Wednesday, December 10, 2014

10 Questions: Vegan Rockstar Edition with Mayim Bialik

I don’t know MayimBialik in person and I am not even all that familiar with her contributions to popular culture because, apparently, I live under a rock but still, still I know she is fabulous. Hordes of ‘90s kids grew up with Mayim as the floppy-hatted title character and star of Blossom, and, more recently, are enjoying her as the ascerbic Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory (hey, I did a little research) but in addition to these two cultural landmarks, she earned a PhD in neuroscience (as one does), had a couple of babies, went vegan, wrote a popular cookbook
, and generally made the rest of us feel like a bunch of low-life slackers. It would almost make you resent Mayim if she weren’t so busy actively making the world a better place.

My sense is that Mayim is that friend who levels with you, isn’t too proud to be silly and inspires you to be your best. Oh, and she’ll make you a killer bowl of vegan matzo ball soup that will melt all your troubles away, too. Mayim is that friend we could all use more of in the world. I am so delighted for her willingness to talk, the technologies that allowed us to connect and her confidence about sharing her gifts with the world. Thanks for all you do, Mayim!

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 was the kind of young person who loved animals and always felt conflict about eating them. It wasn't until I got to college, though, that I was able to act on these feelings and become a vegetarian. It's hard to imagine but in the ‘80s and ‘90s, there were very few options for vegetarianism, so it was not at all easy to eat vegetarian. I cut out pretty much all dairy in college after repeated sinus infections and have not had a sinus infection since. Many people clearly have a dairy allergy but we walk around thinking it's normal to have those kind of sicknesses and symptoms. After my first son was born, he was sensitive to any dairy through breastmilk, so I cut it out completely and cut out all eggs after my second son was born. I have, therefore, been completely vegan just over seven years.

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?

I think the health benefits and the impact on the environment are important things that complement very nicely with a desire not to harm animals. When I read the Jonathan Safran Foer book, Eating Animals, that was what struck me the most: that your health and the environment are as affected by eating animals as the animals are.

3. What have you found to be the most effective way to communicate your message as a vegan? For example, humor, passion, images, etc.?

Humor and straightforwardness combined together. There is no need to try and sugarcoat the realities of the world we live in. And there is nothing wrong with people being uncomfortable with the choices they have made. My intention is never to make people uncomfortable, but sometimes speaking simply and bluntly is enough to show people the reality of their situation.

4. What do you think are the biggest strengths of the vegan movement?

The expansion of restaurant choices has been tremendous. The addition of veggie and vegan options into school lunches and even chain restaurants has also been tremendous.

5. What do you think are our biggest hindrances to getting the word out effectively?

I think a lot of organizations use gory or graphic imagery, which sometimes turns people off. Also, plain old apathy is still an issue.

6. All of us need a "why vegan" elevator pitch. We'd love to hear yours.

It costs more to store the animals for feeding them to people than it would be to give food away. The environment is damaged by how much meat we have to eat to keep up with the supply. And most people simply don't know what real nutrition is. The government and Dairy & Meat Lobby are basically controlling what we eat in America. Those are my main points.

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?

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, PETA, the Humane Society, the documentary, "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead," the documentary "The Future of Food,"and the documentary "Food, Inc."

8. Burn-out is so common among vegans: what do you do to unwind, recharge and inspire yourself?

Getting back to basic foods and healthy foods always makes me feel better, as opposed to so much of the fun vegan food I sometimes eat too much of.

9. What is the issue nearest and dearest to your heart that you would like others to know more about?

Veganism is pretty high on that list so you guys are helping me do that.

10. Please finish this sentence: "To me, being vegan is..."

To me, being vegan is a way of making the world better, one meal at a time.

Thank you, Mayim!


  1. The reason is not justice, cruelty or compassion?

  2. Smart person. Good tips.


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