I’m so glad to have Eric C. Lindstrom on my Plant Chat today! Eric is the editor of the Meaty Vegan blog, which features vegan opinion, recipes, and cutting-edge satire, and the founder of the vegan design and marketing firm ThankTank Creative. Eric is also the author of The Skeptical Vegan: My Journey from Notorious Meat Eater to Tofu-Munching Vegan which explains how simple it really is to be vegan, covering topics from food and nutrition to social challenges and lifestyle. Today, he thrives on plant-based foods along with his vegan wife, vegan dog, and two vegan babies in Ithaca, NY.

What does it mean to be a “Skeptical Vegan”?

When I first went vegan I was known as the Reluctant Vegan, since I really had no interest in going vegan and, in fact, didn’t really know what the word meant. Early on this reluctance became skepticism as I  started to read and hear about the benefits of a vegan diet on your  health. The book details my own transition from meat-lover to  herbivore to ethical vegan. I now say that this is the book based on  the blog based on the bet. My entire journey toward ethical veganism  was based on a bet. A bet I still refuse to lose.

What was your own journey to becoming plant-based and writing your book?

My wife decided she wanted to try veganism but, since she was already vegetarian, the stretch wasn’t quite as far. She was  encouraged by a friend’s vegan daughter to buy The 30-Day Vegan Challenge  by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau and then encouraged me to read  it. At the point I decided to try the “diet” with her I had always  assumed it was just 30 days. She was addicted to cheese and I felt she  would fall off the cheese wagon in the first few days. She didn’t. After 30 days I turned the tables and turned our vegan diets into a  bet and, now almost six years later, I refuse to lose the bet.

Why do you think people may be hesitant to take on a vegan diet?

There’s two types of people, those who will take on the challenge and understand the benefits to their health, the planet, and the  animals. Then there are the other people who will simply never  consider it. The latter are the ones will reply with the word “bacon” on any vegan Facebook post. I usually don’t engage these people and  don’t  think they will ever go vegan. The first group, however, need  support and encouragement and need to know that literally any food  they love now can be made vegan.

What plant-based myths do you think are the most common, and how do you address them?

Of course everyone still thinks that you cannot get enough protein, never once realizing that the animals they are consuming for protein  get their protein from plants. There is more than enough protein in  everything you eat on a vegan diet and I’ve stopped worrying about it. These same skeptics will comment that if vegans “need to supplement” things like B-12 then the diet is somehow unnatural. Again, untrue. Although we do need to supplement B-12.

What are your best tips for those interested in trying a plant-based lifestyle?

Learn how to shop vegan. Remember that every store in the country has the MOST amazing vegan section ever: produce. Once they explore  and discover all the incredible food they can eat on a vegan diet and  fill their homes with that food, the rest is easy. Keep all the fruits  and vegetables cut up and cleaned and you’ll soon find yourself  snacking on goodness where you may have once snacked on junk. With  that said, there is plenty of vegan junk food that I personally snack  on.

If we opened up your refrigerators and pantry, what foods would we see there?

Nooch. Non-dairy milks, yogurts, and cheeses. Fruits and vegetables and lots of snacks. Luckily, there are many snack foods that are good  for you these days like beans, quinoa, and kale. I do a ton of cooking  since we have two vegan toddlers and pasta and rice play a supporting  role  in the majority of my dishes.


Do you have a favorite plant-based recipe to share with us?

Of all the recipes and all the food I make most often that gets the highest praise, I’d have to go with vegan chili. It’s so incredibly  easy to make, colorful, and delicious.

Meaty Vegan Chili

Vegetarian chili is nothing new. What makes this recipe so special is that it’s so easy to make. Line up all these ingredients, grab your biggest pot, and build this chili from scratch. Serve with shredded vegan cheese and vegan sour cream on top, and you’ll never miss chili con carne again.

30 minTotal Time

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Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 each green and red pepper, chopped
  • 1 15-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 large can of organic diced tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 3 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • ¼ cup favorite vegan barbecue sauce
  • 1 package premade vegan beefy crumbles (optional, both BeyondMeat and Gardien make excellent products loaded with taste and protein)
  • One jalapeño pepper, chopped with seeds reserved Vegan cheese (optional)
  • Vegan sour cream (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, add a gurgle of olive oil. Once hot, add the onions, garlic, and green and red peppers and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes. Pour both cans of rinsed beans into the pot and give it a good stir.
  2. After a couple minutes, add the diced tomatoes, chili powder, smoked paprika, and barbecue sauce. Stir.
  3. Add more chili powder, since we are making chili after all. After about 20 minutes on low heat, pour in the bag of crumbles (optional), cover, and cook down for an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Chop the jalapeño and add as many seeds into the pot as you like to adjust the heat. Garnish the top of your chili with the chopped jalapeño and any other vegan toppings you desire (sour cream and cheese recommended).
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