This week I welcome friend, fellow vegan and fellow vegan blogger Eric Lindstrom to my monthly interview series. Thanks to social media, Eric and I became quick “friends” a few years ago and then later had the opportunity to meet in person (back in 2015 at Natural Products Expo West) during his brief visit to Southern California.
Eric is just as funny in person as he is over the internet and now you too can experience his witty humor in his new survival guide style book, The Skeptical Vegan. Today Eric is here to share a bit about his life, his book as well as his story of how he, a middle aged man, went vegan all because of a bet he made with his wife. Find out how this self-proclaimed “meaty” eater went vegan, stayed vegan and how he’s raising a vegan family, working a vegan job as well as spreading the compassionate message in just about everything he does. Welcome Eric!
Cowgirls & Collard Greens: I like to start by asking all of my guests to share their vegan story. Why and when did you become vegan?
Eric: My personal vegan story became the blog based on the bet that eventually became the book, “The Skeptical Vegan.” Coming up on seven years, I was then the most unlikely candidate for going vegan but a challenge by my wife that led to a bet and here I am; an ethical vegan. My meat-eating prowess was legendary so the idea of going vegan was completely foreign to me. The challenge to change my diet, and lifestyle, for just 30 days led to the bet I refuse to lose.
C&CG: With veganism gaining immense popularity in recent years, there is a lot of information available including a surge in vegan books. What gave you the idea to write your own? What sets your book apart from other vegan books?
Eric: My publisher found my blog (MeatyVegan.com). They were looking for a combination of “Main Street Vegan” (Victoria Moran) and “Thug Kitchen.” A “man’s guide to going vegan.” An internet search led them to me and I proposed the concept of the book and they accepted. Took about a year to write and publish the book inspired by much of the journaling and satire from my existing blog.
This book is different since I think it not only proves a middle-aged man can go vegan overnight but it also provides a tool for vegans who are trying to coax their partner into going vegan. It’s funny and snarky and pokes as much fun at being vegans as vegans are already accustomed to.
C&CG: From following you on social media for years, I know that you enjoy cooking. Do you have any formal culinary training? What was it like going into the kitchen after deciding you were going to go vegan?
Eric: I was lucky to be mentored by some pretty great chefs from leading hotels to Cornell University. These chefs gave me the confidence in the kitchen to take was was inherently in me, being raised by my Italian mom and Nana, an approach to cooking that helped make it possible for me to convert all my omnivore recipes into tasty vegan recipes. It was very frustrating in the beginning since I kept looking for that “central” plating element which had always been meat but after a year of trial and error, I succeeded in becoming a pretty amazing vegan cook. Come over any time!
C&CG: You live in Ithaca, New York. What’s the vegan scene like out there? Do you have a vegan community? Are there any vegan restaurants in your area?
Eric: There is a huge, and very supportive, vegan community in Ithaca. I hear other vegans talking about how they don’t know any other vegans in real life and we’re fortunate enough to know almost 30! We’ve hosted a compassionate holiday each year and this number continues to grow. Ithaca is filled with vegans! Meanwhile… there is only one vegan cafe and it just opened last year.
If someone wants to finance my venture, I’d love to open “The Meaty Vegan Bar and Grill” and offer incredibly meaty vegan foods to the hungry masses!
C&CG: I understand that you also have a “vegan job”. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Eric: After the blog took off, I decided to take my years of marketing experience and open a vegan/socially-just design and marketing firm. ThankTank Creative handled many high-profile accounts in the vegan business community for years and laid the foundation for my current role as Director of Marketing for Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM). I feel fortunate that each day I come into the office knowing I have one goal: saving animals.
C&CG: You are married and raising a family. What’s it like raising two young vegan kids? Do you get a lot of pushback from non-vegans who maybe don’t understand your lifestyle choices?
Eric: “The Skeptical Vegan” opened the door to my next book “Mind Your Peas and Cukes: A Guide to Raising Vegan Kids.” We have two under four who have been vegan since birth and it’s fascinating, and inspiring, to see how they’ve taken on the roles of young activists. They know animals aren’t food and are the only kids in their class who willingly eat all their veggies.
C&CG: What would you say is the most challenging thing about being vegan?
Eric: The most challenging thing about being vegan? Staying vegan. The media and outside forces are very strong to draw you back into your old ways. It’s a slippery slope sometimes when you think to yourself “it’s just eggs … or milk … or cheese …” as an ingredient. Once you start you can easily start making excuses to continue. Commit to it. Give it time. Start with 30 days, Make a bet with someone. You can do it.
C&CG: Outside of sharing plant based meals, cooking and writing, what other passions and hobbies do you have?
Eric: Obviously, I’ve been writing a lot lately. I also enjoy photography and long walks on the beach. Of course, I haven’t had a vacation in almost four years so the “long walk on the beach” is actually hikes through Ithaca’s gorges. Still nice.
C&CG: Do you have any advice for folks who are interested in going vegan?
Eric: Contact me! Find me! Buy my book! All of the above. I want to become that resource for anyone interesting in going vegan. I know just enough to be just dangerous enough to inspire people to try it out. Start with delicious food (junk food it a great starting point) and show how their choices on their plate, their clothing, their activities and hobbies can save animals.
C&CG: What motivates you to stay vegan?
Eric: Saving Animals. I went vegan for health reasons and my journey took me to ethical reasons. Animals are not food and everyday I try to let as many people as possible know this. I used to think that one person doesn’t make a difference but then I think about that one drop in the ocean that becomes a wave on the shore. You can make a difference for your own health, the environment, and the animals.
Eric C. Lindstrom is the editor of the Meaty Vegan blog, which features vegan opinion, recipes, and cutting-edge satire, and the founder of the vegan design and marketing firm ThankTank Creative. Today, he thrives on plant-based foods along with his vegan wife, vegan dog, and two vegan babies in Ithaca, New York. You can find Eric via his website The Skeptical Vegan, and on social media on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.