Would You Go Vegan?

So, Oprah went vegan for a week, and challenged her entire staff to try it too. A vegan diet is one that eschews all animal products: meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and even honey, plus all dairy products. It takes some thought and some practice—it’s not quite as simple as switching your latte from skim to soy. But, many believe the health and environmental benefits are huge, and worth the extra effort it takes to plan a vegan lifestyle.

We asked some of our vegan cookbook authors to chime in with their thoughts about Oprah’s switch, and her challenge.

From Sarma Melngailis, author of Raw Food Real World and Living Raw Food and owner of Pure Food and Wine restaurant and One Lucky Duck online gourmet shop in New York City:

1. What do you think about Oprah’s Vegan Challenge, and why?

I think it’s really great anytime someone with a high profile and many admirers brings attention to the benefits of being vegan, or even just shifting towards eating more plant-based foods. Of course, I’d like to think it doesn’t need to be such a “challenge,” but I’m really happy that she did it and even more so that she involved all her staffers as well. I was really pleased to hear of Bill Clinton going vegan last year as well, and speaking publicly about his reasons for doing so.

2. What advice would you give to someone making the switch to a vegan diet?

My own personal opinion is that a much greater overall impact could be realized if more people viewed it as a shift rather than a 100 percent switch. I hear people say it seems like too drastic of a change to “go vegan,” so they end up not really trying at all. Rather than being entirely strict about it, I’d say the goal should be simply to make a shift. If your Aunt Sally offers you a cookie and you’re pretty sure there’s butter in it, it may be less stressful in the moment to just have a cookie. I also think that educating oneself is the best motivation. The more one reads and learns about the benefits of a plant-based diet, and conversely the adverse effects of a heavy animal based diet, the more natural and easy the shift will be. Believe me, when you learn and think about the ingredients of your standard hot dog or the source of the meat in most burgers, they quickly lose any appeal they might have had.

3. What one recipe from your book would you recommend to a beginner vegan?

One of the most crowd pleasing dishes at my restaurant and takeaways is our Zucchini and Tomato Lasagna and the recipe can be found in my first book, Raw Food Real World. This is an all-vegetable, nut, and herb-based lasagna, and everyone who tries it loves it. It’s also relatively easy to make and incredibly filling. Since my books and restaurant are raw, we don’t use any flour-based pasta or any grains at all, so it’s a great recipe for anyone who is gluten sensitive, or anyone who wants to know what it feels like to eat a big plate of filling lasagna yet not feel heavy and sluggish afterwards. [TSI comments: we have eaten this lasagna, and it is truly divine! Highly recommended.]

From Lorna Sass, James Beard Award-winning author of Short-Cut Vegan and many other cookbooks:

“It’s great that the both Oprah and Kathy [Freston] recognize the beautiful symmetry that what is good for us humans is good for the planet too!”

From Matt Amsden, a premier chef of raw food who has educated and converted scores of celebrities and “regular” people to eating raw, and author of RAWvolution:

“Kudos to Oprah for once again introducing the cutting-edge to the mainstream! Congrats to her and her staff for saving the lives of over 700 animals in just one week!”

What do you think of Oprahs challenge? Would you go vegan for a week—and would you do it to lose weight, to save animals, or to improve your health?

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