The vegan lifestyle is something more people are looking into. There have been so many positive testimonials from those who transitioned into a plant-based diet. People are starting, but some remain hesitant. To educate us more about how to live a vegan lifestyle, I’d invited Lifestyle Author and Activist Colleen Patrick-Goudreau in this episode.
Colleen Patrick-Goudreau shares that her journey to being vegan happened as a by-product of her passion and interest, as well as experiencing the benefits of a vegan lifestyle.
She says it’s been a journey of 25 years starting with growing on the east coast in New Jersey. Colleen Patrick-Goudreau was a typical kid eating the standard American diet. But she also loved animals and was fortunate that her parents supported her compassion.
Growing older, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau became more concerned about eating animals. She loved meat, but she didn’t know what was involved until she was 19 or 20 years old and was working in a bookstore.
Working in a bookstore was an eyeopener for Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. She learned new things and was interested in health and wellness. One particular book, the Diet for a New America book by John Robbins from the ice cream empire impacted Colleen Patrick-Goudreau the most.
“My father owned a franchise, so I had an affiliation. It woke me up to realize what I was consuming. So, I stopped eating land animals. I ate products that I thought weren’t contributing harm. But I continued to eat dairy and eggs,” Colleen Patrick-Goudreau recalls.
Colleen Patrick-Goudreau eventually realized there was no difference between meat, dairy, and eggs, so she became vegan. She declared that she didn’t set out to become anything. But she didn’t want to contribute to harm.
“And there was the thing called vegan. I didn’t know what it even meant,” said Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. “What I like to say is that I need to become vegan as much as I removed the blocks to the compassion that has been inside me all along.”
She adds, “And as a natural advocate, I wanted something related to animal advocacy, writing, outreach, and education. So I started raising awareness and turned into the career that I built.”
Colleen Patrick-Goudreau says that if you are thinking of transitioning to a vegan lifestyle, the 30-Day Vegan Challenge is a good book to start. She says everyone claims they don’t eat a lot of meat, dairy, and eggs. But you don’t know how much you eat until you stop.
“So, the idea behind it is to stop long enough to undo those old habits and learn new habits. Build the foundation. This is a fundamental handbook in making the transition,” said Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. “There is a lot to gain when you stop something completely. You are more open to making changes that have an impact which you can continue implementing.”
Colleen Patrick-Goudreau says you can eat any way you want within the vegan spectrum. Because vegan means you’re just not eating animal products. She says there are so many variations within this thing called vegan. There’s not one way to do it. And there’s not one way to eat.
“Eliminating meat, dairy and eggs is the best thing we can do and eating nutrient-dense foods as we can. The nutrients we need are plant-based. There is not one nutrient we need that is animal-based,” said Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.
She adds, “The only nutrient we need that is not plant-based is vitamin B12. But it’s not animal-based either because it grows on bacteria. So, the idea that we have to go through an animal to get to the nutrient that the animals get because they eat plants is misguided.”
Colleen Patrick-Goudreau further explains that therefore, we need to skip the middle animal and go directly to the plant to get the nutrients we need. And when we do, we get the vitamins, minerals, fiber, folate, phytochemicals, phytonutrients, and antioxidants. Plus, we skip all of the substances we know that contribute to these preventable diseases.
Vegan authors, nutritionists, doctors are often accused of being biased and not credible because they are vegan. So, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau says we have to get away from this notion that somehow eating animal products is neutral behavior and not biased.
“We all have biases. Everything we do has a bias. It’s been shaped by our families and our cultures,” said Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.
Colleen Patrick-Goudreau also explains that when we are fighting to hang on to a particular belief, especially when a belief is a conflict, it compels people to throw out the facts. They disregard the evidence and science that backs up the fact that eating meat, dairy and eggs are problematic for our health, for the animals and the earth.
“We all eat processed food. Eating food in their whole state as much as possible is the best thing we can do. But it doesn’t mean that everything that goes on in that spectrum towards more processed food is always bad,” Colleen Patrick-Goudreau said.
Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s Color Me Vegan book encourages people to eat by color. Because when color is your guide, you are eating a huge variety of foods. And you’re getting so many vitamins, nutrients, minerals, and phytonutrients.
“All of the phytonutrients are in color. You can name the phytonutrients based on their color. And those colors in the phytonutrients affect different organs in our body,” said Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.
She adds, “Nutrient deficiencies are not only in vegans and vegetarians. A lot of it has to do where we are getting the nutrients from and not absorbing it well. We also have to make sure we are not depleting our body of the nutrients.”
Colleen Patrick-Goudreau cites iron for instance. She says one way to increase iron is by eating it with vitamin c rich foods and don’t have caffeine with meals. Colleen Patrick-Goudreau says we also all need Vitamin D. And the best source is from the sun. But you can also take multi-vitamin as insurance.
There are more calories in fat than there are in protein and carbohydrates. Colleen Patrick-Goudreau says there’s a lot of fat in animal products. You may feel hungrier at the end of that second meal because you are eating fewer calories.
“The answer to when you’re hungry is to eat. But what is great about eating fewer calories, people naturally tend to lose weight,” explains Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. “If you’re hungry and you need more food, fill yourself up with really nutrient-dense colorful, healthful foods.”
She adds, “There are differences when you eat plant-based foods, but it doesn’t mean it’s bad or inferior. It’s just different. People have to learn to recalibrate what it means to feel full or how much food you’re eating. We’re so attached to what a meal looks like. So there a notion that if you remove the meat or main dish, that it’s a blank hole.”
Hence the incomplete meal. That’s why Colleen Patrick-Goudreau advises people to rethink what the plate looks like and permit yourself to plate your foods differently.
“A lot of it has to do with the focal point. We can create a beautiful focal point on our plate without the meat,” Colleen Patrick-Goudreau said. “So, a lot of it has to do with changing our minds. Not just changing our habits and choices we make. It’s not meat we crave. But rather we do crave fat, salt, flavor, the familiarity of dimensions and texture.”
The Vegan Table Book is based on recipes that Colleen Patrick-Goudreau taught for ten years in her cooking classes. She says recipes are not so different from those you are already familiar with. Taking it out of the box called vegan makes it so much more familiar.
“My recipes are very much based on familiar ingredients. No need to go to a specialty store. It can be found in the regular grocery stores,” said Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. “I also talk about plating our food. People also need to know what do you pair things with. The book is segregated into making meals for different occasions.”
Colleen Patrick-Goudreau also encourages people to recalibrate how much time they think they should spend in the kitchen. Because right now, she says our threshold is zero.
“We’re so used to fast food, packaged food, and processed food. Invest in a pressure cooker. I make a lot of soups and bean dishes because I love my pressure cooker so much. Cook beans from scratch because they are more flavorful,” said Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.
She adds, “There is sugar in the beans that people can have a hard time digesting. That’s why people get gas, cramps and bloating. Bean-zyme puts an enzyme into your body that enables you to digest those sugars and reduce gas and cramping.”
Colleen Patrick-Goudreau also explains that as you eat beans, your body becomes more accustomed to eating beans. And you start to have less gas. She also suggests to plan your meals ahead of time and reduce wastes.
“When you get meat, dairy, and eggs out of your diet, your palate is also so much more sensitive to subtle flavors. But when they are coated with fat and salt, our palate can’t recognize and appreciate the subtle flavors,” said Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.
She adds, “There is protein in all plant-foods. Protein is made up of amino acids. And amino acids are in all foods. Our bodies don’t care where we are getting those amino acids from. It does care in the sense that there’s a lot of evidence regarding the adverse effects of animal proteins.”
Colleen Patrick-Goudreau says this book is perfect for teaching people everything they need to stay vegan in a world that wants you to eat meat dairy and eggs. The book focuses on the social aspects. It teaches you to re-examine where you came from, and what you were taught.
“Food is the easy part. A lot of struggle for most people has to do with the social aspect,” Colleen Patrick-Goudreau said. “The book is about what happens after you turned vegan. There are common threads even if details or experiences may be different. You see the world through a different lens regarding what you know now.”
In her Joyful Vegan Book, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau identified what she called the ten stages of what happens when you stop eating meat, dairy, and eggs. First is the voracious consumption of information. You validate everything you learn.
Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, therefore, teaches you how to move through this stage, so you don’t get stuck. She also talks about self-care in the book.
Another vital stage is dealing with remorse and guilt. Colleen Patrick-Goudreau says it’s more of remorse than guilt.
“The biggest mistake people make is they think being vegan is an end. They think that’s the goal when really, it’s a means to an end. If you understand that being vegan is a means to reach your goals, you can then relax,” said Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.
She adds, “It’s about understanding that it’s not about perfection. But rather it is about reflecting your values. It’s an imperfect world, and you’ll never be able to do it perfectly. But anything you do that’s moving in that direction is good.”
Some other essential stages include a sense of community. Colleen Patrick-Goudreau advises finding like-minded people. She believes communication is also necessary for you to say your truth.
If you want more information about embracing the vegan lifestyle and making compassionate healthcare a priority, there’s a big conference happening in September next year. To those interested, you’re welcome to join or link to their website for schedule updates.
Colleen Patrick-Goudreau also has a wonderful podcast called Food For Thought. Do check that out as well.
Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s compassionate living philosophy is propelling plant-based eating into the mainstream and forever changing how we regard animals.
A recognized expert and thought leader on the culinary, social, ethical, and practical aspects of living compassionately and healthfully, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau is an award-winning author of several books, including the bestselling The Joy of Vegan Baking, The Vegan Table, Color Me Vegan, Vegan’s Daily Companion, On Being Vegan, and The 30-Day Vegan Challenge. Her next book, The Joyful Vegan’s Guide to Life, is due out in 2019.
She is an acclaimed speaker and beloved host of the inspiring podcast, “Food for Thought,” which was voted Favorite Podcast by VegNews magazine readers several years in a row. She launched a spin-off podcast called Animalogy in 2017. Along with fellow advocates, she recently formed a political action committee called East Bay Animal PAC to work with government officials on animal issues in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Colleen Patrick-Goudreau shares her message of compassion and wellness on national and regional TV and radio programs, including on monthly segment on Good Day Sacramento and as a monthly contributor on National Public Radio (KQED). She has appeared on the Food Network, CBS, PBS, and FOX; interviews with her have been featured on NPR, Huffington Post, U.S. News, and World Report; and her recipes have been featured on Epicurious.com and Oprah.com.
Colleen Patrick-Goudreau lives in Oakland, CA with her husband David and two cats, Charlie and Michiko.
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