Yay for Eric C. Lindstrom! A talented designer and President of ThankTank Creative as well as the new Marketing Director of FARM, Eric is responsible for helping to position so many vegan businesses and non-profits for success with beautiful, smart logos and communications. As an author with a popular new book, The Skeptical Vegan, Eric deconstructs how a self-described former carnivore could – and why he would – go vegan, painlessly and willingly, with joy and even enthusiasm. I am so excited for Eric’s book, which can reach people in a way that many vegan advocacy publications cannot by showing readers that at one point this vegan champion was just like them.
With a disarming and self-deprecating humor buttressed by his unflagging honesty, The Skeptical Vegan gives people a real lens into what a vegan transformation can look like – how deeply and richly it manifests in our personal lives as well as how making simple changes to our mindsets and our kitchens can net significantly positive results –and, more important, gives readers access to helpful resources and insights that can remove barriers to veganism. I can’t recommend it enough. Plus, I was fortunate enough to meet Eric in person at the most recent Animal Rights Conference when we were on a panel together and he’s just a great guy all around: talented but down-to-earth, generous, warm, smart and really tuned into the what is happening in the world, Eric is just the bee’s knees. I am honored to be able to shine a spotlight on Eric C. Lindstrom as this week’s Vegan Rockstar.
1. First of all, we’d love to hear your “vegan evolution” story. How did you start out? Did you have any early influences or experiences as a young person that in retrospect helped to pave your path?
I’ve been telling people that my vegan story is the blog that inspired the bet that inspired the book, The Skeptical Vegan. While the early days of veganism were started from a challenge set forth by my wife that soon became the “bet I refuse to lose,” I’d have to say the people along the way who I met were really what inspired me to stick to it. Having support, and a support system, made it possible for me to go, and stay, vegan.
When you’re a new vegan and you get to have lunch with Dr. Greger, or work closely with Miyoko Schinner, or brunch with Steve-O, going vegan seems like a very cool club to belong to. Without these early influences, I don’t know if I would be where I am today.
2. Imagine that you are pre-vegan again: how could someone have talked to you and what could they have said or shown you that could have been the most effective way to have a positive influence on you moving toward veganism?
There was no talking to me back then. Back when I ate animals, I wouldn’t listen. The first vegan who said to me, after finding out I ate 68 chicken wings in one sitting, “so, you support animal cruelty?” I thought she was crazy (still do, kind of). I didn’t support animal cruelty, I loved chicken wings. Year later, I’m that crazy person and I know now where she was coming from. Maybe in some ways her words helped me see the light but at the time I wasn’t having any of it. The “old me” wouldn’t listen and this is the challenge. I’m not sure there is one way to approach this since every person is in a different place when it comes to their own choices.
3. What have you found to be the most effective way to communicate your message as a vegan? For example, humor, passion, images, etc.?
I’ve been known for my snark. Great white snark. It’s been my sense of humor that has opened the doors for a lot of people to walk into veganism. They can see that there is an actual “life” as a vegan. The stereotypes are no longer true. Promote the vegan message with a sense of humor and approachability and I think we’ll all succeed.
4. What do you think are the biggest strengths of the vegan movement?
Power in numbers. Having just returned from the Animals Rights National Conference, it’s inspiring to see so many (and I mean thousands) people behind this movement. Getting to hear a talk by Nathan Runkle makes me confident we are going to win. For the animals. There are so many amazing people, and now amazingly generous philanthropists, making sure the next generation, and the one after that, doesn’t have to pay for our past when it comes to the treatment of animals.
5. What do you think are our biggest hindrances to getting the word out effectively?
The biggest challenge facing the vegan movement are the “fly-over states.” Everywhere between New York City and Los Angeles. The coasts are covered and some interior cities like Austin, Minneapolis, Chicago, and Boulder know what’s going on; but there are so many golden buckles on the corn belt that still live off of butter and beef. Just when we think we are making strides, we get data that pork consumption is on the rise. From where I sit, literally in hippy Ithaca New York, this seems impossible. But it’s not.
6. All of us need a “why vegan” elevator pitch. We’d love to hear yours.
“Animals are not food.” This is all I ever have to say. There is no counter-argument to this in my mind. Some friends I have who are recent vegans always ask me how to respond to omnivores as to why they are now vegan. This is all I tell them: Animals. Are. Not. Food.
7. Who are the people and what are the books, films, websites and organizations that have had the greatest influence on your veganism and your continuing evolution?
I mention in The Skeptical Vegan some of the earliest influencers in my vegan journey. From Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s 30-Day Vegan Challenge to Joe the Juicer’s Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, most of my influence came from a health perspective. I’ve been fortunate to have T. Colin Campbell as a personal friend and he has helped and inspired me in so many ways. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention Steve-O. Meeting him just as I was about to go vegan had a positive impact on me as I realized that anyone, at any age, can make radical life changes.
8. Burn-out is so common among vegans: what do you do to unwind, recharge and inspire yourself?
I continue writing. Just as The Skeptical Vegan hit the shelves nationwide, I started working on my next book, Mind Your Peas and Cukes: A Guide to Raising Vegan Kids. While writing may seem like work, it’s actually a respite from the rest of my hectic life and when the words all come together and make sense, it’s very fulfilling. Other than this, I spend the majority of my time chasing around our two vegan toddlers.
9. What is the issue nearest and dearest to your heart that you would like others to know more about?
I, like so many other vegans, have had it with the terms “humane meat” or “free range” in regard to omnivores food choices and their arguments for continuing to eat meat, dairy, and eggs. Some of the less-than-kind reviews of my book have been readers complaining that it seems as though I want them to stop eating animals entirely. Which I do. Since animals are not food.
10. Please finish this sentence: “To me, being vegan is...”
… the right thing to do. For your own health, the health of the planet, and for the animals.