Amber Nash, of Archer, Is Now Vegan: “Find the Version that Works for You
Amber Nash is known for playing the voice of Pam Poovey, one of the main characters on the animated adult comedy show Archer on FXX that is in its 11th season. As Pam she has been through a lot over the years (cocaine addiction and recovery, for one thing) and as of late, the character has become a fan favorite.
Archer has a cult-like following, and even its stars say, "don't watch this show with your kids" but it has also garnered rave reviews from mainstream critics and won major awards, including two Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Animated Program and a Critics Choice Award for Best Animated Series. Nash’s character was referred to as “the real hero of Archer” by BuzzFeed. You can watch the trailer here.
The character Pam is a former spy with a large Angel of Death tattoo, but in real life, Nash lives a quiet existence in Atlanta with her husband and volunteers at Project Chimps, a 236-acre sanctuary in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia, where the chimps rescued from research labs get to live out "their happy chimp lives," says Nash. Meanwhile, she loves cooking fully vegan food at home, including Asian-inspired foods like Congee, a rice porridge with vegetables. Nash helps to raise money and work for the chimp sanctuary, which was one of her main motivations for going from pescatarian of twenty years to full-on vegan last winter since all they serve at the sanctuary is vegan food. We caught up with her driving home from the sanctuary in Morganton, Georgia to Atlanta.
The Beet: So you are now vegan, in Atlanta, which is a hotspot for vegan food!
Nash: "It's true! There has been a huge explosion of vegan restaurants near me, just since the pandemic happened.
"I had been a pescatarian for 20 years. But this year in February, I decided to go fully vegan. I wasn't sure how long I wanted to do it, but I was really enjoying it because it made me be creative again in the kitchen. I had to be more mindful of what I was cooking. Then the pandemic hit and there was so much going on about meat and COVID, and it's so directly related to abusing and using animals. It was just too much. So I just had to stay vegan. I am on the board of Project Chimps, a chimp sanctuary, and all of their operations are fully vegan, so it was just time.
The Beet: Your show Archer is such a cult favorite. Are you off from production now?
Nash: "We Finished up right at the beginning of the pandemic. Wrapped up. So we were always scheduled to be on our hiatus anyway this time of year. I do voice work so that means I don't spend all day on set. I go in and I'm there for about an hour or so, and then go home. So they don't need to worry about feeding me, and I always bring my own food anyway, so being vegan on set was never an issue for me."
The Beet: What do you eat on a typical day? What do you eat for breakfast?
Nash: "Breakfast is a lot of oatmeal lately and I am a smoothie person.
"I usually make a smoothie. I like two kinds. One is all fruit and fruit juice. Or I'll do oat milk with banana and cocoa powder, and a little vanilla extra and peanut butter. It's delicious.
"For Lunch? Usually, if I am going to have a breakfast-type meal I will do it at lunch. But usually, I'll just eat two meals a day. I love tofu tacos! I love beans and rice. And I really got into JUST Egg recently and I have been making JUST Egg Foo Young with it... Or I will make a quiche...JUST Egg is amazing. It does really well in recipes and is just like an egg--when you bake with it. I was worried before I tried it, but it did turn out perfectly.
"For Dinner: My husband grew up eating a lot of Chinese food since his stepmother is Chinese, and one of the things we have been making a lot of is Congee, which is like a savory rice porridge. One-pot of Congee will feed you forever. For one cup of rice and cups of water, you make a big pot and add anything. I add edamame and tofu and it's the most delicious meal.
My husband and I met doing improv and he is Canadian and moved here to be the artistic director of the theater I was performing at, Dad's Garage Theater, and now he's more of a producer and writer. He isn't plant-based but he's been really good about trying to find recipes for me to eat. And restaurants for us to try. So that's super fun."
The Beet: What advice would you give to someone starting out their plant-based journey?
Nash: My advice would you give to someone starting out: In the beginning, it's so daunting to people who think "I am not going to have anything to eat." But I'd say, just find a vegan restaurant or go find one of your favorite foods that is vegan, and it will show you that you can find vegan food that is delicious. Or think of the things you want to eat that are meat-based and figure out ways you can make it vegan. That has been really fun for me. Go buy Impossible Burger. It's a good way to get meat-eaters to try it.
What I am most proud of was the moment I was really craving some junky hamburger helper (Amber adds Kite Hill Vegan Sour Cream to give the dish a creamy texture) and I thought, maybe I can find it in the box and substitute meat? But when I looked at the box, it turns out that everything has dairy. What I wanted was a Beef Stroganoff taste, so I decided to make it myself and I googled this recipe and it was creamy and hearty with mushrooms and I made a huge amount... but vegan and my friends were amazed by how delicious it was. I basically made the gravy with vegetable stock and oat milk and then added the mushrooms and the Impossible meat and the noodles... and it was incredibly delicious. So now I am sticking with it for sure."
The Beet: What would you say to people who may not want to go fully vegan?
Nash: Another great thing about going vegan, or plant-based, is that you can find your own level that works for you. It is a spectrum, so it's not the end of the world if one day you have cheese. Just find the version of plant-based eating that works for you. If that is 98 percent vegan, then that's great, and if it's fully vegan, or not, that is up to you. If you adopt the lifestyle–even partly–it's better for the planet and animals. The more plant-based we all eat, the less suffering there will be for the Earth and for animals. And it's better for you.
"Every little bit helps. and perfectionism is not attainable in any part of life so just know that you are doing the best that you can..."
The Beet: That sounds like a mantra... Do you have a mantra?
Nash: "If I had to come up with one, it's" Don't be an asshole. It goes for people you work with or all the people around you, and it works for how we treat the beings on the planet ...and the planet itself. So my mantra would be: Just be a good person."