Michael has been appearing in TV and film since his first role in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants films. Recently he played Micah in the CW series Emily Owens MD, Special Agent Chris Jameson on CBS action drama Intelligence and can currently be seen on CW’s new hit show Jane the Virgin. An avid surfer and wood working enthusiast Michael graduated from Temple University’s Theater program in his hometown of Philadelphia, PA and he now resides with his wife and two children in Southern California.
1. How long have you been plant-strong?
I’ve been plant strong since April 2007, just over 8 years. wow.
2. What kind of meal really turns you on?
Italian. My mother predominantly cooked Italian growing up. I’ve been to Italy many times, studied there, lived there, it’s one of my favorite places on earth. So if you set a table with a big bowl of penne al’arrabbiata and a bottle of red wine I’d be a very happy man. Maybe some grilled porcini mushrooms if you really felt like you had something to prove…
3. Name one condiment you can’t live without: uuuuummmmm Chocolate. Is chocolate a condiment? I guess in some ice cream parlors it’s considered a condiment…chocolate. Final answer.
4. What do you love about your kitchen?
I love our dry bulk cabinet. It’s three shelves of mason jars filled with all of our dried bulk goods: hemp/chia/sunflower/sesame/sunflower seeds, cacao nibs, maca, rice, quinoa, many legumes, goji berries, mulberries, currants, figs, grains…the list goes on. And they are all right above the counter where sits our Vitamix. I look like a mad scientist or an apothecary when I make smoothies (which i do a LOT).
5. When did your plant-strong “ah-ha” moment come?
One of my wife’s favorite Oprah aphorisms is “if you know better, do better.” It’s a maxim we now use to shape our family, our choices, our lives. It was that thinking that set us on our vegan quest 8 years ago after reading some books (The China Study by Dr. Colin Campbell -his recent follow-up Whole deserves mention here as well, what a book!- Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Dr. Caldwell Essylstyn. In the days and weeks following our cold-tofurkey shift to plant based I felt terrific and so naturally I wanted to know even MORE about this lifestyle so I could “do Better”. Brendan Brazier’s book Thrive, Rip Essylstyn’s Engine 2 and so many others along with my implementation of and experimentation with the ideas I was stirring up all served to help me bust out of the standard paradigm of eating and ‘healthy’ eating that have been hammered into our culture for way too long and challenged me to live in a way that demonstrates my core values of compassion and empathy on a daily basis. As well as reminding me that my job as a steward of this planet doesn’t rest while I sit down at my table to eat. Not only can we heal our bodies with our food choices but we can heal our planet as well. My quest to know better also challenged me not to just eat “vegan” but to always strive for eating WHOLE-FOOD plant-based. Though I often fall short of that ideal it’s always there to guide my food choices.
So my “moment” was more of a large collection of moments, over many years, as I was seeking out information, applying that information to my lifestyle, assessing the result of that application and embracing the respect, reverence and awe for our planet and all its beings that naturally grew from my desire to do better.
6. If stranded on a deserted island, what one food and beverage would you have with you? Now since you didn’t specify ‘tropical’ deserted island and this hypothetical could very well land me on some dreadful frozen arctic-circle island where coconut palms are not a likelihood, I’m gonna show prudence by wishing for fresh coconut water (not the boxed stuff, PLEASE!) (and if this lonely island happens to be in more tropical climes and is abounding in coconut then, hey, it’s still a win.)
And the food … hmmmmm … pickled Flemish banana seeds. Actually, no, I change my answer, apple pie.
7. Who is the one person you’d like to see plant-strong and why?
My Parents. I so fully believe in the life giving, healing nature of the foods of the plant kingdom and I can easily imagine all of the beautiful effects a shift like that would have on them.
8. Curly or Lacinato?
Curly, cause I’m old school like that. And because I still feel bad that it had to play garnish on all of those buffet tables for so many years. Go change the world, curly Kale, you’re beautiful.