As someone who has been a long time follower of Anna’s Instagram account @easyanimalfree, I was stoked as all heck to sit down and chat with her about her work within the plant-based community.
If ya don’t know who this hard-hitting, plant-eating, everyday plant-based hero is, get ready to be inspired!
Anna is a plant-based food lawyer and director of the Plant-Based Policy Centre, working to create real policy change within our food system. She’s also one of the nicest humans ever and so incredibly passionate about good food.
Here are some of her hot-tips on living a plant-based lifestyle and eating a plant-based diet.
What have been your biggest hurdles while living plant-based? – Jamieson McCormack
“I find eating vegan pretty easy. I love food. I’m always thinking about what I’m going to eat next! So I personally don’t find the food itself to be that challenging. What can be difficult are the social aspects of living plant-based. There are many occasions where being “the vegan” can create some social tension, and I hate that. You know, when you’re the one guest at a dinner party who isn’t just going to “eat anything”. And then, for me, I also found it difficult to be living in a world where violence against animals is normalized. So those two aspects have been the most challenging part.
This becomes even more layered as a parent. Often birthday parties or school events come up which require a little more navigation. But, you know what, it’s not a big deal. I think it’s good for us to learn how to stand up for ourselves in this world. And to do it with grace, love, and compassion for those around us.” – Anna Pippus
I feel ya on this! When I first went plant-based all I’d have to say is “I’m following a vegan lifestyle now!” and other people immediately became defensive of their choice to be an omnivore. As though my personal choice for myself was an attack on their way of living. – JM
“Totally! And I think that’s what can make plant-based living difficult. Versus, say you had an allergy, people wouldn’t be triggered in that way. So I totally get it. But it makes us stronger people for it, because we have to develop the mental strength to deal with those reactions. Understand where they’re coming from, have compassion, and rise to meet the occasion. And those are incredible life skills to have in general. So, although it’s challenging, it leads to much deeper personal growth.” – AP
One-hundo-p. Overcoming adversity makes us stronger! So, what would be your top recommendation to someone who has hesitations but is overall curious about living plant-based or the vegan diet? Any tips for those interested in becoming plant-based? – JM
“First off, know that hesitation is normal. So normal! Any lifestyle change can be overwhelming. But as long as you know your motivation, you’ve got this. Whether it’s ethical, or to support your health, or to avoid chronic disease, or environmental; that’s number one – knowing your motivation. Read up on whatever drives you and become an expert. Really understand why it’s important to you. We’re all going to have different motivations, and that’s beautiful.
And then, just start one meal at a time. You don’t need to commit to banishing all animal products overnight. The point is not personal purity, the point is simply to do our best and to live a little better. And this is going to differ from person to person. Where you live, who you live with, what your budget is like, how much time and energy you have… your journey is going to be different from mine and don’t ever apologize for that. Just start where you are and take one step forward at a time – whatever that looks like for you.” – AP
So much yes to this! It’s about development, learning, and doing our best – not living “perfectly”. What’s your fave plant-based swap? Like, the easiest thing to change up? – JM
“Hahaha, honestly, and I’m not just saying this because I’m talking with you, but plant-based milk. It really is the first thing I tell people! It’s such an easy swap and there are so many delicious options now. They’re really accessible, they’re affordable, and better for our planet. So that’s a really easy swap anyone can make today.” – AP
That’s so true! Plant-based milk really is an easy-to-find grocery staple. What would be some of your other pantry “must-haves”? Like, top 5. – JM
“That’s SO HARD to narrow it down to 5! Plant-based eating is one of my favourite things. I love food. And plant-based nutrition is so rich and diverse. But I’ll try and narrow this list down to 5 faves.
- Chickpea Flour
- I use this to make really quick lunches. Like, chickpea flatbread or crepes. And these are packed with plant-based protein.
- Red Lentils
- Unlike beans, which need to be soaked, you can cook red lentils super fast. You can create a red lentil soup or stew in under half an hour.
- Coconut Milk
- I love having coconut milk on hand! You can add it to a dish for this delicious full-body fat. Throw it in a red lentil soup with curry powder, and dinner is done!
- Plant-Based Milk
- I know I already mentioned this, but it’s worth noting twice. When you’re a parent, having a good soy milk on hand is a must. It is a great protein and fat source for little ones. We add it to pancakes or oatmeal – anywhere where you would put cow’s milk, you can replace it with plant-based milk.
- In the summer, this is a garden staple for me. But, in the winter, it’ll always be in my fridge. We have to get our cruciferous vegetables in every day. They’re a superfood that can be eaten raw, like in a salad, or cooked in various ways. My kids love kale chips and they’re so easy to make! I eat kale at least once, if not twice, a day. It’s an obsession. – AP
Hey, I get it. It’s not kale, but I’m obsessed with romaine lettuce. I eat a head of it every day and everyone thinks I’m so weird. I just break leaves off and dip them in hummus like they’re chips! – JM
“That sounds delicious to me!” – AP
We understand each other. – JM
“Hahaha, we do.” – AP
Okay, I think this’ll be a tough question, but what’s been the biggest impact you’ve noticed since embracing plant-based living. Either just with yourself or in the world? – JM
“Actually, for me this is easy! From day one I felt lighter. I felt like I was living in alignment with my values and that I was doing this one small thing each and every day to make the world a better place. That has given me so much joy and fulfillment all throughout my 10 years of veganism. When I read a scary headline or learn something else terrifying about animal agriculture I am proud of myself for doing my part.
So many global issues like climate change, rainforest destruction, animal suffering, and worker exploitation and linked to animal agriculture. And through what we choose to eat, we can actually do something positive to help three times a day! To me that is so empowering.” – AP
Heck yeah! I love it. Okay, let’s dip into a fun question. Like, what are your fave plant-based restaurants? Maybe, pick 5 between Vancouver and Toronto? – JM
See, these are the tough questions! Eating plant-based is easier than ever. So many restaurants have opened in the past few years and so many are becoming vegan. The options are endless, but I’ll try.
- The MeeT locations
- They’re a must-visit for those from out of town. They have such a delicious and robust menu.
- They have the most amazing brunch! And their location is whimsical and fun. Great spot to bring the family.
- Po Kong
- This place is so uniquely Vancouver. It’s a Buddust based Chinese food restaurant. And they do all the mock meats that Buddhists have been doing for centuries, even before we came along with our nouveau trendy versions. Buddhist chefs have been doing it forever!
- Kupfert & Kim
- They make these healthy salads and bowls that are so nourishing and flavourful. When I was going into labour with my first son I had a Kupfert & Kim bowl and that’s what powered me through! So it’ll always have a special place in my heart.
- The Fresh Restaurants
- You just can’t go wrong with Fresh. They’re accessible restaurants and delicious eats. A must-go if you’re in Toronto.
I also have a blog on my website with more Vancouver hot spots. Narrowing it down is just way too hard!” – AP
I hear ya. We’re living in a time where there are so many great options, it’s pretty impossible to choose. Which is a good thing. – JM
“Right? Too much choice. We’re living the plant-based dream!” – AP
Speaking of dreams, you’re such an inspiring advocate when it comes to regulatory plant-based change. Taking it beyond a plant-based diet. What drives you to do this work? – JM
“Well, there are only ever going to be some of us who have the time and the resources to make individual behaviour change. Now, don’t get me wrong, personal choices are absolutely critical to driving forward social and cultural change. But, at the end of the day, what we really need are policy changes. Good food choices need to be the easy food choices. They need to be accessible, they need to be affordable, people need to know why they’re important, and there need to be limits on the availability of artificially cheap animal-based foods.
The way we’re eating now is so detrimental to marginalized communities, to animals, to our personal health, and the environment. What we really need to do is take this wonderful momentum that we as consumers have and translate it into regulatory change.
But it all works together. The government will change when the people demand it. When “plant-based” is on everyone’s lips. When everyone understands the link between animal agriculture and the environment. We need policy changes that make living plant-based the easy choice.” – AP
Yeah, like hospital food. Supporting government regulated food programs to offer better options. – JM
“Exactly. And legumes, fresh veggies, or nuts and seeds are such cost-effective alternatives. We need to fight for policies that require better food for everyone.” – AP
It sounds so intuitive. But it’s actually such a big job you have, to work for this change! Honestly, I’m so grateful for humans like you. Advocating for a better future for all of us.
Final question: 5 years from now, do you think we’ll have evolved to see some of these changes come to life? – JM
“I think so. I think people are capable of a lot of creativity and resilience. And we’re getting to a point where a lot of these issues, which have been bubbling up for years, are starting to crystallize, to become accepted as fact. Now most people understand that eating lower on the food chain is better for our environment. Even mainstream international chains are now offering plant-based options and touting their benefits.
The food and products we invest in have power. We can demand change through our lifestyle choices and I think that’s so incredible. And with so many people getting turned onto plant-based, I definitely think we’ll reach a tipping point. Where it’ll just go like dominos and there will be no looking back.” – AP
Plant-based dominos. – JM
“Made from fair-trade dark chocolate.” – AP
Oh my gawd, sign me up! – JM
“Right?! It’s a pretty bright and delicious future.” – AP
If you want to keep following along with Anna and all her in incredible initiatives, follow @easyanimalfree on Instagram or check out her website Easy Animal-Free. She also may or may not be publishing a pretty epic book sometime in the near future *wink wink, nudge nudge*
We don’t know about you, but over here at Earth’s Own we’re pretty grateful for humans like Anna. Creating real change through the power of plants.