Lindsay S. Nixon is a rising star in the culinary world, praised for her ability to use everyday ingredients to create healthy, low fat recipes that taste just as delicious as they are nutritious. Lindsay's recipes have been featured in Vegetarian Times, Women's Health Magazine and on The Huffington Post. Lindsay is also a consulting chef at La Samanna, a luxury resort and four-star restaurant in the French West Indies. You can learn more about Lindsay and sample some of her recipes at happyherbivore.com
How long have you been on a vegan diet?
I've been eating a plant-based (vegan) diet for 5 years.
What was your motivation for switching to a vegan diet? And why a vegan diet?
I was a vegetarian for most of my childhood out of a love for animals—I was eating a burger one day in the car as we drove past grazing cows and when I put it together, that was that. But I fell back into meat eating in my teens due to peer and family pressure. A serious health scare in my early twenties brought me back to a vegetarian diet (I thought it would help me make better food choices and be healthier) and I went vegan the following year.
I'd heard that going vegan could cure acne (something I'd always struggled with), help reduce migraines (which I had frequently) and assist with weight-loss (which I really wanted). So I gave it a try -- and you know what? It worked. Skin cleared, migraines drastically reduced and I went from a 12 to a 4. The reasons I stay on a plant-based diet, however, are long and vast -- but they all come back to concerns for the animals, concerns for the environment, concerns for humanity and concerns for my health. Eating a plant-based diet is the most compassionate and responsible way I can live.
What would you say was the hardest part about switching to a vegan diet? Do you feel it's hard to maintain?
It's not hard, it's easy. You just have to do it. I've managed to keep a vegan diet while traveling through Europe and Africa for months on end, living on a tiny Caribbean island for a year, and now living in a remote ski town in the United States. The closest "city" is three hours away.
The "hard" part is it's not always convenient -- you can't go to a drive through -- but I'm thankful for that because it keeps me from making poor nutrition choices. I don't just run and grab some greasy burger and fries. I take a few minutes to survey the options and then I end up with something healthy. I feel good and I feel good about the choices I make.
I can also finally walk past candy in the check out line, or walk past a bakery and NOT go in and get something. It's given me so much strength to eat right and not eat crap. Committing to a plant-based diet, committed me to a healthy diet. It's been like an answered prayer.
What advice would you give to others looking into making the switch?
Just do it. Take it one meal at a time. Focus on all the glorious food you can have, not all the unhealthy food you've given up.
What have been some of the benefits of a vegan diet for you?
Within months of switching to a plant-based diet I ran a marathon -- after having never done so much as a 5k before. I now snowboard, mountain bike and do all these other activities that would have been impossible. I lost weight (30 lbs), have increased energy. My skin and hair has improved. My eyes are bright. I cleared my stomach issues. I also drastically reduced migraine frequency. I also find my temperament changed. I'm a much happier, calmer person. Less stress and anxiety.
With all the conflicting health information out there today it can be hard to know where to turn for the most accurate advice. What resources can you recommend?
I can't recommend The China Study and Forks Over Knives enough. Any time you hear something, dig around to find out who funded it and chances are that explains it all.
And now for an exclusive sneak peek at the delicious recipes to be found within the Everyday Happy Herbivore:
Sweet Potato Dal | serves 2
This soup is Dal-icious! It’s so flavorful you’ll want seconds. and thirds!
1 small sweet potato, skinned
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp garam masala, plus extra
1 cup vegetable broth, plus extra
1/2 cup red lentils
4 cups spinach, or more
Dice sweet potato into small ½-inch cubes, and set aside. Line a medium pot with a thin layer of water and saute onions and garlic for a minute. Add a pinch or two red pepper flakes and continue to cook until all the water has cooked off. Add turmeric, ¼ tsp garam masala and stir to coat. Add 1 cup broth, uncooked lentils, and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce to low, cover, and simmer for a few minutes, about 5. Add sweet potatoes, bring to a boil again and reduce to low and simmer, until lentils are fully cooked (they expand and the sauce thickens), about 5 minutes more. Check periodically to see if you need additional broth (I tend to add an extra ½ cup but it can vary). Once lentils are cooked and sweet potatoes are fork tender, taste, adding more garam masala as desired (I like to add another ¼ tsp but some blends are stronger than others). Add spinach, continuing to stir until spinach cooks down and softens. Add salt to taste and serve.
Per Serving: 232 Calories, 0.9g Fat, 42.2g Carbohydrates, 17.7g Fiber, 4.7g Sugar, 15.4g Protein
Get your copy of Everyday Happy Herbivore: Over 175 Quick-and-Easy Low Fat and Fat-Free Vegan Recipes. Buy on Amazon.After vegan chef Lindsay S. Nixon wrapped up her popular cookbook The Happy Herbivore Cookbook last year, she went back to her kitchen in her new home of St. Maarten. Island living encouraged Nixon to come up with simpler fare, which led to a follow-up cookbook focusing on recipes that bring tasty back to quick-and-easy.
Now, in Nixon's much-anticipated follow-up cookbook, Everyday Happy Herbivore, readers will see, once again, that just because plant-based eating is optimal for health, it doesn't have to also be expensive or time-consuming.
Everyday Happy Herbivore includes more than 175 doable recipes--recipes that are so quick and easy, you could cook three healthy meals from scratch every day like Nixon does.
Each of Nixon's recipes are made with wholesome, easy-to-find, fresh ingredients and include no added fats. With additional notes indicating recipes that are ideal for preparing ahead of time and those you can whip up with just a few dollars, Everyday Happy Herbivore will be the must-have cookbook for anyone desiring a healthier, happier menu!