Part I: Aubry Walch and Ryan Strandjord, The Herbivorous Butcher
Sister and brother duo Aubry and Kale Walch have spent the last several years perfecting The Herbivorous Butcher’s deliciously deceiving meat-free meats. Aubry has been a vegan for 18 years and has spent over a decade creating meat-free alternatives to many the foods that she grew up with on Guam, a place where cooking was a deep-rooted part of everyday life and each meal consisted of at least two different kinds of meat or seafood, not to mention a wide variety of flavors, spices, and textures, blending Guamanian cuisine with culinary cultures from across the world.
After years of watching Aubry thrive as a strict vegan, Kale Walch followed suit and became vegan. Over the past four years, he has developed a keen sense for the many ingredients and methods that go into making the most flavorful, nutritious and satisfying meat alternatives. Having made the change from omnivore to vegan more recently, he is able to invoke the flavors of his previous “meat palate” to create realistic and tastefully accurate meat-alternatives.
Aubry Walch is President of The Herbivorous Butcher, and Ryan Strandjord is Vice President/Chief Marketing Officer.
Part II: Deanna Dylan Scott, One Vegan Mama
Deanna Dylan Scott is an actress and writer living in Los Angeles. She is the author of the book One Vegan Mama which she will be discussing. She also writes a monthly column for The New Vegan Times. She served on the Tarzana Neighborhood Council board for 2 years and created The Animal Welfare committee. She takes special interest in the welfare of children and animals. She has a 4-year-old daughter named Ever who is her vegan animal rescuer sidekick.
TRANSCRIPTION PART I:
Caryn Hartglass: Hey everybody, I’m Caryn Hartglass and you’re listening to It’s All About Food. How are you doing today? It’s a really, really really chilly day here in New York City today, 28 degrees right now. It’s even cold inside, but baby it’s cold outside. And I just got some good news I want to share with you. You know I’ve been having this crazy problem with my MacBook Pro since early August. It’s an early 2011 model and the logic board keeps giving me these video issues, it’s covered after some kind of extended program with Apple, and I just found out that, after I brought it in again, for like the fourth billionth time since August, I got my third new logic board! And, I’m hoping that this one isn’t rejected by my machine, because it’s very time consuming, and when you live online all the time, it’s really problematic when your computer goes bad. And the only reason I’m bringing it up is because it is kind of related to food because, it’s an Apple. Hahaha!
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, now we have to move quickly here because my guests are limited in their time and I want to bring them right on. We’re going to be speaking with Aubry Walch, who is the president of a very new company called The Herbivorous Butcher. She and her brother have created it, and we’re going to hear a lot about it. It’s launching, it’s opening is this Saturday. Welcome to It’s All About Food, Aubry and Ryan, the vice president is also with us too, is that correct?
Aubry Walch: Yes, Hi Caryn.
Caryn Hartglass: Hi!
Aubry Walch: Hi, how are you doing?
Caryn Hartglass: Good, I’m so appreciative of this time. I know you’re opening in four days and it must be crazy!
Aubry Walch: Yeah, things are pretty nuts right now, that’s for sure. We’re working around the clock to make sure we have all the food.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, so tell us a little bit about The Herbivorous Butcher. If we head to Minneapolis, what can we expect, starting Saturday?
Aubry Walch: Well this Saturday, in particular, you’re going to walk into an old-fashioned butcher shop. People behind the counter wearing their hats, white shirts, white aprons, it’s going to feel like the 1950s. The only difference is, when you look in that meat case, there’s not going to be anything with animals in it. Everything is made with plants, from the steaks to the sausage to our pulled pork.
Caryn Hartglass: Now this location that you’re in, was it originally a butcher shop? Or was it something else?
Aubry Walch: No, it was actually called City Salvage; it was a salvage, furniture, and miscellaneous type store. So it’s just really big, empty shelves.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay great. I’m very excited about this. My partner, Gary, and I had imagined, a number of times, a vegan butcher shop, and now it’s finally happening! [laughs]
Aubry Walch: [laughs] No one’s imagining.
Caryn Hartglass: Now I know your brother, Kale, isn’t joining us, but can I just ask you about his first name?
Aubry Walch: Yes! We actually – being from Guam, they don’t import vegetables like kale, at least they didn’t in the early ‘90s. So when Kale was born, we didn’t even know it was a vegetable until we moved to the United States. And then we were at the grocery store, and we thought, “oh my gosh! This is cabbage.” So then Kale grew up with my mom telling him that kale was the strongest vegetable in the garden.
Caryn Hartglass: Hahaha! Well that’s great! It’s such a perfect name! And I like to say there’s nothing kale can’t do. And you’re proving that right now, there’s nothing Kale and Aubry can’t do with this new Herbivorous Butcher. And what I like is that you’re really bringing life and new meaning to the word “butcher.”
Aubry Walch: Yeah, what we like to say is, it’s time that old-timey butchers that slaughter animal herds, they had their time and it’s our time now for butcher shops to be plant-based. So as far as I’m concerned, plant-based butcher shops, we’re taking the word “butcher” with us.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, now you’ve been a vegan for a long time, is that correct?
Aubry Walch: Yes. Over – almost 20 years now.
Caryn Hartglass: Wow, good for you. And what was the turning point for you? To give up animal foods?
Aubry Walch: Yeah, I was 14 and bagging groceries at a grocery store and watching all that meat come through the register, and it sort of struck me that that was living at one time, and I decided that I didn’t want to put any more pain out into the world and I didn’t need it to sustain myself and to be happy, so I just stopped.
Caryn Hartglass: Great. And I love it when siblings kind of get the message and join in a good thing.
Aubry Walch: Yeah, well dozens of PETA videos later, he followed suit. [laughs]
Caryn Hartglass: [laughs] I have an older sister and a younger brother, and they’re both vegan, too, so –
Aubry Walch: Oh, that’s awesome!
Caryn Hartglass: It definitely makes family gatherings a lot easier when you’ve got safety in numbers.
Aubry Walch: Oh, does it ever, it’s so much nicer.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, so what are your challenges in the next few days, if you don’t mind me asking?
Aubry Walch: I think just making sure we can make enough food to satisfy everyone this weekend. One promise we made to our customers when we decided to open this, was that we would never run out of food again. We’d been running out of stuff every single weekend. So, just making enough to keep our promise.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, and do you make all of your meat products?
Aubry Walch: Yeah, yes, we make them all by hand. Every single sausage is hand-rolled.
Caryn Hartglass: Wow.
Aubry Walch: I have over 5800 to roll this week.
Caryn Hartglass: [laughs] Are they soy-based, seitan-based, a little of everything?
Aubry Walch: Yeah, we like to call it “strategic seitan.” So it’s a basic seitan recipe, and we dress it up. We use a lot of different juices, different flours, we use seeds and spices, and then they’re cooked in different ways to achieve the texture and flavor that we’re looking for.
Caryn Hartglass: And, had you been selling these foods before opening this store?
Aubry Walch: Yeah, we were at the Minneapolis Farmers’ Market for a summer, and that did really well and took off, and after that, we started doing other farmers’ markets and pop-ups at different breweries, and our customer base got bigger and bigger, and more people were willing to try it, and that’s what brought us to where we’re at now, with this shop.
Caryn Hartglass: Great, so those were the places where you’d always run out.
Aubry Walch: Yeah, yes, exactly. We were cooking out of a community kitchen where you had to book time by the hour and we didn’t have as much time as we could’ve used.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, but well – it’s been a good dress rehearsal for you; so now you’re ready to open on Saturday. I’m so excited for you, and Minneapolis is a great place. It’s a very forward-thinking place when it comes to food, so I’m sure you’ll get a lot of great support.
Aubry Walch: Yes, we’re really, really excited.
Caryn Hartglass: And so, you’re originally from Guam?
Aubry Walch: Yeah, yup, born and raised, and moved to the United States when I was 13, and Kale was 6 months old.
Caryn Hartglass: I don’t know anything about Guam. What are some of the local foods there?
Aubry Walch: The food on Guam is a combination of Spanish food and Japanese food and Korean food and Filipino food, it’s just all these different cultures that have come to the island over the years. Some Guamanian food is – we use a lot of soy sauce, and vinegar, and peppers in our food and so it’s just these flavors, incredible flavors that go really well on a grill. So that’s kind of what spurs a lot of different recipes we use now. For example, our porterhouse steak we like to marinate in our Chamorro marinade.
Caryn Hartglass: Great, so we’ve got this Guamanian vegan cuisine going on.
Aubry Walch: Yeah, with a couple things, but we definitely stay pretty true to a lot of the American favorites.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, I know you have to go soon. Just give me an idea of what’s on your menu, and get our mouths watering for what we might – if we walked in, what we could order.
Aubry Walch: Yeah, absolutely. We’re going to have a lot of our heavy hitters this weekend, we have our porterhouse steaks, which are more or less a blank palate, you can marinate it in whatever you want, grill it, or fry it up in a pan. We’ve also got a couple of our breakfast sausages; we have our maple sage breakfast sausage as well as our all-American breakfast sausage, which is very spicy. We’ve got sriracha brats; we’re going to have pulled pork, which is our gluten-free product. We’ll have our Korean ribs, which is our most popular product right now. We’ll have a lot of different cheeses, from Camembert to earth-smoked cheddar to our best-seller, the dill Havarti, and the pepper jack.
Caryn Hartglass: So you mentioned the Korean ribs – do they have a bone in them?
Aubry Walch: Nope! There’s no bone in there.
Caryn Hartglass: [laughs] They’re boneless.
Aubry Walch: We cover them in tapioca flour and brown sugar so they crisp up really nicely when you put them in a pan.
Caryn Hartglass: Mm sounds good. And is there any place to eat inside, or this is solely for pick-up?
Aubry Walch: Yes, this is – we’re just a butcher shop. We’ll have a hot lunch special once we get going, but you just come in after work or on your lunch break, pick up your custom meat you need and cheese you need, and you’re on your way.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, that sounds really good. I know you have to go, so if you want to add anything, now’s the time, and then I’ll bring Ryan on to fill out the rest of the show.
Aubry Walch: Well, I think, just check us out online, we’re at www.theherbivorousbutcher.com and our Facebook page, which we like to put a lot of really fun videos and pictures up, so it ends up being a pretty funny time.
Caryn Hartglass: Great, well I’m so excited for you, and I hope it’s a big success and that you take over all the butcher shops everywhere on the planet!
Aubry Walch: Oh yeah, that’s the plan! Thank you so much, Caryn, for having me today, and I’m going to pass it over to Ryan.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, thank you Aubry.
Ryan Strandjord: Hello!
Caryn Hartglass: Hi, Ryan. How are you doing?
Ryan Strandjord: I’m doing very well, how are you today?
Caryn Hartglass: Good. So I don’t really know your story, so are you vegan as well?
Ryan Strandjord: I am, I am now at least.
Caryn Hartglass: Excuse me?
Ryan Strandjord: I wasn’t when I first met these guys; in fact I was a pretty big meat eater when I first met Aubry and Kale and started working with them. But after trying their products and learning more about animal rights issues and the connection to the environment myself, it became really difficult to convince myself not to go vegan.
Caryn Hartglass: I love that! That absolutely makes sense, and you’ve obviously made the right choice. I interview a lot of different people and authors on this program, and there’s a number of authors that I’ve spoken to who talk about factory farming and the tremendous devastation it has on the economy, on local businesses, on human beings and non-human animals, and yet they’re not vegan. And it blows me away once they’ve done all this research and discovered every reason why we shouldn’t be eating animals, they still eat animals. So, I’m very glad that you learned a lot and you decided to choose plants.
Ryan Strandjord: Yeah I think it makes – obviously we agree that it makes more sense to be eating a plant-based diet for a host of various different reasons, and the way that we have our business set up, we do take education on the topic very seriously, so we want people to understand better the impact that the food they’re putting on their plate has, really on the global economy and the global environment. And for us, we’re working to help create that change by changing the way that people look at food and what they put on their plates. And for me, being someone that was doing a lot of research on the subject and promoting a lot of that research, it really got to the point where I started feeling like a pretty big hypocrite, and even more so when I was going to the grocery store and going to these different deli counters and reaching for meat, I could quite literally hear the animals screaming in my mind, from all the videos that I’d been watching.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes.
Ryan Strandjord: And after that, it was an easy transition to make. And fortunately for me, too, I work with a company that makes probably quite literally some of the best vegan meat and cheese that you can get in the world. We’re able to get stuff super fresh, and so for me, that sort of taste barrier wasn’t there, because I can easily swap in and out ribs, lots of brats that we make, the porterhouse steak is amazing, and so for me to go through that process of never even thinking that I’d be a vegan or vegetarian, being a convert myself, it really just motivates me more and more all the time to sort of get our message out there and to turn more people on to possibilities that exist with plant-based diets.
Caryn Hartglass: And how long ago did you make this change?
Ryan Strandjord: I would say that I’ve been – I was kind of going back and forth for about six months, and then about six months ago I decided that enough was enough, I just have to make the full transition. Because there are a couple times where I’d go a week or more eating all vegan, and it was the best that I ever felt in my whole life. And then I would eat a meat dish and not feel good, I mean just digestion wasn’t that great, even concentration wasn’t what it used to be, and so for me, it even got to a point where I didn’t feel as productive as an employee when I was eating meat. I felt a lot more fresh and alert when I was eating a plant-based diet. So yeah, it’s been about six months now 100% and one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life.
Caryn Hartglass: I agree. Now I’ve been vegan for almost 28 years, and as much as I try, it’s hard for me to know what it feels like to not be a vegan. And for me, it’s easy, I don’t see animals as food, I don’t see animal products as food, like you mentioned hearing the animals scream, there have been times when I’ve seen chafing dishes of bacon, even with the cover on, and I hear the screaming. It’s something – you know I don’t know how- if it’s real, or if it’s a connection I’m making or if indeed, in another dimension, I’m actually hearing their screams, but it’s not a good thing. But I’m always curious to hear from new vegans, because it’s fresh for you, and you remember, I would hope, what your thoughts were before you became vegan and why you thought you’d never be one. Do you remember some of those?
Ryan Strandjord: Oh yeah, absolutely. I know my sister’s been a vegetarian for almost 15 years now, and I think for me, a lot of it was convenience. And I feel that we, as Americans, so many of the decisions we make are based on convenience. And so if you want to eat some food, most places everywhere are very meat-heavy in the dishes that they’re providing. The vegan and vegetarian options are often quite limited or they’re quite bland, and so for me, that was the major thing. I’d go down to the grocery store, and I’d just eat the stuff that I was eating when I grew up, and I’d eat the stuff that was readily available. It’s only that since going vegan that I look at menus completely differently now, and I can see where- how it can be difficult, and how a lot of people who are eating plant-based diets feel like they’re left out, because there aren’t nearly the amount of options that there are for meat-eaters. So for me, that convenience was the main thing, and it just seemed normal at the time. And I hadn’t made the connections to the animal rights issues, to the environment issues, or even in my health, and learning more and more and reading stories about people that are experiencing health issues, especially later in life, and how eating more plant-based diets or an entirely plant-based diet are able to get rid of medications, are able to exercise more, and then quality of life goes up – a lot of this is just information that I didn’t have access to or I didn’t seek out. And so when I started doing that, it changed things pretty drastically for me.
Caryn Hartglass: I eat a primarily whole foods, plant-based diet. I like to stay really clean. But occasionally, I do like to have a good burger. And I have access to a lot of great restaurants here in New York City and in Manhattan, and we were just at a restaurant called Blossom du Jour the other day. They’re actually – the company actually has a number of different restaurants in Manhattan, and I hadn’t been to this particular location, but it was so much fun because it’s kind of like upscale fast food, and the kind of food that I know would appeal to everyone, and they had all these meat kind of classics. Burgers and melts and steaks and things, and I had this great thing called the skyscraper. It was a burger, with fried onion rings on it, and all kinds of great schmears and sauces, and it was just- it was flavors that I remember from a long time ago, only a healthier, more compassionate, cleaner version. I’m only mentioning it because I know they’re not competitors with you because they’re in New York and you’re in Minneapolis!
Ryan Strandjord: [laughs] Great.
Caryn Hartglass: But I’m sure there’s a huge market for this, and it’s all about convenience, ‘cause the flavor is absolutely there.
Ryan Strandjord: Yeah, I would agree. I know Aubry and Kale and the rest of our team in the kitchen strive very hard to not only bring that flavor, but that texture, as well, to the product. And so when people are, when they’re enjoying it, it is something that they’re used to. And I would also add, that I found really interesting, because I’m the one that sort of views all our promotions online, reads a lot of the social media comments, there are a lot of vegans and vegetarians out there that do adhere to a more whole foods diet, that can’t understand what we’re doing, or they find it very difficult to understand what we’re doing, because they’re saying, “well, you shouldn’t eat that, that’s processed crap” or whatever it might be. And really, our response to that is that our product is really geared toward omnivores. Our goal is to get more people that are eating meat to take meat off of their plate, and then to add our product there. And so for us, if we’re creating smokehouse barbecue ribs, well maybe they were planning on having that Thursday night anyway, but instead of having to completely redesign their meal, they can just swap in our product and swap out the animal product. So I agree that we should be eating more whole foods, and that is a healthier way to go, but there’s also a lot of people that are not even thinking about those kinds of things, and so if we’re able to at least start to get some of their interest in what we’re doing, because it’s an easy transition to make, then we feel like we can create – or help to create the biggest change.
Caryn Hartglass: I’m so glad you brought that up. It’s kind of embarrassing sometimes to read posts by so many angry vegans who want to tell us what to do and how we should do it. I know firsthand the importance of healthy plant foods for health. I had advanced ovarian cancer almost 10 years ago, and I really- and I had been vegan for a long time, but I cleaned up my diet and started cramming more dark leafy green vegetables and mushrooms, because I wanted to beat this disease, and I did. But what brought me to vegetarianism originally was not wanting to kill animals, plain and simple, and we’ve got a society today, 7 billion people on the planet, and as more people elevate into a higher economy, they want to eat meat. And more people are projected to want to eat meat, and the planet can’t sustain it, it’s horrifically cruel, and if we can have The Herbivorous Butcher and other places like that are offering these wonderful alternatives, ha! What a beautiful planet this would be!
Ryan Strandjord: Well, that’s what we’re hoping to do. And for a lot of people, like myself included before I met these guys, it’s something that a lot of people aren’t even thinking about. And for us, it really makes this moment in time very exciting because as we’re at farmers’ markets, as we- like sometimes we do pop-ups at local taprooms, and there was one time not too long ago, a group of people came through doing a brewery tour, they had no idea that we were going to be there, but after hanging out for a bit and seeing a bunch of people come through, they sort of migrated over to our table and asked us, “well what are you guys doing? What’s going on here?” and Kale, who’s able to pitch our product better than anybody, and talk about it in a way that’s very inclusive, got the whole group of people to try. And just seeing their faces, and seeing their eyes light up, and kind of looking at each other saying, “this is vegan?” – it was something that they had no idea that you could ever even do that. And so for us, to be able to get those kinds of people to at least just try our kind of product, we’re not asking them to become vegan overnight, or, I mean we’re really not asking them to do anything other than just take a chance. Because it’s a small little sample, it’s not going to hurt you, it’s all made from plants, it’s all made from ingredients that you can pronounce, pretty much everything we use is organic, local, and most of it’s non-GMO, so it’s not going to hurt you, unless you have certain sensitivities to different ingredients. So just to give it a try, because we feel like food science has come so far, and we’ll continue to develop in ways where we’re able to create products that will make you forget about what you used to love, because now you’re transitioning to something that’s totally different.
Caryn Hartglass: Human beings are kind of a crazy species.
Ryan Strandjord: [laughs] Yeah, we really are. We really are. And I feel that we’re in a moment of great change.
Caryn Hartglass: We think that triple and quadruple bypass surgery is normal, and eating a plant-based diet is extreme. It’s a strange time, but I’m very positive about it.
Ryan Strandjord: It’s funny you mention that, because I was just reading on Facebook yesterday, someone was talking about how no one questioned her diet until she became a vegetarian.
Caryn Hartglass: Uh-huh.
Ryan Strandjord: But then people stuff their faces with McDonald’s all the time, and no one bats an eyelash.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, crack open my sternum and just clear things out a little bit, and I’ll go back to eating my beef burgers. Uh-huh!
Ryan Strandjord: Exactly, exactly.
Caryn Hartglass: Crazy. Okay, are you- are you shipping any of this food, or right now it’s all just in-house for those people who come into the store?
Ryan Strandjord: Right now we are doing a pre-order online to ship products in February, and our plan is to do regular shipping probably sometime in March, is the ideal time that we’d like to do that. It’s difficult because we have to send everything 2-day with cold packs and insulated shippers, as the products need to be kept cold, but because of the response that we’ve been getting from all over the country, and quite literally all over the world, we’d like to be able to get our products out there to people as soon as we’re able to. And now that we have this magnificent production facility, we’re able to make a lot more food. We feel like we have an opportunity to connect with people all around the country, and hopefully get them to start changing their minds, too.
Caryn Hartglass: Very, very, very exciting. Okay Ryan, where can we find out more about The Herbivorous Butcher?
Ryan Strandjord: Yeah, Aubry mentioned the website, just www.theherbivorousbutcher.com. We’re also on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. We like to post a lot of funny videos and pictures, ‘cause we like to be very playful and sort of keep things light with each other, and we’d like to have that same kind of experience with our customers, as well. There are also a lot of really great articles out there that have been written about us recently, where we go more in-depth about the process and why we do what we do. And I’d also, too, encourage people to send us emails. If they have questions about what we’re doing, concerns, suggestions, whatever it might be, we love that we’re able to have a direct relationship with so many of our consumers, because they’re really the ones that we’re doing this for, and the more that we have that kind of interaction, the farther we can go.
Caryn Hartglass: Sounds good. Well, I just learned that it’s The HerBIvorous, not HerbiVORous. Ha-ha!
Ryan Strandjord: Yeah, yeah.
Caryn Hartglass: Herbivorous! Herbivorous Butcher. Excellent, well I look forward to trying some of your products in the very near future.
Ryan Strandjord: Absolutely. We’re looking forward to it, as well.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, have a very excellent opening on Saturday. We’ll be thinking about you.
Ryan Strandjord: Thank you very much.
Caryn Hartglass: Thanks for joining me on It’s All About Food and send my best to Kale, too.
Caryn Hartglass: Isn’t that exciting? And you definitely should go to their website, because they look like they’re having a lot of fun, and I hope they do continue to have a lot of fun. I know it’s going to be a lot of hard work; it’s probably been a lot of hard work already, but definitely something to look forward to.
Transcribed by Marissa Sheldon, 1/21/2016
TRANSCRIPTION PART II:
Caryn Hartglass: So, I wanted to just briefly bring you over to Responsible Eating and Living where I live and talk about what’s going on there, briefly, for a moment. We have my blog, What Vegans Eat, which is almost a year old, which is pretty amazing. What else can I tell you about it? There’s a recipe that I had that I put up like five years ago and I just recently made it again. I can’t believe it’s been that long. Well, I probably have made it, but not very often. It’s something so simple like two, three ingredients. Poached pears with raspberry coulis. I just made it this morning and I had it for breakfast and the recipe’s right there on the website. It’s just pears and I use organic pears. Why? Number one because I buy organic, number two I don’t want that residual crap which concentrates in the skin and number three it’s a lot easier to prepare food like pears and apples in a dessert kind of dish when you don’t have to peel the skin. Peeling is time consuming and I don’t need it. It’s not necessary. So, this is a very simple dish. You just core the bottom of the pear. I made four of them. I put them in a little sauce pan with a little bit of water and poached them. Then I made a little raspberry coulis. Again, so simple. It’s just raspberry sauce. It’s just made from raspberries. I took frozen raspberries. I put them in a little pan over low heat. You could use a double boiler. It’s probably a better way to go, more professional, but I’m always just very quick. And I put it in a little pan over low heat because I don’t want them to burn and what I want them to do is warm up and then ultimately cook in their own juices. Then I come around and stir them and as it gets softer, I smash them [laughter], smash them with the back of a spoon and then it becomes this beautiful sauce and you can do the same thing with strawberries and then I let it cool a little bit and depending on the raspberries some are juicier then others you made need to add a little water to it to get a nice pourable consistency, but you just present the pear standing up on a plate pour a little bit of the raspberry coulis and there you go. It’s so much fun having dessert for breakfast, but it’s really an elegant, elegant dessert. I like serving it after a very fine meal like I’ve often found when I’ve been visiting France a lot of the upscale restaurants serve this and it’s a great thing when you’re vegan and you’re going to France and they’ve got all these rich, creamy desserts to be able to have a lovely dessert like this. Of course, the server will probably be tempted to top it with whip cream and I always used to say, “No. Merci.” We’ll get back to more of what’s going on at Responsible Eating and Living and right now I’d like to bring on my very next guest who is the author of a book called, One Vegan Mama. Deanna Dylan Scott is an actress and writer living in Los Angeles and we’ll be discussing this new book One Vegan Mama in a moment. Deanna, thank you for joining us on All About Food.
Deanna Dylan Scott: Hi. Thank you for having me.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. So, I’m glad we connected here.
Deanna Dylan Scott: Yeah. I am, too.
Caryn Hartglass: Ha. Ha. I’m always curious about parents raising children vegan. So, how old is your daughter right now?
Deanna Dylan Scott: My daughter is four and a half.
Caryn Hartglass: Four and a half. Beautiful and you wrote One Vegan Mama and I fortunately was able to read it and I wanna say it’s a very sweet story and I enjoyed how very straight forward it was and simple. It just made so much sense just the way you laid it out and did it. So, I thank you for that.
Deanna Dylan Scott: Yeah. I definitely, I wrote it with my Iowa roots in mind because I live in Los Angeles where there’s a lot of vegans and people are pretty savvy about it, but I definitely wrote the book with like my Midwestern upbringing in mind and just knowing that a lot of people find it to be confusing and they’re not sure what to think about it and so I just wanted to make it very easy and just simple for people to understand, you know?
Caryn Hartglass: Well, you succeeded. [Laughter]
Deanna Dylan Scott: Well, I go back to Des Moines, Iowa every year because my whole family lives there and it’s just an entirely different take on it there. People still eat a lot of meat there and they just think it’s a fad and it’s actually far from that, you know, and so I just wanted to lay it out in a way that people could, you know, and since I’m from Iowa as well, that makes it kind of easier for people to kind of relate to.
Caryn Hartglass: So, yes, I’m curious. What’s been the reaction to the folks you know in Iowa to your book? Other than it being vegan isn’t being a fad?
Deanna Dylan Scott: Well, it’s a [laughter} I actually have several family members that are now vegan. And I never thought that would happen and even the most unlikely ones like the couple that are vegan more recently they just called me out of the blue and said that, you know, something struck a cord and they’re vegan and I have a cousin that hasn’t been vegan for more than five years which is great and it’s actually, they’ve embraced it and I think a lot of times it’s a health aspect because people start getting a lot of health problems and then all of a sudden it’s something that they care about, you know, and there’s no doubt that it’s better for your health.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, I know you’re in Los Angeles, but maybe you need to move back to Iowa and [laughter] do some serious activism there.
Deanna Dylan Scott: I know. Well, I actually I have done some kind of grass roots stuff and like there’s different shops in Des Moines that have my book and I’m going to go back there and do book signings and you know, I have pondered the idea of opening a restaurant there, it’s just that I don’t know who’d run it. Maybe one of my sisters. [Laughter].
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. It’s hard. Running a restaurant is hard.
Deanna Dylan Scott: Yeah. You kind of have to be on top of it and I’m not living there, so it would be a little bit impossible.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, and with a four and a half year old, it’s an extra, extra big challenge. [Laughter].
Deanna Dylan Scott: Yeah. Well, I wanted to say, too. I started to write the book when I was pregnant and mainly it was to answer people’s questions about vegan pregnancy and was it safe, was it healthy and all that sort of thing and I’ve, obviously, I’ve read so many books about veganism and you know some of them are so brilliant, but they’re so difficult to understand if you don’t already know a lot of facts. And it’s too much and that’s why it just kind of dawned on me, I was like, I need to write a book that like someone in the middle of Iowa could pick up and read it and go “I like that”.
Caryn Hartglass: Hmmm. Hmmm.
Deanna Dylan Scott: You know.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. It doesn’t sound intimidating and you include different foods that you can prepare and it all seems very do able. Well, at least I thought so and I’ve been doing it for 28 years [laughter].
Deanna Dylan Scott: Well, you know what you can find you know the ingredients that I have I like I have some recipes obviously in the back of my book and you can find them at any grocery store in America or around the world, I mean it’s not like. Other books that I’ve read I mean I’m sure the recipes are delicious and amazing, but in certain parts of the world people would ask, “What are these things?”, “What are these ingredients?” And so, I just wanted to really simplify it and that is the one thing that a lot of people have said about my book they’re like, “I actually feel like I could do it after I read your book.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. I have read like almost every How to be Vegan book.
Deanna Dylan Scott: Me, too.
Caryn Hartglass: And a lot of them are great and they give you all kinds of information and shopping lists, but I spoke to a lot of people about going vegan and I often get that deer in the headlights look or people feeling very overwhelmed it just seems like so complicated. It isn’t. We know it isn’t.
Deanna Dylan Scott: It’s not and that’s what people say. They always go, “Oh, it’s so hard. You have such willpower. You much have so much time like it’s so hard and my response is always I’m such a no-nonsense person like and I’m pretty laid back about things. If it was super hard I probably wouldn’t be able to do it. Like it’s really not. You’re just making different choices.
Caryn Hartglass: Now.
Deanna Dylan Scott: That’s kind of it.
Caryn Hartglass: There are people that I’ve heard talk about why people go vegan and the reasons people go vegan and the ones that stay vegan are most likely going to stay vegan because they don’t want to harm and kill animals that some people that go into it for health may not stick with it and you’re definitely one of those people that got into it because of the animals.
Deanna Dylan Scott: Yeah. I’m an ethical vegan. I mean I was a huge animal lover since I was a small child really like most children are, if not all children, and I think what happened to me was what happened to everyone, you know, I was fed meat as a small child and I really didn’t know what it was and I was conditioned to love it and once I grew up I realized, I made the connection. I just, I felt like a hypocrite. How can I say I’m this huge animal lover and I want to help all of these animals. Meanwhile, I’m paying corporations all this money to torture them. I just, I couldn’t get away from that. It kept haunting me and you know I was vegetarian even for a long time and then that wasn’t quite good enough and I think when I came full circle and realized if I’m going to do something I really strongly believe it in my heart that it’s the right thing like I’m going to do it all the way and it’s really life changing for me and I would say, besides having my daughter, probably the best, most life changing thing I’ve ever done.
Caryn Hartglass: I agree.
Deanna Dylan Scott: There’s no doubt.
Caryn Hartglass: How could it not be? It’s so huge on so many levels.
Deanna Dylan Scott: It just makes you look at the world differently.
Caryn Hartglass: Exactly. You look at the world differently. Number one knowing that you do not need to kill to survive.
Deanna Dylan Scott: Nope. Not even close.
Caryn Hartglass: You do not need to exploit and all of a sudden you recognize all of the different areas where we exploit not only nonhuman animals, but our fellow human beings.
Deanna Dylan Scott: Yes. You know actually it has been that for me. You know being vegan made me look at, you know, gifts I buy for people, clothes I buy. I want to know where they come from, I want to know who made them, I want to know if people are being exploited for it. You know, I like to support companies that are trying to do something, you know, from a more humanitarian perspective or a more caring, compassionate perspective. It’s like, it just; it almost switches the way your mind works.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, society has evolved, maybe evolved isn’t the right word, to choose, has transformed because of so many different things. We have corporations now that pretty much control everything that we buy and these corporations are global. They’re not locally based and it’s so easy to detach from whatever it is we’re buying and where it comes from, where it’s made, as opposed to a small, local business where you know the owner, if it’s a farmer, you can actually see what’s being grown and we’re so far away from that although there are lots of people making efforts to get back to that, but that’s what makes it easier in the name of convenience and efficiency. These corporations can do anything they want and they end up exploiting animals and exploiting the environment and exploiting their consumers by giving them crap for the most part.
Deanna Dylan Scott: Yeah. It’s easy to pull the wool over people’s eyes because people have no idea where these items are even coming from, how they’re made and it’s very just concealed, you know, and convenient like you said, you can get it right on the corner, you know, and people’s lives are busy, so, they don’t wanna, who wants take the time to research every little thing they buy?
Caryn Hartglass: Okay. You were lucky as you said that your doctor supported you being vegan during your pregnancy.
Deanna Dylan Scott: You know. I was surprised, too, because at that time, my insurance was through Kaiser and although I have been told that they actually have in their medical journals to the doctor, that encouraging a plant based diet is good for a patient so they have a different take than other places do, but I asked him what he thought about it right in the beginning and he said, “You’re the last person I worry about.” He said, “You’re so healthy, I know that you’re so conscious about what you eat and getting all your vitamins, minerals” and he said, “I worry more about all the obese kids that are born.
Caryn Hartglass: Wow.
Deanna Dylan Scott: He said, “We have so much obesity” and he said, “You wouldn’t believe the babies that come in here and there, you know. He said, you know, “You’re the last thing.” He supported me 100%.
Caryn Hartglass: Beautiful. There is one doctor who is thinking. Thank you.
Deanna Dylan Scott: And he was older, too. He actually retired just about a year ago. He wasn’t some young, progressive doctor. He was an older doctor. He just, in his words, he said, “You know, I’ve seen it all” and he said, “What I’ve seen more of than anything you’re talking about is, you know, childhood obesity.
Caryn Hartglass: Kaiser is actually very progressive and I think it was a year or two ago when they put out a policy statement saying that they’re encouraging all of their doctors to promote a plant based diet. Now I don’t know if they are, but they did put it in a document.
Deanna Dylan Scott: Yes, I read the document. I didn’t know exactly what it was called, but yeah, I actually did read that document and I was so encouraged by that, I was surprised because I heard so many stories that people telling me their doctors told them not to be vegan or not be vegetarian so then to put it in something all their doctors read, it’s pretty amazing.
Caryn Hartglass: Let’s talk about your daughter now.
Deanna Dylan Scott: Okay.
Caryn Hartglass: Now, you said she’s four and a half.
Deanna Dylan Scott: Yeah.
Caryn Hartglass: And this is probably the easiest time you’re going to have with her and I’m curious to check in with you in another 10 to 12 years.
Deanna Dylan Scott: [Laughter].
Caryn Hartglass: She’s a teenager.
Deanna Dylan Scott: If she rebels, on my veganism?
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah.
Deanna Dylan Scott: Well, you know, the way I’ve approached it kind a from the beginning like I do a lot of things like, I started an animal welfare group here and I do a lot of other things to help animals like rescue dogs and help fix the feral cats and just whatever I can do to sort of just help my community that has to do with animals and I take her with me and so she would come to my meetings sometimes and hears everybody talking about the animals and she understands already why we’re vegan. You know, she knows we’re vegan because we love animals and if you love animals, you don’t want to kill them and eat them and she has a sense of pride about that like she’ll ask people, even if it’s the most delicious looking thing, she’ll say, “Is it vegan?” If it is, she’ll go, “Oh, no thanks.”
Caryn Hartglass: [Laughter].
Deanna Dylan Scott: And she, I see in her a sense of pride and I just want to make sure all along that she knows why and that she understands and she’s such a soulful little girl and she, I don’t know, I just, I can’t, of course anything’s possible, but I just can’t imagine her not continuing down the path because I can already tell it means something to her.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, that’s an important message about raising children, raising children with honesty, raising children with good morals and ethics.
Deanna Dylan Scott: Yes.
Caryn Hartglass: And allowing that to sink in and have them think for themselves.
Deanna Dylan Scott: Yeah, I want her to be a critical thinker and you know, like she even asks me. She says, “Why do,” she’ll say, you know, a couple children’s names, “Why do so and so and so and so eat chicken, you know, when they kill the chickens?” I said, “Well honey,” I said, “Not everyone has gotten to the point where they understand how that’s not really good for the animals, it’s not really good for their body,” and I said, “[17:30] lucky that you understand that and maybe you can help other people.” You know, and she’s like, “Oh, okay” and she always tells me, “You know, I need a vegan partner.” She says, “I need a vegan partner that’s four.
Caryn Hartglass: [Laughter]. That’s really good. You know another thing that’s good is you’re giving her good foundation in terms of having a good sense of self and not feeling a need to, I hate this expression, but be a sheep and go with the masses and like you said a critical thinker. These are all really excellent tools that all came out of you wanting to share this vegan philosophy.
Deanna Dylan Scott: Veganism. Well, I feel like she’s so lucky because just like I had when I was a kid, she, you know, adores every animal she meets and I just, for me, it’s always been a big disconnect that people take their children to a petting zoo and teach them to be all sweet and all love the animals and treat them with kindness and respect and then they’ll sit down at a table maybe right 10 feet away and eat a chicken sandwich. And it’s like it’s such a disconnect like and the children don’t know that’s what’s happening and it’s just so, there’s something missing there in the middle and it’s like. I just wanted my daughter to understand the truth of and I’ll, I show her different things like I don’t show her obviously anything graphic, but I’ll show her videos of people talking about things, especially other children, you know talking about veganism or talking about why their vegetarian or vegan and then she gets other children’s perspectives, too.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s nice and she knows she’s not the only one.
Deanna Dylan Scott: Oh, yeah, she definitely knows she’s not the only one, but she also knows that she is unique in that way and the masses are not doing it yet.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, what does she like to eat?
Deanna Dylan Scott: Oh, gosh, I know, I mean, it’s funny, her favorite thing in the world is like, she’s, maybe because of me, she loves pasta because I’m big like, I grew up with an Italian stepfather so I love anything Italian she loves pasta and her favorite is with the vegan butter and then with olive oil and nutritional yeast flakes. I know it sounds so plain, but it’s like that’s like is one of her absolute favorite things to eat.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, most kids like plain pasta with butter and salt so that’s not unusual at all.
Deanna Dylan Scott: Yeah, she would eat that every day and then you know she likes fruit and stuff and that and you know she’s kind of she’s in a weird stage where she can just look at something and go, “I don’t like it.”
Caryn Hartglass: [Laughter].
Deanna Dylan Scott: Which I think is pretty normal for, you know, a four and a half year old, but then she’ll surprise me and she’ll try new things here and there like she discovered that she really likes broccoli all of a sudden. It’s just, really with her age, it kind of depends week to week to be honest. I just keep puttin’ new things in her lunch box and I just keep tryin’ to get her, I just, you know what I do, I don’t push it too hard. If I push it, she’ll push back, if I just act like it’s no big deal, “just try a bite,” I have a better chance.
Caryn Hartglass: And, so far, you’ve done pretty well going to parties with party food.
Deanna Dylan Scott: Kids’ parties or grown up parties?
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, kids’ party.
Deanna Dylan Scott: You know, kids’ parties. I’ll tell you a couple of interesting things about that. One is that I’ve had really good success with, I’ll just e-mail the parents and say most of them know anyway, but say, “Ever’s vegan. Would you like me to bring, you know, some vegan pizza or vegan cupcakes?” And a lot of people will say, “No, no, no, I’ll handle it, I’ll get a slice for her and a vegan cupcake” and it’s not or like a couple times someone said, “I wouldn’t know what to do,” so I just bring something for her that’s similar to what they’re eating. And then the really cool thing is I always throw a really big party for her obviously on her birthday and you know I’ll bring a lot of different vegan food, or vegan pizza and vegan cake and some of the mom’s at the school are like, were so, it’s funny my boyfriend has a son and they’re not vegan and we had his birthday party a couple of the moms were so disappointed cause they said, “The vegan cake wasn’t here and It’s so much better.” Some of these moms were not vegan were like, “We were so excited that it was going to be your party because that vegan cake is the best.”
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, vegan cake is the best. [Laughter].
Deanna Dylan Scott: I mean, it’s just funny and also, the other thing I get is the moms will ask me, “What is this or that that you put in Ever’s lunch box because you know their son or daughter wants it but they don’t know what it is or where to get it. You know and so yeah and I’ll just be like, “Oh, well, what was it?” and I try to help them. You know, so even, I love it that she’s kind of a little vegan ambassador, you know what I mean?
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah.
Deanna Dylan Scott: She’s not meaning to be, but she is.
Caryn Hartglass: You don’t seem to be phased at all with traveling as a vegan.
Deanna Dylan Scott: No, I’ve never had a problem, you know, it’s so funny because even going to other countries, I mean, first of all you just have to be a little bit creative, you know what I mean?
Caryn Hartglass: “Yes.”
Deanna Dylan Scott: If you go to a Mexican place you really can’t just get, you know, beans and vegetables and avocado and throw it in a burrito, I mean, it’s pretty good. It’s like in a pinch you can be creative and also, I realized that all these other countries now vegan restaurants are popping up.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, it’s crazy.
Deanna Dylan Scott: You know, there’s vegan restaurants all over. I mean, it wasn’t that way 10 years ago, but it sure is now.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, I also found traveling around the world that in a lot of places, it’s not unusual to eat vegetables and fruits. [Laughter]. But like many countries as meat focused as we are here in the United States so you could always find some kind of vegetable thing in many, many places, but now you’re right there’s even more opportunity because vegan restaurants are popping up everywhere.
Deanna Dylan Scott: Well, you know what it is, you’re so right because I don’t know what it is about America, but it’s like everything has to have something to do with meat and cheese and ranch dressing. I don’t get it.
Caryn Hartglass: [Laughter]. Right.
Deanna Dylan Scott: [Laughter]. When you go to other countries, they do, first of all they have, not every place, there tends to be more high quality vegetables and fruits that just taste like amazing almost on their own, but then also they’re more creative with their vegetables and fruits like they don’t just you know like slice it up and throw, they do these most amazing dishes and you’re like, “Oh, my God, I never even thought to make it that way.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, I’m sure you know this, but there are many great recipes to make vegan, ranch dressing. So, it’s not like you can’t even have ranch dressing.
Deanna Dylan Scott: [Laughter]. No, I know. I know, I.
Caryn Hartglass: I think that the first ranch dressing I ever made came from the Real Food Daily Cookbook. There’s a bunch of Real Food Daily’s in Los Angeles, I’m sure you’ve been there.
Deanna Dylan Scott: I’ve been there and also Follow your Heart has a really great one, too. It is good.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay. Are you a perfect vegan, Deanna Dylan Scott?
Deanna Dylan Scott: [Laughter]. No, of course not. I mean, as far as, you know that’s the whole thing, I think people sometimes think it’s, your, I don’t know, there’s different like myths about us. Some people think, “Oh, it’s a trendy thing you’re doing” and then I’m like, “Well, I’ve been doing it for a really long time as a trend” and then other people think that you’re doing it as a high and mighty thing or it just, it doesn’t have anything to do with that. You know, it’s for me. It has more to do with, you know, I don’t want to be a part of that. You know, I don’t want to be a part of that kind of objectification of the animals and just the, I don’t think it’s a solid product, like, I just think it’s a, first of all there’s torture involved which is bad, and then, I just think it’s a filthy place of bacteria, hormones, antibiotics, I don’t want to be a part of all that. I don’t that’s me being high and mighty, I think it’s just I’m saying, “No, thank you.”
Caryn Hartglass: You’re not perfect, but you are a critical thinker.
Deanna Dylan Scott: Yeah, I’m not trying to be like, “Oh, I’m better.” I’m just, I don’t want to and I also don’t want to spend my money on it. You know, I don’t want to put my money towards it.
Caryn Hartglass: “Ahhh. We just have a few minutes left. I was noticing in the back of the book. You have a number of books that you recommend and a few of them are children’s books by Ruby Roth and I
Deanna Dylan Scott: I love her.
Caryn Hartglass: I’ve interviewed her a number of times. I’ve loved her books. What did your daughter think of her books?
Deanna Dylan Scott: She loves them. I mean, she, you know we have them all and she loves them and she shares them with her cousins and she has one little cousin who is vegan, but she has others who aren’t and you know, I think Ever, my daughter’s named Ever. She’s pretty lucky because, you know, she’s such a sweet little girl. People in her life just embrace it and I’m sure she’s going to have an effect on them, but I just think it’s nice for her to have those books to be able to also share with like her cousins and her friends because it’s sort of helps her maybe say some things that she doesn’t know how to say. And, you know, and she’s even bought a couple of those books and obviously I bought them, but she wanted to, and given them to her cousin Ava and her cousin, Estella, you know, it’s, it’s part of her wanting to share something about herself.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, when those books came out especially the first one, there was some very negative reactions from the parents.
Deanna Dylan Scott: I know.
Caryn Hartglass: Not wanting to get this information in front of their young children and there’s that disconnect and hypocrisy against. Why don’t you want to let your children know the truth about what’s really happening and if it’s so awful, How can you support it?
Deanna Dylan Scott: I know, that, you know, that’s something that is maddening to me when I really get thinking about it. I’m like, I’ve had debates with really good friends of mine who have children and I’m like, “How can you think it’s the right thing to do is to lie to your children and see this and they have no idea what it is. How can you feel like that is good parenting? I just don’t agree with it. I’m like, if you can be honest with your child and stand behind it and explain it to them in a proper way, great, but to lie to them and want to hide it and conceal it and then, that’s the part that I just, and that’s the reason why so many people are conditioned to this day and they don’t know why.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. I have to believe that you’re going to have a much better time and a better relationship with your child when she becomes a teenager and later an adult knowing that you were always honest and truthful and you have a relationship based on that. That’s got to make a big difference.
Deanna Dylan Scott: Well, I just, like I’m no perfect vegan. I’m no perfect mother.
Caryn Hartglass: [Laughter.]
Deanna Dylan Scott: But, a, I do strive to be honest with my daughter and let her know. If she asks me a question, about anything, I try to answer her as honestly as possible without giving her too much information for her age. You know what I mean?
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. Well, we’ve actually come to the end of the program and I wanted to thank you for joining me on It’s All About Food and it’s been a real pleasure talking with you. Anyone out there who’s from Iowa or wants a simple way to learn about vegan food or to introduce other people about it, One Vegan Mama is a really good place to start.
Deanna Dylan Scott: Thank you so much for having me. I’ve really enjoyed talking to you, too.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. Take care.
Deanna Dylan Scott: Thank you. Bye.
Caryn Hartglass: Bye. We have a minute left and I just wanted to say, I was talking about Blossom Du Jour earlier in the program and if you want to see what I was eating because it looks so good, go to ResponsibleEatingandLiving.com and check on the What Vegan’s Eat Day 341 you can see my sandwich and it’s so gooey good and I think I got to stop talking about food because it’s the end of the show. Thank you for tuning in live, tuning in love and have a very delicious week. Bye bye.
Transcribed by Nanette Gagyi, 3/28/2016