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Paul Graham was born, raised, and lived most of his life in the San Jose area of Northern California. While in the San Jose area he worked with teens and professional athletes and was the chaplain for the Oakland A’s baseball team. He moved to Las Vegas, NV in 2004 where he is a writer, green realtor, and top wedding officiant. He has been a vegan since 2007 and began the Eating Vegan in Vegas blog in 2011. Paul writes a weekly Sunday column, Being Vegan, for “The Las Vegas Informer,” an on-line newspaper which carries his column in its sister publications in California and Texas. ORDER Paul Graham’s e-book.
In addition, Caryn covers the topics of bees and the colony collapse disorder as well as the recent press on BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.
Caryn Hartglass: Hello everybody! I’m Caryn Hartglass. This is May 21, 2013 and you’re listening to It’s All About Food. Thank you for listening. Thank you for listening. It is such a beautiful, beautiful day today in New York City. It’s like summer already and that’s nice. I went for a great run today and it just felt really good to breathe. I’m really into breathing these days, I’ve been noticing I’ve been talking about breathing a lot lately. It’s a very simple pleasure and although I know it’s all about food in my world, we really can’t really get anywhere without breathing. So it’s nice when the air smells delicious. I like to appreciate the different kinds of air. Sometimes the air isn’t too good, but when it is good it’s something to celebrate. Now I am not going to try to be a breatharian, it’s not where I’m going with this, but breathing just appreciate your breathing and take long, low, deep breaths. It’s good for you. Alright, my first guest, my only guest actually today. Paul was born, raised, and most of his life in the San Jose area of northern California. While in the San Jose area, he worked with teens and professional athletes and was the chaplain for the Oakland A’s baseball team. He moved to Las Vegas Nevada in 2004 where he is a writer, green realtor, and top wedding officiant. He has been a vegan since 2007 and began the Eating Vegan In Vegas blog in 2011. Paul writes a weekly Sunday column, Being Vegan, for “The Las Vegas Informer,” an on-line newspaper which carries his column in its sister publications in California and Texas. Hey Paul, how are you doing?
Paul Graham: I’m doing great and it’s a beautiful day here in the desert as well.
Caryn Hartglass: Look at that, it’s a beautiful day. So, I’m going to take another beautiful breath in, exhale, and first I’m glad to be talking to you. It’s kind of an interesting, funny way how we “met” because we haven’t met in person, but it was through these small world coincidences, through a friend of my partner’s sister, Linda Laurence Bryan, who knows you.
Paul Graham: Yes.
Caryn Hartglass: Thought we should know each other.
Paul Graham: Yes, it’s great, and serendipitous, I believe, for us to talk today.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, well we can talk a lot about getting to Las Vegas, so when we do, we’ll definitely look you up. You’re definitely the source of where to go when it comes to food.
Paul Graham: We’ve been doing a lot of eating these past few years. Las Vegas is a great food city anyway, but it has truly been going through a wonderful transformation over the past few years and has really opened its doors to the whole world of plant based eating, and has really become a leader in the sense of traditional restaurants who’ve opened up their menus to add plant based feeding for the millions of visitors. We have over 3 million visitors come here every month as well as almost 3 million people who live here right now in the Las Vegas Valley.
Caryn Hartglass: I find it fascinating that many of the go-to chefs today are actually acknowledging that some of the more exciting ingredients today on the plate to play with are plant foods.
Paul Graham: Right, well you know you think if you’ve done any sort of cooking before, I’ve been cooking all my life, but most meals are based around a piece of meat of piece of fish or something like that and everything else is kind of to adorn or become side dishes and yet with what you have now with plant based, you really have the chef now of creating a meal out of some wonderful ingredients to be able to create something that’s not only satisfying but looks beautiful. I think that it’s amazing to see the creativity that some of the chefs are able to come up with now. Some of the dishes here are just fantastic.
Caryn Hartglass: Let’s talk about you for a little bit. It was fun reading in the beginning of your book, a lot of us who become vegan for one reason or another feel this lack of not having a compelling story. Because some of the mentors or some of the authors that we’ve read about have these great stories and they end up writing a book and their story is something that’s so convincing that it compels other people to want to adopt this diet. Some of us just don’t have a story. I thought I didn’t have a story for a long time, I’ve been vegan for 25 year san vegetarian before that and I’ve often said I just do it for all these reasons which I feel are the right reasons and then I get a story but I don’t want to get into my story right now, maybe later. You have a story that I think many people would relate to.
Paul Graham: Well, I lived most of my life in northern California and surrounded by foodies and I have chefs in my family and I’ve done a lot of cooking myself. For most of my life I really ate and cooked almost anything that I wanted. I’ve always had a great appreciation for food and the celebration of food. Just the ability to be able to enjoy food in that way and so I’ve come to a place after I moved out to Las Vegas that I was really looking for ways to optimize my own health. For me it was really a health journey. I’m in pretty good shape but I was really looking for ways to optimize my health and to be able to get to that next level and hopefully enjoy and be able to breathe for the next 50 years or so and as I research, I really looked into most of the things that debilitate us and the diseases and the things that really hinder our health seem to be food related. So in looking at that further and thought well you know if we can control our diet, that’s a good place to start. When I looked at that even further, I found that there were two big culprits, meat and dairy. They were contributing to a lot of health issues and things like that so if we could eliminate those things… So I’ve began to look at that and I was at a place in my life where I’d eliminated a lot of the meat and the dairy from my life. I eat a little bit of chicken, a little bit of fish. For me it was very easy to transition to becoming a vegetarian. It was right about that a fellow gave me a book and it was the book Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin. It was very impactful for me because it opens up a little bit more beyond just the health issues. It was also the issues of animal rights and what was happening with animals which I really had no idea the extent of what was happening in that process as much as I was working and doing things with food, I just really didn’t understand what was happening in terms of the animals there. The sheer numbers of animals that were being slaughtered every year for consumption, not only in the U.S., but worldwide. Also the environmental impacts as well. For me it really grew from there. From there it was just the logical thing to do to move towards becoming vegan, eliminating animal products not only from my food but from my lifestyle.
Caryn Hartglass: I give you a lot of credit, one for being open to reading a book called Skinny Bitch.
Paul Graham: I laughed at that when he first gave it to me and I subsequently read Skinny Bastard after that which was great as well, but I just had a chance to actually laugh. The week that I was in Los Angeles could go to a book event that Rory Freedman was having for her new book Beg. I was able to get a chance to meet her and it was great to be able to sit down with her and talk to her and tell her that everything that I’m doing now in my life was really as a result of the effort and the work that she had done, the rippling effect sometimes will work on things we do.
Caryn Hartglass: Let’s just pause this for a moment and put that out there to everyone knowing that what you do as an individual makes a difference. Never think that it doesn’t, it’s the whole drop in the bucket concept, we all fill the bucket, one drop at a time and it does matter what you do. So if you’re ever thinking ‘Gosh, this sounds too difficult’ or ‘I want to but, but, but, but,’ it matters. Talk about it. Do something about it. It matters, it makes a difference and only change happens starting from each one of us. So there’s my little preaching for the moment. People need to be reminded.
Paul Graham: They do, they all do.
They matter, we all matter, we all make a difference. Now you started your blog project that turned into a book and I’m sure the rippling effect continues.
Paul Graham: It does because days don’t go by when I don’t get contact from people from literally around the world who have said we are going to visit Las Vegas, we’re thinking about doing it. We came up, we found your blog and it led us to this and led us to that and it just is truly what I wanted to do was build a bridge. In the spring of 2011, I was thinking about what could I do to be able to build a bridge to people. We all have to eat, eating is a practical part of our lives and as much as I felt strongly about everything else is that initial bridge. If we could show people how we could eat not only at home wonderfully but also out in a city like Las Vegas which has never been known for its plant based cuisine. I decided to do a blog and I just said in my mind I was going to go out for 365 days and eat a different plant based meal each day, out, and i was going to blog about it so I did. It became a year long thing and I still have the blog, I don’t go out everyday, just two or three times a week, but it turned into an opportunity then to be able to kind of to take it to the next level. I was contacted by Sullivan Street Press, they’re in New york City, and to be able to do and ebook and talk a little bit about my story, so the ebook itself contains over 150 different restaurants that are in Las Vegas that I eat at that I talk about and I break it down by area so it’s a really handy guidebook for people to be able to have. It’s an easy download, they can just go to the Sullivan Street Press website, download it very easily, download it to their phone, or their tablet, or their laptop or whatever. The idea is for it to be mobile, something they can take with them, whether they live here in Las Vegas or they’re visiting the city. Beyond that it’s all talk about in each chapter I talk about the whys of why we are vegan and one of the chapters I talk about the health reasons and then I talk about the ethical and social justice issues. In another one i talk about the environmental reasons and then beyond that I talk about the spiritual reasons as well. I wanted to be able to talk about not only the where to go eat, but more importantly the whys.
Caryn Hartglass: The whys certainly are very important and those issues that you brought up: health, environment, animal, spiritual. It’s somewhat a circle we kind of jump into the circle at one point and then learn about all of the other issues and they all reinforce each other. I was reading something recently, I don’t want to mention any names, but there was a long term vegan who decided not to be vegan because of cravings and someone else explained that this person didn’t become vegan because of the ethical reasons. This person became vegan for health reasons and that was one of the reasons why it wasn’t long lasting. I don’t know if that’s true or not, we’re all very different, we all have all different kinds of stuff going on in our head. I think once we’re open to the concept that we don’t require killing to survive, that opens a door to so many other things and I would like to think that it sticks for the most part once we get the ethical portion of it. They’re all important, all the issues are important and there’s no bad reason to do this.
Paul Graham: They’re all bridges and I think, at times, they all kind of morph together because you’re in what I call the lifestyle conscious living and eating. You’re in there for a while, they all kind of morph together. They all become very central in your mind and it’s hard to separate them I think after a while. I think as I tell people, they’re all bridges and I think one of the big bridges today is going to be for health reasons that will bring people over, but after that, it’s really the ethical and social justice issues that are really open. I think you’re in a much better place and frame of mind once you kind of walk away from the things and maybe you’ve been into it for the health reasons and you’ve stopped consuming animal products, you can really begin to look at things differently. By human nature, your mind is just a little bit more open to discovering some of these things and you can’t help but sit down and watch a movie like Earthlings and not be, in a sense, branded to the very core of who you are. I tell people, I say maybe you came over for environmental or spiritual or health reasons, but it’s really the sort of ethical, the social justice reason that becomes the real steel and cement of that bridge that will forever be there for you, and that’s going to be the thing that I think is going to cement you into this lifestyle. You’ve realized that it’s so much more beyond your own health. There’s 60 billion animals a year.
Caryn Hartglass: You mention a number of different people in your book. Steve Wynn, of course that’s mentioned, he’s this major building mogul in Las Vegas and has really changed the footprint there from a food point of view because of all the restaurants that he owns and has required to offer vegan food at those places. It sounded like you tried all of them if not most of them.
Paul Graham: I’ve been to almost all of them and they all have wonderful working with the great chefs that are already there that are part of the Wynn Encore restaurants already and they brought in Chef Tal Ronen this top vegan chef to consult with all of them, still consults to this day and create wonderful menu options beyond just what they already offered.
Caryn Hartglass: I don’t like to give so much weight to celebrities but we can’t help ourselves and when we get a celebrity that supports what we do, it’s great, it’s exciting and Steve Wynn is one of those who we lump his name in with some major people like Bill Clinton because we’re so excited that these people who are not only famous but are considered very intelligent and successful and have the means, why they would choose such a lifestyle and they choose it for the right reasons. We want to use their names and their stories because – and it just says it all.
Paul Graham: I think he’s obviously opened up the door here in Las Vegas and has made such a difference in other restaurants now that have not maybe thought about it before and well if Steve Winn is doing this and he’s such a great businessman and no matter how he might have thought about it personally. He has taken the step and as the great businessman that he is, I’m sure there’s going to be something that we should look at as well and it’s really helped to open up the doors. So many traditional restaurants now that have really become, I think, shining lights here now in the city because along side there are already wonderful menus now that they have these other tremendous plant based offerings as well.
Caryn Hartglass: You had Elizabeth Kucinich foreword in your book. Congratulations for that, she is a lovely person and does incredible work. I just want to mention her and the fact that she is now a policy chief for food safety at the Center for Food Safety. We need her in that position. How do you know Elizabeth Kucinich?
Paul Graham: It was actually through my editor. My editor had set that up and so they had contact and so she found out about the project I was doing and definitely wanted to support it.
Caryn Hartglass: I met her at one of the PCRM, Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine event, really, really amazing individual. I haven’t been to Las Vegas since… oh, did we lose you? (loss of Paul Graham on call) I was in Las Vegas two times in 1980 and in 1981 and I know that it has completely changed. Definitely is called sin city for lots of different reasons. Gambling, I remember. I used to like playing, actually, roulette and craps, it was a fun thing. I came from a numbers background and I just enjoyed the probability, the odds, the statistics, from a mathematical point of view. The thing that was really annoying about the casinos in particular was all the smoking. I understand that that has changed to some extent, 30 years later. Perhaps Paul could let us know about that when he joins us, if we get him back. The other thing that I remember, which is kind of true in casinos all around the U.S. at least, is these buffets that bring people in, so the idea of the casinos is to keep people gambling. One way to do that is to keep them liquored up and keep them well fed and attracted to all kinds of deals on foods. I remember these deals where the food was really inexpensive in many places and you’d have buffets and all kinds of foods. Even for, I was a vegetarian at the time I wasn’t vegan yet, but there was still plenty of food to eat back then because of these big buffets. But a fascinating thing where they realized that to get people to be “sinful,” to gamble, to let go of their money, you have to entice them very often with some other thing like food, lots of food, inexpensive food, and alcohol. What does that say about us? I just want to mention, it has nothing to do with food, but it’s just a funny story: I went in one of my trips to Las Vegas and I was there on two road trips, I actually drove from the East Coast to the West Coast both times and stopped in Las Vegas. One time a friend of mine gave me 100 dollars and he wanted me to gamble it in a certain way. He gave me specific instructions which I did not follow, this was back in 1982 and I actually gambled it on roulette and won him 900 dollars and I took that cash and I put it in a plain envelope and mailed it back to him. It was an amazing, amazing story. That’s my experience with Las Vegas and we talk a lot about going back there because now of the incredible food scene that’s going on today. Have you been to Las Vegas? Do you like Las Vegas? Often, when I’m Googling things for vegans, things from Las Vegas come up because people in Las Vegas are called Las Vegans? I like to say that vegans are from the planet Vega but maybe they’re just from Las Vegas. Silly things to think about.
Well, I wanted to mention a number of things with Paul but he’s not with us, so, not sure what to do about that but we’ll continue. He happens to have a blog on tumblr. It’s called Eating Vegan in Vegas (eatinginvegas.tumblr.com) What I wanted to talk about was tumblr because tumblr was just purchased by Yahoo for 1.1 billion, a not insignificant number and I guess I’m not social network savvy enough to know what all the fuss is. I’m personally a wordpress user, not a tumblr user for my own websites. I’m curious about what all the fuss is. Do you have some tumblr sites that you really enjoy that you want to share with me? If you do, I want to remind you that my email is firstname.lastname@example.org and, for the rest of the show here, if you are listening live, I know many people listen in the archives, I’m going to open it up for calls at 1-888-874-4888. If any of you are listening live, it would be great to hear from you, if you have any questions about food. For the next portion of the show, I’m going to be talking about a lot of different things including, just to whet your appetite here, blood pressure, oxalates, bacteria, breast cancer, which is a hot subject as it continues to be year after year after year after year, and bees. If any of those things are interesting to you and you have some information to share, you can call in at 1-888-874-4888. There you go. I’m just scanning through the ebook for Paul Graham’s book and I’m looking for the format of the book, just so you know, the first half is a discussion of a number of different places that he went to and what he ate and what it was like. The second portion is simply a listing of the different restaurants and where they’re located, what neighborhood, whether they’re vegan, or vegan friendly, the price range, what his favorite dish is or some comments and contacts. If you’re going to Las Vegas, this might be a useful thing to pick up. I’m not going to count on hearing from Mr. Graham, so why don’t we take a little break and we’ll continue with the rest of the show in a few minutes.
Caryn Hartglass: Hello everybody, I’m Caryn Hartglass. We’re back! It is May 21, 2013, you’re listening to It’s All About Food. I wanted to say again, you can reach me at email@example.com either during the program or during the week. I can’t say enough how much I love to hear from listeners and I learn so much from you, so please send me a message either now or any time during the week. Also, if you want to have a conversation, the line is open at 1-888-874-4888. Most of the time on this program, I bring on guests, doctors, nutritionists, athletes, authors, chefs, activists, people that are passionate like I am about food and once or twice a year, I like to just babble on my own because I have a few things that I want to say and just get on with it. There’s a whole bunch of things that are going on that we’ve been reading about in the press, hearing about on the news on television and I wanted to talk about some of them. One of them has to do with the bees. We’ve been hearing quite a bit about the bees probably for the last 7 years or so. We’re hearing about the colony collapse disorder and I don’t like to buy into fear tactics. I don’t like to buy into sensational media that tells us about gloom and doom and we have to prepare for the end of the world. However, I also don’t like to keep my head in the sand and there are things that we just cannot ignore. The bee is like the canary in the coal mine. They’re telling us things. We really need to be paying attention. Since 2006, beekeepers have noticed that the bees aren’t doing as well as they used to. Some bees flew away from their hives and never returned and some of them have just died and they’re not thriving. We use bees quite a lot. They’re not just used for making honey, they’re used to pollinate crops and it’s estimated that according to the U.N. at least, about 70% of the crops that provide 90% of human food are pollinated by bees. Ok, 70% of crops that provide 90% of our food are pollinated by bees. You can imagine that if the bee population goes down, and even has a potential of disappearing, we lose a lot of food. Now, the reason why this is in the news a little more frequently lately is because our EPA recently approved a pesticide called, I never pronounce these correctly but I’ll attempt to, the pesticide sulfoxaflor. It’s a fourth generation neonicotinoid considered highly toxic to honeybees. This group of chemicals, these neonicotinoids, they’ve been discussed in scientific studies now for a number of years and it’s believed that they’re highly toxic to honeybees, to the extent that in Europe, they’re putting a temporary ban on this pesticide. They’re putting into effect I think at the end of the year and it’s a two year ban just to see what happens and see what the impact is on the bee population. Our EPA just approved a new type of this particular class of pesticide that’s damaging to bees and you have to wonder, what are they thinking or not thinking? The scary thing is that they put out a report, they approve this one particular pesticide, they’re studying the effects of neonicotinoides, but they’re they’re not going to conclude their review on neonicoinoides, but they’re not going to conclude their review on neonicotinoids until 2018 at the earliest. 2018! That’s five years from now. That’s kind of scaring me. The question is what does all of this mean? Pesticides are unhealthy. They’re unhealthy for bees and they’re certainly unhealthy for the rest of us. Oh, my goodness, Paul! Are you back? (Paul Graham returns)
Paul Graham: Yes, in our technological world here had a definite shortcoming here. Took me awhile to find out what was happening and…
Caryn Hartglass: Well you’re back, I thought you were busy at this time.
Paul Graham: No, I’m fine. We had to rearrange some things.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh, okay, awesome! Welcome back Paul to It’s All About Food. I don’t know if you were listening but I’m talking about what’s going on with the bees and it’s a pretty scary thing, actually, pesticides. These neonicotinoids are used on corn, canola, cotton, sugar beans, soy beans, cereal grains, rice, fruit, and lots of vegetable crops. It’s just amazing and like I said before, it’s like the canary in the cave mine because if it’s affecting the bees, you know it’s going to affect us, whether we have bees or not. These chemicals are not good for us at all.
Paul Graham: One of the reasons why I’m participating in the march against Monsanto, one of the cities where we are doing a march here in Las Vegas and we’re going to be marching against that and some of the chemicals are obviously used there are coming from companies and products like Roundup and things the thing Monsanto products. That have a devastating effect on so many different levels from bees all the way up to humans.
Caryn Hartglass: Right. We always feel kind of helpless that there isn’t a lot we can do, especially when our government continues to make the wrong choices. There are things we can do and I just wanted to run by a few of them. We can’t all do these things, but if we have a little ground space and we can grow a garden, growing gardens are good. If you can support a family of bees, if you can support a hive, a bee hive, a bee colony, a lot of urban areas they’re doing that on rooftops now. I believe as long as the bees are fed properly or are allowed to live relatively naturally and feed on things that aren’t toxic, they’re going to thrive. I have some friends in Tuscany who have a vegan biodynamic winery and they also grow bees. They’re bees are thriving. These bees have wonderful flowers to feed themselves on and they’re doing well. It’s just so frustrating that our government and scientists feel that they have to do further studies. Oh well. When you were gone, I was talking about my brief time in Las Vegas back in 1980 and 81 and 82. I did a couple of road trips and stopped out there. I know that it has changed tremendously in 30 years. So my memory is hanging around in very smoky casinos. Are the casinos mostly smoke-free now?
Paul Graham: Actually, no. Restaurants are, casinos are the only ones that still have smoking allowed in them. All the restaurants around town, do not as well as the restaurants within the casinos. Walking through the casinos, you’re going to come across some smoke. I must say, to their credit, especially the Winn’s, were really innovators in this whole thing in terms of creating air systems that really pulled the smoke out. They have some of the best air filtration systems in the world that are processed so they really pull a lot of it out. It’s a much different situation even with the way that it was 5 to 10 years ago is really much better. At least with the restaurants around town it’s not something you have to deal with anymore.
Caryn Hartglass: Are there any smoke-free gambling environments?
Paul Graham: Maybe, though I think there’s parts of a casino would be and certainly hotel rooms have ones that are non-smoking. In terms of the actual gaming part, I think it’s pretty much still anything goes.
Caryn Hartglass: Which, is really unfortunate. I think they just assume that most of the pope who want to gamble or people that don’t eat well and want to drink a lot and gamble, there are a handful of us that just enjoy gambling and want to take care of every other part of ourself. But oh well.
Paul Graham: I think they’ve changed even the last few years here, you can see the things that we’re hearing just about the numbers of people have moved towards plant based eating and vegan lifestyle have doubled in the last few years. You can really see that just by the number of people that are coming to town that are requesting these things and I heard this from restauranteurs and general managers and chefs and things like that. We just have more people asking that have ever been before. They’re asking what do you have that is plant based, what can you do that’s vegetarian, vegan for me? Good thing nowadays they don’t have to ask as much because it’s right there on the menu for them, but we’ve just seen such a growth even in the last few years. I don’t think I would be able to 5 years ago even go and do some of the things that I’ve been able to do. Now I can’t keep up with it because literally we have restaurants opening every week and almost all of them are offering some sort of plant based option. Now I still have to try to get around and sample and be able to blog about it but it’s just a trend that is happening. It’s very very encouraging.
Caryn Hartglass: Las Vegas is known for its gambling of course and it’s entertainment. Do you think it’s going to morph into something different?
Paul Graham: I think that’s going to be the bedrock of it. I think that’s one of the reasons why it’s such a great getaway city and nowadays especially now that we come into the warmer weather. The whole idea is that the day clubs, which almost all of the resorts now have day clubs, the pools have turned into a sense a night club during the day as well as the night clubs at night. I think that’s always going to be a big part of what is here. I think for many many years, Las Vegas has been known as a really good restaurant city, but it’s especially, you know coming in the late 1990s, early 2000s we had so many of the top chefs that started opening up restaurants here. So they kind of developed more of a reputation and now we have the Joel Robuchons and different ones like that that actually, instead of opening up in New York City or one of the other cities that people though they would have normally have opened in, they opened in Las Vegas instead. I think that’s pretty best for the encouraging in that sense. People living in Las Vegas should consider the fact that most of our dining is concentrated in really small areas have really become well regarded if not great food city now. As far as vegans go, I don’t know that we’re ever going to be able to compare to a Portland or New York City of San Francisco, you know as far as the sheer number of vegan restaurants, but I think for Las Vegas is a leader now in term of the number of traditional restaurants who’ve opened up their menus to plant based food options. I think that that’s a great way to be able to get into the mainstream because now you have people that can come with a group of people and there’s something for everybody there. People are going to be more apt to try it when it’s on a regular menu as opposed to making their way into a 100% vegan restaurant. They’re great and they serve a purpose obviously, but a person who’s not in that lifestyle is usually not going to find their way into one of those restaurants. It’s a little bit harder unless they are brought by somebody.
Caryn Hartglass: It is so important that more restaurants serve vegan options just for that reason. We all like to socialize. Most of my friends aren’t vegan and we like to go out together and it’s so uncomfortable when you’re sitting with people and they’re all looking at the menu going “now what are you going to eat?”
Paul Graham: Right. We have some great restaurants now that have full vegan menus to go along with the other ones even more extensive than at The Wynn or The Encore and so the choices are endless and they’re adding more things all the time. Really, it’s possible to go out and find anything from fast food, casual dining, to fine dining, and have a great vegan options available for you. The amount of visitors that are coming now by, one of the bridges that we want to be able to build because if we figure if just one of the five percent of the people coming in every month are looking for plant based meals, then that’s between 30 and 150,000 people per month so we want to obviously help build a bridge to that.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s some serious business. Now you have a blog I mentioned it before when you weren’t with us briefly, eatingveganinlasvegas.tumblr.com You’re one of those tumblr blog sites. I was just wondering what your feeling is on tumblr, especially now with Yahoo picking it up for 1.1 billion dollars!
Paul Graham: Well it’s inevitable it seems like somebody creates a model that it’s picking up a different demographic and one of the things that the younger people especially were shifting away from Facebook because they felt it had already become a little too corporate and soon their parents and everybody else were getting on it. One of the reasons why I chose Tumblr as opposed to WordPress and things like that and we’ll just see how things go because I could switch over any time I suppose but it was really more of a deliberate sort of thing because for one thing, the tumblr blog, not having done a blog before, is very user friendly, very user-friendly for me to be able to do the thing that I was doing with picture and the kind of blog that I would envision doing, so it was good that way. It was also because of the demographic. I wanted to reach a younger demographic because I believe that this younger generation is very keen in terms of what is going to happen but in generations to come and the Tumblr platform was really one that allowed me to be able to do that and I’ve really picked up a lot of that demographic as a result of it just being on Tumblr.
Caryn Hartglass: Right, interesting. Well that shows you how out of it I am because I didn’t realize all of this until pretty recently. I might need to start tumbling.
Paul Graham: The great thing about it too is that it really reminds me of communicating with people any way through social media Facebook and twitter. Everything I do on Facebook, my Facebook page, Eating Vegan in Vegas, the blog goes right into my Facebook, the Facebook goes into twitter and they’re all kind of connected and they all kind of work hand in hand so there’s a lot of different ways you can get out there. There are people who are very loyal to Twitter, there’s people who are very loyal to Facebook, there are people who are very loyal to Tumblr. I’m reaching really all of the areas just in one swoop so it’s good. I realize with social media you have to cross pollinate so to speak as much as you possibly can.
Caryn Hartglass: So you were eating out every day for one year.
Paul Graham: Yes, every day and sometimes multiple times during the day because, for example, if I were going to go to California for two days, I needed to double and triple up sometimes on and write some blogs ahead of times. There were some days it was pretty crazy, talking about being under the pressure. The last thing I wanted to do was go out and eat another meal and I did and those were the exceptions but it was a challenge in that it got to be where I got a list of restaurants that I know I wanted to go to and then on some of them had just become a spontaneous thing. I just happened to be in a certain part of town and I knew some possibilities there and so I just happened upon some meals that way. There are a few restaurants in the book that I went to a number of times and tried different things every time and it was hard because I wanted to go back and have the same thing I tried before but I couldn’t do it because I had to blog about something different. It was a pretty good problem to have I suppose.
Caryn Hartglass: I’m always telling people to find their kitchens because I think there are many, many people that eat out every day and they’re not blogging about it. That’s just the American way.
Paul Graham: It is, and I think that you think about it most people though are going to eat ⅔ of their meals at home. I would say most people anyway. Lunchtime seems to be that thing where they’re out on the lunch truck they might catch something somewhere or breakfast if they’re meeting somebody or something like that, if they’re eating dinner out. For the most part, what I tell people is it’s really one in terms of really adapting to this lifestyle is at home because that’s where you can really make a difference there. There’s so many wonderful recipes now that are available, one thing I do on my Facebook site is positing 3,4,5 recipes a day because they’re just so many recipes that are out there and that’s sort of the practical need to transition and then just continue to thrive in the lifestyle. There were over 2,000 vegan cookbooks published last year alone.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah it’s “the year of the vegan cookbook”. Isn’t that incredible?
Paul Graham: Yeah, really and so many more on the way and the demand really seems to be endless. I did incorporate even during my 365-day adventure after awhile people would ask, do you have any recipes, do you have any recipes? So I did incorporate, some of the days I actually cooked the meal at home and blogged about that as well and I’ve incorporated that because I think that’s a really important component to that. It really is key, it really starts and ends at home. There are so many wonderful products now. I tell people now we’ve never been in a place before where there have been so many quality alternative plant based products than we have right now. I’m talking quality products like cheese, yogurts, ice creams, to meal alternatives. We’ve never had the kind of selections we have right now. A lot of it is just supply and demand because the more demand there is for it, people are going to be out there creating new products to try to meet that demand.
Caryn Hartglass: It definitely makes things easier. My wish for the world of course is that all cookbooks would be vegan one day and there wouldn’t be a need for any other kind of cookbook. Maybe not my lifetime, but who knows? With over 2,000 last year, we’re only going to grow and the point is the options are literally endless. This is not a boring diet. This is a lovely, delicious thing and, like I always like to say, you don’t know how good you can feel until you do it. Well Paul, I hope to meet you sometime out in Las Vegas or somewhere out there.
Paul Graham: I look forward to it.
Caryn Hartglass: And I wish you all the best with Eating Vegan in Vegas.
Paul Graham: Thank you so much.
Caryn Hartglass: Thanks for joining me and thanks for coming back.
Paul Graham: Thank you, thanks for allowing me to come back.
Caryn Hartglass: Of course, ok, be well. Right, well that was fun. I mentioned that there were a bunch of other things that I wanted to talk about so we just have a few minutes left and I’m going to get on with those things because I think they’re important. We talked about the bees and the last thing I want to mention about bees is in addition to growing your own hives and gardening and propagating healthy bee colonies, there are food products that you can avoid which will not support the pesticides of course and not support the foods that use a lot of these bad pesticides that are killing the bees. Of course, buying organic is so important. I wanted to tell you what you can avoid and so there are genetically modified crops like corn, canola, sugar beans, that these neonicotinoids are primarily used for. So foods that use corn, canola, sugar beans, these are mostly the boxed foods, the processed foods. Let’s not buy them. Let’s buy organic food and mostly whole foods. Minimally processed and not support those foods that are used these horribly toxic pesticides. So there’s another reason to lighten up on all those processed foods, right? One more thing I wanted to talk about in the last few minutes is another thing that’s been in the news a lot and I don’t want to mention any names but there’s one celebrity, you’ve probably heard of her, who has come out about her double mastectomy and going to proceed with some other surgery to remove her ovaries because she has been diagnosed with the BRCA genes, BRCA I and II and has been diagnosed with having a very high risk of coming down with breast cancer and ovarian cancer. I really don’t like when we hear about these things in the news. I think it’s fascinating that we’re identifying genes and identifying DNA and figuring out what things are connected to different diseases, I know we’re going to learn a lot from that, but what I don’t enjoy is the fear that is all around it and the people that are considered “high-risk” are driven to do things that really, I believe in my opinion, are really unnecessary. So the first thing I think if you think you’re part of a group that has a high risk for certain diseases like breast cancer or other cancers or heart disease or diabetes is number one, get rid of the fear. People often say to me, how do you do that? How do you get rid of the fear? Well, meditation is what worked for me, as you probably know I went through ovarian cancer, advanced ovarian cancer with a very low survival rate the statistics were way against me and the first thing that I did was work on the fear portion was meditation and that I created my own program, if anybody wants to know about the program I created, you can email me and I will share it with you, firstname.lastname@example.org. You can create your own program and the point is to talk to yourself, talk to your 53 trillion or more selves in your body and really work against the fear. There are definitely ways to do that and you start thinking positively about your life. The other thing is I love statistics. I love numbers, I love data, but so many of our studies today, the statistics don’t really tell us the truth and you have to always know that you are not a statistic, you are not a number. You are in control and if you’ve been told that you have a high risk for something, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, there are things that you can do, things that you can control and things that you can do to make a difference. That’s where it’s all about food, because food can really make a difference in two ways. One, is not consuming the foods that are going to feed disease, that are going to feed your disease, but also consuming the right foods that are going to boost your immune system and keep yourself healthy. We don’t hear enough about this, all we hear about is if you have, if you’re in high risk for a disease, you need to have all different parts of your body chopped off. This is a bad message, really makes me angry. So I just wanted to put that out there. You are in control, now we’re all going to die but the idea is that we want to lead a long, quality, life feeling good and you don’t know how good you can feel until you’re really nourishing your body with healthy plant foods, especially those healthy green foods. And the last thing I want to say before i go is that green is good and some people are really putting out some bad information about oxalates these days, oxalates are not problem unless you’re eating a lot of meat, but if you’re on a plant based diet, greens are good and that’s all I want to say. There’s nothing that kale can’t do. Thank you for joining me on It’s All About Food, you can find some wonderful great vegan recipes at my nonprofit website responsibleeatingandliving.com. Remember to have a very delicious week! Bye.
Transcribed by Mei Chin, June 27, 2013
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