Vegan chef Mark Rasmussen has the answer to the world’s ailments: going vegan.
OK, so those are my words, not his, but the way he talks about veganism, it’s safe to say he’d probably agree that a shift in global diets would create a whole lot of good.
In an interview with PETA, the talented chef and creator of Veggie Works Frozen Gourmet Vegan Dinners discusses how many of our problems, both global and local, begin at the dinner table. So do their solutions.
Read on to hear his thoughts on modern-day agriculture, the obesity epidemic, the benefits of a cruelty-free diet, and the growing popularity of veganism.
You’re obviously a leader in the vegan cuisine arena. What changes in the food industry have you noticed since you got your start? Are we heading in a better direction?
I think we are headed in a better direction. The demand for organic has been fueled by the surge of GMO [genetically modified] products dumped on the public in the last 10 years, so a big negative has fostered a big positive. There are more raw food options, gluten and wheat-free products, and plant protein products. Baking substitutes have improved and increased in variety. The increasing number of vegan cafés, restaurants, diners, and food trucks has brought the unique and eclectic talents of many vegan chefs to the public palate and has helped make great vegan food more accessible. The Internet has probably made the biggest difference in educating the public in everything from health and science to the sharing of great recipes and networking of likeminded vegans worldwide. The wall of ignorance is eroding. The word “vegan” is well known everywhere, and the lifestyle is no longer viewed as weird or unhealthy. I think all of these factors together have led to an advanced state of the art.
Why is it important for you to spread the word (and flavors!) of veganism to the masses?
I think that once people taste good vegan food preparations or eat their favorite meals rendered deliciously with vegan ingredients, they will start to respond favorably to the cuisine. The level of acceptance for veganism is increasing rapidly now and will become the norm in five years or sooner; even Bill Gates has recently said this publically. Former president Bill Clinton is now a vegan. Half of Hollywood seems to be vegan. This is the cuisine of the future. I and others in the business of creating and producing vegan food products and venues will have to be capable of handling this new demand load. There will be plenty of work to go around.
I think that veganism is the key to changing the world and its value set more than any ideological or technological means. These functions of consciousness are reactive and will follow suit to support better value structures once the common diet of mankind is vegan and plant based. I don’t think it can work the other way around. I don’t think that we can latch on to some idea or device and that will lead us to a better symbiotic relationship with our bodies and the environment we live in, but we can eat our way there. Starting at the dinner table with a plant-based diet is the best way to get there.
When we consider the natural resources of land, water, and air horrendously abused in support of the meat and dairy industries we can start to see the fringe benefits and positive side effects from the switch from a meat/dairy/sugar diet to a healthy plant-based vegan diet. That leaves more pure, clean water, land, and air for everyone and everything to share. It removes us from the karmic cycle of enslavement, torture, and deprivation of the rights of animals. I believe that this will be the next great civil rights movement. We’ve seen civil rights for women, civil rights for African Americans, and now the right of gays to marry. Next is the recognition of the rights of animals to live a life devoid of human abuse and enslavement. This will leave us no choice but to learn how to cook and eat vegan as we will develop a collective aversion to animal products.
Going vegan is the first and most important step toward a more evolved life as a human being in the 21st century. Veganism is purification from the evils of harming and depriving animals of a decent life. This clears the spirit and makes possible any and all altruistic and benefic action we can do as individuals. Caring for the environment while partaking in the consumption of factory farmed animals and animal products is an oxymoron. Championing the proper care of pets is absurd if we enslave, torture, and eat other animals. We cannot evolve our consciousness with these illogical paradigms as cornerstones of its foundation. We must remove this form of food production, support animal rights laws, and criminalize the activity of institutionalized meat and milk production sometime in the future to ensure our own survival and evolution into the advanced beings that are our potential. This is not something that ration alone can ameliorate; it must be a monumental shift in habits and values. This is most easily accomplished by simply eating healthy vegan food and letting everything take care of itself.
You make vegan eating especially easy with your line of frozen dinners. For those new to Veggie Works Frozen Gourmet Vegan Dinners, which is your favorite?
I like all four of our initial products. I like the bigger size and the fact that it’s a complete and nutritionally balanced meal. I don’t feel like I have to eat two dinners to get enough food like I do with much of the frozen food fare available to vegans.
All our products have great combinations of healthy organic vegetables, whole-grain carbs, unique and delicious sauces, and high-protein plant substances. There is a reduced amount of processing in the production of the line, and meticulous care is taken in the heating and mixing of these high quality ingredients for improved nutrient retention.
Lately, I like the American Stew quite a bit. It is a comfort stew with an upgrade of nuanced, sophisticated flavors with a variety of organic veggies and interestingly paired with herb mashed potatoes.
What do you wish more people knew about food?
I wish more people were as knowledgeable about the powers and properties of food as everything else we know so much about. We are an intelligent race, yet we are fooling ourselves by buying into the “protein myth,” or the “caveman/cowboy” myth or the “we are a predator species” myth and suffering the fate of premature death and disease by denying its destructive effects on every aspect of our existence. It’s the profitable business of addiction and denial and the manipulation of facts.
I wish more people knew that food is our medicine as well as it is our fuel and that we can adjust our health and nutritional needs by adding or subtracting different foods from our daily diet. It’s important to learn more about (vegan) foods that work better for you according to your blood and body type—and about the foods that work against you and you should avoid.
I wish more people knew that what was being fed to the animals that they eat include most of the genetically modified crops on the market. Carnivores and omnivores are consuming more genetically modified food concentrated in the flesh of the animals they eat.
I wish more people knew of the incredible health and good feeling benefits that result by avoiding sugar and processed grains.
Lastly, I wish people had a better understanding that food is the greatest and most effective way of relating and interacting with your world. Food is information, it is a language, it should impart love and wisdom and be enjoyed as a sophisticated tool of total health. Going vegan is an individual’s best way of making a statement to the world and reducing your carbon footprint without even trying. Nearly every aspect of how and why we use the resources of our landscape is based on how and what we eat. Knowing that an individual’s simple food choices can either improve our world or sicken and destroy it can be an epiphany that everyone can relate to—when they are ready to give up some outdated notions and recognize some obvious truths.
Learn anything new from Chef Mark Rasmussen? Share your thoughts in the comments section!