Photo: Jennifer Martiné
The vegetable-loving chef—look for his new book, The Inspired Vegan, this month—talks about growing up in Memphis, his mean collard greens, and the perks of meditation.
1. Your values should drive what you eat.
People argue about which diet is best—a vegan diet, a raw-foods diet—but instead of getting hung up on labels, I ask myself: "What kind of world do I want to see? How do I want animals—and the environment—to be treated?" My answers determine what I pass up.
2. Art is a powerful consciousness-raiser.
In high school, I heard a song called "Beef" by the hip-hop group Boogie Down Productions. It was an articulate discussion of factory farming, and it helped me connect viscerally with what was happening. That song led me to change my eating habits.
3. Herbivores are a more diverse bunch than you'd think.
Growing up in Memphis, I was fortunate to find a small community of straight-edge punks, African-American elders, and Rastafarians that embraced veganism for religious or health reasons. There's this perception that plant-based diets are for privileged white people, but that hasn't been my experience.
4. The way to people's minds is through their stomachs.
I used to be a dogmatic jerk, yelling at my parents about how what they ate was wrong. Now when I go home for family gatherings, I just put some delicious vegan dishes like citrus collards with raisins on the table, without announcing it. Inevitably, they spark a conversation.
5. Starting your day right makes a difference.
I try to meditate when I wake up, even if it's just for five minutes. I think taking that time aligns me with some natural rhythm in the universe. Everything just flows better.
Published on January 20, 2012
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