Part I: Will Tuttle
Dr. Will Tuttle is an award-winning speaker, educator, author, and musician. His music, writings, and presentations focus on creativity, intuition, and compassion. Dr. Tuttle presents about 150 events yearly at conferences, retreats, and progressive churches and centers throughout North America. A former Zen monk with a Ph.D. in education from U.C., Berkeley, he has worked extensively in intuition development, spiritual healing, meditation, music, creativity, vegan living, and cultural evolution.
For more insight from Will Tuttle listen to the last year’s interview on June 8, 2011 HERE.
Part II: Victoria Moran
Victoria Moran writes life-enhancing books. “Self-help” is the genre and one of her passions to make self-help literature, too. In addition, she does keynote speaking and is a certified life coach, with in-person clients in New York City and telephone clients from all over. She hosts an Internet radio show, “Your Charmed Life,” on www.HealthyLife.net, and she does a daily blog on Beliefnet.com. She’s also been a guest on Oprah! twice — with her books Shelter for the Spirit and Lit from Within. Her best-selling book to date is Creating a Charmed Life—it’s in 29 languages and quoted on boxes of Celestial Seasonings teas—and it has a brand new sequel, Living a Charmed Life: Your Guide to Finding Magic in Every Moment of Every Day. For the first thirty years of her life, she struggled with overeating and dieting; she overcame that (from the inside out) and shares what she knows in her books Fit from Within and, newly revised and updated: The Love-Powered Diet: Eating for Freedom, Health, and Joy. You can keep in touch by subscribing to her newsletter, The Charmed Monday Minute at www.victoriamoran.com; follow her on Twitter or join her Facebook Fan Page .
Caryn Hartglass: Hello, I’m Caryn Hartglass and you’re listening to It’s All About Food. It is Wednesday, June 13, 2012. And here we go with another hour, talking about something that I think is really very important: food. And I know that so many of us out there feel so frustrated. We all want to live good lives; at least I think most of us do. And one of the most obvious places to start in making a difference is with what we eat everyday. Food is connected to so many things. And so if we really want to make our lives meaningful, and better, and feel good, spiritually, emotionally, physically, food is the best place to start. And one of the things that I find so crazy these days is that so many of us are always looking for the best deal when it comes to food. We want food that’s cheap. And certainly food should be affordable and food should be accessible. But shouldn’t we put value into having quality, nutritious food? There’s a little food for thought.
Meanwhile, I want to introduce my first guest, the absolutely wonderful, fabulous, compassionate, brilliant Dr. Will Tuttle. He’s an award-winning speaker, educator, author and musician. His music, writings and presentations focus on creativity, intuition, and compassion. He presents between a hundred and a hundred and fifty events yearly at conferences, retreats, progressive churches and centers throughout North America. A former Zen monk with a Ph. D. in education from UC Berkeley, he has worked extensively in intuition development, spiritual healing, meditation, music creativity, vegan living, and cultural evolution. Get ready to be inspired.
Welcome to It’s All About Food, Will!
Will Tuttle: Hi, Caryn! Nice to be with you. Wonderful! Thank you so much.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, it is. Thank you. So, I haven’t seen you in a few years and I’m just wondering, what’s new? What’s good, going on in the world? You travel all over the place and I want to hear some good news.
Will Tuttle: Right. Yeah, actually, Madeleine and I are now in our seventeenth year living on the road in our solar-powered rolling home here. We’re in Massachusetts at the moment. And we are doing still lots of advance. I have a lecture here in Cape Cod tomorrow night on promoting the vegan living. And I would say that the momentum is definitely building for veganism, and for compassion and health, understanding the critical role of eating a plant-based diet and living lives that reflect what we yearn for, which is a world of kind of compassionate freedom and equality and justice. And that as we give those qualities to animals and to other people, hungry people, and for so many million that are harmed through our daily food choices and our product choices, that we are sowing the seeds of a new world, of a much better world. And I think the momentum is like exponentially increasing…
Caryn Hartglass: Absolutely.
Will Tuttle: I mean, a definite pushback. You know, I can feel this pushback from the industry and from just the long engrained habits. But more and more people are really excited about the possibility of plant-based diet. I get emails, really a lot, saying that people have read the World Peace Diet and gone vegan, and I just got one today. And so I think more and more people are waking up and that’s the good news.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, the World Peace Diet is a fabulous book. You wrote it in 2005?
Will Tuttle: Right. It took me five years. But yeah, I published it at the end of 2005. And we’re still, actually, it seems to be…nearly…I wrote it in a way not to be something that would be sort of an evergreen. I mean it’s not really dated, I don’t think.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh, absolutely not. I think it’s a great handbook for humanity.
Will Tuttle: Thank you. Thanks. Thanks very much. The main idea there is to understand that whatever we sow, we will eventually reap the consequences of our actions. And mistreatment of the animals routinely for food, and especially for food, but for products and experimentation and everything else, has consequences that we’re taught not to see. And so this is like this, essentially, this hidden cultural program that is forced on all of us, when we’re born into this culture to see animals merely as things and to actually eat them. That’s what really gets that way of seeing deeper into us. And so it’s only when we are able to actually help each other, I think it’s really what it is, help each other see this, you know, create communities, ways of bringing this understanding to each other, like you’re doing with your radio program. To help people see that we’ve all been indoctrinated with a program in food rituals, which are the most powerful rituals in any culture really are the meals. And it’s not in our best interest.
Caryn Hartglass: Now you have, you have a very interesting history and your path, lots of colorful experiences, lots of meditation. You were in Korea as a Zen Buddhist, you’ve taken long walks to Tennessee, where you went to The Farm and became vegetarian. I mean you’ve done a lot of searching and spiritual work. Does everyone need to do that?
Will Tuttle: I think, in a way, we all need our own unique journey.
Caryn Hartglass: Because I can hear some people saying, “That’s too much trouble.”
Will Tuttle: Right. It was definitely a lot of trouble but it actually wasn’t trouble; it was actually fun. But I think we all have our unique way of getting to wherever we’re going. We have, in a sense, like the Beatles talked about the long and winding road that will lead us eventually to the door. And I think we can speed up the process, in the sense, by cooperating. I think the best way is to help each other. But for me it was, I can’t really separate the inner work from the outer work. I think, for me, it was really always about trying to quiet my mind, and trust an inner knowing rather than trusting the cultural program, all the voices in my head: from my parents, and the ministers, and the teachers, and the doctors, and the lawyers, and the media, and the Wal-Mart ads, and everything. To separate that out and not have my life be propelled by those things, and my goals be dictated by those things, and to connect with my own inner knowing. And I really think that veganism, vegan living, essentially has to be that. I think for us to be healthy and whole and complete and creative and to be participants in our society in a positive way, each one of us has a unique contribution to give that we’ll only be able to give, as we are successful in connecting with the truth that is within us. So I think veganism comes to us naturally when we begin to do that, when we actually begin to question this violence and the incredible wastefulness, the sheer…it’s just so irrational, and unloving, and ineffective to be confining and feeding animals, and cutting down forests and destroying the oceans to feed animals fish meal so they can give more milk. And all these things are extremely ineffective, and violent, and cause disease and war. I think as soon as anyone begins to connect basically with their inner wisdom and compassion, they naturally question these things. The difficulty is they go very deep. And even people on a spiritual path, very often have difficulty questioning the de-program of food. It goes right back to right after we lose our mother’s breast and we start eating, and we have very deep memories.
Caryn Hartglass: If we even had our mother’s breast.
Will Tuttle: Yes, if we ever got the breast. Most people don’t.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s right. I think this is the most important work, and probably the greatest work, this internal work, listening to our voices and choosing the ones we want to hear, or at least scripting the ones we want to hear, and erasing the ones that are meaningless. This is really important work and it’s very, very challenging. I think once we get to the point where we have shelter and food and we don’t have to focus on survival, then this is the most important thing we can do.
Will Tuttle: Absolutely. Right. And it’s all connected. I think it’s very important for us who have the means to have food and basic needs met, to take the next step and try to connect with the purpose of our lives. When we do that, we’ll begin to live in a more kind and compassionate way for ourselves and for others around us. And we’ll be able to then create the same opportunity for others, who are, right now, are just trying to get food in their mouths. And we can’t because of the inequality in the system.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s so nutty because we’ve got about, what, a billion people who are starving, and then a billion people who are obese . . .
Will Tuttle: Right, right. We got plenty of food to feed everyone. Actually, they say more than twice as much as they can possibly eat if people are actually eating a plant-based diet, we can feed the whole…twice as many people as we have. So that’s a wonderful…Every time I think about that and articulate that to groups, the basic message is: we live on a beautiful and abundant planet. There’s no reason for anyone to be hungry. There’s more than enough to go around for everyone. And it’s simply a matter of not believing the official stories that are drummed into our heads over and over again: that we need to eat meat to get enough protein, we need to eat dairy products to get enough calcium, that there’s just not enough to go around, that there are always be people who are hungry and starving. They’re all official stories that benefit perhaps a tiny minority, a tiny, tiny minority of people. But for all of us who are actually living here, animals and future generations and so forth, they are absolutely counter-productive and they’re not true.
It’s being more and more understood. It is sort of people are looking behind the curtain, like in the Wizard of Oz.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s funny you brought that up. We were just talking about that yesterday. The man behind… “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!”
Will Tuttle: Right, right.
Caryn Hartglass: What we need to do is click our ruby slippers together three times and say, “Go vegan, go vegan, go vegan!” Something like that.
Will Tuttle: Exactly. That’s actually… I think that would probably do it.
Caryn Hartglass: I’m looking at your schedule on your website willtuttle.com/schedule.htm; and you’re amazing! So, you’re all over the place. I see that there’s some consistency here where you speak at a lot of Unity churches and Unitarian. And it always struck me as another part of the bizarre world that we live in where religious groups, and I’m not someone who follows any religion, but where religious groups will promote or say they do, kindness and compassion and “Thou shalt not kill” and yet they’re not promoting, for the most part, a vegan message.
Will Tuttle: Yeah, I know. It’s something I’m actually faced with, constantly, over the last twenty years. Pretty much every Sunday for the last twenty years, I’ve been going into very progressive churches, where the people are talking about the most progressive things really, and yet there is this universal resistance to looking at the food choices. Even when they get together in conferences that are specifically for world peace and for social evolution, for cultural evolution, for cultural transformation, all these things, they … and if I apply to these conferences and say I’d like to bring the message of compassion for animals and veganism, they turn me down. They say, “No, we don’t want to discuss that. We don’t want to bring that into the equation. That’s not important. That’s too divisive.”
Caryn Hartglass: That complicates things.
Will Tuttle: “That’s complicated. We want to be able to eat our meat and dairy products and have peace and transformation.” We don’t realize that that’s a recipe for disaster, really. Whatever we sow, we reap. So I see some help. I see some changes happening. And that’s good, that’s great, I think. There are changes happening.
Caryn Hartglass: I remember the Unitarian Church put out a some sort of, I don’t know what to call it, but a few years ago they came out and said all the churches should have this thing about sustainable food or something like that and …
Will Tuttle: It was actually ethical eating.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s it. Ethical eating.
Will Tuttle: It was actually denomination-wide, the entire North America. All the ministries were focusing together on a study action issue. It’s what they do every like eight or nine years, study action issue. They chose that at the big meetings. And again, what was interesting because I spoke at quite a few Unitarian churches during this time on ethical eating and I still found that there was quite a bit of hemming and hawing about actually looking at it, a reading of animals for food. But I will have to say to their credit, they did struggle with this and they did create a statement, finally, that as a denomination that our treatment of animals for food is something that has to be taken seriously, we should move towards a more plant-based diet essentially. So they did come up, finally, with that statement. And so that was heartening to see. So I think again, that’s a sign of some of the progress being made.
Caryn Hartglass: Right. Okay. So you talk a lot to many, many, many people. What seems to be the biggest concern with people, or their biggest struggles these days?
Will Tuttle: Well, I think a lot of people it’s, right now, of course it’s economic, the economy, and health, and so with Forks Over Knives and some of the other things coming out that are helping people to basically have better health and save money there, too. I think that’s helping a lot of people move toward a plant-based diet. They can rationalize it and understand it in those terms. It’s also great to see organizations releasing undercover video footage of the violence and atrocities committed routinely against animals and stockyards and factory farms, and slaughterhouses. And I think that’s getting more and more play and people are eating less meat. I mean that’s one of the things that is undeniable as the per capita consumption of meat is really declining. The number of animals, land animals, being killed is declining in the United States, anyway. And this is definitely seems to be increasing and the number of vegetarians and vegans are increasing. I think those are the things that we want to really work to keep the momentum going, and keep the education going. And that’s one of the reasons we do the lectures that we’re doing. We have this online training for World Peace Diet facilitators and we’re doing a thing called Veganpalooza, which is where we’re going to be interviewing online, it’s an online program, a lot of well-known people in the vegan movement like Neil Bernard, and John McDougall, and Laurie Friedman, and …
Caryn Hartglass: Where can we find out about that?
Will Tuttle: Well, we’re just setting it up but it’s Veganpalooza. It’s on my schedule, if you look down a little bit there, July 12th-15th. And veganpallooza.com is the website. We just have it coming up right now and but in the next week or so, it’ll all be up there. We’ll be sending e-mails out and letting people know. I think it’s basically about getting information, really, to people so that they can understand because we get so much misinformation…
Caryn Hartglass: So much. I want to underline that. So much misinformation.
Will Tuttle: Right. Exactly.
Caryn Hartglass: Let’s talk about something a little…I want to touch on meditation because I know that’s been an important part of your life and I know you talk about it with people. Can you just give us a little idea of what it is and what you do?
Will Tuttle: Meditation…
Caryn Hartglass: And how important it is?
Will Tuttle: Right. To me, even though in our culture it’s considered sort of marginal thing typically in our culture, I believe that it’s essential as part of our fundamental human heritage, as human beings to be able to enter into states of consciousness where our mind is not dominated by the relentless thinking that goes on based on our conditioning. And so meditation is simply bringing our mind in the present moment in a relaxed and present way, where we’re not thinking about what we did in the past or the future, what’s going to happen, that kind of thing. We’re not posting our attention there, rather being open and quiet and receptive. It’s sort of this ultimate receptivity to me. It’s being receptive and quiet. And it’s essentially contacting what I refer to in the World Peace Diet, as Sophia, the sacred feminine dimension within us, whether we’re men or women. I think we this capacity to be receptive to a higher knowing, which is really our own true nature. If we don’t cultivate that then we’re simple being propelled through life by this programming. So meditation is really the daily practice of consciously letting go of this program, constantly letting go of this narrative that I’ve always got going, sort of running in the back: why I like this, or why I don’t like that, or why I’m going to do this, or why I’m going to do that, or I wish I would’ve done that, or I wish I would’ve done this. That whole story, just letting it go and just connecting with being, not trying to change anybody, not trying to change ourselves, not trying to attain anything. Just to experience “being.” And I think when we’re able to do that, we’ll realize that what we are right now, in this moment, is whole, and complete, and aware, and is of the nature of eternal consciousness. We are manifesting through a physical vehicle, and we have a name or a form that we identify with. In many ways, that is a delusion that we’re just that. And we’re taught by our culture that we are just an object, just a thing that was born and will die. Through meditation, we can experience this directly that what we are, in fact, is actually eternal consciousness, manifesting through a vehicle in a physical body that may be a certain age, weight, gender. But actually, we are of the consciousness that makes this possible. And when we do that, we begin to see others as consciousness. And we begin to, the term I think, a blessing in the world in the sense that we don’t just limit people; we don’t see other beings merely as pieces of meat. We see them as sacred manifestations of consciousness. And we begin to have some self-respect; we begin to have more self-confidence because we realize we’re more than just this programmed object that’s going to live a little while, and then die; therefore, we have to try to get what we want and keep away what we don’t want, even in this constant struggle. That is really an inflating mentality; it’s a prison. And so the idea is to free ourselves from that prison. And the main way out, actually is two things: one is consciousness: meditation, being aware and the other is compassion: being kind and loving, and actually seeing other beings as worthy of our kindness and respect
Caryn Hartglass: This is the secret to life, folks! I really think so. I think it’s so unfortunate in our society that we don’t meditate and it’s something that babies and children should be brought up with. It should be a normal part of life when we all have our moment to go within and be quiet and learn how to turn off all that junk.
Will Tuttle: Right. Absolutely.
Caryn Hartglass: I know that meditation has really…It was one of the important factors in saving my own life, and really focusing on my own intention and what I wanted. One thing was to live and living, because I started meditation during a serious moment of crisis. But it’s such a wonderful thing because it’s free and it provides so much benefit. I would really love for all of us to be able to take a moment; we deserve it and just be with ourselves. And in so many intense, stressful moments, when we think, “Oh, but I can always meditate.” It really brings us calm, and sometimes answers to some questions that seem so overwhelming.
Will Tuttle: Right. Exactly. Otherwise, if we’re not meditating, we usually don’t know who we are, what we’re doing, why we’re doing it. We’re kind of on automatic pilot, just being driven along by the forces of conditioning that have been just overwhelming us since we were born. So meditation to me is opening a door of consciousness; really, opening the door of the prison and walking out and seeing life and myself from another perspective. And like you said, the benefits are many levels. There’s a lot of research showing that meditation helps us physically. We have lower blood pressure, and just more physical harmony. It helps us psychologically. There’s a lot of studies that show that it helps with stress, and anxiety, and depression, and those kinds of things. And then I think it’s also important to realize that it helps us on the spiritual level as well. I think also ethically, we begin to connect with this inner sense to being part of something greater and so we begin to become more kind and loving in our relationships with others, more harmonious. We begin to see their perspectives, not just our own, in a certain sense. I think culturally, it’s very helpful. It would really help our entire culture if more people took time to meditate. And I think it’s not something that’s religious in a sense. You don’t have to belong to a particular religion. It’s more just a human activity. I don’t think it’s just humans; I think animals also meditate. I think that’s one of the reasons they’re, in some ways, a lot more harmonious and connected to their purpose. I love watching animals: birds and wild animals, in general. To me, when I see them they’re very much in the present moment, and conscious and aware and fulfilling something. I think we could learn a lot about ourselves if we pay attention to animals.
Caryn Hartglass: Absolutely. One of the things I like to do when I look at any animal is to look in their eyes. There’s so much in their eyes and I like to have that communication saying, “I don’t eat you.”
Will Tuttle: Exactly. Right. “I respect you and appreciate you.”
Caryn Hartglass: Right. “You are not food. You are someone.”
Will Tuttle: Right. And animals are intuitive. I think, very often they pick up on that.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, they know. Absolutely. So have you ever lead a meditation with a gazillion people?
Will Tuttle: Actually, I’ve led retreats where people would come and we would do a meditation retreat for a weekend or …
Caryn Hartglass: So here’s something I want to see you do, if you ever get motivated to do it, but some sort of World Peace Diet meditation where we all, at some designated time, for ten minutes or something, do something all together everywhere, lead by you.
Will Tuttle: All right, that’s a great idea. We do have something that’s approaching that but it’s… I tell you what’s interesting. We have a website called circleofcompassion.org. There’s a worldwide prayer circle for animals and everyday at noon, hundreds of people all over the world that have signed up and put themselves on the world map, and everyday at noon, wherever we are we all join together in prayer and basically in a form of prayer and meditation for animals, seeing animals as part of … Basically, the actual thing we say is: “Compassion encircle the earth for all living beings everywhere.” That’s the basic formula, in a sense. But the idea is to feel and see the energy of compassion encircling and embracing all living beings everywhere. And we just join in that at noon. We thought that’d be the easiest thing if we all do it at noon, so it’s kind of a rolling, moving across the time zones kind of thing. But you can also do something where on a larger scale …
Caryn Hartglass: So where do we find that? What’s the website?
Will Tuttle: The website is circleofcompassion.org. You just go there and it says, “Join us” and then there’s a place where you can find out. But it’s right there. It’s very much available. We’d love to have people join.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, well, now I know what I’m doing at noon tomorrow.
Will Tuttle: Right. It’s a nice rhythm in our lives. Every day at noon, we just pause for a few minutes and connect with others.
Caryn Hartglass: Very good. Well, we have just a couple of minutes left, Will. What do you want to share with us in these last few, wonderful, loving, peaceful moments?
Will Tuttle: Basically, I want to thank you, of course, Caryn, for just keeping the flame burning so beautifully. And I want to thank also everyone who’s listening for the efforts that I know you’re making. I think it’s important for us to remember that no effort we make is ever lost when we do something to try to spread this message or to live this message because what veganism is essentially, it’s nothing to be proud of, it’s nothing special or different or anything. It’s just simply coming home to our own true nature, coming home to our own heart and looking out with a mind that when we see beings, we see beings rather than seeing sayings. So it’s simply, in a sense, coming back home. I think every time we make an effort to bring this message to others, even though it may seem that they’re rejecting it, or they didn’t like it or they didn’t hear it, to know that we did plant a seed, to not be attached to the fruits of our actions but just plant the seed as best we can. And within the fullness of time, all these seeds that we’re planting will bear fruit. The whole idea, I think, is to adopt this mentality of radical inclusion. That’s really what veganism is: to include all beings in a sphere of kindness and compassion. And do the best we can to find our unique way to bring this message to others, however that is: through art, music, education, writing, whatever. I think as we do that, for the few years that we have on this beautiful earth, we’ll be living our lives with purpose and meaning. And I don’t think there’s anything more important that anyone can do than to help spread this, this vegan message of compassion and kindness for all life.
Caryn Hartglass: Radical inclusion. I like that. Thank you so much. Everyone, read the World Peace Diet if you haven’t and if you have, read it again. Thanks for joining me on It’s All About Food. The best to you on your journey.
Will Tuttle: Great. Thank you.
Caryn Hartglass: I’m Caryn Hartglass. You’re listening to It’s All About Food. We’re going to take a quick break and then be back with another very lovely individual, Victoria Moran.
Transcribed by Diana O’Reilly, 1/22/2013
TRANSCRIPTION PART II:
Hello I’m Caryn Hartglass and you’re listening to It’s All About Food. This is the second portion of our June 13th, 2012 show. I just wanted to remind you of course that I’m the founder of the nonprofit Responsible Eating and Living and please visit when you have a chance, responsibleeatingandliving.com because if you can’t find enough inspiration for healthy food I know that you will find a lot of good things there. My next guest Victoria Moran is the author of eleven books and is also an inspirational speaker, monologist, and certified holistic health counselor. She is the founder of Main Street Vegan Academy, training vegan lifestyle coaches. Her latest book Main Street Vegan Everything You Need to Know to Eat Healthfully and Live Compassionately in the Real World written with the able assistance of her daughter Adair Moran, an actor, playwright, stunt performer and life long vegan. Among Victoria’s other titles are the best-selling Creating a Charmed Life now in thirty languages, and the plant-based weight-loss classic, The Love-Powered Diet: Eating for Freedom, Health, & Joy. Welcome to It’s All About Food.
VICTORIA MORAN: Thank you so much.
CARYN HARTGLASS: OK, Main Street Vegan, it’s about time. We’re Main Street. We’re no longer the brown rice/hippie/what-the-hell-is-it kind of person.
VICTORIA MORAN: Yes, it’s very exciting. We are on Main Street. There’s a little bit of danger I think in overshooting Main Street and thinking that we’ve gone from brown rice/hippie to super mogul/movie star/celebrity. We need to kind of bring it together and see that this is for anybody and everybody who wants to do it.
CARYN HARTGLASS: It’s always very exciting. I know all the vegans get all crazy when we hear about another celebrity that’s gone vegan. Then some might say “sure, they have a personal chef and it’s easy for them to do it” but the point is vegan is for everyone.
VICTORIA MORAN: It’s simple and it’s easy. There’s a myth that’s grown up I think because of both the celebrities and because we have all of these vegan junk foods, a lot of processed foods that’s kind of expensive. I’m being asked as a tour with Main Street Vegan, interviewers will say “isn’t that expensive” and I always do a double-take because always it used to be, “well I wouldn’t want to do it but I guess you save money”. You do save money: Beans and rice feed the world.
CARYN HARTGLASS: I was just thinking at the beginning of the show: Number one, that we don’t put enough value on food. People want food to be cheap, to the point where they’ll go to restaurants and fast food establishments to get a deal and a lot of times the food is very low quality and poorly grown and poorly made with lots of ingredients that aren’t healthful. How did we get to this place where we just want to feel full for the littlest price imaginable without even thinking about what’s good for us?
VICTORIA MORAN: It’s a very complicated issue because obviously there are some people who are on very, very limited budgets. They have lots of children. They need to get enough calories into their kids to go from one day to the next and the way society is now, people have forgotten about beans and rice and apples in the bag that you have to cut the bruises off of and simple, simple food that is just as cheap as going for the dollar meal at McDonald’s. It just doesn’t look like it at first glance.
CARYN HARTGLASS: And we know all over the world the poorest people have survived and thrived on beans and rice. Or let’s just say the gazillion types of beans and whole grains because it’s not just rice, it depends on where you are. It could be millet, it could be quinoa, …. there’s just so many of them.
VICTORIA MORAN: Sure. I think that the myth that has to be overcome is the idea that some how, some way, we need the meat, we need the animal products. I was watching a documentary this morning on the treadmill. I just feel that the iPad is the greatest invention. It is giving me so much information as I watch documentaries and making me fitter but this one was called “Frankensteer”. It’s a Canadian documentary about feedlot cattle. It did not come from a vegetarian or vegan perspective but was really showing all the problems, both for consumers and certainly for the cows. I kept thinking as I watched it: Why don’t we just say “gosh this is bad, let’s stop”. But instead the responses were–well there’s the grass-fed organic kind of beef and then there’s all this legislation and regulation and all these things we need to do to make things better. I understand that not everybody’s going to go veg tomorrow but for those of us who can just get it, you know what, a really great way to deal with these problems is just don’t consume the stuff. Be free.
CARYN HARTGLASS: I hear you. I know that’s the simplest way to do it and it really isn’t hard. One of the things I like about your book…fortunately there are more and more books on the market today about how to go vegan, why you should go vegan, all the different reasons, the different points of view. There’s lots of different people in the world. We’re all coming from different places and there’s more and more books that are suitable for more and more people. What’s great about this is it’s very friendly and gentle and easy, it’s not in your face. You come out and tell some of the hard stuff but at the same time it’s all very gentle.
VICTORIA MORAN: I think that’s because that’s how I am. People say to me “you write the way you talk”. I don’t know how to write any other way—eleven books and I still write the way I talk. I think that it is necessary to be gentle because we all have a different trajectory and we all make change in different ways. It was very, very hard for me. I went vegetarian at nineteen and I was 32 before I fully committed to being vegan. That was because I was a food addict, a practicing food addict. I was a binge eater and it was impossible at that time to be a binge eating vegan. You could do it now but it would still be inconvenient because you’d have to go to the health food store to get your stuff to binge on….
CARYN HARTGLASS: …and expensive…
VICTORIA MORAN: …and expensive…but at that time you know I just needed to stop in at the gas station and get my fix and it was not possible for me to be vegan. I needed to take care of those issues first and then I was able to do this thing that I’d wanted to do for a long time which was get rid of all the animal products and I didn’t know at that time that there are two halves to this deal, from the dietary point of view. One, is you stop eating animal products, the other is you pile on the vegetables, you pile on the color. Today I tell people your plate ought to look like a Christmas tree—mostly green with splashes of other bright colors because that’s how we get the phytochemicals and the antioxidants and all this great vitality-boosting stuff. People will say to me sometimes “But what exactly is it?” I know that there are all sorts of medical/nutritional elements. We have wonderful medical doctors and dieticians in our movement who can give you the whole chemical whooze it, whatz it but for me as a consumer and a mom and a human being out there in the world, it is life force energy. It is feeling like a million bucks every day which today I do and forty years ago I didn’t. That is counterintuitive, it’s not supposed to get better but it can.
CARYN HARTGLASS: There’s a lot of talk shows, a lot of information where people bring up different things about diet and on news programs we might hear a five second sound bite, maybe a little more, about the latest and greatest of something or some vitamin we need and it gets really confusing and it gets really overwhelming. All that information might be interesting, it might be useful to some extent but for most of us we don’t need to be dieticians, we don’t need to be nutritionists and we don’t need to know where we get our protein or carbohydrate or fat or phytochemicals or Vitamin D or Omega-3 fatty acids. All we need to do is eat whole fresh plant foods. It’s so simple.
VICTORIA MORAN: That takes care of the vast majority of things that are going on. I do have one chapter in Main Street Vegan about supplements and it’s just called supplement Vitamin B-12 because that is one nutrient not reliably found in the plant kingdom.
CARYN HARTGLASS: And we all need it, not just vegans and vegetarians.
VICTORIA MORAN: That’s true. The National Institute of Health is now saying that anyone over 50 needs to supplement B-12 because it’s so hard to get from the animal foods. I think anyone who lives in a northern climate and avoids the sun for reasons of cancer prevention and/or vanity or anyone with dark skin who doesn’t have the ability to make as much Vitamin D from sun exposure probably needs to get their Vitamin D levels checked and may need to supplement that and I also supplement the Omega-3 with an algae-based EPA/DHA supplement and that is it. I do not want to spend my life standing at the kitchen counter taking pills.
CARYN HARTGLASS: Right, counting ‘em out, putting them in little boxes, traveling with them which is really challenging when you travel it’s hard enough to bring the basics that you need these days on an airplane.
VICTORIA MORAN: That’s for sure. Yesterday I went to Chicago on a 7 a.m. flight to do a TV show at 12:45 and came back that afternoon. They wanted me to do two recipes–one required a food processor. Have you ever tried to pack a food processor? Plus a lot of groceries. it was the most awful packing job and then I got there but here’s the cool part: I show up, there’s this lovely interviewer, his name was Steve, and he just came up to do the interview and said “Oh I’ve been eating this way for eight months because I watch “Forks over Knives” now I eat this way too.” He got so involved in talking to me we ended up not even doing the recipe with the food processor.
CARYN HARTGLASS: That’s funny.
VICTORIA MORAN: Yeah, it is. You just meet vegans all over everywhere these days.
CARYN HARTGLASS: I just wanted to say, I have traveled—this is kind of a strange little thing—when I was going through my cancer treatment I did chemotherapy outside of Chicago and I would fly there either for the day or overnight, and I traveled with a juicer because I was really committed to my juicing.
VICTORIA MORAN: Absolutely.
CARYN HARTGLASS: It’s crazy but sometimes we have to do these things.
VICTORIA MORAN: And juicing is phenomenal. I love juicing. My juicing chapter in the book is—I talk about all these chapters, they are short chapters, I’m kind of known for little essays…
CARYN HARTGLASS: You cover everything.
VICTORIA MORAN: Thank you.
CARYN HARTGLASS: It’s all there.
VICTORIA MORAN: Yeah. The juicing chapter is called Joyfully Juice because that’s the point. It’s not like “oh my God I’ve got to make this juice, hold my nose and gag it down.” No, no no. You want to make beautiful, yummy, delicious, delightful juice because it’s really like an infusion of youthfulness and energy.
CARYN HARTGLASS: And we deserve it. We deserve to buy the vegetables, we deserve to juice the vegetables, we deserve to drink them and we deserve to clean it up with joy.
VICTORIA MORAN: Amen.
CARYN HARTGLASS: We deserve it. It’s all just like a shift in the way we think.
VICTORIA MORAN: Yeah. It’s very exciting to see how it’s happening. When I flew to LA on the beginning of my book tour I was wearing my button that said “I’m a Main Street Vegan”. I was on the aisle street and there was this woman by the window and she leans over the poor man in the middle and says “Tell me about your button” and I told her and she says “I’ve been vegan for forty years”. And I thought, “That’s not possible” because you look 41. She said “Now I’m back from my 41st college reunion, I now eat 90% raw food, I work out 2 hours a day. I’m gluten free” and she looked sensational. Now I do think the guy in the middle thought “if these two women don’t shut up talking about kale I’m going to ask to be moved” but it’s just thrilling that you run into people everywhere. This is starting to take hold.
CARYN HARTGLASS: Absolutely and that’s a good thing. You’ve got eleven books now so you’ve seen the change because you’ve been writing about this and related subjects for…when did you first book come out?
VICTORIA MORAN: My first book was also about veganism and I actually believe, as far as I can tell and I’ve done quite a bit of research on this, that my book which actually was a college thesis—I had a fellowship to do foreign study and opted to study vegans in England, or England, Scotland and Ireland because it’s a smaller land mass and they were easier to find than in this country they were spread apart what few vegans there were—so that book was published by a British publisher called Thorsons in 1985. I believe it is the first book about vegan philosophy and practice ever to come from a regular publisher. There were books about natural hygiene and raw foods and things like that but the whole ethical part of veganism and the health as well, so yeah that book I think sold as many copies in its entire life before it went out of print as Main Street Vegan sold in its first week.
VICTORIA MORAN: There’s a lot more interest these days.
CARYN HARTGLASS: That’s good and that’s good for you. So tell me about Main Street Academy.
VICTORIA MORAN: Thank you for asking. I am so excited. We’re about to start our first course. Main Street Vegan Academy trains and certifies vegan lifestyle coaches. I’m so thrilled that we fill to capacity and then let a couple of other people in because they wanted to come so much and we’re now signing people up for November. A vegan lifestyle coach is someone who helps other people along this path whether it’s an ongoing coaching kind of situation, whether it’s a one time “ok I’m going vegan and these are the questions that I need answered”, whether it’s going on shows like this or putting up a podcast or blogging or speaking to a group, we train people in the basics of what they need to know and how they can express it. So that people are not offended, so that people are well-educated, accepted where they are and able to go forward. I think it’s so exciting.
CARYN HARTGLASS: It is. And how do they get certified?
VICTORIA MORAN: They come to a five day intensive program in New York City. And people said to me when I was first developing this “oh you ought to put it online and it ought to be this and that” and I said “No, if you want to go to Harvard you will go to Cambridge. If you want to be a vegan lifestyle coach you will figure out a way to come to New York for five days.” People are doing it. People are coming from Texas, Missouri, Oregon, for this and some are staying in hotels and some are staying with relatives and one person found a monastery retreat house in Chelsea and they are just making it work. And we’re doing fabulous field trips because New York City is vegan heaven.
CARYN HARTGLASS: It is.
VICTORIA MORAN: So we’re going to the Vaute Couture Boutique, beautiful vegan outerwear, Moo Shoes, vegan shoe store. We’re going to a cleansing center in the East Village and learning about raw foods and colonics and that sort of thing and of course lots of restaurants. So it’s going to be fun as well as instructive.
CARYN HARTGLASS: It’s going to be very fun. How many people are in the group?
VICTORIA MORAN: Fourteen this time and we hope to grow and grow and grow.
CARYN HARTGLASS: You know I agree with you I think it’s important to do it in person for lots of reasons. People will commit more but you know, you do know this, part of this eating this way, connecting with others, it’s about community, it’s about caring about everyone else. Sure, there’s a lot we can learn online. I learn every day online but we can’t stop being with each other.
VICTORIA MORAN: Right. And it’s tactile as well. We’ll have Fran Costigan coming in to do some cooking classes. She’s a wonderful vegan baker and chef. We’ll have other people coming with their Power Point presentations that they want to talk about and expound on. It’s going to be great. I just really encourage anyone who’s interested to go to mainstreetvegan.net and click on Academy and see if it looks like it’s for you.
CARYN HARTGLASS: I like it and I like that there are so many people that are interested.
VICTORIA MORAN: It’s fascinating and different people. I think that part of it is that a lot of people want so much to help. I mean the reason I wrote this book is I went to a PETA fundraiser one night and all I wanted to do is write them a great big check—so big that it would bounce and I couldn’t do that. So I was like “what can I do, what can I do?” And it really came to me Main Street Vegan. I need to write a book that’s for those people out there in America and around the world who were like you were thirty years ago. You wanted to do this but it just seemed so hard, it seemed so weird, it seemed so different. So that’s what I’m doing writing the book and that’s what the vegan coaches will be able to do once they’ve had the training.
CARYN HARTGLASS: The good thing is it’s like a snowball. We started out as a flake and now we’re rolling. We’re really rolling.
VICTORIA MORAN: That’s beautiful, may I quote you?
CARYN HARTGLASS: It just came to me and we don’t want to melt. Maybe we can melt when the job’s done.
VICTORIA MORAN: I think it’s very important that we stay kind to one another, that we stay connected, and that we not let anything interfere with what we’ve built up already. I understand that there are some different opinions about different things. There are opinions about oils, and opinions about how much cooked food and how much raw food and opinions—now there’s this federal egg legislation that people have very strong feelings on on both sides. I think it’s just so important that within the vegan world that we all stay friends because we’re not big enough to have little offshoot groups and be enemies.
CARYN HARTGLASS: Unfortunately in every group, and I’ve seen it in this group, there’s competition, there’s jealousy, there’s a lot of stuff that’s very human and we don’t need that. We need to focus on getting rid of factory farming because it’s like probably the worst thing that humanity has ever come up with ever. If you want to eat oil or you don’t, ok, that’s such a small speck. Let’s get rid of the exploitation and then when everyone’s eating a healthier diet then we can focus on fine tuning.
VICTORIA MORAN: Exactly and by then we’ll know more and maybe there won’t even be any conflicts.
CARYN HARTGLASS: We have a few minutes left. Let’s jump into the book a little bit. There’s just so many different things here. We talked about nutrition and you have great recipes all through the book going with the theme of the chapter.
VICTORIA MORAN: I was inspired by the culinary novel. Have you read those? It’s a novel, it’s a story, but at strategic places throughout the book they just happen to throw in a recipe, so in Main Street Vegan there’s a recipe after each chapter that has something to do with the chapter. A few of them Adair, my daughter, and I came up with, a lot of them have been donated by these fabulous chefs and cookbook authors so, for example, a fashion designer gave us a recipe that follows the fashion chapter and the cosmetic chapter is followed by a Chef John Spa Smoothie. It’s really fun and of course the money saving chapter gets Cheapest Chili. My husband’s favorite cheap chili.
CARYN HARTGLASS: My favorite part about this whole thing, the whole vegan thing, is the food because the food is fabulous. The food is delicious. There’s an infinite variety of everything we can eat and we can eat without guilt. That is if we’re staying away from all the modern day vegan junk food that’s out there. This healthy, Christmas tree diet of mostly green foods smattering with colors…
VICTORIA MORAN: …maybe you just named my next book…
CARYN HARTGLASS: The Christmas Tree Diet….yeah. I like that and you can include the snowball in there.
VICTORIA MORAN: That’s right. Today I sliced a cantaloupe in half and just the smell and the flavor of the first bite–it’s absolutely exquisite. And I think what happens and certainly I know that this is what happened to me when I was a practicing binge eater, the taste buds get jaded and the idea of a piece of fruit is just like “what is this thing?, this is not a sweet, this is not a treat”. But after awhile when you start eating more natural foods they just get to be so magnificent. And then you discover the weird ones, like durian.
CARYN HARTGLASS: That’s not for me. I don’t know if you like it.
VICTORIA MORAN: My daughter hates it. I think it’s fabulous. I think it tastes like cheesecake…
CARYN HARTGLASS: I was on an all raw diet for two years and I couldn’t go there. And it seemed like I was going to be kicked out of the club because I wasn’t a lover of durian.
VICTORIA MORAN: That’s the thing, we can’t afford to have any clubs. There’s a great big club and that’s of people who care, who care enough about ourselves to want to be alive and vital and vibrant and who care enough about these creatures, oh my gosh these animals. I heard you talking with Will Tuttle, to look in the eyes of these beings…there’s just nothing like it.
CARYN HARTGLASS: There’s just too many stories and you mention one about the one…with your husband.
VICTORIA MORAN: Oh yes. We went to the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary a few years ago and we’d had a tragedy in our family. We’d lost a very, very young son–my husband’s son. We just thought maybe going to the country would make everyone feel better. It didn’t. We got there, William was so depressed I thought I’d just walk around and we’d go back to Manhattan. He ultimately got out of the car, just kind of leaning on a fence and this steer, a huge steer, who hadn’t had any interest in being with people before, walked up to William and put his head on William’s shoulder and just leaned it there for the longest time, as if to say, “I know you’re suffering, I have too and I’m going to stand here until you feel better”. It was the most remarkable experience and nobody who saw it, and certainly not William who experienced it, would say that it was anything other than empathy, empathy and caring.
CARYN HARTGLASS: I’m getting all teary just hearing it again after I read it and there’s so many of those stories and so many of them we’re missing out on because we have this disconnect with everyone we share this planet with, not just the humans. … We have one minute, what are we going to do in this one minute, this one delicious moment? I did want to mention that the linden tree by my terrace just bloomed today. Are you familiar with that intoxicating fragrance? It is the most incredible smell and the thing is it only lasts for a week, if you’re lucky. It just started out a wonderful morning. I recently learned that the linden tree flowers you can actually make tea out of and has all kinds of benefits. So there’s all kinds of wonderful things out there. Get Main Street Vegan and thank you Victoria.
VICTORIA MORAN: Thank you Caryn
CARYN HARTGLASS: I’m Caryn Hartglass. You’ve been listening to It’s All About Food. Have a delicious week.
Transcribed by Suzanne Kelly, 2/15/2013