I will say is that great things are happening and the new issue of VegNews ships this week, actually. So the timing of this is really nice. And things are going to be better than ever.
So sometimes we have to go through a little bit of rough times and adversity to come out the other end. And really reshape our life into what we want it to be and what it should be. And it was a little correction along the way, and I’m just so thrilled to be where I am right now. And bring VegNews back to all of my amazing readers and to the community. And it’s just a really good time.
Caryn Hartglass: Well I always think of songs to explain things. And I’m just going to go, “How can I miss you if you wont go away.”
Colleen Holland: Well it’s nice because I know you can sing, you can get away with that.
Caryn Hartglass: We did miss all the great things we were getting from VegNews. And so you’re back and better than ever. And it’s definitely the premiere vegan lifestyle magazine. And I’ve been fortunate. My non-profit was featured back in 2011 as one of the best non-profits that you need to follow and take a look at. And that’s right after we launched. It was really exciting to get that recognition. And I know that my brother and sister-in-law were featured when they got married, as a vegan wedding.
Colleen Holland: Exactly. You guys have definitely graced the pages of VegNews. In fact, an issue that is about to be put in the mail is our annual wedding edition. So, it’s our 14th annual and I was just thinking before your call about your brother and that was fun. Best News is an incredible brand and it withstood the ups and the downs. But we have such a great community, a great readership who are passionate about the lifestyle, and love VegNews. So the support we have received is fantastic and I’m just so excited to really be able to provide what everybody wants.
As you’ve mentioned in your very nice intro, thank you, as a 20-year ethical vegan myself, I’ve sort of created my own dream magazine. What would I want to read every week or every two months? And so I get to do that each and every day and I’m just so grateful for that.
Caryn Hartglass: Now I’m looking at the picture you sent me, which is on my website. And you’re holding the classic French food issue. And I’m quite curious about that, since I mentioned earlier that I’ve live in the south of France for four years, and a lot of people say, “How can you go to France and eat vegan?” Well I lived there and ate vegan, and all of my French friends were really wonderful in preparing foods that were vegan for me. They might have been a little heavy on the olive oil and salt, but they were filled with love. And I’m curious about this issue of the classic French food.
Colleen Holland: You bet. That’s actually from two years ago, it was our food issue, it was from October 2013. And two years ago, it was so unusual, it was almost an oxymoron, vegan French food, how is that possible? That Miyoko Schinner who we all know is the creator of this wonderful new vegan artisan cheese company here in northern California. She’s a classically trained French chef. And she developed these recipes for that issue. And crepes and gateaux and butter, and just sort of the rich, French foods made vegan.
But, fast-forward two years. We actually have a kind of vegan guide to Paris in this new issue that’s being shipped by travel and beauty editor, Orillia D’andrea, who lives in Paris. And literally, within the past two years, France is becoming very veg-friendly. And it’s becoming very vegan friendly. And it’s sort of taking Paris by storm. And it came up unexpectedly. And the beauty of it is the French being such foodies, are doing incredible things with vegan food. They just know how to prepare it, and everything is in its whole form, just making the fruits and the vegetables the very best they can be. And of course, their French way of savoring and enjoying and making it beautiful.
So things have changed dramatically there, very quickly. Orillia talks about these places now having soy and almond and hemp milk. Green juice is all the rage. And there’s cooking classes where you can learn to make American vegan milkshakes and tofu scrambles. And it’s just happened very quickly.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, I’m very excited to hear that, and I want to take all the credit. Because I was running around, screaming all over that country in the early ‘90s.
Colleen Holland: Listen, you deserve credit. I mean, it’s all about the grassroots in my mind. These things don’t just happen overnight. These seeds were sprinkled for years before. And this is true of any social change, these things don’t happen overnight.
Caryn Hartglass: The vegetarians came out of the closet early in 2000 with their Veggie Pride parade, and I actually got to go to one of those, early on. It was hysterical.
Colleen Holland: I know. A little hokey, but getting the job done. And here we are. And we’re here because of those brave people who spoke their truth and wanted more vegan food and went public with it.
Caryn Hartglass: I just want to add one more story and then I want to hear more about VegNews. But most of the country in France, when I was roaming around, they were very accommodating, especially in the South, where everything is fresh and they use olive oil for a lot of their vegetable cooking. The only time I had a problem was in Paris, and I speak fluent French. So it wasn’t because they didn’t understand me. But I remember being there in the late 90s, visiting with my sister’s family. Kind of helping them navigate the city. And we were in a bistro, which is kind of like the equivalent of an American diner, they serve just about everything. And I couldn’t find anything other than french fries on the menu, and I didn’t want french fries. And I saw that they had vegetables, and a wide variety of things. So I told the server that I wanted one of their omelets served without eggs. It had all these vegetables in it. He said, “No, I can’t do that.” C’mon, you’ve got the vegetables, just give it to me without the eggs. “No, can’t do that.”
Colleen Holland: It just wasn’t part of his fabric. He was incapable of it.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, he couldn’t do it. And they were all on the side laughing at this crazy American asking for an omelets without eggs. Well I’m not crazy anymore.
Colleen Holland: Oh no, not at all. And of course, you end up eating french fries.
Well, after working with Aurelia on this piece, I so want to go. I haven’t been to France in years, I so want to go. And now you can get croissants. You can get hot chocolate with soymilk or almond milk. And just the thought of sitting in a café, leisurely, and having these foods, and experiencing French culture and cuisine this way. Because typically, as many Americans go, and it’s interesting that you an easier time in the South than Paris, because usually it’s the other way around in most countries. But you end up with the baguette and some fruit from the local market. So you’re not usually experiencing true French cuisine. But that’s changing very rapidly. And like I said, with the French, their stamp of excellence on everything that they do, you know it’s going to be good. I think they’re skipping right over all the processed foods and just going into like, “How can we make delectable cuisine plant-based?”
Caryn Hartglass: It’s such a natural for them, and I’m glad they are finally realizing that.
Colleen Holland: It is. All right, so now you’ve got to plan another trip and see how different it is.
Caryn Hartglass: La Belle France. Elle me manque. Okay, so tell me about this new issue of VegNews.
Colleen Holland: Well again, the timing is so wonderful, because it’s being shipped this week. It is our food issue. But we’ve got such a range of stories and recipes. We’ve got a really fascinating piece on the convergence of food and technology. And all the big-time investors, like Bill Gates and Biz Stone and Mark Benny off investing in food technology companies that are some of the fastest growing companies in the world, that happen to be vegan. And that’s one of my favorite pieces in the book, it gives me so much hope. It’s very exciting.
And these food companies are trying to mimic the taste and consistency of meat and dairy and egg and leather. And I really think that’s how we’re going to change the world. We’re just going to replace animal products with products that aren’t cruel and don’t require factory farms.
Caryn Hartglass: The concept is genius and I’m not exactly sure who was the first one to come up with the idea that we can make the same end product and just change some of the input products, not from animals, but from plants. And the bottom line is the product ultimately is better, and less expensive.
Colleen Holland: Well, I think, in all the studies they’ve done, the key has to be flavor has to be there. Americans do not want to be deprived, and they don’t want it to taste very different then what they’re used to. And the price point has to be there. I mean, you and I are lifestyle vegans. We’re going to pay for organic, we’re going to pay more just to get exactly what we want. But frankly, the vast majority of Americans don’t make those buying choice. And so we gotta make sure it’s the right price, and the flavor is there.
And these companies, even though similar companies have been doing it for decades. You know, have created the vegan mayos and the vegan alternative meats. These new companies are all about going mainstream and really mimicking those mainstream flavors and prices points. And that’s what’s so unique. And using technology and science to do it, versus just sort of chef created in the kitchen.
So, it’s just something I’m really excited about, as an activist, and what that holds. And the investment, oh my gosh. The mainstream investment world is banking big-time on these new trends and that gets me very excited.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, it is exciting. I was just talking with Jane Morris Hicks. And how we’re going to make this major change that is so necessary for the future of all life on the earth. And what’s necessary is big investment. And we see it happening.
Colleen Holland: Yeah, I know. I mean, we can certainly…I mentioned the importance of grassroots, and I really believe that. Planting seeds and moving big social movements forward. But to scale it, to go big, to make drastic change, it has to happen on this level, where economics are involved. Where mass consumerism is involved, it’s not just a niche in our little perfect vegan world.
So that’s what’s happening, that’s what the shift is. A writer who has written for us for years, Matt Thomas, did the piece and it’s great.
Of course, as I mentioned, vegan weddings. Can never get enough. I still cry when I read every single one. It’s so touching. And these menus! Just when you think the food, vegan food can’t get any better. My god, these people, what they have at these weddings. They have stations, and cookies, and milk stations. And mac n’ cheese stations, and pizza stations. All the way to the really high-end weddings at the Four Seasons. With multiple courses. It’s incredible, the food is so good. There really is, as we know, no reason to not be vegan in 2015, the food is so delicious.
Caryn Hartglass: What we know, and what people really need to discover, is this is not a diet of deprivation. And these weddings are going to continue to become more and more incredible, because the plant kingdom, in terms of food, is far more vast than the animals that we’ve chosen to eat. And what we can do with them. There’s just so…
Colleen Holland: And the veil is finally being lifted on the issues. There’s so much more mainstream coverage of factory farms and the environmental link to what’s going on around the world with climate change and diet. And of course, the big driver right now is health, and people finally taking health into their own hands and saying, “Wow! I’ve got to clean up my act and I’ve got to live a good quality of life.” And a plant-based diet is definitely the way to do that.
But all these things are coming together for big change, and it’s good.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, not only do we have your latest issue coming out on the stands, which everybody needs to check out an pick up a copy, but you’ve got the VegNews Awards.
Colleen Holland: The Veggie Awards. It is our 15th annual Veggie Awards, the world’s largest survey of people, products and places. And we literally started it in 2000, the year we launched. And they’re going gangbusters. I mean, everybody has an opinion, everybody wants to share their favorite vegan cheese and chocolate and blogger and city. And the companies, the nominees, get really excited, a – to be nominated, but b, as a chance to generate some buzz with their customer bases. And so that happens during the entire month of August.
Yeah, you just go to VegNews.com/veggieawards and vote. And we always have awesome prizes, like a vegan cheese party, or vegan ice cream for a year. Or chocolate fudge. We’ve got great products. Great prices for some of our voters.
Caryn Hartglass: So anybody can go and anybody can vote.
Colleen Holland: Anybody can go and anybody can vote and anybody can win.
Caryn Hartglass: Very good. Well I hope one day, Responsible Eating and Living, my non-profit, or maybe It’s All About Food, this radio show, might be nominated.
Colleen Holland: I would hope so Caryn, I would hope so. And you know, the way to do that is to encourage your listeners to write in. And then the top vote getters for the writing category get bumped up to nominations the following year. So that is how they’re chosen.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, well my listeners, you need to get active.
Colleen Holland: You have to launch an all-out campaign, let’s do this.
Caryn Hartglass: There you go. Well, I think we should.
Okay, and what other then the magazine is VegNews Magazine?
Colleen Holland: Well, obviously we’ve got a really great website full of rich vegan content. Kind of daily news stories, recipes, lifestyle coverage, and that’s refreshed every day. Some great content there. Very active in social media. I think we’re about 450,000 fans on Facebook and 110 on Twitter right now. So we’re doing that.
Something else that’s exciting, and I hope you’ll join us in New York, is just yesterday we launched, with this new issue, we’re doing three launch parties. In San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles. And of course they’re going to be delicious and food focused. We’re doing a Tiki party in San Francisco, a Mexicali fiesta in L.A., and then a comfort food in New York, catered by Mr. Jay Astafa.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh Jay, we love Jay.
Colleen Holland: Yeah, I’m so excited to have his food. So those parties are going to sell out fast. So readers are really excited about that, we’ll celebrate the new issue, eat like crazy, drink like crazy, and just have some good vegan fun.
So those are all in September.
Caryn Hartglass: Remember, this diet, this lifestyle, is all about fun, delicious food, and partying. We are having a good time here, and we all look hot and sexy because we’re healthy. We’re not aging as everybody else. It’s a win, win, win, win, win. And Colleen, you’re just such an important part of moving this forward. This fabulous, vegan lifestyle.
Colleen Holland: You’re too kind. Well, it’s certainly, I agree, zero deprivation. There’s no reason not to be vegan. But I also love being a healthy vegan too, and drinking our green juice like you were talking about earlier. And eating whole foods that we can really indulge in all the wonderful vegan options that there are today.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, I like to say my version of big food, people like to talk about big food. My big food is two giant, 15-inch chargers filled with kale salad. And it’s great, delicious.
Colleen Holland: I just had steamed greens for lunch and black beans, and I’m in heaven. When you get to that point where you’re really feeding your body with what it wants. It wants clean, simple food. But heck, am I going to go out and have a chocolate torte for a friend’s birthday, and champagne? You bet. But my baseline is the really healthy vegan foods.
Caryn Hartglass: Great. Well Colleen, I’m so glad we had this moment together. I look forward to seeing you sometime again soon. I can give you a big, vegan hug. And all the best with VegNews.
Colleen Holland: Aw, Caryn, thanks so much for your support. Hopefully I’ll see you in New York. And hopefully I’ll be on sooner than later again. I love to talk all things food and all things vegan. My two favorite subjects.
Caryn Hartglass: Me too. All right. Take care.
Colleen Holland: Okay, Caryn, talk to you soon.
Caryn Hartglass: We just have a few seconds left and I wanted to direct you to ResponsibleEatingandLiving.com, my non-profit website. You know I have this blog What Vegans Eat, and I talk every day about what I eat. So you can get a sample of the variety of delicious food I eat. And in one of my recent blog posts this week, not only did I talk about what I eat, but I talked about where I shop and where I get the foods. I think that is a helpful tool. So just head over to ResponsibleEatingandLiving.com, and check on the What Vegans Eat tab for that blog.
All right? We’ve come to the end of the program. How does that happen so quickly every time.
Remember, have a delicious week.
Transcribed by Cindy Goldberg on 2/19