Color Me Vegan

11/17/10 Sharyn Beach and Dawn Morgan Elliott
WMNF Drive-Time News Wednesday | Listen to this entire show:


Colleen Patrick-Goudreau is an animal rights activist and founder of Compassionate Cooks, which raises awareness about animal suffering. She recently published her third cookbook, “Color Me Vegan.” WMNF’s Sharyn Beach and Dawn Morgan Elliott began interviewing Patrick-Goudreau by asking her to define what it means to be vegan.

"In the most technical sense, vegan is distinguished from vegetarian in the sense that vegans don’t consume anything from an animal at all. Whether it's the flesh or anything that comes out of an animal including animal's eggs or milk. Vegetarians consume eggs and milk. For me being vegan is really about making the most compassionate choices we can make. Making choices that cause as little harm to someone else as possible. And for that reason I tend to use the word vegan interchangeably with the word compassion. Because that’s really what it comes down to for me. I think there’s a lot of misconceptions out there about what vegan really means, and I think people really get hung up on the fact that they think it's about being perfect or about being pure. And I really want to make it clear that being vegan is not an end in itself, it’s really a means to an end and for me that end is compassion."

SB: As the title Color Me Vegan implies, this book is about the benefits of including foods with a wide variety of colors in our diets. Can you talk about the benefits and the concept of eating by color?

"I’m so excited by it because people get so confused about what’s healthful and what the latest sound bite is that they hear on their nightly news about what research came out about what. It’s really not that confusing, it's really not that difficult. Really, if you want to eat the most healthful diet you can eat just base your diet on whole plant food and base those choices on color. All of the plant food: the fruits, the vegetables, the nuts, the seeds, the mushrooms, the legumes, the whole grains, the herbs and spices, all of these are the colorful foods. These colorful foods are the most healthful because they contain phytochemicals which we can see as the pigments in these foods, the color in these foods, the antioxidants, the fiber. Those are the things that the colorful foods contain that makes them the most healthful, and of course what also makes them healthful is what they don’t contain, which is the saturated animal fat, the animal protein, the lactose, the dietary cholesterol, etc. Those are only in animal products and the anti-oxidants and phytochemicals and fiber are only in plant food."

SB: Can you talk about the importance of recognizing the difference between artificial color and the colors found naturally in plant food?

"Sure, and that's why we're choosing whole foods. Just to define whole foods because not everybody knows what that means because we've been so inundated with processed foods all our lives but whole foods really is food that's in it's most natural state, a food that's closest to it's natural state as possible. Doesn’t mean everything that’s processed is bad. There’s a spectrum of things that are lightly processed and things that are heavily processed. So I don’t want it to seem like everything you choose that's outside of a whole food is a bad thing. But if we can make the foundation of our diet whole foods then we’re making a really great choice. When, even when we’re reading the labels of those processed foods, you want to be able to recognize those ingredients, and I also recommend five, six, seven ingredients really, is all you need when you’re looking at ingredient labels."

SB: How can eating by color can offer a wide array of flavor as well as nutrients?

"If we think about what we even flavor our meat with. If we think about the ketchup, the mustard, and the barbecue sauce, and the relish and the vinegars and the chutney's and the jellies, and the salsa and the wasabi, curries and pickles and garlic and onions. All of these things are what we actually flavor our meat with. When we think about what we put on our hamburgers or our hot dogs, etc. All the flavor is in the plant food. It’s not in the animal, it's not in the animal products, that’s fat and salt. We're getting fat and salt from that, but really in terms of the concentration of flavor, it’s in the plant food. And because I think most of us have been raised on high amounts of these animal foods, especially covering our vegetables with cream sauces and butter sauces We don’t even know that there’s flavor in the plant food because they've been covered so much by all this fat and salt from the animal products. Once you get that out of palate, and out of your diet, you’ll really appreciate the flavors in the plant food a lot more. You have the ability to detect the sometimes subtle flavors a lot more because your palate is more sensitive to them."

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Vegan... Indian word for "duhhh"

Even the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has recognized that animal protein “…is the richest source of a type of fat that is vital to normal brain development in unborn babies and infants. Without adequate amounts of these fatty acids, normal brain development does not take place.” The vegans I’ve talked to… have all, had to use dietary supplements at one time or another. I’m not talking about One-A-Days because they aren’t eating right… I’m talking about dietary supplements because they weren’t getting what the body required. If you want to sacrifice your health and your Childs mental health… just to save a block of cheese… a box of eggs… or a gallon of milk… I’ll color you vegan, but please forgive me if I don't use the “very bright” colors.


Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Dr. Dean Ornish, and dozens of others, who have engaged in decades of in-depth research on the topic, agree that plants eaten in a wide variety provide ample nutrients for the body in an optimum way. Their research and work with patients has shown time and time again the possibilities of preventing cancer, diabetes, stroke, and heart disease, and even reversing heart disease, with a plant-based diet. Conversely, their research has shown significant risk to human health when we include animal products in our diets. Most of the meat-eaters I've talked to not only have to take supplements, but also cholesterol-lowering medications and blood pressure medications as well. The World Health Organization says to eat lots of fruits and vegetables and MODERATE amounts of fat, available in plenty in fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.

Not meat... just animal protein

So… I assume that the combinations of those fruits, vegetables, nuts, tubers and fungi that provide the nourishment required are… readily available… found in most markets…year round… at reasonable prices… and worldwide. Or is it safer to say… that a SAFE vegan diet can only be found in the markets of larger towns and cities of industrialized countries and only by those individuals who have been educated in basic nutrition and who can afford to buy those proper combinations of shipped and imported foods. If the second is closer to reality… as I believe it is… it would seem to me that in order to be a vegan… you must live in the right place, be educated and make enough money to do so. You know… I can think of a few words that are used (by the left) to describe that particular combination of personal attributes….