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      Spotlight: Kristina DeMuth

      kristina demuth

      Name: Kristina DeMuth, MPH, RD

      City: Plymouth, MN

      Occupation: Master of Public Health, Registered and Licensed Dietitian. I have my own business (kristinademuth.com) and offer a number of services for individuals and organizations, including: nutrition coaching, food photography, recipe development, research and writing, and more.

      What inspired you to switch to a plant-based diet?
      I loved baby pigs, so I wondered, "Why am I eating them?" It just didn't make sense to me. So that was the first thing to come off my plate when I was about 10. A couple years later, I wondered, "Why am I eating other animals?" and I became vegetarian.

      I adopted more of a plant-based diet when I went to Haiti. Environmental impacts in Haiti were very real to me. Seeing firsthand things like climate change and how it affects people, environmental disasters and knowing our food supply can't feed a growing population on an standard American diet, it made a lot of sense to switch to even more of a plant-based diet. Understanding how populations could use plants instead of animals to meet nutritional needs.

      What 3 words would you use to describe yourself: Energetic, Compassionate, Lifelong Learner

      Are you a member of any vegan-related organizations?
      I am part of the Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group which focuses on plant-based nutrition. They're a great resource! I'm also a member of HEN, Hunger and Environmental Nutrition which is part of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

      What do you do to stay physically active?
      Right now, I am really into high intensity cardio intervals with circuit training; I do this most days of the week. I also practice yoga and recently started barre. When the weather is nice, I enjoy walking and biking. In the winter, you'll find me jumping and spinning on an outdoor rink.  If I could, I would probably skate everyday; I've been skating since I could walk.

       


      Click here
      for Kristina's delicious Stuffed Pepper Recipe featuring our Ground Beef!

      Is there a book or movie you would encourage people to check out regarding veganism?
      Forks Over Knives really got my brain ticking, especially when I moved to Haiti to volunteer my services at an orphanage's feeding center. Dr. Campbell's experience in Haiti really resonated with me, and it led me to read more about the research on the "nutrition transition" and dietary shifts in low-socioeconmic countries. It has had a huge impact on my passion for public health and prevention. 

      Jack Norris and Virginia Messina's book, Vegan for Life and Sharon Palmer's book, The Plant-Powered Diet were two of my first reads when it came to plant-based nutrition; I found both really helpful. Nutritionfacts.org is my go-to nutrition website for all things health and wellness-- you can find so many health topics on here! You can always do your own research too; unlike most blogs on the internet, there is always links to the studies referenced. Dr. Greger's book, How Not to Die, is well researched and a great read! 


      Favorite local restaurant:
      I love Ecopolitan. It's so amazing how you can take raw food and make it taste so good. When you can see how diverse vegan food can be, it's inspiring.

      Favorite place to buy groceries: I go to Whole Foods and CostCo a lot. I love the co-ops and farmers markets, too.

      Favorite animal: I really love elephants. I think they're my spirit animal. I saw them in Africa and they're so beautiful. And baby pigs, too, of course! And puppies.

      Tell us one thing on your bucket list:
      I kind of have 2. I want to write a children's book, which I'll hopefully do this year. I also want to go to Sadhana Forest. There's one in Haiti and I love what they're doing to educate people about reforestation and taking care of the Earth. They also promote a plant-based diet. 

      What’s some advice you would offer someone who is working on the transition to a plant-based diet?
      What recipes or meals do you make that are already plant-based? How can you make changes to meals that are not plant-based? Maybe it means swapping in a plant-based milk instead of cow's milk, or using lentils instead of ground beef. Many recipes can easily be made plant-based or a plant-based version of it exists on the internet! You might be surprised what you find and how creative you can be with plant-based foods.

      Even if you don't give up meat or other animal products cold turkey, crowd your diet with more plant-based foods. For example, use less meat, and add in more veggies and beans. Think about what plant-foods you can ADD to your meals.

      My podcast with CAA on Tips for Going Veg in the New Year may also be helpful for some of you. I like to think about the plant-based eating as a lifestyle, not a fad diet.

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      Spotlight: Douglas Robinson of Night Verses

      douglas robinson of night verses photo by Greg PallanteName: Douglas Robinson

      City: Jersey City, NJ

      Occupation: Vocalist for Night Verses

      What inspired you to switch to a plant-based diet?
      There are many reasons why I switched. I was overweight my whole life (around 230 lbs.) until a few years ago. I remembered watching 'Fat, Sick And Nearly Dead' when it came out and thinking to myself that something needed to change. I was off and on with drinking, drugs, etc. and had finally had enough. Being in touring bands most of my life gave me free reign to just eat, drink, and do whatever I wanted. I never thought about the repercussions at that point of my life.

      I started to make changes here and there. Less booze, no drugs of any kind, less meat and dairy, I quit smoking, etc. The transformation process was never overnight. I very gradually started making my way towards plant-based without even knowing it. I started juicing vegetables, which cleared my mind to such an amazing headspace, that a mile-long walk turned into a very light jog. A jog turned into a longer jog, followed by a 5K, followed by a 10K, which then turned into 15-20 mile runs a day.

      My whole life changed. It wasn't instant but I will tell you that it was, hands-down, the most amazing experience that I've ever gone through. I barely ever drink anymore. It's just who I've become. All of the offs and ons and the difficulties of the journey put my life into such a different perspective. There's so much more detail to the story but that's basically inside the nutshell of it all.

      Did you notice any changes after you switched to a plant-based diet?
      I definitely did and still do to this day. Again, I'm the singer for my band. Eating plant-based is a lifeline for a vocalist. Breathing is everything and without the cleanliness of a plant-based lifestyle. I would regress back into my past troubles as a singer. I was never able to take deep breaths. I was always clogged in body and mind. Now, the inside of my body is incredibly clean and the passageways that pump blood all throughout are open and flowing with life. I can feel it every morning.

      I go on a run before every show we play and I'm never tired. I'm full of energy. I'm physically in the best shape I've ever been in. Even our "junk food" converts into amazing energy.... energy of the physical and of the spiritual.

      What’s the best/weirdest/most entertaining reaction you’ve received when telling another person you’re vegan?
      Honestly, I think the fact that my friends now come to me for advice is absolutely insane to me. That's the one thing that fills all of this questions criteria. If you would have met me a few years back you would know exactly why that's such a crazy thing. 

      However, in the context you're referring to, I receive a lot of snacks on the road from the amazing people at "Go Raw." Thanks to them, I rarely ever have to be involved in a situation where I'm on tour in the middle of nowhere trying to find vegan food while people are looking at me like I'm some sort of freak. However, I'm never offended in those situations. There are still people uneducated as to what goes on in the meat and dairy industry, or any industry that participates in animal cruelty. People are often fed (literally and metaphorically) what is shoved in front of them their whole lives.


      Side note: Here's a trick when you're in one of those situations trying to order food in the middle of nowhere: SAY YOU ARE ALLERGIC! You know you're a vegan. You can swallow the pride of shouting it from the rooftops for one meal in the middle of nowhere. People don't care for what they don't understand. Everybody understands being allergic to something. All you have to do is ask for things without meat and dairy because you're "terribly allergic". No one ever questions that. 

      Are you currently a member of any organizations?
      I just signed up to be a mentor for 
      Vegan Outreach's new Mentor Program. I also do my best to help promote this vegan place by my apartment. The place is called Subia's Organic Market. It's a small place in Jersey City that makes some of the best, if not THE BEST, food I've ever had as a vegan.

      What do you do to stay physically active?

      Aside from all of the running I previously mentioned, I also train in Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu when I'm home from tour. I train in Muay Thai with Paul Clark at Jersey City Kickboxing, and I train in BJJ with Joseph Chan at JC projects. Both incredible teachers and immensely skilled at what they do. I owe so much to both of them.

      Singing a 30-45 minute set everyday on tour is incredible exercise. Breathing mixed with all of the movement and energy being poured out onto the stage keeps me very in-tune with my body.

       

      Is there a book or movie you’d like to encourage people to check out regarding veganism?
      I'm on my second read of The China Study and I still swear by Animal Liberation. I can talk for hours about both books. They've helped shape me in many ways. I use both books as major inspiration for optimal health and knowledge. Those are two books on the subject of veganism that will give you 100% truth and fact. 

      I'm not into people spewing their beliefs onto others. Change should only happen because you yourself want change. By choosing to read books like these, you will see that the authors aren't trying to shove their ideals down your throat. They're trying to show you truth in an industry of lies.


      Favorite place to buy groceries:
      My wife (also vegan) gets most of our stuff from Whole Foods. We also try to be as locally supportive as possible. The Farmers Market by our apartment is always essential as well as Subia's. We're very lucky to have a couple of other spots in walking distance that cater to our needs. 

      Tell us one thing on your bucket list:
      I've been in a professional touring band for about half of my life. I can honestly say that I've accomplished many, many things I would have never gotten the chance to experience if it weren't for what I do.

      I would have to say that the main item on my bucket list would be to travel all of the world with my wife. I've seen and done so many things through music. Last June, my wife and I went to Santorini, Greece on our honeymoon and it made me realize that I've never really seen the world without being on such a hectic schedule. I want to take her and revisit all of the places I've been to from my years of touring and I want her and I to explore new places together with no time restraints.

      What’s some advice you would offer someone who is working on the transition to a plant-based diet?
      You are human. Don't expect to be flawless.... ever. You will mess up. You will eat something with an ingredient that you don't want in it. It happens.

      You have to remember that you're not doing this just to label yourself a vegan. If something like that happens, make it a goal to learn how to avoid it for the next time you're in that exact same situation.

      Be the best you that you can be and study on the subject as much as possible. Knowledge is power and believe me when I say that you need to be knowledgeable if you want to reach your ultimate. That goes for anything.

      I'm not exaggerating when I tell you how clueless I first was with all of this. You will learn. Keep an open mind and treat everyone with respect. Carnivore or herbivore. The more you show the natural positivity of your lifestyle, the more others will want to gravitate towards it. 

       

      Photo credit: Greg Pallante

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      Spotlight: Nick Coughlin

      vegan nick coughlin the herbivorous butcherName: Nick Coughlin

      City: Minneapolis, MN

      Occupation: Founder of Compassionate Man Magazine

      What inspired you to switch to a plant-based diet?
      Purely animals. The only reason I went vegan was for animals. These days, I'm interested in health and fitness as well.

      Sometimes when I'm a little lost or confused about my path, I think about my death bed and looking back on my life, wondering what I'll consider a successful life. I always come back to, 'Did I help make a difference for animals? Did I help reduce suffering? Did I help change people's hearts and minds?'

      That's why I'm doing Compassionate Man Magazine (click here for a free issue!). Men have the same capacity for compassion and the problem is that we are so often discouraged from showing that side of ourselves. Our culture has such a warped sense of masculinity, and we need to change that. A whole, complete human being exhibits the whole array of human emotions, but we're taught that there are certain things that are masculine and certain things that are feminine, and I just don't buy that.

      Are you currently a member of any organizations?
      I do a lot with Compassionate Action for Animals. My heart really lies with farm animals. I cut my teeth at Farm Sanctuary and have a soft spot in my heart for what they do and the approach that they take in meeting people where they are. 

      My sister is with The Humane Society of the United States, and I have a lot of friends with them. I have a deep respect for Mercy for Animals and for PETA. 

      What do you do to stay physically active?
      4 days a week I work out at home in the morning. I have a set of barbells and a pull-up bar, and I do a bunch of burpees. I'm about to begin training for the Chicago Marathon. I'm excited to get out there. 

      What film would you recommend to people who are interested in learning more about veganism?
      Peaceable Kingdom
      is one I like a lot. Farm to Fridge is something I do as pay-per-view with Compassionate Action for Animals; it's pretty powerful. It's reality so we should open our eyes to that.

      Books that have affected me are Eat To Live by Dr Joel Fuhrman, Whole by Dr Colin Campbell. Wayne Pacelle is an amazing writer. He's got a new book coming out in April, The Humane Economy, and I look up to him a lot.

      Favorite local restaurant:
      I like Himalayan and Pizza Luce. I love ethnic food like Ethiopian food and Thai food.

      Favorite place to buy groceries:
      I buy groceries at Cub and I do a lot of produce shopping at Whole Foods.

      Favorite animal:
      I love goats. My first profile picture on Facebook was of Neptune and me at Farm Sanctuary. He was a wise, old goat and the oldest at the farm at the time. He would rub his face against your face. 

      My dogs are my favorite animals. They're my kids.

      What's one thing on your bucket list?
      One of my big goals is to be completely debt free. I want to owe nothing. And I'd loved to walk across America but I haven't been able to do it because I have bills to pay.

      What advice would you offer someone who's interested in transitioning to a plant-based diet?
      Connect with people who are already doing it and who can help you along the way. Having a support system is really important especially when you're doing something that's still a fringe thing. Whatever your reasons are, find people who are doing it for those same reasons and connect with them. Someone who you can call and take you to the grocery store is going to make a big difference.

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