"Being vegan is a glorious adventure. It touches every aspect of my life -- my relationships, how I relate to the world," says Victoria Moran. Holistic health counselor, longtime vegan and all-around glowing kind of person, Moran is author of books including Creating a Charmed Life and the new Main Street Vegan, a plant-based omnibus where spirit meets stomach and magic meets Main Street.
Magic for Moran is not a sprinkling of fairy dust, it's potential, possibility, the interconnectedness of things. "Everything is connected," she says. "The way I treat myself physically is going to affect how I feel about whether I want to get up and go to the gym, if I can sit and meditate for twenty minutes or if I'm going to be all squirmy."
Moran grew up in Kansas City, during the heyday of processed food and fad diets. As a girl with weight issues, she tried them all. The daughter of a diet doctor father and a mother who ran "reducing salons -- precursor to gyms," Moran "was bad for business," she says. "It was always a struggle."
Her struggle strengthened her determination to find a better way. Moran studied food and nutrition and discovered "all of the best foods, with the most nutrition per calories -- I'd never had them." She couldn't even pronounce them. "I thought kale was pronounced kah-lay." She's been into kale and off meat since her teens and vegan for almost thirty years.
Becoming vegan "is so much easier now, there's so much more support for it." On the other hand, "we're eating more junk food in more absurd portions. If you want to be the kind of vegan who glows and ages amazingly and who doesn't have weight issues, then you'll be eating lots of greens and berries, big salads with onions and mushrooms, which are wonderful phytochemicals, and not so much processed food."
Moran's daughter Adair shares her mother's way of eating -- she's been vegan since birth -- but is less into magical, more into practical. She joined forces with Moran in writing Main Street Vegan. Subtitled Everything You Need to Know to Eat Healthfully and Live Compassionately in the Real World, it addresses big, magical issues like ahimsa, the Indian term for compassion for all species (including humans) as well as basic vegan how-tos, including recipes for cool vegan cocktails.
Working with her daughter "was just so much fun," says Moran. "One thing I see in her and lifelong vegans, she doesn't have any axes to grind. They don't have this urge to change anybody else."
Like mother, like daughter. Moran can cite vegan statistics -- "a vegan saves 209 animals a year" -- but she's not messianic. "I have a highly developed cult radar. If anyone's the least bit pushy, I'm no thank you. I don't want to be like that about this." Want to further the vegan cause? Shut up and lead by example. "The best thing you can do is bring good food to potlucks and be healthy and vibrant and lively."
Moran advocates making the switch to vegan by taking small steps rather than by radical change. "Enjoy your food, enjoy your life," and make sure your diet always includes a healthy serving of magic. "Life would be very dreary if there were no magic," says Moran. "If the real world were only that veil of tears, I just don't think could get up in the morning."
As her book's subtitle suggests, though, Moran lives in the real world. "Being vegan is not the key to immortality. We're all going to get sick and die. But to know you're living without harming? That's the loveliest feeling."
Magic Meets Main Street Mushroom Ceviche
Here's a phytochemically fab salad that uses the technique of "cooking" food in citrus. It's super refreshing for the start of summer and keeps for several days in the fridge.
½ red onion, chopped fine
1 red pepper, chopped fine
1 jalapeno, chopped fine
3 ripe plum tomatoes, chopped or half a pint of grape tomatoes, sliced
¼ cup fresh ime juice
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 bunch of cilantro, chopped fine, plus more for garnish, if desired
1 bunch Italian parsley, chopped fine
16 ounces assorted fresh mushrooms, portobello, cremini, oyster, etc. sliced
salt and pepper to taste
4 cups leafy greens, like baby spinach or arugula
Place chopped onion, red pepper and jalapeno in a large bowl. Add chopped tomatoes, juices from limes, lemons and oranges. Stir together well, season to taste. Add cilantro, parsley and mushrooms.
Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight, as time, jalapeno and citrus work their magic. Stir and taste again. Garnish with extra cilantro if desired.
Serve over greens.
Serves 4 to 6.