Color Me Vegan
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, âColor Me Vegan.â WMNFâs 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 donât 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 thatâs really what it comes down to for me. I think thereâs 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, itâs 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?
"Iâm so excited by it because people get so confused about whatâs healthful and what the latest sound bite is that they hear on their nightly news about what research came out about what. Itâs 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 donât 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. Doesnât mean everything thatâs processed is bad. Thereâs a spectrum of things that are lightly processed and things that are heavily processed. So I donât 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 weâre making a really great choice. When, even when weâre 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 youâre looking at ingredient labels."
SB: How can eating by color can offer a wide array of flavor as well as nutrients?
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"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. Itâs not in the animal, it's not in the animal products, thatâs fat and salt. We're getting fat and salt from that, but really in terms of the concentration of flavor, itâs 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 donât even know that thereâs 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, youâll 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."