Have you ever had one of those moments where you wanted to scream (from the mountaintops as loud as you possibly could) with excitement? Today is one of those days! Let’s just say I am having one of those Sound of Music/”The Hills Are Alive” moments. Why? Because today I welcome one of my personal vegan heroes, Victoria Moran, to Cowgirls & Collard Greens for the very first time!
Victoria is a longstanding plant based eater, an advocate for the animals, an author of twelve outstanding books and perhaps the best public speaker I have ever heard. Victoria answers a few of my questions about her brand new book, The Good Karma Diet: Eat Gently, Feel Amazing, Age in Slow Motion, which released last week on May 19, 2015 (be sure to check out Chapter 13 where I share my very own good karma story!). It is a true honor and privilege to share this space with Victoria.
Let’s get started with the interview…
Cowgirls &Collard Greens: First off, congratulations on your new book, THE GOOD KARMA DIET: Eat Gently, Feel Amazing, Age in Slow Motion and thanks so much for being a part of Cowgirls & Collard Greens Victoria! I must admit that I have a great deal of excitement about this book and that’s because you so graciously let me share an essay in it. Thank you so much for allowing me to be a small part of this wonderful new book! Now on to the questions…
With so many vegan books popping up right and left these days, I’m curious what gave you the idea for this book and what motivated you to write it?
Victoria Moran: I came up with the title quite a while ago – back in 2008, actually, when I wanted to do a book about eating more fresh, raw foods. At the time, though, I was working on Living a Charmed Life (the 10th anniversary sequel to the biggest book of my career, Creating a Charmed Life), and I was also revising and updating The Love-Powered Diet, my book about overcoming food addiction, for its 2009 re-release. About eighteen months after those two books launched, the idea for Main Street Vegan was given to me (I say “given” because that’s how it felt – pure inspiration) and that created my ‘brand’ and everything my life has revolved around since its publication three years ago.
The publisher wanted another vegan book from me and I wanted to write one, but I was unsure of the angle. My agent remembered The Good Karma Diet idea and that started things, this idea of good karma coming nutritionally from clean, colorful foods, and spiritually and practically from saving lives and mitigating suffering.
C&CG: What’s different about The Good Karma Diet than, say, other vegan books available? In other words, why should vegans and non-vegans read the book?
VM: Non-vegans can read it as one more nudge to get them vegan, or closer to that point, and vegans who want to up their game a bit in terms of health and vitality will enjoy it a lot. I feel that its 25 chapters offer something for everyone. The basics are there for new people, but I also include a chapter on vegetarian/vegan history which will probably be of more interest to people who are already ‘in the fold,’ so to speak.
The dietary leaning of this book is high-fresh, high-raw, high-color. In Main Street Vegan, I wanted to open the door very widely, to say to everybody, ‘Come on in – wherever you are with your dietary preferences: it will only take a few tweaks to get you vegan and you’ll be glad you did it.’ That’s still true. I’ve also observed for more than three decades, however, that those vegans who favor fresh foods, who eat a lot of raw food, the ones who grow sprouts and drink fresh vegetable juices every day, have a level of vitality that is astonishing, especially in their later years. I’m still happy for people who want to just be vegan – I wish everybody wanted that much anyway – but for those who are willing to go a bit brighter and greener in their food choices, and to exercise, and meditate, and breathe deeply, and get the toxins out their cupboards and closets and thought processes … Well, for them, the sky’s the limit.
C&CG: I particularly love that you’ve cleverly woven many personal “good karma” stories throughout the book. How did you find the stories and were they submitted by your personal friends?
VM: I put out a call on Facebook. Because I didn’t know the difference between ‘friend’ pages and business pages when I joined Facebook, I have 5000 ‘friends,’ most of whom I don’t know in the real world at all. Of the seventeen people whose stories were chosen some are friends (a few of those are graduates of the Main Street Vegan Academy program), others acquaintances, and still others – until they sent me their stories – were strangers.
I love the mix of stories – males, females, different walks of life, different reasons for going vegan, an age range from 20s to 60s. And also, the “good karma” isn’t what you’d expect. Certainly, people who lost weight or lowered their cholesterol shared their stories, but there’s also a novelist who got over writer’s block, a New York City book editor who found her perfect California life, a young woman who was finally able to fall in love. There are stories of two cancer thrivers in the book – yours, Kayle, and that of Russell Elleven, a Unitarian clergyman (http://www.ministerofhealth.org). Neither story is, ‘I got cancer, I went vegan, I was miraculously cured.’ Life is seldom that simple, and veganism isn’t a panacea, but it is an incredible way to live, and all the stories reflect that.
C&CG: You cover a lot of ground in this book from the different approaches to veganism to the science behind it, to fashion to fitness as well as recipes. If you could choose, which chapter of the book would you say is your favorite, most fun to write or most important for readers to understand?
VM: Oh, gosh, you’re making me choose . . . Well, I like ‘Pummeling Perfection’ a lot because as much as I believe in eating healthfully, I think we can go overboard and forget that sometimes we need to just eat what’s there, provided it’s vegan, and get on with life. Another one I’m proud of is called ‘But Everybody Says Something Different’ about the dizzying array of dietary philosophies hyped in the media. People are so confused, and I really don’t think it has to be that complicated. But my very favorite chapter is the one called ‘Animal Stories’ in which I tell the tale of my childhood dog, Nell. When I was in first grade, I went to a fancy private school, but my family didn’t have ‘old money’ or the social connections of the other kids. Nell was a 16-year-old mixed breed and I entered her in the school’s dog show, in the company of highly bred, Westminster-type dogs. I learned that day a great deal about self-acceptance and what really matters, and I learned those lesson from my very ordinary, and very magnificent, dog. Almost everybody has ‘animal stories’ about a pet, but few of us get the chance to share these experiences with the equally wise and wonderful animals most people eat. If we had the chance, we’d have the experiences.
C&CG: With twelve books under your belt, should we expect more veg-themed books from you in the future?
VM: Yes, as a matter of fact! The book I’ve already started to put together is a collaboration with blogger, cookbook author, and Main Street Vegan Academy alumna JL Fields. Our working title is Coach Yourself Vegan: The Official Main Street Vegan Academy Cookbook & Lifestyle Guide. It will feature recipes, tips, and strategies from lots of Academy-certified vegan coaches and educators, as well as our luminous faculty. In this way, its content will be multi-generational, multi-cultural, and multi-national (we’ve had students from eleven countries so far), plus the friendly and supportive voices of JL and me providing continuity and humor. JL and I will both be at the Colorado VegFest in June, and we can do some serious collaborating on the book proposal. The world has become so digital and virtual, but there’s nothing like being in a room with another enthusiastic person to put the creative process into overdrive.
A huge thanks goes out to Victoria for her time in answering my questions and an even bigger congrats on her new book! Additionally, I’d like to add that Victoria spoke about The Good Karma Diet on Main Street Vegan, her weekly Unity Radio show last week. Ironically, she had me on as a guest!