I had the pleasure of asking one of my very favorite food bloggers, Linsday Nixon of Happy Herbivore, a few questions about her lifestyle and food philosophy. She is very special to me, because I used to follow her blog and Instagram account back when The Blonde Vegan was only a little baby nugget inside of my mind.
Lindsay is especially inspiring because she doesn’t even identify as the typical vegan, as she is 100% plant-based and oil-free. Can you say healthy?! She has four cookbooks and a Happy Herbivore meal plan. As a young/new food blogger, Lindsay is a HUGE inspiration to me. Her recipe videos are awesome and super fun to watch. And she even has Happy Herbivore swag on her site store.
How cute is she?!
…Ok, no secret. I wanna be her one day. I definitely look up to this lady, and I am so proud to share this Q&A with her on my blog! She has some awesome answers to a lot of the questions us vegans have (and even more so for people transitioning into veganism!)
Q: How long have you been vegan?
A: I don’t identify as a vegan, but I’ve followed a plant-based (vegan) diet since December 2006. I was a vegetarian for most of my life before that.
Q: What inspired you to change your lifestyle?
A: My health was my main motivation for adopting a plant-based diet, though I am also moved by the plight farm animals and the environmental benefits of a plant-based diet.
Q: Have you always had a passion for cooking, or was it inspired by your transformation into the vegan lifestyle?
A: I was always interested in cooking, but it was mostly something I watched on TV or admired. I didn’t fancy myself as a cook and I wasn’t particularly good at it. I would often burn toast and think I was doomed. After I adopted a plant-based diet, my husband, who had been the primary cook, said I needed to learn — as he had no idea what to make for me now that I wasn’t eating any of the foods he normally prepared. I stumbled into the kitchen, taught myself, and the rest is history.
^ Happy Herbivore African Kale & Yam Soup.
Q: Tell me about your HH meal plans.
A: My meal plan service (http://www.getmealplans.com) offers plant-based vegan meal plans for individuals and families. They’re nut-free, soy-free, oil-free and gluten-free. Each week we release a new meal plan complete with shopping list (no leftover ingredients!) and recipes. It’s perfect for those who are new to a plant-based/vegan diet and don’t know where to begin, busy people who need fast meals (everything takes minutes and can be made ahead on the weekend), people who need to lose weight, or want to eat better. I love them and use them myself.
Q: Favorite vegan dish?
A: Mashed potatoes. No question.
Q: What would you choose for your very last meal on earth?
A: Mashed potatoes, gravy, kale and cinnamon buns for dessert.
Q: Favorite snack?
A: Sweet potato. [Girl after my own heart!]
Q: I know you are soy-free and gluten-free – can you tell me about the importance of these two things on top of being vegan?
A: The meal plans are soy-free and gluten-free friendly (as well as oil-free and nut-free) to accommodate individuals with allergies and sensitive tummies. We want everyone to be able to utilize the meal plans. I have allergies and am very sympathetic to how challenging that can be. I want to make it as easy as possible for everyone to eat well. To eat whole foods, plant-based, no matter what dietary restrictions they have.
Of course you don’t have to be gluten-free or soy-free to be vegan. Soy products like tofu and wheat products like barley or wheat berries are beautiful, delicious additions to a healthy vegan diet, but they’re not required.
^ Happy Herbivore Black Bean Burger. Yum!
Q: How have you noticed an overall change in your life since changing your lifestyle?
A: This is where I have to clarify that I eat a whole foods, plant-based, no oil, diet. The absence of animal products qualifies it as a vegan diet, but I’ve worked with many clients who are “vegan” but their diet is filled with faux meat and faux cheese, French fries, potato chips, etc. All of which are vegan, but won’t lead them to feeling (or looking) their best.
Early in my journey I made those same mistakes: replacing my cheese with vegan cheese, my burgers with Boca burgers, etc. It wasn’t until I cut the processed vegan junk food out of my diet, and totally eliminated oil, that my health really started to blossom.
My skin cleared after decades of embarrassing acne. My chronic digestive problems were gone practically overnight. My migraines, which were frequent and severe, all but vanished. I started sleeping better. I had more energy. My mental fog lifted. I ran a marathon 10 months after changing my diet when I was too out of shape to walk a 5k the year before. I lost 30-40lbs effortlessly.
Q: Do you live with non-vegans/have close non-vegans in your life? If so, how do you meet in the middle and find the best of both worlds?
At this point I’ve converted pretty much everyone in my life. My husband, sister, and parents are all plant-based/vegan now. My best friend is 90% vegan, and has been vegetarian for years. He also ‘converted’ his sister. My in laws are all predominately vegan, nearly all my friends are vegan or at least vegetarian. I have a hard time thinking of anyone who isn’t. I’m a big believer in leading by example.
Before everyone was on the veggie train it was about mutual respect and leaving food politics out of our friendships.