If You’re Thinking About Going Vegan, Kathy Freston Has 72 Reasons to Try It
You hear a lot about plant-based diets these days, as more and more people are leaning into eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts, and seeds for the sake of their health and the planet. For every question, like "Where do you get their protein?" Kathy Freston has answers. (It's easy, she will tell you, since you get it from the same place most animals get theirs: plants.) Freston has 72 reasons to go plant-based today, including the fact that it helps you lower your risk of diseases like cancer, and it's better for the planet and farmed animals. Her new book will help anyone considering making the switch to a vegan or plant-based diet figure out what to eat, how to do it, and spark them on to finally make the switch now.
If you're someone who already eats a lot of those healthy plant-based foods but has quite not given up all animal products like meat and dairy, this new book is directed at you. Written by Kathy Freston and Gene Stone, 72 Reasons to Be Vegan: Why Plant-Based. Why Now is the latest helpful how-to live-healthier book by Freston, who is the bestselling author, vegan advocate and wellness expert. Her timing is perfect, since coming off a year of health anxiety, Americans are trying to eat healthier and add more plant-based meals to their weekly diet, for immunity, energy, weight loss and to lower their risk of disease.
The Beet: Why should we go lant-based? Were you vegan growing up?
Kathy Freston: I grew up in the South, just a regular gal who ate everything with her friends and family and I loved to eat every kind of food: biscuits and steak and in my case, chicken fried steak and I never questioned it. I assumed this food that my mom fed me was healthy. If someone had told me that years later I was going to become a vegan activist I never would have believed it. First of all, I would have asked: What is a vegan activist? That sounds alien and weird!
I did not pop out of the womb vegan-ready or vegan-curious. Later, I started modeling and doing meditation and teaching meditation and I started writing about being awake in your relationships and conscious and more aware. And I realized there was one area where I was not awake or aware. And that was my food. I had this book by John Robbins called Diet for a New America and I would open it up and slam it shut and think I can't handle this right now.
The Beet: So that was the beginning for you? How did you start?
Kathy Freston: I was writing about “being conscious” in relationships and work life, talking about how to wake up and grow so that we could become “our best selves”. And then I had the inconvenient realization that I didn’t have too much awareness or consciousness around the food I ate. I thought, woman, you are a hypocrite if you don’t take a good look at where that food on your plate came from. You need to choose freely – rather than blindly – what to eat. So I started reading behind-the-scenes accounts of slaughterhouse workers and watching videos online of animals on the kill line. And I realized in a split second that I was living in a way that directly opposed my central value: kindness. So I nudged myself forward and leaned into becoming someone who only ate a non-animal diet. I took it easily and slowly, and over the course of a year or so, I learned a new way of grocery shopping and eating out. I experimented with new recipes and finally became fully (and happily) vegan. It was for the animals first and then came the awareness of my health and the environment.
The Beet: How did you feel? What happened to your body?
Kathy Freston: I thought I would end up dying an early death, it would shave a decade off my life, and I would have zero energy. But actually, the opposite happened. The first thing that happened is that my zits went away. I was one of those people who had bouts of zits around the lower part of my face (which was kind of embarrassing past the teenage years!) and after I went vegan my skin cleared up and started glowing. I’m guessing the acne went away because I stopped dairy, which is chock-full of hormones, and I got the glow because my circulation improved so much. Once you stop eating all that saturated fat from meat and dairy, your blood flow improves so it shows up on your skin.
And when I gave up croissants, all that butter, the saturated fat, all of my cellulite went away. and with it about 10 pounds. I never was overweight but I was always too big to do the fancy supermodel stuff. I did a lot of German catalogs, I was too big to do the supermodel stuff.
A lot of eople are lactoseintolerant.They have IBS and cramping ... and when they give u dairy the whole situation clears up.
The Beet: Did you have a health reason as well as ethical ones?
Kathy Freston: I was always carrying around 10 to 15 extra pounds, and even though I didn’t go vegan to lose weight, the flab came off. The cellulite went away after a few years, and in the 16 years I’ve been vegan, it hasn’t come back. I know it sounds cliché, but my God, the energy I have now totally rocks, compared to what I used to have. I was a slug when I was eating animal food, but now I feel like I’m powered up all day long from the food I eat!
The Beet: What was your biggest challenge? Was there anything you miss?
Kathy Freston: My biggest challenge was that I was the only one eating this way in my circle of friends and family, and sometimes it felt lonely like I was the pain-in-the-ass picky one of the group. (It’s very different now, because veganism is so popular). I got past it by inviting friends over for meals, which they ended up loving… so a few of them got interested in changing the way they ate, too. I met people at vegan restaurants so they could see it wasn’t just about salads. I socialized it in my little circle, and then it wasn’t a lonely experience anymore, but rather a fun exploration that I could share.
But that was 16 years ago, and now there are so many options and now there are so many options. Even since 5 years ago things have changed so much. The new generation is seeing what's happening ... and it does not sit well with them. So now there are all these young new entrepreneurs starting new businesses. So now there are so many more choices!
The Beet: What's your favorite snack … or treat?
Kathy Freston: I LOVE sourdough bread – the real kind that’s not made with yeast. I will toast it and eat it with vegan butter, or dip it into olive oil and salt. I put peanut butter and jam on it for brekky, and I’ll smash an avocado on it for a snack or part of lunch. It is my staple!
The Beet: What do you eat for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner on a normal day?
Kathy Freston: I have 2 or 3 cups of tea with oat or soy milk, and either nut butter toast or vegan yogurt (I like Kite Hill Greek, unsweetened) with chopped fruit and nuts. And pancakes on special occasions (like Sundays! ). I have some kind of “bowl” for lunch with a grain, bean (or grilled tofu), and chopped salad, usually with olive oil, lemon and salt. For dinner I tend to go for a hearty thick soup with beans and veggies. Or I’ll graze on snacks like hummus or vegan cheese (and there might be wine involved)!
The Beet: What advice would you have for somebody just starting out?
Kathy Freston: Well, Gene and I are hoping that our book 72 Reasons to Be Vegan will be an easy go-to book to get the process of going vegan started. Sometimes a person just needs to know “why” it’s a good idea to shift away from animal foods, and to see with their own eyes the science and data to support it. And then I’d say get on Instagram and find people you relate to, whether it’s a vegan chef or a plant-based doctor, or an author (!!!), and not only will you learn a lot, but you’ll find a really cool community of people who are curious and open-minded!
The Beet: Did you spark someone else to do it? Why did you write your book?
Kathy Freston: I hope so! It’s my life’s work to provide a little spark about veganism, so I try to write in a way that would have appealed to me when I was finding my way – no guilt, no “shoulds”, just good information shared with warmth and kindness!
The Beet: Do you have a mantra?
Kathy Freston: Oh yes! Progress, not perfection. That’s all we can do, my friend – just do the best that we can….
You can buy 72 Reasons to Be Vegan from amazon or wherever you like to buy your books.