One of the most rewarding aspects of being vegan and being a vegan blogger is that you quickly become part of an extended family. Vegans from coast-to-coast meet up online and, sometimes in person, to share recipes, thoughts, ambitions, goals, time, and ideas. There is a vegan celebrity underground.
I’m not talking about Woody Harrelson and Joaquin Phoenix, although they can both attend our next potluck, I’m talking about the Vegan Zombie, The Fat Gay Vegan, Happy Herbivore, Guys Go Vegan, Tuxedo Cat, Will Travel for Vegan Food, Peaches and Greens, Melisser Elliott, and Kayle Martin of Cowgirls and Collard Greens.*
Kayle is a two-time breast cancer survivor, a graduate of the Living Foods Institute and the Founder and Chief Cowgirl of Cowgirls & Collard Greens, a cowgirl themed vegan lifestyle website and blog. Kayle actively shares her cancer story at conferences, on national radio programs and has been featured in the Keep A Breast magazine, Cosmopolitan magazine, and most recently was a guest on The Vegan Zombie’s cooking show. In her free time, Kayle juices greens, counsels newly diagnosed breast cancer patients at her local hospital, seeks out new vegan restaurants, and lives a life full of fun! And I was luck enough to grab her for an interview.
MV: Who is your #1 vegan celebrity crush?
KM: Can my vegan celeb crush be female? Those who are close to me know that my all time favorite vegan, is Kris Carr. Kris is a fellow cancer survivor (cowgirl), New York Times bestselling author, the star of her own film, Crazy Sexy Cancer, as well as the author of several books with similar titles. If it weren’t for Kris Carr, it’s not likely I’d be having this interview with you right now. She’s the primary reason that I am vegan. I’ve met her twice briefly, but sadly I’ve had bouts with verbal diarrhea both times. It would be a dream come true to spend some quality time swapping stories and recipes with Kris while hanging out on her farmette in Woodstock, New York. Can someone please make a cowgirl’s dream come true?
MV: If we opened your refrigerator right now, what would we find?
KM: That’s a really good question, and perhaps an embarrassing one too! This may be the interview where I come clean with something … cowgirl doesn’t cook. Can you believe it? That probably sounds pretty strange coming from a vegan, but to be truthful, I am on the go quite a bit. I joke that my nickname should be “Vegan on the Go”. But to answer your question, I do have the basics in the refrigerator, and by that I mean, vegan condiments. Vegenaise anyone?
MV: How long have you been vegan and how long do you plan to stay that way?
KM: I’ve been vegan for nearly six years after being vegetarian for most of my life. I’ve never understood the whole “I used to be vegan” thing. It puzzles me that people can revert back to eating meat, dairy and eggs after knowing (and feeling) the the amazing benefits that a plant-based diet provides. Plus, being vegan means trying to suck less, right? Who wants to suck more, I mean really. This cowgirl is vegan for life. Yeehaw!
MV: You used food to fight cancer. Do you think that others are missing out on a tasty cure?
KM: Of course I do! I became a raw vegan within a few months of my initial cancer diagnosis, and within a matter of days I felt the most amazing I had ever felt in my whole life. Drinking green juice and eating raw fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds really put a pep in my cowgirl step! I truly believe that food can heal and serve as medicine. Plus, being vegan is not only tasty, but it’s so good for you! There’s a great t-shirt that Compassion Co makes that says, “Anything you can eat, I can eat vegan” and that’s exactly how I feel. Being vegan is both easy and delicious!
MV: What are your top two favorite books on being vegan? Favorite movies?
KM: I have to say that Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead is one of my favorite “vegan” or health related films. There’s so much inspiration in that documentary. I often tell people who are curious about veganism, health or wellness to watch it. If the grossly overweight truck driver in the movie, can make the change anyone can! As for books, I am sort of obsessed with vegan cookbooks which is really strange considering I don’t cook. I think they are pretty and make nice, colorful additions in my kitchen. My most recent purchases have been Eating Vegan on $4 a Day by Ellen Jaffe Jones and Cookin’ Crunk by fellow country vegan, Bianca Phillips.
MV: Sweden boasts a 10% vegetarian/vegan population, do you think the U.S. will get there?
KM: I do. In the six years I have been vegan, I have seen a tremendous rise in the interest of veganism and plant based diets. You see vegan items on nearly every restaurant you go to nowadays. My hope is that veganism isn’t just a fad or trend, but that it really sticks. The results are really the proof. I have kept 25-30 pounds off on a vegan diet just simply by my food choices alone. Someone quote me please; veganism is the future, and the future is vegan.
MV: Why are Swedes so cool and what is your favorite country to visit for vegan foods?
KM: Swedes are cool, though I can’t say I have ever visited Sweden. I hope to someday. Hands down, my favorite place to travel is Italy. While not super vegan friendly, they like their meat and cheese, I did manage to get by on a 100% raw vegan diet when I traveled there a few years ago. You’d often find me stopping to purchase raw fruits and veggies at small local grocers and at farmer’s markets. Because I am not on a 100% raw food diet anymore, I think traveling in Italy will be much easier the next time around.
MV: What do you hope people take away from your website cowgirlsandcollardgreens.com?
KM: I’d like folks to know that being vegan isn’t hard and that anyone can do it. It’s a matter of setting your mind to make the change, just like any goal in life. Because of a cancer diagnosis, I went vegan overnight, but some people might need to make small steps to change their lifestyle gradually. Perhaps through my story and my blog, people can recognize that I am healthy and feel great even after not one, but two breast cancer diagnoses. In fact, I was never sick while undergoing allopathic cancer treatments, and I believe plants had a lot to do with it. My greatest hope is for people to take their health into their own hands. If I can inspire just one person to live a happier, healthier life, then I have done my job.
MV: Where’d you learn to dance like that?
KM: Ha ha ha! You mean like this?
As a child, when I wasn’t on horseback, you could often find me singing and dancing. I used to tromp around the house making up dance routines to Cyndi Lauper and Madonna. I was even in a “show pop” singing and dancing choir in both junior high and high school. Can you say sequins and cummberbuns?
MV: If I were coming over for dinner tonight, what would you make me?
KM: See answer to question #2. Ha ha! You might be out of luck if you come to my house for dinner, especially unexpectedly. Knowing me, I’d probably grab some fresh vegan tamales from my local co-op. I’d steam them, and top them with salsa, guacamole and some vegan sour cream. If you came for breakfast, however, I’d make you The Green Cowgirl, my delicious cancer-fighting green juice. Check it out here. Either way, just give me a heads up before you head over; I’d like to at least pretend to be prepared!
I will, Kayle!
* There are many, many, many more vegan bloggers, writers, chefs, and celebrities I’ve become close with. Too many to list here.