Kathy Freston Dishes About Leaning Into Veganism (and Living Peacefully With A Meat Eating Spouse)

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Kathy Freston is one of the most well-known and media-friendly proponents of veganism. Raised in the South, Freston was raised on American home cooking, including plenty of beef, pork, butter, and lard. Now living in Los Angeles, Freston is the bestselling author of The Lean: A Revolutionary (and Simple!) 30-Day Plan for Healthy, Lasting Weight Loss, a book that offers a very slow approach to a plant-based diet, with a focus on healthy eating and conscious living. Her other instant New York Times bestsellers include Veganist, Quantum Wellness, and The One. Luckily Kathy Freston took some time out of her crazy busy schedule to answer a few of my questions.

LL: I must say that while I love and appreciate your easy approach to veganism in The Lean, I still have resistance even when just reading the advice for the last few days. Do you have any suggestions for animal protein lovers like me?

KF: I hear you, I really do. I grew up in the South eating just about every kind of animal product there was, and I couldn't imagine a satisfying meal without that protein center. The good news is that there are so many better alternatives to meat and chicken now: I like Field Roast sausages, Gardein Chik'n or pulled "pork", and Smart Ground meatless meat crumbles, for instance. I eat tempeh bacon (made from soy) and opt for veggie burgers and dogs rather than the animal based stuff. I also enjoy simple things like black bean burritos and thick lentil soups. You get all the satisfying protein from foods like these, but far fewer calories and fat, and zero cholesterol!

LL: You mention that your husband did not switch to veganism just because you did. Has he come fully on board? How long has that process taken (or will that process take)?

KF: No, my husband has a mind of his own, with a trajectory of his own and I don't consider it my business to insist he eat like I do. (That would be obnoxious and disrespectful!) Our home is vegan though, and he's very happy to eat that way when we stay in. For the most part, I'd say he is "vegan-ish", and he continues to lean in to more plant-based food. He's no fool, and he's read so much of the science that I've put in front of him to support the move away from animal protein.

LL: For those who aren't ready to fully convert, what are the most important small changes someone can make for a positive change in his or her health? I would think that even simply increasing your hydration would make a big difference.

KF: The Lean is all about losing weight easily . . . you can gradually change your habits, and the weight comes off naturally when you do. Here are 3 small things that will make a big difference:
  • Eat an apple a day. The fiber fills you up and keeps your blood sugar steady. The pectin from apples is actually twice as good as other fiber, because it leaves your stomach twice as slowly so you feel fuller longer. Eat one before a meal and you'll eat far less calories, plus you'll be getting lots of phytonutrients that are good to prevent cancer.
  • Drink 8 glasses of water, 8 times a day. This keeps your metabolism (and every other system in your body) running optimally. In regards to weight loss, it's called pre-loading: people who drink 2 cups of water before meals in a study lost 5 pounds of fat more than people who didn't drink water in a 12 week period.
  • Add 2 Tbs ground flax seeds to your food every day (in a smoothie or soup, for instance, or mixed in with oatmeal); the fiber adds volume to your food and fills you up so you are satisfied for hours. And flax has a powerful antioxidant in it called lignans; antioxidants go far in preventing many chronic diseases. As you can see, weight loss is very much tied to long term health, too.
LL: Your recipes all sound wonderful, and the ones I have tried all turned out perfectly. I assume you try and test all of your recipes for consistency. What process do you go through for this?

KF: A wonderful chef named Dayna McLeod wrote all the recipes for The Lean. We wanted all the dishes to be super easy to make and extremely fulfilling and satisfying for all the family (meat eaters included); everything is protein rich and geared toward weight loss. Our method of testing was that she would cook and I would eat!

LL: Do you ever cheat, or have your cravings gone completely away? How long does it really take before food cravings completely go away?

KF: I always cheat! But I cheat on really good alternatives to the fattening foods I grew up loving. So for instance when I feel like eating pizza, I make it with nondairy cheese and vegan pepperoni or I have coconut based ice cream instead of the Haagan Dazs I was used to. This way, I never feel deprived and my "cheats" are kind of harmless. It's a smooth transition this way, and I hardly noticed the shifts when I made them. I'm all about ease, which is why I believe "leaning in" is the way to weight loss and health.


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NYC resident Lynda Lippin is a world-renowned Pilates, Fitness, and Reiki instructor with nearly 25 years of experience. She is also an accomplished writer and a former Philosophy professor. In her Featured Column, Lynda will lead you on a path towards Fitness Sanity. Got Questions? Want Lynda to checkā€¦

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