Those of you who follow my blog will know that I have been struggling with vegetarianism for quite some time. I don’t eat meat during the week but often find myself straying during the weekends. That’s why I really admire my friend Molly. Not only has Molly been a vegetarian her whole life, she’s also a vegan chef, runs a chain of healthy vegetarian restaurants called Nature’s Express and recently launched VeganBuzz.me. Read on to find out some of Molly’s favorite recipes and how her unusual childhood shaped who she is today.
You grew up in a teepee in New Mexico with no electricity or running water. Can you tell us more about what that experience was like and how it shaped who you are today?
I never knew that the way I grew up was any different from anyone else. It wasn’t until I got older and started going to other kid’s houses that I started to realize that my house was different. I remember really wanting an indoor toilet and a regular shower, especially in the winter because it was cold but I don’t ever remember being embarrassed or really wanting a “normal” house.
I have the best parents in the world and all I knew growing up was love, acceptance, support, fun and security. Looking back, I am extremely grateful for growing up the way that I did. It made me grounded and humble. There are a lot of Americans who act as though they are very much entitled. I escaped that because I was raised very simply and with a lot of love.
You’ve been a vegetarian your whole life and are a big proponent of a plant-based diet. Why are you so passionate about this?
How long do you have? I was raised without ever eating meat and as I got older it wasn’t something that I wanted to explore. I never had a desire to eat meat so I never did. I became completely vegan (no animal products whatsoever including eggs and honey) 3 years ago and never looked back. In the first 2 weeks that I eliminated dairy from my diet I was shocked at the surge of energy that I had and at the way my skin was glowing. It was very easy for me to transition into a vegan diet, especially because I love to cook!
I am passionate about my dietary choice for numerous reasons. From a health perspective, there is way too much scientific evidence that links animal proteins with diseases, like diabetes and cancer, to ignore. Americans have very devoted relationships with their Doctors and are motivated a lot by fear. They will take one prescription to treat one condition and then take another prescription to treat a condition that came about because of the original prescription! It’s ludicrous! We are one of the richest nations in the world and yet we have the crappiest health care systems. If everyone took responsibility for their own health and started eating right then we wouldn’t be spending billions on health care every year.
It really is that simple.
I am also completely disgusted with meat production in this country. Americans spend over 70 billion dollars every year on their pets – they buy their cats and dogs strollers (ugh) and then turn a blind eye to factory farming where animals get skinned alive, live in their own filth, are confined their whole life, get pumped so full of hormones and then given antibiotics to help their infections so that they will live long enough to produce adequate yields of meat.
I have a choice, so I choose not to contribute to this terrible industry.
How important do you think giving up meat consumption is for the environment?
The meat and dairy industry as a whole is terrible for the environment. There is a ton of evidence that backs this up and I will give you one example. The Environmental Defense Fund has calculated that if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and replaced it with a vegetarian meal, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as if the nation removed more than half a million cars from U.S roads.
I have always wondered about environmentalists who eat meat!
You just launched a website VeganBuzz.me – can you tell us more about it and why you started it?
Yes! I am really excited about VeganBuzz! I try to stay informed about vegan things going on in the media and found that I had to go to lots of different resources to find out the latest happenings in the vegan industry.I wanted there to be one place that was easy to navigate, aesthetically pleasing and had up to date information about all things vegan. There wasn’t a site like this so I decided to make one.
Do you have any tips for all those meat-eaters out there who would like to turn to a kinder diet?
I have a ton but I will give you my top three:
- Be easy on yourself and know that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. It is a process. Even if you commit to 3 meals a week that don’t have milk or dairy in them you are making a huge difference. The healthier you get the better you will feel and the healthier you will want to eat. Eventually you will switch from “I should” to “I want to”.
- Watch the documentaries Forks Over Knives and Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.
- There are a ton of awesome vegan blogs out there that are sure to inspire you. Whether you are inspired by fashion, cooking or shopping. I recommend Alicia Silverstone’s blog, http://www.thekindlife.com/ and the green gossip blog, http://www.ecorazzi.com/
What are your favorite foods? Can you share a favorite recipe?
I don’t discriminate, if it’s vegan I will eat it! However, I try to stay away from processed food as much as possible. My general rule is: if it comes from the ground then eat it, if it comes from a factory, just say no.
You can find recipes on my blog, mollypatrick.com but here is one for the road -
Your Mama’s Egg Salad Just Got Bettter!
1 cup mayo
1 tsp. yellow mustard
½ tsp. apple cider vinegar
½ tsp. lemon juice
1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast
¼ tsp. turmeric
½ Tablespoon of fresh dill (or 1 tsp. dried)
¼ tsp. sea salt
⅛ tsp. sugar
⅛ tsp. white pepper
- Rinse tofu and place in a strainer. Press as much moisture out of the tofu as you can with a paper towel.
- Grate tofu into a large bowl with a cheese grater.
- Place celery, onions, fennel and kale on top of the tofu.
- In a medium size mixing bowl add the sauce ingredients and mix until well combined.
- Add sauce to tofu and stir until combined.
You live in the Bay Area – any vegan restaurants to recommend?
The Bay Area vegan food scene is a wet dream for vegans. My top three SF vegan restaurants:
- Millennium – Higher end but ridiculously good with a killer wine and list.
- Gracias Madre – Amazing Mexican food and super cool vibe.
- Enjoy Vegetarian – Small and dinky – super yummy Chinese food.
My top three East Bay vegan restaurants:
- Nature’s Express (I might be bias because I work there but the food is seriously AMAZING) – If there’s one thing to try, have it be the Cheesy Mushroom Chik-un Melt wrapped in a blanch collard leaf, please.
- Potala Vegan – Macrobiotic – every cell in your body will be smiling when you are through with your meal.
- Flacos – If you haven’t tried their tacos and you live in the east bay, get your ass there! (I will most likely be there!).
How do you stay inspired?
I am inspired everyday by the possibility of change. I believe that if more people had accurate knowledge about the crap they eat then a lot of people would make changes in their diet. There is a shift happening right now. Veganism has never been as mainstream as it is currently is.
People like Ellen DeGeneres, Russell Simmons, Alicia Silverstone, Bill Clinton and Mike Tyson are all really vocal about their diet — let’s face it, vegans love to talk about the fact that they are vegan! This society is motivated by famous people so a lot of people are starting to get curious about it. With that comes an opportunity to inform. I believe in informing when asked as opposed to shoving something down people’s throats.
What can we expect from you in the following months?
I have been working on my first cookbook for what seems like forever! I hope to have that out in the next few months. Apart from that, you can expect a lot of vegan coverage!