Writer and speaker Jackie Day has been a longtime advocate for health and wellness. Host of the popular blog, My Vegan Journal, Jackie just published her first book, The Vegan Way: 21 Days To A Happier, Healthier, Plant-Based Lifestyle That Will Transform Your Home, Your Diet And You. We caught up with Jackie to ask a few questions and she shared one of her favorite recipes—this delicious vegan chili recipe that’s perfect for the winter!
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon crushed or chopped fresh garlic
- 2 medium to large zucchinis, sliced and quartered (2 to 3 cups)
- 1 cup chopped mushrooms (5 or 6 mushrooms)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- One 15-ounce can kidney beans
- One 15-ounce can black beans
- One 15-ounce can corn kernels
- One 15-ounce can tomato sauce
- One 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1⁄2 cup water
- Lightly film the bottom of a large pot with oil. Add the onion and sauté on low to medium heat until the onion becomes slightly translucent and golden brown on the edges. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
- Add the chopped zucchini and mushrooms. Season with the salt, black pepper, cumin, and cayenne. (If you like your chili extra mild, start with a smaller amount of cayenne and work your way up. One teaspoon of cayenne will give this chili “medium” heat. At least to my taste buds!)
- Add all of the canned ingredients. Stir in the water and simmer on low heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring every 10 minutes or as needed to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of pot.
- Taste to see if it’s as spicy as you like your chili—if not, adjust as needed. Enjoy!
JD: Thank you! I’m extremely happy folks are enjoying it. I’m starting to hear wonderful success stories out there and it makes me feel really good!
As I discuss in The Vegan Way, we’re at a pivotal juncture right now where several developments have coincided quite nicely. People are becoming increasingly curious and educated about what’s in their food, and how it’s being produced. They’re tired of being duped. They’ve become savvy as to what’s healthy and what’s not, and they understand the grave impact our food choices can have on animals and the environment, too. Consumers are discovering they don’t need dairy milk for strong bones, meat for protein, nor omegas from fish. The truth about the benefits of a healthy plant-based diet is out, and there’s no turning back.
Thankfully, companies have responded to the demand in a very big way; they’re producing convenient, tasty, affordable vegan food that’s easily accessible to mainstream America, and increasingly throughout the world. There’s also a surge in the production of cruelty-free clothes, cleaners and cosmetics, too. Heck, you can buy vegan, cruelty-free make-up at most drug stores these days for a couple of bucks; back when I went vegan in the 80’s, you had to order it via snail mail – and it was pricey.
Thanks to so many folks wanting to do the right thing, coupled with the ease at which they can now do so, the vegan population is growing fast; we’re no longer a fringe element in society. There are vegan teachers, actors, lawyers, politicians, athletes, you name it: vegans are everywhere, which makes it much more difficult for Big Ag to direct its pro-eating animals agenda. Big Ag is fighting – and hard, but now they’re having trouble figuring out whom, and how, to fight. They’re being forced to adjust to the quickly evolving plant-based paradigm because their money-motivated propaganda is starting to fall on well educated ears and everyone is jumping ship. Even the CEO of McDonald’s quit and hopped over to a 100% plant-based food company. The shift is so exiting to watch!
WOV: You share your road to veganism in the book. Can you share here what set you along that path?
JD: In a nutshell my path involved a unique combo of a grotesque experience eating a frozen TV dinner, the act of feeding our dog scraps of “meat” under the dinner table, and a fortuitous encounter with a stranger who needed a ride home. As these events unfolded, I simply started to make the connection; I began to think for myself.
At 13 years old, with a nudge from our dog at the dinner table, I began to wonder, “How can it be OK to feed our dog under the table, while stabbing my fork into a cow atop it?” I was eating a cow, while giving our dog “treats,” and it just didn’t make any sense. I also discovered that the names of many food items weren’t “food” at all. The “chicken” I was fed was actually a living, breathing, with-a-heart-that-beat chicken and “liverwurst” was actually made from someone’s liver. I no longer wanted to harm animals, and I realized I had the power to stop. I elaborate on the pivotal moments of my evolution in the chapter, “My Road To Vegan.” Readers seem to really enjoy that section. I think everyone treasures those “Ah ha!” moments, when we suddenly see so clearly, and the quest to live as compassionately as possible suddenly takes root and grows.
WOV: The subtitle of your book is “21 Days to a Happier, Healthier Plant-Based Lifestyle That Will Transform Your Home, Your Diet, and You” and you break things down for readers to learn and change things, well, one day at a time for 21 days. Why 21 days?
JD: My literary agent suggested 21 days and he’s a smart cookie. Upon suggestion, I looked into successful timeframes for making significant lifestyle changes and sure enough, 21 days turned out to be a perfect fit. Not too fast, yet short enough for the victory line to be well within sight. 21 days allows enough time to cover setting a date, finding your muse, learning about vegan food, cruelty-free entertainment, cosmetics, household cleaners, clothes, travel, and all of the key aspects of enjoying a healthy, happy plant-based lifestyle. And of course, folks can read more than a chapter each day if they’d like – or read a chapter leisurely over two – or more days. As I note in the book: I’m the guide, but the reader is steering the ship. They’re in control and are provided with all the tools and tips they need to transition to a happier, healthier lifestyle at the rate that’s best for them.
WOV: Day 1 is about finding your muse. What’s your muse—what keeps you motivated every day?
JD: They say the little things are really the big things, and I believe this to be true. When researching and writing about the sadness in the world rips my heart out, and I feel the need to catch my breath, I often heal by watching little bugs, birds and snails in the garden – or take time to enjoy the scent and beauty of a flower that wasn’t there the day before. Cuddling with our kitties helps rejuvenate me, too.
As for plugging along with writing, I have two little notes stuck to my computer that serve as a subtle muse: “You can’t edit a blank page” and “First drafts don’t have to be perfect; they just have to be written.” The sweet notes I get from friends and followers of my blog, My Vegan Journal, also provide motivation. Readers share their ups, and their downs, as they transition to becoming vegan. When they hit a bump in the road, I’m motivated to help, and when they succeed, the joy motivates me to do more.
Also knowing that there are billions of animals throughout the world, needlessly suffering in shackles, chains and cages, serves as a piercing motivator to create change – and we are. With every bite we take, and every dollar we spend, together we are creating a happier, healthier, more compassionate world – for animals, and people, too.