Gary De Mattei is the co-founder and Creative Director of Responsible Eating and Living. Gary is an actor, director, producer, filmmaker, writer, teacher and trained chef. He is the founder and Artistic Director of the nonprofit theatre company, The Artist’s Theatre Repertory Ensemble (TheATRE). Gary was last seen on the New York stage in the award-winning new play, No One Asked Me by Kate Ballen. Before moving to New York in 2008 Gary worked extensively in Bay Area theatre as an actor, director, writer, producer, teacher, and arts administrator. He was the co-founder and producing artistic director of Theatre On San Pedro Square (TOSPS) in San Jose from January of 2000 to April of 2008. During that time Gary produced plays and musicals that showcased local, national and international theatre artists. Gary was the Theatre Department Chair at Presentation High School in San Jose. During his tenure at Presentation Gary directed plays and musicals and taught acting. His theatre department was awarded the prestigious Best High School Musical Award from the American Musical Theatre. Gary is a Bay Area Theatre Critics Award nominee for his portrayal of Fiorello H. LaGuardia in Foothill Music Theatre’s production of Fiorello. A proud member of Actor’s Equity Association, Gary trains at HB Studio in New York under the guidance of his acting teacher Austin Pendleton. For more about Gary go to his website, GaryDeMattei.com.
Caryn Hartglass: Hello, everybody. I’m Caryn Hartglass, and this is It’s All Food because it is all about food. And here we are on this cool April day, and I’m sipping on my lovely green juice, made with kale, collard, celery and carrots. Excuse me while I sip. Mm. You know I like to have a daily green juice. I was going to say a daily green juice every day, but then I would have been redundant, but I just was. Yes, I have one every day. Sometimes we call it my medicine, but I make sure that daily green juice is on the menu. I’ve been doing this now for about ten years, and I think it makes a tremendous difference. More about green juice later. Maybe. I want to introduce my guest. He was on last week, and it was so much fun, I thought I’d bring him on again because there are a lot of things that we’ve been talking about that we want to talk more about right now. My guest is Gary De Mattei. He’s the co-founder and creative director of our non-profit, Responsible Eating and Living. He’s an actor, director, producer, filmmaker, writer, teacher and trained chef. He’s also the founder of another non-profit called The Artist’s Theater Repertory Ensemble. Gary!
Gary De Mattei: Hi, Caryn.
Caryn Hartglass: Hey!
Gary De Mattei: How’s it going?
Caryn Hartglass: Good, how’s it going? Nice to chat with you here on It’s All About Food for a change.
Gary De Mattei: Yeah, I was just reading your blog, your latest blog post, What Vegans Eat: Day 424 [https://responsibleeatingandliving.com/what-vegans-eat-day-424/], looking at our recipe for the real cornbread adaptation, and I could use a big chunk of that right now. That was really good.
Caryn Hartglass: Thanks! You made it up.
Gary De Mattei: Well, you made up the first recipe, and then I just adapted it to suit the…
Caryn Hartglass: So we have a basic cornbread recipe. We make it a lot. Maybe once a week because it’s so easy and it’s good.
Gary De Mattei: Oh yeah, at least once a week.
Caryn Hartglass: And then you got a little crazy creative, so sometimes we like to cook with tea, like sauté with tea if we have some leftover because we drink a lot of tea rather than using oil. But you put it in the batter.
Gary De Mattei: Yeah, so let’s explain why we have leftover tea because a lot of people might not save their tea. Well, here at Responsible Eating and Living, we also distill our water. So and it takes about – what – six hours to do about a gallon of water that we distill.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s right, yep.
Gary De Mattei: So that’s precious water, and the reason we distill it, I’ll leave that up to you to explain. At any rate, when we have leftover tea that we’ve made with distilled water, we save it, and then we cook with it. A lot of people maybe have never heard of cooking with tea, but we do and so we have some really strong chai tea leftover. And we didn’t have any non-dairy milk, M-E-L-K or M-I-L-K, whatever you prefer, to use in the cornbread, basic cornbread recipe that we have on the site. And it also says you can use water, so I just – well, let’s use some chai, and then we didn’t have any apricot butter or any of the light colored butter, but we did have some nice plum butter or some folks call it prune butter. You call it whatever you want. So I used prune butter, and then I added some chopped apricots and walnuts to this basic recipe, and it came out phenomenal. I’m telling you.
Caryn Hartglass: I know. It was. I had some with you. It was really phenomenal, but I’m glad – you brought up so many things, and I just want to pour here and talk more about them. But our water is really precious. It does take a long time. You know I’m passionate about distilled water. We have the AquaNui countertop distiller. I can tell you more about it if you email me at email@example.com. I tried a lot of different water distillers. I really believe in distilling, and so we make this water and it’s – I don’t know. I just have so much love for this water because we know how clean and pure it is, and the energy that we physically put in and the energy that comes out of our wall in terms of electricity that we use to make this water. So what we make with water is precious, like our tea, and we don’t want to waste it. Then the other thing – wait, wait, wait. You just – you said we always tease each other about how we pronounce different words because I’m from New York, and you’re from California, and one of the first words I teased Gary about was the way he pronounced M-I-L-K, which we say as “milk” here in New York, and Gary says more open like “melk.” And it just dawned on me that it’s genius actually because the company Sjaak – I don’t know if I’m pronouncing it correctly. S-J-A-A-K. They make organic, vegan chocolate, and we got a bunch of their chocolates for the Easter holiday recently. They call their vegan milk chocolate, they call it melk chocolate. So maybe when you were saying melk, you knew already that you were talking about a non-dairy version of milk.
Gary De Mattei: Oh yeah, and let’s talk about a non-dairy version of cultured butter that was also on your blog that we had some samples. This stuff is really dangerous because it’s so good. I mean –
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, some of you may remember. A couple of weeks ago, I interviewed Miyoko Schinner, and during the program, she said, “Did you get any of our vegan mozzarella and vegan cultured butter?” And I said, “No.” And she said she’d send me some, and we just got it. Now let’s talk about that cultured butter.
Gary De Mattei: It’s unbelievable. She also sent some of her mozzarella, which is also unbelievable. It melts and it’s terrific, but I just can’t say enough about this, and she probably can’t say enough about how difficult it was to create such a perfect product as far as – especially for those transitioning onto a plant-based diet. I mean, wow, this is really good stuff.
Caryn Hartglass: I haven’t had butter in 28 years, dairy butter, cow’s butter, and what I liked about this particular butter is it has… It’s not exactly the same taste, and I’m glad because for me, the butter whenever I smell it, it has like a sickeningly sweet smell to it, which is the dairy. But there’s – the first taste, it has this cool, a cool butter flavor. I don’t know how else to describe it, that I haven’t tasted in any other vegan butter that is like the dairy butter I remember.
Gary De Mattei: Right, and there’s a lot of non-dairy butters out there that are vegan, that we’ve tried or I’ve tried. I know. And yeah, they’re fine, but this is the thing, and I just fear that some big giant corporation is just going to come and swallow her up because these products that she’s making are so good that they’re bound. They’re bound to knock on her door with some tremendous buy-out, and Miyoko, don’t do it! Don’t do it! Don’t do it!
Caryn Hartglass: Well, if there’s some agreement to keep the product as pure and good as it is today, that would be okay.
Gary De Mattei: Well, yeah, but it won’t be the same without Miyoko. Anyway, that was a cool interview that you had with her and she’s great. Thank you, Miyoko, from me to you.
Caryn Hartglass: Now before I forget, we talked about this and I want to tell everyone, this is a call-in show, and I haven’t been saying that for years and I forgot. Now I’m remembering because it’s time, and I think we all have things to say to each other. So I’m inviting you to call in. The number is 1-888-874-4888. We are here to take your call, and if you’re listening in the future, via download or iTunes or wherever, and you have a question, you have two options. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can make a note on your calendar to join us live in the future and ask your question online. We’d really like that. Right, Gary?
Gary De Mattei: Yeah, yeah. The Veggie Pride Parade, gosh, was it almost two weeks ago now?
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, that’s what inspired us. Yeah.
Gary De Mattei: Here in New York, we had someone walk up and ask for Caryn Hartglass, and so I directed this lovely human being over to Caryn. And Caryn said, “Yeah, I listen to your show” – or this woman said to Caryn, “I listen to your show, and I’m really sorry it’s not on anymore.” And Caryn said, “What do you mean? I’m on Tuesdays from 4:00 to 5:00 live, and if you miss it, you can catch it on the archives at PRN and on our website, blah, blah, blah.” And she said, “Really?” And then I jumped in and said, “Maybe you’re talking about Ask a Vegan that used to be on years ago.” And she said, “Yeah, that’s the one I used to listen to. I used to love that.” And at any rate, so Caryn and I got together and said, “Hey, we should start asking folks to call in again like we did on Ask a Vegan and ask a vegan, especially when you’ve got great guests on, unlike me, who’s not really that great of a guest. But you do have superstars like Miyoko and Dr. Fuhrman and all of these other wonderful –
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, you’re a superstar, Gary.
Gary De Mattei: I’m a superstar, yeah. I’m a superstar, definitely.
Caryn Hartglass: You are. More than you know.
Gary De Mattei: Not like a super, superstar in the movement, so the vegan movement, the plant-based movement, the health movement, whatever it is that people want to call it that makes them feel better about calling it ‘don’t kill animals and eat them; eat this stuff instead.’ So anyway, so that was really cool.
Caryn Hartglass: No question – no question is too small or too insignificant or too big. Just ask it. I know how to say, “I don’t know” if I don’t know. But I’ll go and find it for you if I don’t know.
Gary De Mattei: Yeah, and we want to kind of keep this old school. We could say, “Hey, tweet us or Snapchat us” or whatever people are doing now that are – that live in Brooklyn and have ironic beards and are too cool. And so – but we’re going to do it old school. Give us a call. We want to hear your voice, talk to us, ask us a question, and then later if this really works out, then we’ll start encouraging you to tweet us questions and things like that. But right now just wanted you to know we are aware of Twitter. We do have a Twitter account, and we know that it’s popular to tweet, but give us a call and talk to us. We want to hear what you have to say and if you have any questions. One of the things I wanted to talk about, and I tweeted this this morning on my Twitter page, GaryDeMattei or @GaryDeMattei, was call in and ask me about how not to curse your food. And so I wanted to talk about that because this is my – in April, which this month is, April’s a special month, and I’ll get to the cursing your food in a second. But I just also wanted to say April’s a special month here at Responsible Eating and Living because it’s Caryn’s birthday.
Caryn Hartglass: My birthday month.
Gary De Mattei: Right, your birthday month. And it’s also Earth Day, and Earth Day and your birthday happen to be on the same day, April 22nd. So it’s really – we planned this that I would be on and talking about this at this point because normally we have our big event every April 22nd on Earth Day. We’ve done it the last few years now, which is our Happy B’Earthday Revue, where the group, The Swingin’ Gourmets, that we create performs and people buy tickets, and we use it as a fundraiser. But more importantly, it’s an awareness raiser about your life, Caryn, and my life and how we got together. It’s a love story, and it’s –
Caryn Hartglass: And it’s all about food.
Gary De Mattei: Right, and through this story, we talk about the food and so one of the things that I learned by adopting a plant-based lifestyle, by going vegan is I noticed prior to that that I was not – I didn’t have a good relationship with food, and many of you out there might feel the same way, that when you sit down and you look at something you’re about to eat, you curse it. And you say to yourself or the people at the table, “This is bad. I shouldn’t be eating this. I know it’s wrong. It’s got way too much of the things that are going to be harmful to me.” And you have this whole inner monologue or this whole soliloquy at the table with your fellow meal mates that you’re talking – and then sometimes everybody at the table is doing it. So before you know it, you’re sitting there and you’re cursing this plate of food and then you’re eating it. And it doesn’t sit right with you because maybe it’s something that you feel isn’t right for you to eat or maybe it just literally isn’t something that’s right for you to eat. But you’re sort of giving it the hex before you even ingest it, and I used to do that a lot. I used to sit down, and I used to say, “God, I’m just going to hate myself after I eat this, and I’m going to feel horrible,” and sure enough, you do feel horrible.
Caryn Hartglass: And that’s such an important point because whether the food you’re eating is healthy or not healthy, when you sit down to eat it, you have to give your body very good messages. Telling your body that you shouldn’t be eating this and it’s bad for you, those are not the right messages. Your cells – your cells perceive an environment. They don’t know what the real environment is, and it’s the one that you give to them. So it’s important when you’re eating to sit and just enjoy and say, “This food, I’m going to take what’s good in this food and leave the rest behind.” Cursing food is not a good thing to do.
Gary De Mattei: Right, and I think a lot of it has to do with – and here’s the real irony in all of this: a lot of it has to do with many people think they need to be on something called a “diet.” And now we know that there’s a lot of diets out there that people are probably on right now that will condemn food and you for eating it, and so their whole premise is to go negative on you about what you have been doing and then to say, “But if you do this, you’re going to be – you’re going to be much happier.” So and I know a lot of people even talk about the plant-based lifestyle or the vegan lifestyle as a diet, but it’s not. It’s more than a diet. It’s really an awakening, and I’m not getting woo-woo, wah-wah, but then again, I am because before I adopted a plant-based lifestyle, I was the biggest – I guess a big opponent of the vegan lifestyle. And this was back in the early ‘90s when I first met Caryn, and she had already been this militant vegan activist, but she was also an opera singer and an actor and a performer. And that’s what I related to, and that’s how we met. We met on stage at Stanford University doing a production of The Beggar’s Opera, and she had said then that she was a vegan, and I scoffed and said, “Well, your indignant comments aren’t going to bring this luscious steak back to life, so I’m just going to eat it and enjoy it” or whatever memes are rolling around about people laughing in the face of vegans. And I was seriously horrible to poor Caryn at that time and refused to think that there was anything right about not eating animals. I mean eating animals was how I was raised, and every week my dad would call the butcher, Johnny Wong, on 4th Street. If you’re listening from San Jose, they used to be State Meat Market I think they called it. And he’d order the week’s meat from Johnny, and we’d go pick it up, and Johnny would throw me a hot dog, and I’d see the saw dust on floor and all of these animals being carved up and thought nothing of it. And you’re kind of numb to it, and then one day, I was – my aunt and uncle lived in the Portola Valley on a cattle ranch, and in seventh grade, I went to their cattle ranch and I watched them slaughter a calf.
Caryn Hartglass: Gary…
Gary De Mattei: Yes, and I’ll live it there until – we pick up a caller!
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, we have a caller so more about the calf later. Bobby, from New Jersey, how are you?
Bobby: I’m great. How are you?
Caryn Hartglass: Awesome now that we’re talking.
Gary De Mattei: Thanks for calling in, Bobby.
Bobby: You guys are welcome. I heard the comment about somewhat – you guys met – I know it makes life a little bit easier. I’ve been a vegetarian since 1978, when I was in college.
Gary De Mattei: Yay, congratulations!
Bobby: Unfortunately sometimes you go through life. I’ve never turned back from it, but I’ve never met someone who was actually a vegetarian, in terms of relationships. And now I need to – because I wondered how that worked out for you guys. And the other thing is when you’re talking about food, I heard you all say you had a website so I can go there and find out some dishes.
Gary De Mattei: Yeah, we’ve got a lot of great recipes at ResponsibleEatingAndLiving.com, and there’s also an app that you can download for free at iTunes so you don’t have to keep typing in ResponsibleEatingAndLiving.com. And so I think the first question – yeah, go ahead, Caryn.
Caryn Hartglass: I just want to jump in here. So Bobby, Gary’s been vegan for about almost ten years, and he became vegan when we got together. I’ve been vegan for about 28 years, and I’ve been in other relationships with people who weren’t vegan. And for me, I can’t imagine anymore not being with someone who has the same philosophy I do, especially since we spend all of our time together, and we have all of our meals together. But I do know lots of couples where one person is vegan or vegetarian, and the other person isn’t. I’ve interviewed a few people on my show. There have been books written about it. It’s really up to you, but if you socialize at events where there are more vegans, you have the opportunity to meet more that way. Don’t know if you’re doing that or not.
Caryn Hartglass: Excuse me.
Bobby: I said no. The only time that I’ve run into people who are conscious about what it is that they eat and what it is that they put in, we all do it for different reasons, you know? And when I was in school, I couldn’t explain what one of the guest speakers began to talk about, which was nutrition and I couldn’t explain it. And I was doing these things all of my life up until that point, and so that’s when I decided to make a change. And so it’s not that way for everybody, but the fact of the matter is: we don’t seem to be getting any better. We’re getting sicker and sicker and sicker.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh, that’s so true.
Gary De Mattei: You’re right. You’re right about that.
Caryn Hartglass: But you know what, Bobby? I believe that if you meet someone who loves you and you explain why you do what you do, I think that person will jump on board, and especially if you learn how to make more delicious meals that are plant-based. And we’ve got so many of them on our website. It makes it so much easier. Do you like to cook?
Bobby: I do cook. I don’t do it as much as I used to, but I do enjoy cooking. I have quite a few of Gary Null’s recipes. He is –
Gary De Mattei: Excellent. Gary’s a good place to start. Gary’s awesome. We love Gary.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, thanks for calling, Bobby.
Gary De Mattei: Thank you for calling, Bobby! We have someone now I hear from Tennessee.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, Pamela. How are you?
Gary De Mattei: Hi, Pamela.
Pamela: Hi, there was a static. I’m good. I have question for you guys. I’m a long-time vegan. I’ve been vegan for going on 23 years.
Caryn Hartglass: Whoo!
Gary De Mattei: Congratulations. That’s awesome.
Pamela: I didn’t know I was so cool. Now it’s all the rage, you know. But there’s something that I’m noticing, and I was wondering if you guys have noticed it and maybe what you might feel about it. I’ve heard people talk about plant-based, I’m eating plant-based now, and I understand but I actually heard someone on a podcast say, “Well, we are choosing to call it – to go by being plant-based versus vegan because vegan can have a lot of bad juju with the word.”
Gary De Mattei: Right, I’ve heard that too.
Pamela: Yeah, meat analogues and they’re not as healthy, and that was – I don’t know what to do with that.
Caryn Hartglass: I have some answers for you, Pamela. So Rip Esselstyn has trademarked ‘plant-strong.’ Dr. T. Colin Campbell uses ‘whole foods, plant-based’ as his description. Dr. Fuhrman uses ‘nutrient dense, plant rich.’ So there is this dichotomy where saying you’re eating vegan does not necessarily mean you’re eating healthy because you can be eating vegan Oreos and vegan ice cream and Coca-Cola and chips.
Pamela: This is true.
Caryn Hartglass: And so there are a lot of vegans who aren’t healthy, and the people that are really into the health and nutrition and the medical part of it tend to stay away from using the word ‘vegan’ all the time because they want to make it clear that it’s important to eat whole foods, intact grains, minimally processed plant foods. Dr. Fuhrman doesn’t want to turn people away who feel like they need to eat a little bit of meat. Dr. T. Colin Campbell, I had him on a few weeks ago, and he mentioned the word ‘vegan’ and how they don’t like to use that word because it doesn’t explain what they’re about, which is healthy plant foods. That’s fine. That’s their thing. I came to this as a teenager who didn’t want to kill animals, so my number one mission is to reduce pain and suffering. I’m a vegan for that reason. And then I had advanced ovarian cancer ten years ago, and I thought I was a healthy vegan, and I got more into being a healthy vegan. So I understand where these people are coming from with the whole foods. I have no problem with meat analogues. They’re not as healthy as kale and broccoli, but occasionally they’re fine.
Pamela: Exactly. Yeah, and I guess that’s where it’s been throwing me because I’ve been for the animals and for health, and I’ve done this for so long, and now I’m hearing something different. I just wasn’t too sure about it, but now I do get it. I appreciate your input on that because I just – I was shaking my head. Everyone’s trying to coin something. But thank you for answering my question, and I love what you guys do.
Caryn Hartglass: Thank you.
Gary De Mattei: Thank you. Thank you for calling so much. Have a great day in Tennessee. Wow! That was great!
Caryn Hartglass: That was a great question. Part of it is –
Gary De Mattei: Both questions were great. I mean dating for one thing has just got to be – I mean I was lucky because I found you, but dating if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, someone who isn’t, that’s kind of – well, you did a show on Geraldo I remember.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s right.
Gary De Mattei: You were going through chemo, about kissing a non-vegan, and that was pretty interesting.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, that was fun.
Gary De Mattei: Why don’t you touch on that a bit so that our caller from New Jersey – if he’s still listening – can hear about it.
Caryn Hartglass: Bobby, this is for you. So –
Gary De Mattei: Bobby, this is for you.
Caryn Hartglass: Back in 2010, I think it was, there was something going around in Australia. Oh no, it was 2007. I had just got – had finished my third surgery for advanced ovarian cancer. My hair was growing back. It was really short and chic, and I got this call. I was working for EarthSave at the time, and the team at Geraldo – what was his show called?
Gary De Mattei: You’re the only one I know who would say, “Cancer hair was chic.” That’s awesome.
Caryn Hartglass: It was.
Gary De Mattei: That’s awesome. Yeah, that’s the attitude that you took about everything, and I’m sure there are other people out there who would consider it the same way.
Caryn Hartglass: I was model thin with short hair, and I was looking really good right after my first surgery. [Laughs]
Gary De Mattei: And you went with it. And you went with it.
Caryn Hartglass: I went with it. Yeah, so there was something going around in Australia about vegans who wouldn’t date meat eaters or kiss meat eaters because of the way they tasted and smelled. I decided I would go on the show and be interviewed and talk about that. You can find it on YouTube actually. And – or if you want the link, email me at email@example.com, and I’ll send it to you. But we talked about that, and it is challenging. It’s like people who have different religions living together, how they manage their philosophies because they’re deep within us, and you want to live with someone in harmony. And if you’re not aligned philosophically, politically, ethically, that’s challenging.
Gary De Mattei: Well, that’s kind of a good point that you make, and I think I’m not religious. I mean people who know me know that I’m not religious, meaning I don’t subscribe to any dogma.
Caryn Hartglass: Can I just jump in here and say, please visit Gary’s website, GaryDeMattei.com and read his most recent story about – it was around Easter time, right?
Gary De Mattei: Yeah, yeah.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, it was really good.
Gary De Mattei: Thanks. The – oh, and now that you brought that up, GaryDeMattei.com, I do have this other category up there called ‘Bad Hemingway by the Bay,” and in addition to being here at Responsible Eating and Living, Caryn also mentioned that we have a non-profit called The Artist’s Theater Repertory Ensemble. The acronym is THEATER. And so what was – what started as a short story has now turned into a play and it’s done and we’re producing it, and it’s going to be probably seen soon out in California. So keep up-to-date with that by going to my website and following me on Facebook and Twitter and all that, and it’s going to be – Caryn, I read for you the other night. What did you think?
Caryn Hartglass: It was amazing! Number one, Gary played all these different characters by himself, and I was fascinated by the story. It’s –
Gary De Mattei: Yeah, you can read a couple – a couple of blips are on my website too, but anyway, thanks for the plug, Caryn. I know people come on your show and plug stuff, so I’m plugging that because I’m really excited about it. It’s taken about – I don’t know – I started writing this in 2012.
Caryn Hartglass: Four years ago.
Gary De Mattei: Yeah, 2012 so it’s a four-year labor of love. Anyway, so what was I saying?
Caryn Hartglass: We’re talking about religion.
Gary De Mattei: Right, but I do believe that the vegan diet, if you were to… the vegan lifestyle is the most spiritual, in addition to being something that I feel is the most beneficial to not only your own personal health, but the health of the planet and obviously without question the health of the animals. But it really is, it’s hypocritical of me to me, now this is just my subjective opinion after thinking about it objectively, it’s hypocritical for me to, for anybody to be an environmentalist or a religious member of the cloth, what have you, and not be vegan. It’s just, it’s a hypocritical act and that’s all I have to say about that because if you don’t want to talk about religion, and we never want to talk about politics. But, if you want to, if you’re still having trouble voting for somebody, vote for the one that’s closest to a vegan, and who would that be? That would be someone who has a daughter as a vegan and even a husband that went vegan.
Caryn Hartglass: And who’s near vegan. But we’re not going to say who that is.
Gary De Mattei: No.
Caryn Hartglass: I want to talk a little bit about religion because, I don’t know, can you hear the Mr. Softee theme song, everybody? That’s like my radio show theme song that gets to play between 4 and 5 P.M. here in New York. One day, Mr. Softee will have vegan options, until then…
Gary: Yeah, you hear that, Mr. Softee people? Get some vegan ice cream on there. Come on.
Caryn Hartglass: We have the Jewish holiday of Passover coming up and as I’ve said many times, I am not religious, no thank you. But I love holidays, I love tradition, I love veganizing holiday foods, that’s a passion. We have a bunch of Passover recipes on our ResponsibleEatingandLiving.com website. ResponsibleEatingandLiving.com website, including a flourless chocolate cake. Now, the thing about Passover is you’re not supposed to use, eat bread or anything that’s leaven. It’s tied to an old romantic story of Moses taking the Jews out of slavery in Egypt and bringing them to freedom, it’s a lovely little story you can watch Charlton Heston every year do the movie, The Ten Commandments. Right, that’s tradition! And I think the religion thing got out of hand if I may say that, making this long list of foods you can’t eat on Passover including like soy products and beans and rice unless you’re from a certain area. It’s kind of crazy but I’ve made this flourless chocolate cake. It’s really delicious. It is kosher for Passover. I also have a vegan gefilte fish and if any of you are familiar with the fish that is served cold, it’s like a little blob mold of fish and it’s served in this jelly with horseradish. We have a vegan version it’s really fun it’s made from almonds, and I created
Gary: It’s delicious. Trust me, it’s really good because I used to eat gefilte fish before I became a vegan and I’m not Jewish, but I would eat anything and so if my Jewish friends invited me to a Seder, I would go and eat the gefilte fish and love the jelly and everything. So, when Caryn made this, it brought it all back. It’s really wonderful and so, check it out. It’s a great recipe.
Caryn: And then we have a few more. I made this sponge cake. So sponge cake is like an important traditional dish, at least where I come from for Passover, and it’s loaded with eggs. I haven’t quite gotten into aquafaba, has anyone heard of it? Aquafaba, raise your hands.
Gary: Oh, I see a lot of people out there.
Caryn: Aquafaba is bean water from chickpeas and people have discovered that you can whip it into a frenzy and it turns into merengue. It’s plant-based. There’s this one page on Facebook you can check it out, the Aquafaba page, and see the amazing dishes people are making from this bean water.
Gary: Yeah, speaking of amazing, the amazing Fran Costigan turned me onto a few of her creations the other, not the other, but several weeks ago, we saw her somewhere and we were having food, and she brought some merengue cookies or something and they were amazing. I said, “How did you do this?” And she said “Chickpea. Chickpea water.”
Gary: And I’m like, “Oh my God, Fran, these are so good.” So check it out.
Caryn: Right, so I’m thinking you could make a sponge cake with aquafaba even though on the long list of things that aren’t kosher for Passover, I think chickpeas aren’t kosher for Passover, I’m not sure and I don’t really care. I’ve made a sponge cake, it is not whole foods, it is not healthy, it’s just a fun kind of crazy treat. But it’s a sponge cake, it’s wheat free. And it’s almost kosher for Passover if you’re Sephardic, meaning it has a little soy lecithin in it and soy is not kosher for everybody. But you might check that out. And then we have Nava Atlas’ wonderful matzo ball recipe with our own matzo ball soup recipe. And then my mother’s classic “Grandma’s Vegan Chopped Liver.”
Gary: Oh, yeah.
Caryn: Which is so good anytime of the year. And you might check those out. But I wanted to say the thing about Passover this year, is that it falls on my birthday, April 22nd, Friday night, Earth day, which just throws everything into a tizzy because we don’t celebrate Passover but we celebrate being with my family on Passover and there’s my birthday party, it’s Passover.
Gary: Right, but which brings me back to the reason why we’re doing this show and talking about all the things we’re talking about, is because April is a special month with Earth day and we usually do our, as I said, our “Happy Earth Day” review, so we’re not going to be doing it this year and we’re bummed but as Caryn said, we’re going to be spending time with family. So…
Caryn: You’re going to have to find another way to fundraise for Responsible Eating and Living so anytime you’d like to donate, we welcome contributions.
Gary: You want to donate, this is our month that we usually have our fundraising and we’ve got a bunch of videos up on the site and some of them are pretty funny, that we’ve created to generate interest in our not-for-profit company here, there is people at Responsible Eating and Living, Caryn and I, that we do everything out of a two-bedroom apartment, or a one-bedroom apartment in Queens. So, yes, so check out some of the videos. One of my favorites is the video that we did when we were doing some fundraising. And we decided to do a take on the pledge drive and we did a series of video so check those out, those are really cool and a lot of fun. So anyway, back to my story about being at my uncle and aunt’s farm, ranch, Cattle Ranch, and seeing a calf slaughtered right before my eyes and it stuck with me and it was the most horrible thing I had ever seen and yet, they… some of you out there might have a similar story, that you’ve seen an animal that would be slaughtered right in front of you like this and when you’re in the 7th grade, how old are you? I mean, what is that, 12? I don’t even know. But I was in shock, I was traumatized and they went about it, and I loved my aunt and uncle so I couldn’t-I hated them after I saw them do this- but they went about it like ritualistically. And it was really horrifying and bizarre. So then, of course they consoled me and they said, “This is what we do, this is a part of it, and living is this way, we’re supposed to eat animals.” And so we’re sort of conditioned, right? And then, when life changed for me after you and I got together and I decided, “Yeah, I’m going to do this, and I’m going to be vegan and we’re going to live a long happy, healthy life together and you and I are going to do lots of wonderful things,” and so we started our life over here in New York. I remember as soon as I decided to make peace with my food, as I opened this little discussion with, and this is also something that’s scoffed at by a lot of people who are battling with the concept of veganism and giving up meat. They hear a lot of people say “Well, I didn’t want to ingest any pain and suffering on my plate because animals go through a lot of pain and suffering.” And people scoff and it’s even made fun of in movies and on T.V. and it’s a big satire subject now. But, when you make peace with your food and in any way, something starts to feel better after, well for me at least, after I ate. And when I made peace with my food by going vegan, I felt this tremendous weight lifted off of me both literally and figuratively. I mean, I’ve dropped a hundred pounds since going vegan.
Gary: And I was on every fad diet that you could think of. And so one of the cool things we do at Responsible Eating and Living at the fundraiser is that we have the “Happy Earth Day Reviews.” We do a production by our group, The Swinging Gourmets, and one of the things is we tell a little bit of my life story and my battle with fad diets and Caryn’s story and her bout with being a vegan and going through ovarian cancer, and one of the stories is about how we do this flash back. When I was this little kid, I used to sneak a lot of food. And maybe some of you out there have a similar story to tell, where I would-my parents were asleep and I’d sneak into the kitchen and I’d open the refrigerator door and there was, I was on a diet at the time called “The Weight Watcher’s Diet.” In those days, I think the Weight Watcher’s diet is still like a major corporation, but in those days, you had to weigh your food. So, telling a little kid that he’s got to weigh his food is pretty intense, and so I used to have these nightmares about the ounce scale that my aunt let me borrow because I was too young to get into the Weight Watcher’s meetings and she was going to the meetings and so she let me use her diet and her ounce scale and she lived next door. And so this ounce scale became, my Aunt Esther, God rest her soul. She is no longer with us, but she let me have her ounce scale and so this ounce scale started to be this thing that I had to carry around with me and everybody else could eat what they want and I had to weigh my food and so we do this really funny bit about me sneaking food and then as I open the refrigerator door, Jean Nidetch face, the founder of Weight Watcher’s, is there and Caryn comes in in this huge wig and she hands me this scale and tells me I have to weigh my food as the Queen of the Knife and you can find that, we posted it today advertising this show, this little cartoon about that scene and you can find that on our website too if you want to check it out because it’s pretty funny and that’s kind of the stuff we do when we do our Happy Earth Day Review that we’re not going to do because we’re going to be with family.
Caryn: But you know what was a funny coincidence? We did our first Happy Earth Day Review in 2013, we did it in San Jose California in the theater on San Pedro Square which was a theater that Gary actually built and now it was given to another theatre group to use and when we were performing there, Gary’s cousins were there, Louie De Mattei and Amy Tan and they brought some guests with them, including someone named Duncan Clarke and we didn’t realize who he was back then but last night we were at the book launch for Duncan Clarke’s new book, which is called Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built, and it’s a hot happening book, it’s not about food. But he was there, and it all came together.
Gary: Yeah, and we’re going to plug his book because Duncan came all the way from China to see the Swinging Gourmets in San Jose and he, and while you’re on the subject of my cousin Lou De Mattei and Amy Tan, I just want to give a shout-out to my aunt Regina, Lou’s mom, who is 101 years old and Lou stayed behind and so I went and represented. I was Lou’s understudy and I went and represented Lou last night because he stayed in San Jose and Amy had the launch alone, did the launch at her pied-de-terre in Manhattan, at their pied-de-terre in Manhattan.
Caryn: Oh, so the funny thing is the weather is so cold now and it’s spring and we went to this event and I wore my fake fur just to stay warm, everyone’s walking around in their fake furs.
Gary: Yeah, it’s really cold. So but my aunt is not doing well and she may go any day now so a big shout out to cousins Lou, Dave, and Victor and Aunt Regina, thinking about you over there in San Jose. And Duncan, thanks for coming to San Jose, a couple of years ago, to see the Swinging Gourmets. And so anyway, there’s a lot going on and we want you to check it out…
Caryn: Let’s talk about acting, Gary. Acting as a vegan and where those connections are and acting and activism. We only have 15 more minutes, that’s kind of a big mouthful but I wanted to bring it up and by the way, we are still taking calls. 1 (888) 874-4888. That’s 1 (888) 874-4888. Yes.
Gary: Just like there’s a lot of athletes becoming vegan and realizing that you don’t need to clog your arteries and your veins and bulk up on animal products and animal steroids and all of that to be a successful athlete and you have to understand, to be an actor, especially to be an actor, a working actor-what that means is someone who has chosen acting as a profession-you need to start thinking about longevity and you need to start thinking about evolving because there’s a lot of folks out there just for whatever reason, feel like after a certain age, when the body starts to go, they can no longer do the work. Because the mind starts to go and the one thing that you have to understand about actors, especially theater actors, which I am and is if you lose your mind, if you lose your memory, that’s your career down the drain. So what are some of the things, I mean, let’s not even talk about the tremendous jolt this gives your cardiovascular system when you become a vegan, when you cut out all animal products. You start to get this tremendous jolt of energy, I know I did. And again with the weight loss, it just comes off; it just starts shedding when you stop eating animals. So that’s all positive but one of the other things that are very positive is you get sharper mentally and I know you can talk about this, Caryn. Where I, before becoming a vegan I started to have a real problem memorizing lines. And once I cleaned up my diet and started doing the juicing and eating all plant foods and or whatever you want to call it, plant-based lifestyle, what have you, I started memorizing lines much quicker, I was more focused on-stage, I was much more in-the-moment, which is what an actor needs to be. Much more present, and not only in my craft but also in life. And it’s tremendous because what you really can start to think about is that you will be around a long time and some of these things that you maybe think aren’t possible start to become possible. Like writing your own work and producing your own work and getting the energy to do that. And yeah, sure there are people out there that I know that aren’t vegan that are producing their own work and writing and doing all of these things I’m talking about but one of the things that I noticed personally-and I can only speak for myself-is that with the weight loss came incredible jolt of memory that came back to me. My ability to memorize things and I don’t know why because I’m not a scientist and I’m not a biologist, I don’t know what that does, but I know I have a theory and it’s a conspiracy theory and it has no basis. This isn’t based on fact but everybody talks about Alzheimer’s and when I’ve researched mad cow disease, and now again this is just a crazy theory of mine, that has no validity anywhere it’s just a subjective notion that popped into my head. And I went with it, is that mad cow disease is in reality what people are saying is Alzheimer’s so they’re saying it’s Alzheimer’s but in reality it’s mad cow disease. So what mad cow disease does to people, it really does affect your memory and a lot of other things.
Caryn: I remember reading an article maybe fifteen or twenty years ago, a long time ago, there were two studies that said, one study said 6% of all Alzheimer’s cases was mad cow and another said 13% was mad cow and I don’t know what the numbers were that they based it on but then I averaged the two and figured “Oh it’s 10%.” We don’t hear anything really about that but you made some good points and we see a lot in children, especially when they’re eating a lot of artificial flavorings and colorings, artificial ingredients in their food, it affects their learning. Kids are on Ritalin today; it’s an attention deficit thing that’s going on. There’s been a lot of studies and cases showing that when children eat a whole foods, plant-based diet or include more whole plant foods in their diet, their grades go up, their behavior improves, their concentration improves. So you’re just a big kid showing us that it’s true, just it’s happened to you too.
Gary: It is true. I’m one day hoping to mature actually and become an adult but right now, I’m really feeling like, and so what are we saying here? We’re saying again…
Caryn: What are we saying, Gary?
Gary: We’re babbling a lot. It’s a lot of stuff you’ve probably heard before from a lot of vegans who get out there and say “My life is so much better now since I’ve become a vegan and you should all be vegan too.” And ok, so I’m respectful to all of you listening that you have reasons for why you do what you do. So again, this is not a program for people who want to be insulted, I hope I haven’t insulted anybody because I’m not here to preach to you, as I’ve said, I was a big meat-eater, now I’m not. Ok. And so it’s worked for me, it may not work for you. If you want to try it, we at Responsible Eating and Living are here for you. We have lots of recipes, podcasts; we’re trying to do this creatively so it’s something that maybe you can take in small doses. And again, we’re here, the two of us run this organization, my big line now and I used it last night in front of a bunch of best-selling authors and I got a laugh, is, when they said “What’s your organization all about? And why haven’t I heard of it?” And I said “Well, we don’t want to be too big, because if you’re big, you get pop-ups.” So you can actually go to our website and not have to experience pop-ups, ok? And I don’t even think if we were big we would sell out to advertisers. Because we’re a non-profit so we don’t want to do anything like that. So check us out, we’re anti-pop-ups. We’re anti-”you have to register before you enter the site.” I mean, you know how you get those screens sometimes? We don’t do any of that, we don’t have “mad pop-up disease” on our websites so check us out and as you can see, we’re easily… you could real meals, inforealmeals.org will get you Caryn directly answering you back and so we have five minutes left, anybody have a call? Give us a call and…
Caryn: Yeah, there are a couple of things that I wanted to mention before we go so I let me get them out right now and that is I interviewed Dr. Fuhrman like last week, I hope you heard it. And it was about his latest book, End of Heart Disease, which is phenomenal. And just to wet your appetite, if you haven’t purchased the book and you haven’t decided you want it or want it for someone you love or know about that’s experiencing some sort of cardiovascular disease, I just want to bring you to the link on our website with Dr. Fuhrman’s interview, it’s on our home page. But I’ve added about five or six of the recipes that are in his The End of Heart Disease books. So not only do we have hundreds of Responsible Eating and Living creative original recipes on our website, at Dr. Fuhrman’s page, you can link to some of his recipes too, and there’s a chocolate brownie and some salad dressings and a pizza, they’re really yummy and unbelievably good for you, it just seems so impossible but it is and it’s quite possible. And the other thing I wanted to bring to your attention, coming up, I think it’s April 30th, for nine days, is the fifth annual Food Revolution Summit with John and Ocean Robbins and I’ve been really honored and fortunate because I’ve been apart of this summit now, this will be my second year. And I will be contributing recipes with Gary’s help and we’re going to create some new recipes for the food revolution summit and I will be offering them each day of the summit and they will tie into what the speakers are saying that day, so that’s going to be fun to do but if you want to register for the event, and I encourage you to, it’s a free event and then later on you have the option to buy the whole package if you miss some of it. You can go to ResponsibleEatingandLiving.com, that’s where we live. ResponsibleEatingandLiving.com you can click right on the food revolution summit and register and I hope you do because it’s going to be an amazing event and I’m apart of it. Woo hoo!
Gary: Yeah, it is going to be an amazing event. And I’ll give a plug on something that Caryn and I are both doing for the artist theatre, if I may, is we’re going to be in San Jose, California Saturday May 21st and Sunday May 22nd, doing a musical theater workshop because that’s what we also do in our other life. Check it out, it’s a great workshop and it’s up at…
Gary: ArtistTheatre.com. ArtistTheatre.com. Check it out, it’s for a great organization called “Playful People Productions”, and they’re in the Rose Garden in San Jose and we’re glad to help them out and we’re going to be teaching a musical theatre workshop, it’s a two-day intensive. And I’ll just read to you, and they can cut me off if they need to, “This two day workshop is great for working actors as well as actors who took a break and want to get back into theatre, film, commercial acting, etc., but need a little jump start. It’s also a great workshop for opera singers, teachers, theater directors, theater producers, those wanting to produce their own work, writers, composers, choreographers, and playful people who know they’ve got talent but think it’s too late for them. It’s never too late! And I’ll stop right there because if you’re interested, you’ll check it out. Okay.
Caryn: Yeah, thank you. Thank you, Gary. Thank you for that and thank you for sharing this hour with me on It’s All About Food. You’re the best.
Gary: Thank you, Caryn. You’re the bestest. All right talk to you later. Bye.
Caryn: Bye bye. I want to say before we go, we rarely say this but if you have a chance, could you like us and rate us on iTunes? I really would love this show to be shared by more and more people and that can only happen if you help us out. So, do your part, I’ll do mine and we’ll make this world a better place. In the meantime, have a delicious week!
Transcribed by Alison Rutledge, 4/21/2016 and Bayilani Vidali 5/9/2016