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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, April 8, 2004

Vegan choices enriching actress' life

 •  What do vegans eat?
 •  Going vegan?

By Zenaida Serrano
Advertiser Staff Writer

Alicia Silverstone
The simplest things make actress Alicia Silverstone "feel so happy," she said, such as picking lemons from a tree in her back yard, not buying leather and using all-natural cleaning products.

Such little acts can change the world, Silverstone told a crowd of nearly 500 last week at Hawaiian Mission Academy.

"If everyone of us just made more of an effort to recycle, to reuse, to eat organic foods, to heal ourselves, if everyone in this room did that, imagine the domino effect," said Silverstone, who gave an hourlong presentation as a guest speaker of the Vegetarian Society of Hawai'i.

Looking slim in her faded denim jeans and a sleeveless T-shirt, the Los Angeles native shared the benefits of going vegan — a diet and lifestyle that excludes all animals and animal products.

An animal lover all her life, Silverstone, 27, said she went from a "steak and doughnut" diet to vegetarianism 5 1/2 years ago, after learning about what she termed the "violence" against pigs being raised for food.

"When I got home later, I started to cry," she said. "Then I realized I'm the biggest hypocrite in the entire world because I'm (part of) the problem."

Silverstone — who starred in films including "Clueless," "Blast From the Past," and more recently the NBC show "Miss Match" — went vegan that day and never looked back.

"I really thought I was never going to get to eat anything yummy again, that I was going to be miserable and that I might even die,"

she said, drawing laughter from the audience. "Then two weeks into it, people are telling me I'm glowing."

Silverstone noticed the changes immediately: she became slimmer, the calcium marks on her nails disappeared and her eyes got whiter.

"I remember doing a scene (on 'Miss Match') where I was playing a drunk girl," Silverstone said. "... I remember the makeup artist having such a hard time with me because he said, 'Your eyes are too white! I can't get them to look like you're hung over!' "

As a vegan, Silverstone said, she learned she also was lowering her risk of getting cancer and heart disease.

Aside from the physical benefits, Silverstone said, her energy level went up, she felt much calmer, experienced less anxiety, felt more connected to the earth and gained a deeper interest in the world and environmentalism.

Silverstone's decision to become a vegan had a profound effect on her.

"For the first time in my life, I was able to say, 'No, this is not OK. Murder, torture and violence are not OK with me at all in any way, shape or form,' " she said.

Making responsible choices on what foods, clothes, makeup or cleaning products to buy was a way to say no to violence against animals, and such decisions made her feel powerful, Silverstone said.

"But I do think it starts with the choices we make to eat — we make (them) five times a day, sometimes more — so that's a really powerful weapon to have," she said. "We can create so much change."

Reach Zenaida Serrano at zserrano@honoluluadvertiser.com or 535-8174.

• • •

What do vegans eat?

Vegetarianism is a diet composed of vegetables, grains, fruits, nuts and seeds, with or without eggs and dairy products. A vegan is a vegetarian whose diet consists of plant products only.

A vegan's meals may include the following foods, most of which can be found in natural food stores and supermarkets:

Breakfast — soy yogurt, fruit smoothie, bagel or toast with jelly, and cereal or granola with nondairy milk.

Lunch and dinner — grain or soy burger, bean burrito, tofu lasagna, pasta with tomato sauce, soup or chili over rice, vegetarian hot dog, and baked potatoes.

Snacks and dessert — chips and salsa, trail mix, raisins or dried apricots, apples or oranges, pretzels or popcorn, and vegan ice cream.

Need help getting started? Receive a free starter pack that includes a vegan foods glossary and recipes: www.veganoutreach.org.

Source: Vegan Outreach

• • •

Going vegan?

Actress Alicia Silverstone, a vocal animal lover and vegan, shares these personal tips:

  • People wanting to try a vegan diet for the first time can take "baby steps," Silverstone said. She suggests going vegetarian for a month or two, avoiding animal products, especially dairy.
  • If excluding all meats is out of the question, continue eating poultry, but avoid beef and pork.
  • Eat lots of greens, such as kale, broccoli, collard greens and seaweed. One of Silverstone's favorite dishes is quick and easy to prepare: sautéed kale with shiitake mushrooms and garlic.
  • Try all-natural beauty products such as Kiss My Face, Zia Natural Skincare, Burt's Bees and Crystal Rock Deodorant, among Silverstone's favorites.
  • Buy environmentally-friendly household cleaning products. Silverstone raved about Citrusol Orange Oil.