Miami just hosted SEED, the nation’s first large-scale plant-based festival and vegan queen Alicia Silverstone was there to conduct seminars on leading a healthy lifestyle. A far cry from her ‘90s reputation as the star of Clueless, Silverstone has built a unique lifestyle brand around The Kind Life, with two best-selling guidebooks and a website dedicated to avoiding animal products and being nice to the environment. While her lifestyle has been dismissed as extreme (see: chewing food for a baby), there is certainly a good message in treading lightly on the planet. Here, Silverstone shares some of her latest nuggets on health.
I think it’s great that people are coming out with alternatives to animal products--there are so many amazing ones! I love things like Heidi Ho Chevre, Field Roast Sausages, Vegenaise, and Earth Balance Butter—which are mind-blowingly yum—but I personally like to keep my diet as close to the earth as possible. So while these options are tasty—and so much better than animal foods—they are not part of my regular diet.
What's one food you wish came in vegan that currently doesn't?
It’s not so much about things being vegan as it is wishing things like sugar didn’t make me feel like sh*t so I could eat it all the time, or being able to eat chocolate without being up all night!
What's a good transitional vegetarian food?
I recommend trying dishes that scratch all the big itches—meaty, fatty, cheesy, chocolaty—without the junky preservatives and flavorings that packaged food has. Some suggestions from my books The Kind Diet and The Kind Mama: fat fried noodles, veg sausage & sweet potato hash, cheezy oozy guacamole dip, radicchio pizza drizzle in truffle oil, chocolate dunked coconut delights, and crispy peanut butter treats with chocolate chips.
Have you seen attitudes towards vegans change since you adopted the lifestyle?
Definitely! People are starting to realize that it’s not just a fad. Bill Clinton saved his life by adopting a plant-based diet! There has always been scientific and medically backed research supporting this way of life, but over the past decade, it’s been brought to the forefront by books like The Kind Diet and documentaries like Forks Over Knives. I feel like it is becoming more common in our culture too, with fun and trendy plant-based restaurants popping up all over the country and even in airports. The great thing about some of these restaurants is that most of the people who choose to eat there aren’t even vegan, they just know it tastes delicious and leaves them feeling good.
© Amy Neunsinger
What's your favorite boozy drink?
I am not a big drinker, but if I’m feeling a little frisky I’ll go for a healthier option like cold organic sake or a high-quality organic beer like the ones from Samuel Smith Brewery. But if I’m getting festive at a party I might have a glass of tequila on the rocks, and every once in a blue moon, a Blood Mary sounds really good.
Do you ever have slip ups? Miss your old lifestyle? If so, how do you deal?
I don’t miss my old lifestyle one bit. It’s like I’ve found this magical secret—except it’s no secret. That keeps me feeling both nourished and satisfied. If I ever feel like being rebellious, there’s always some recipe I can whip up or a restaurant I can go to, and I can scratch the itch and still feel good. However, I do slip up occasionally…I’m human! We’re not talking steak or milkshakes, but yes, sometimes the naughtiness wins out. It’s actually a good reminder that these “great” foods you think you miss aren’t actually that great—and that you could have definitely made something that was just as delicious. But it’s also not about perfection. It’s about making the best possible choices as often as you can.
What was the biggest surprise when you adopted your plant-based lifestyle?
I adopted this diet for the animals, but the biggest surprise was how amazing I felt! I ditched my asthma inhaler, stopped my weekly allergy shots, lost weight, and had a new glow from my skin and hair. I felt incredible from having more energy and balanced out moods. This way of eating transformed me. Since then I have not needed caffeine, aspirin, or antibiotics. My body healed itself by being plant-based.
You faced some scrutiny for feeding Bear using a method called premastacation, but responded saying it was a natural way of feeding. How did you come across this?
It was in the moment and I was following my instincts. He couldn’t chew yet but he was trying to get the food out of my mouth—it was both sweet and hilarious. It wasn’t something we practiced all the time, only when it naturally occurred. I later realized that this was how mamas introduced food before blenders were invented. It’s been going on since the beginning of time, and there are studies demonstrating that it creates a stronger immune system for your little one. A recent study published in the journal Pediatrics reported that infants whose parents sucked on their pacifiers to clean them developed fewer allergies than children whose parents rinsed and boiled them.
What would you do if Bear decided to adopt an animal-based diet when he gets a little older?
We are giving Bear the best possible foundation of choosing foods that help him thrive and be the healthiest he can be—and plant-based foods are delicious, so I can’t imagine that happening. And once he unknowingly took a bite of fish off another person’s plate, and he didn’t like it. But, if he were curious about eating meat, then I think he’d need to understand what it means to eat animals, where our meat comes from. Meat, after all, doesn’t just come from a store. That’s not the full story. This illusion is actually a big problem in our society. When we don’t know the real source of our food, we ignore the impacts of our choices—whether it’s our health, the treatment of animals, or the impact on the environment.
What is the best part about eating plants?
They are delicious and full of life! The health benefits are immense physically, mentally, and spiritually—softening your heart and spirit. I love that when I eat plants, I’m helping reduce the suffering of animals and our planet.
What's always in your fridge or pantry?
Brown rice, dried beans, toasted nori sheets, miso paste, umeboshi plums, ume vinegar, lemons, 18-year aged balsamic vinegar, flax oil, olive oil, tahini butter, mochi, and scallions.