If you are curious about why people go vegan or just need a little inspiration to embrace the idea of plant-based living, this interview is for you. My friend Magda Wieczorek started writing her book about veganism just three months after becoming vegan because she wanted to help people transition more easily, having struggled to find relatable information herself. Magda is a wellness coach, certified personal trainer, entrepreneur, NLP practitioner and author of the newly released book Easy Way to Go Vegan.
Magda, tell us a little about yourself and what led you to start your vegan quest?
I am originally Polish and as you probably know, Eastern European diets are mostly based on meat. I was an omnivore for 30 years, and when I mention that fact I often say it with a bit of regret as I sometimes ask myself why I didn’t go vegan sooner! I have worked in fashion for most of my life and as much as I love what I do, at no point have I felt that I am actually helping someone or the planet. Since I was a kid, it has been my dream to do something to help others or the planet that we live on. I have been cycling, taking shorter showers, and carrying my 'bag for life' for years. It never seemed like I was doing enough but I wasn’t sure what else I could do so I continued what I thought was enough. Then back in March 2016 my life took on a bit of a different turn. I was admitted to hospital with a rupture in my brain which was a result of an AVM (abnormal blood vessel) and that was a big wake up call (you can read Magda's full story here).
I was faced with 5 weeks off work following my surgery and it led me to discovering a lot of interesting things, one of them being The China Study which was one of the audiobooks that started my vegan journey. Just as many other people, when I first found out about veganism it seemed very extreme but when I started doing my research it felt more normal than anything I had ever encountered. It seemed that I could help myself and the Earth just by switching my diet. Being a wellness coach with a background in NLP, I was also fully aware of the conditioning that we go through from early childhood up until late teens and even later in life, this is exactly what I compared our diets to. I knew that I was an omnivore only because my parents were and so were their parents and so on. If as a kid I was given the choice of course I would choose the life in which animals are friends rather than food. Just think about it for one minute, if your parents raised you vegan or vegetarian since birth, you would think it was absolutely normal.
If as a kid, someone asked you the question “Do you want to eat things that involve enslaving and killing of an animal or would you rather have something that is cruelty free?” you would probably choose the latter. I am a huge believer that every kid should be raised vegan or vegetarian and then be given the chance to change to another diet later in life when they find out exactly what is involved in the production of it. I believe the world would be a much more loving place then. So yes, these are just a few reasons why I went vegan. I got the idea of the Easy Way to go vegan book at one of the business seminars I attended and I knew that I had to write it during my transition rather than two years later by which time I'd have forgotten what it was like to transition.
What made you think of writing your book Easy Way to Go Vegan?
I struggled a lot during my first couple of months. I was eating the same things over and over again. Falafels, hummus, spinach, tomatoes and avocado. I would have that almost every day. Every recipe I looked at online had ingredients that I didn’t even know existed and when I needed some info, I had to jump from one page to another. I bought couple of books on transition but they were far too technical and the recipes were far too long for me to even entertain the thought. I truly wanted to create something that anyone could pick up and relate to. Every single one of those recipes was created by me in my own kitchen and I really pride myself on that. I took the things that I used to eat and veganised them without using anything extra fancy. I wanted to make a foolproof guide to veganism with recipes that even someone who has never cooked anything in their life would be able to follow.
Why are the book and veganism so important to you?
We all live and learn. I just want to spread awareness about something that truly feels right for me. A few years ago I was at a point in my life where I did not have a clue what to do with my life. I was walking around asking myself the question “What do you want to do!?” every day and I could not find the answer. Until I went vegan. All of a sudden everything became much clearer. The synchronicity of things was extraordinary and everything started coming together. Interviews with influential vegans, contacts, the photographer and designer. Just as if it was sent down here for that reason in particular.
The passion that I discovered in myself was something that I longed for and am really happy to say it continues to shine very bright! I also care very deeply about animals and knowing that they cannot speak up for themselves is definitely something I want to raise awareness of. Who are we to enslave and torture innocent beings for the sake of our taste buds and say that it is absolutely normal? I would be very happy to hear a reasonable answer to that question because the fact that we’ve been doing it for centuries, or that we are the evolved species really does not make it ok.
What was your biggest challenge when writing your book?
I think it was the “nay-sayers”. There were few people who made comments such as “you’ve only been vegan for 3 months, you can’t write a book about veganism”. As much as I was using it to power myself up, I sometimes found myself having doubts because of that. I didn’t know as much as an experienced vegan but I did enough research to support all the findings I spoke about in the book. Also I wanted to ensure that the book was relatable hence doing it at the time that I was transitioning was of super importance to me. I also had a huge stress with the printer who turned out to be a scammer however I think it was a blessing in disguise as if he had delivered the job it would have been in a very poor quality and with print errors that would be very difficult to rectify.
What was the most fun moment you had while writing Easy Way to Go Vegan?
I seriously do not think I could pick one as the whole journey was just fantastic. I learnt so much about myself during the process too! I had so much fun cooking for sure. I literally cooked every day for 3 or 4 months straight and it was amazing. What I loved was when I had to cook around 4 recipes in one day but at the end I realised I forgot to invite my friends to help me eat it all! It was very last minute but few of my girlfriends came over and we had an unplanned dinner party with few glasses of red wine!
Another thing was the interviews! A couple of months into my writing process I also wanted to speak to influential vegans to get their insights and advice for my readers. When I started receiving positive responses from famous people such as Caldwell Esselstyn, Ocean Robbins, Kip Andersen and Samantha Shorkey to name a few, I was so overjoyed! Talking to them was very insightful and I loved every minute of it.
What would your advice be to anyone trying to go vegan?
Firstly, I would say "stop trying and start doing". Secondly, make sure you do your research and maybe even speak to your physician about it, especially if you have a pre-existing condition. The most important thing though is not to stress. Take it at your own pace, remember that you’re doing it for yourself and nobody else. You don’t have to go vegan all at once, start with little things. Swap cow’s milk for plant milk, then make your breakfasts vegan, then switch one of your other meals every other day. When it comes to meat and dairy factories, everything is produced on supply and demand basis so they will produce as much as it is required. I know the obvious thinking is that one person cannot change it but imagine the difference a 1000 people who have a vegan breakfast every day would make. Don’t delay because you think you can’t make a change, start today. Also my book has tonnes of information to help you transition so maybe give that a go.
Did you notice any changes in your body since going vegan?
Yes, many! First of all, your metabolism is going through the roof as your body adapts to the new fibre intake from all the fruits and vegetables. I found that I was less bloated after meals, had stronger nails and better skin. I also have more energy at the gym and do not need as much recovery which is a bonus as I can train more! Also my meditation practice seems to have gained clarity. I generally feel happier and more at peace. I believe that when the animals are killed at the slaughterhouses, they are filled with emotions such as fear, sadness and stress. By eating the products linked to that we must be somehow absorbing these emotions into our bodies, and being vegan has the added bonus of saving us that.
As a person who trains at the gym quite regularly, how do you feel about protein?
*laughs* Where do you get your protein from is the question that every vegan hears at least 100 times a year! As you know protein is the least of our problems. As far as I remember from our last conversation you've been vegan for 7 years now and you still didn't have any health issues related to protein deficiency! The average woman needs on average 46 grams of protein per day, 56 grams for the average man. You will get that without even trying in a healthy, balanced vegan diet. Chickpeas, beans, spinach, quinoa, tofu, tempeh and nuts are some of my favourites, most of my meals are usually based around these ingredients in one way or the other. If someone still asked you the question, just say "The same way your protein gets theirs." and it should really stop them asking again.
Since we started talking about food, what do you love eating the most?
I am not sure if I will be able to respond to this as I am a big food lover. Before going vegan I was very picky, there were a lot of foods that I would not touch. It's all changed now. I eat everything that I can put my hands on as long as it does not come from animal origin. The only thing that I struggle with is coriander but I know I am not alone! If I had to choose something that I thoroughly enjoy making and cooking then it probably would be the Polish Dumplings and Mac and Cheese, the recipes for which are both available in my book Easy Way to Go Vegan.
If you are interested in going vegan or just need inspiration for plant-based recipes, you can get Magda's book from www.easywaytogovegan.com. Magda has kindly offered an exclusive discount for Miss Organics friends, just use code MISS3 for £3 off.
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