Today The College Greens talk to Lindsay Nixon from Happy Herbivore! Be sure to leave a comment and tell us your favorite Happy Herbivore recipe for a chance to win a month of Happy Herbivore meal plans!
1. What was your inspiration/motivation to go plant-based?
I grew up a vegetarian out of a love for animals. When I was about 7 I saw a cow as I was eating a hamburger, put it together and that was it. Due to peer pressure (and family pressure) I lapsed back to the SAD diet in my teens and my health declined immediately — acne, stomach issues, weight-gain, migraines, etc. Of course, my doctor attributed it all to “puberty” not my dietary change.
Then in my early 20′s I had a serious health scare. I decided to return back to the vegetarian diet of my childhood, hoping it would help me make healthier choices. It did. I started feeling better and losing some of the weight. Around the same time I went vegetarian again, I also started reading about health and nutrition. The more I read, the more I knew what I had to do, and about a year after being vegetarian, I eliminated all animal products – no more dairy and eggs. That’s when I started to see real improvements.
I also continued reading and researching, and a few months later I eliminated processed foods (vegan junk food), oil, and really became plant-strong! I’ve followed a low fat, whole foods, plant-based diet ever since.
2. What was it like being an herbie in law school? What, if anything, did you do differently then than you do now?
I went from SAD to plant-based during law school and it the difference was undeniable. I was no-longer chronically fatigued, drinking cup after cup of coffee to stay awake in class, study, go to work, etc. I didn’t need it anymore. I also slept better. My grades improved. I was more alert and attentive in class.
My moods became more stable (previously the stress and pressure made me into a sort of ticking time bomb) and most importantly, my crippling migraines all but vanished.
“Vegan” and “Plant-Based” was really unknown back then, so I was all alone. I was also living in a city that prides itself on seafood and meat, so I couldn’t eat out, even if I wanted to. All the convenience “vegan” foods you see at the store now, also did not exist, for which I’m kinda grateful.
I had to learn how to cook (which turned about to be a blessing! Happy Herbivore would not have existed!) and I also had to be very diligent about packing my lunch and dinner, getting up with enough time to make breakfast before class or work. I had to cook and plan a lot, but ultimately my health and my wallet really benefited!
Today, it’s not as hard to be plant-based or healthy out in the world… There is still room for improvement, of course, but overall I find it’s a lot easier than it was back then. No matter where I am, I find people know what “vegan” or “plant-based” is — a sign of change!
3. So… you move a LOT. Where’s your favorite place that you’ve lived so far? Do you ever think you’ll settle down and stay in one place?
I haven’t found anywhere I liked enough to stay, I guess. Every place I have lived has had things about it that I really liked (and miss) and things I didn’t care for (and am happy to be free of). I always knew I wanted to live freely and be able to travel and explore the world and it’s cultures. I wanted to be “mobile” so I’ve made a lot of sacrifices and I worked really hard for a lot of years to be able to be mobile. The great thing about being an adult is that you get to choose how you want to live, even if your choice is not following the norm. I embrace the art of nonconformity I truly believe I’m living the life I was meant to lead.
4. If you had to describe a perfect day of meals, what would it be?
It depends on the season and where I am. I love mango, for example, and watermelon — how I love watermelon! But as I’m watching the snow fall here in Tahoe, I don’t want either those foods right now That said, I’m all for kale all day and at every meal.
5. Why was the elephant your herbivore of choice for your logo?
6. When you were younger, were you in the kitchen cooking a lot? What inspired you to write cookbooks?
Oh heck no. When I left for college I didn’t even know how to boil water to make pasta. When I changed my diet, I had to learn how to cook and I’m not ashamed to stay there was a lot of trial and error. Somewhere along the way I fell deeply in love with cooking. I started my blog, happyherbivore.com, back in 2007 and my goal was to show how easy, affordable and delicious eating healthy, plant-based meals can be. My cookbooks are just an extension of that.
7. Your next book comes out this December (YAY!!), can you tell us what the theme for this one will be?
Happy Herbivore Light & Fit. This is by far my most personal book yet and I really enjoyed writing it. It’s mostly a cookbook — the same style you’ve come to know with my previous books: easy, no fuss, fast recipes with everyday ingredients, no oil, plant-strong, but this time I was also mindful of calories (hence “light”) and creating recipes that really fill you up. I embraced the “more food, less calories” concept, and plants make that so easy! I also added a fitness section in the back (hence “fit”) — taking a whole body approach to this lifestyle.
Although I lost the weight, and kept it off, with diet alone, I’ve found that moving my body — even if just for a few minutes in the living room, has been beneficial for my mind, body and soul. Exercise — even light exercise — has so many benefits beyond outward appearances, and I want to encourage people to move more — even just 5 minutes a day will have far reaching effects on your total health.
What I also love about this book is that I think it will attract people who maybe aren’t already vegan, vegetarian or plant-strong. I’m hoping it’ll reach a new audience, that will suddenly find themselves eating more plant-based meals and feeling food.
8. Tell us about your creative process of recipe writing. Where does your inspiration come from? How do you start?
It depends. I treat writing cookbooks like a job, so when I’m writing, I will spend 8 hours a day in the kitchen just trying new things, playing around with ingredients and flavors. My best recipes come from that play, but I have also “veganized” old family recipes, or recipes I may have seen during my travels. For example in my first cookbook, the happy herbivore cookbook, I tried to recreate all the foods I used to love but in a healthy, plant-based way. You’ll find things like “meatballs” and “pizza” and “burgers” and “cupcakes.” Then in my last cookbook, happy herbivore abroad, I set out to recreate all these cultural dishes I saw during my travels abroad. My second book, everyday happy herbivore, was all about play — making recipes from whatever I had on hand.
9. Who is your main taste-tester when trying out new recipes?
My husband and whoever happens to be around — my sister, my assistant, my friends or neighbors, will get a taste here and there when I’m creating… then once I’m satisfied with a recipe it goes out to my large team of testers who make it, eat it and serve it to their family and friends for additional feedback. It’s a long process!
10. What is your favorite (or go-to) ingredient to cook with?
My go-to and favorite ingredient is always changing. I was obsessed with Dijon mustard for a while, then I moved on to chipotle, then I moved on to hot sauce, from there it was all about smoked paprika. Right now I’m totally obsessed with lemon juice.
We really enjoyed getting the chance to talk with Lindsay Nixon and learn a little more about everyone’s favorite “happy herbivore”. Thanks so much for sharing, Lindsay!!
PS- You can pre-order her new book on Amazon HERE!!!!