Beginning ‘The Plant-Based Journey’ with Author Lani Muelrath

October 30, 2015

John Shegerian: Welcome back to Green Is Good and we are so honored to have with us today Lani Muelrath. She is an author, teacher and speaker, and she has just written a book called “The Plant-Based Journey.” Welcome to Green Is Good, Lani. Lani Muelrath: Thank you, John. I’m so happy to be here. John Shegerian: We’re so happy to have you. And as my listeners know, I am a full-blown vegan. I love the vegan lifestyle so to me it’s always wonderful to have a vegan thought-leader like you on the show and talking about these important issues surrounding veganism and the journey of sustainability that we all are on right now. Lani Muelrath: Well, they’re intrinsically connected. Sustainability and what we put on our plates and how we feed ourselves is critical to making a difference with sustainability. And there is more about this, too. Not just with the sustainability connection – and hopefully, we’ll have time to address this later in the call, too. John Shegerian: Yeah. Lani Muelrath: But it’s not just how you eat, but it’s making changes in a way that is sustainable and that is central to my message. John Shegerian: And that’s what I want to talk about – before we get talking about your new book. Lani Muelrath: Yeah. John Shegerian: First of all, for our listeners who want to find you, they can go to your website, www.LaniMuelrath.com. Talk a little bit about the Lani Muelrath journey. How did you even become so minded about what you eat and so minded about green and sustainability? Lani Muelrath: Yeah. Well, it’s always good to tell the story of how people come to a pathway, right? John Shegerian: Yeah. Lani Muelrath: And by the way, if people are looking for an easy way to get to my website, another way to get there is just www.ThePlantBasedJourney.com. John Shegerian: Perfect. Lani Muelrath: So everyone knows how to spell that – if you forget how to spell my name – and you’ll land there. My own journey is, actually, I have been vegetarian for like 42 years. John Shegerian: Whoa. Lani Muelrath: It’s really been forever. But long before that I was also – I grew up in a family where my parents were not vegetarian/vegan, but they had a big organic garden and my mom was very into being able to sustain the family as much as possible on homegrown food and my dad had a green thumb so that was kind of my background in what I ate. Also, we were very active. We did a lot of camping. And that is really central to my message about how movement is not only good for physical health but because of what it does for your brain. That’s a whole other topic we’ll have to get together about, again. John Shegerian: Yes. Lani Muelrath: But for myself, my journey really was focused on my weight. I struggled with my weight. I am one of those people genetically predispositioned to easily gain and have difficulty losing weight. I know a lot of listeners on your show can relate to that. And it was always a quest to find some way that I could be full without being fat, because I had this voracious appetite and I found if I just ate freely of whatever, it didn’t pan out well for my weight goals. So I struggled with that for a long time. And vegetarianism helped with that, but you know what? As long as you’re still eating some animal products and some more processed foods, it didn’t get me where I wanted to go. Being able to eliminate dairy and really focus on the whole foods made a huge difference. So that’s a big shift for me. John Shegerian: Interesting. So veganism. Lani Muelrath: I did lose 50 pounds, actually, about 20 years ago and have sustained it easily. John Shegerian: And that’s important. I only have a picture of you. I have never met you. I have a picture of you and you don’t look like you have any weight problems anymore – let’s just say that for our listeners. Lani Muelrath: Yeah. John Shegerian: Which is great. Lani Muelrath: Yeah. John Shegerian: Veganism and vegetarianism has become sort of a cool and hot topic nowadays. Why do you think this is becoming more discussed in the media than ever before? Lani Muelrath: I think it’s we can’t avoid the fact anymore. And because there is so much connection with media and easy accessibility to information with the environmental crisis – with the health crisis – and all of these things have made us have to advance this information that we have had for a long time. John, I’ll tell you, 40 years ago, when I became a vegetarian, it was for health, the environment and the animals. Do we have these situations today? John Shegerian: Right. Lani Muelrath: The same situation is just accelerated, but it has become more to a head and especially – just an example is the drought. We can see public messages about “turn off the faucet.” Well, turning off the faucet while you’re brushing your teeth is not going to make near as much an impact on our use of our water resources as choosing like broccoli over beef or chickpeas over chicken. Those make a bigger difference because, as we know, 50 percent of the water used in our country goes to sustaining the animal agriculture. That is not just for giving them direct water to drink but to provide them with the food that they need and all of the other things in the industry as you know. So those are all part of my journey, too. They were really important but it was really important to me to be able to find a way to manage my weight easily, too, as well as considering the environment and the animals. John Shegerian: Right. Like you said, it’s macro reasons – sustainability and making the world a better place than we found it – and these micro reasons like we all have. I’m the same as you. I’m predisposed to gain weight so to me, I started it as a way to just watch – not to become really big, to try to stay thin. Lani Muelrath: Get some kind of management on it, yeah. John Shegerian: But like you said, when you start thinking about the macro benefits of it, it’s incredible and it really is the better way to live. Lani Muelrath: Yeah. John Shegerian: Talk a little bit about your book, “The Plant-Based Journey.” Why does your book take a different approach than other books that people read about plant-based living? And give some tips to our listeners please, Lani, about how to get on the journey and how to do it in a way – as you said at the top of the show – that it will be a sustainable journey not one that would be easy to just fall off of. Lani Muelrath: Well, “The Plant-Based Journey” is different in that this is the first transition guide that is written by a teacher and a behavior change specialist. The doctors and the dieticians who have so many wonderful resources and books out there for us give us the fundamentals and the foundations of the nutrition. And they might give us ideas about recipes and meal plans and all those are critical pieces of information. But when it comes to connecting it with your reality, that is where I come in and that is where my years of struggle with this journey really informed the process, and – this is really exciting too – I have surveyed over 1,200 people who have successfully made this transition. Some of them my clients. Some of them – I also work with the Physicians Committee and it’s for responsible medicine and it’s one of their celebrity coaches. So I’ve been able to engage with many people over the years, and I said, “What is it that has made you be able to successfully transition?” Because, as you just said, we know that not everybody can – we can all respond to the directive of “here is what you should do now just go do it.” Well, nobody would need any assistance or help. We would all be radiantly healthy and ideal weights, right? John Shegerian: Right. Lani Muelrath: Where is that connection with your reality and how do you make that happen? This is why I’m really glad to speak with you today, John, because the sustainability factor is really an important piece when it comes to lifestyle change. The old way of just telling people what to do is clearly ineffective. Some people can do that, but they’re really a rare breed, aren’t they? John Shegerian: Right. Lani Muelrath: So when you want to go to that transition and sustainability – and let me give you an example. John Shegerian: Yeah. Lani Muelrath: And I really address this in depth in “The Plant-Based Journey,” and on the website you can see the endorsements for the book, which really edify and underscore this difference of the book. This is because I have done it in a very accessible and doable way. I present that there are various ways that you can go about this transition because everybody isn’t the same, but one really critical piece that has been important for people is to think of this in terms of micro-changes that you can make over time to move in a direction that you want to go. Black or white thinking right out of the gate works for some people, but for most people, it’s just a recipe for taking the backdoor out with excuses because “I can’t be perfect,” and we all seem to have that stumbling block coming in. I encourage people and everyone listening on the show – whether you are far along this journey to better health with a better diet or you’re just getting started – this is something that everyone can apply for taking the next step and that is to first find where you want to go and then breakdown to get there, what would that look like? For example – and this just happened with someone I recently worked with – she came to me and she wanted help with her weight and she knew she needed to, she had the idea that eating more vegetables and having more vegetables in her diet would help her with her weight loss goals. Her problem was that she would go through days many times without eating any vegetables. So you can see that there is a standard right there. Something very simple to work with. But for her to say, “OK, I’m going to look at this food plan; it’s essential to have 10 vegetables a day” and to expect that change overnight really requires several micro changes to happen. First, she has to find out what the vegetables are to eat, then she has to procure them, then she has to prepare them, then she has to have them with her at the right points in time whether she is eating at home or on the road or in the office. John Shegerian: Right. Lani Muelrath: So it’s really kind of an overwhelming task. And people feel silly breaking this down into small bits so for this particular person where we started was we started with “Well, let’s have two servings of vegetables a day,” and we planned exactly how she would procure that, when she would eat it and that was doable. And you know what, John? She told me about a month later, after we had progressed and she was easily eating six or seven servings a day, she said, “When you first said that, I was thinking, ‘This is silly. How can this little change make a difference?’ But now I see because we progressed from one or two a day to three a day and did it in a sustainable way.” Well, look a year down the road. Where is this going to go? John Shegerian: Right. Lani Muelrath: Far further than if you took a strict diet and said, “It’s either this or that,” and failure, again. Another important element that’s different about this approach- John Shegerian: Yeah. Lani Muelrath: Is I really pull in the importance of physical activity for making lifestyle change because of the effects it has on your brain. I have a very deep background in kinesiology and physical education, and yet it’s more than the physical fitness. It’s about opening up pathways – actually physically activity is the simplest most direct way you give muscle to the building block of the brain, which is essential for lifestyle change. You know how sometimes people feel stuck in their old behaviors and like stuck in cement? John Shegerian: Yeah, of course. Lani Muelrath: Well, you can’t get out of the cement without moving your body, which basically starts to un-cement you because of its effect on the neurons in your brain. I also really address deeply mindfulness and having mental mastery. So those sections are actually separate sections in the book – the physical activity to support lifestyle change and mental mastery to support lifestyle change. All to get you moving in the right direction. We don’t want to leave it to chance. John Shegerian: So you’re approach is holistic. It’s diet and exercise. Lani Muelrath: Yeah. John Shegerian: So for our listeners who have just joined us, we have Lani Muelrath with us today. She is talking about her new book, “The Plant-Based Journey.” You can check out Lani at www.LaniMuelrath.com or at www.ThePlantBasedJourney.com. Lani, where are we going, though? What are some other steps people can do if they’re “Oh, organic is more expensive than regular food” and “Being a vegan or vegetarian is more expensive than just buying some fast food” or other things that people do – how do you overcome some hurdles that people throw your way since you are in the business of both changing minds, hearts and bodies? Lani Muelrath: Yeah. Well, you know what I like to do, John, is really get to the heart of the matter and if someone in their mind is seeking out obstacles to change. So really a lot of these questions come from that place, and I like to meet the people at that place because all of these questions are important. Affordability is important and how you do nutrition is important. But the most important thing is just getting started with moving in the direction of getting more whole plant foods on your plate. And there are multiple resources for how to do that in a fashion that is far less expensive than eating a standard American diet. If you’re just eating fast food, then you can probably eat for a dollar a meal three times a day, and I just don’t think that anyone approaching their health and their well-being is really interested in sustaining that. People really do want to be healthy. They really do want to make these changes but they are fearful of these things. What I say – as I got back to – is, “What I behind these things?” and usually, at the core of this is this fear of change, this reluctance to let go of things as they are. And once we start exploring and answering those questions and addressing the real problems that are underlying all of these kinds of little distractions on the outside, then we can make some positive progress with micro changes. John Shegerian: Got you. And for our listeners, also, they can actually go to your website and they can hire you to work with them during this transformation, during this journey. Is that correct? Lani Muelrath: Yeah, I do coaching along with speaking and my writing, and there are multiple free resources, John, I really want to point out to people. John Shegerian: Please. Lani Muelrath: To kind of connect with this holistic approach. For example, I have a free special report that went up just a couple of weeks ago and it specifically goes into some of the steps for specific change, and it’s called “Four Steps To Halt Creeping Weight Gain And Feel Better In Your Clothes Today,” and most people can relate to the creeping weight gain thing, but that’s a 10-page free download that actually has the four steps of change that I go through in “The Plant-Based Journey” so people can really get a taste. There is also a 40-page download excerpt of the book itself. Dr. Colin Campbell who wrote “The China Study” – as we all know – wrote this wonderful preface and Dr. Neil Bernard in the foreword, and then there is my introduction and you get introduced to the steps of the journey as I have them in the book. This is unique in that it is broken up into five specific steps that everyone who is successful on this journey goes through. It’s kind of fun because you can find yourself somewhere along the way. John Shegerian: And people can buy your book on www.Amazon.com, www.BarnesAndNoble.com, in good bookstores all across the country, correct? Lani Muelrath: Yeah. It’s in preorder right now. But here is another bonus. On the website at www.LaniMuelrath.com, I have preorder bonuses. I’m very excited to give back. I really want to advance this message that has been my – that’s how I work. I really want more and more people to benefit from this so for preorders on my website there are bonus gifts. There is the weight loss chapter of the book as a free instant download once you preorder because she is officially releasing in September. John Shegerian: Got you. Lani Muelrath: And there is a whole list of preorder bonus gifts so you can go anywhere – you can go direct to Amazon and then just a receipt over to an email that is on that bonus gift page on my site. So I’m really about giving away. There are a lot of resources here. John Shegerian: That’s awesome. We’re down to the last two minutes or so. I want to leave that open for you to share your best tips for or listeners to live a better life – whether they go fully vegan or vegetarian or just partially. Give some other thoughts to our listeners that they can integrate into their lifestyle. Lani Muelrath: Well first is I invite everyone to listen to that awakening. And that is the first step on “The Plant-Based Journey,” as I’ve described it. John Shegerian: Yeah. Lani Muelrath: And everyone has either heard something, read something or talked to someone who has awakened this desire in them to move in this direction of plant-based eating and away from our consumption of animal products and processed foods, which really comprises more than 90 percent of the American diet. I suggest people to listen to that. And as you move forward and go into the next stages – the next stage is “scout” where you find out what the fundamentals are and then you become a “rookie” and you learn how to practice these things. But watch how you move through these processes. As an adult it’s very hard for us to learn new things. We feel like we should know it all or we know how to do it, but if we give ourselves the room to explore and experiment, and have compassion with ourselves for learning a new process, and get out of this black or white thinking like “I either fail or a success,” this is where the beauty of micro changes come in. So to everyone listening, I just invite you, what is one simple thing that you could do today – whether it’s eating another vegetable, another piece of fruit, taking a five-minute walk that you didn’t take yesterday. What is one thing that you can do to move yourself in the direction of radiant health and whole food plant-based eating and moving? John Shegerian: That is pretty great stuff. And for our listeners out there, I say the first thing is to order your new book “The Plant-Based Journey.” Lani Muelrath: Well, thank you for that, yeah. And as I said, there is so much available right away. Right off the bat, you can get some free downloads, so yeah, don’t hesitate. September will be here before we know it anyway. John Shegerian: September will be here. But beyond that go to your website. I have been on your website and your website is just amazing and full of great information that our listeners should go to. So your website is www.LaniMuelrath.com or www.ThePlantBasedJourney.com. Lani Muelrath, you are making the world a better place and are truly living proof that Green Is Good. Lani Muelrath: Thank you.