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Interview with Victoria Moran

My Mom's Wacky Cake by Victoria Moran, Photo by Anna Pelzer

Victoria Moran

In November 2014, I attended Victoria Moran’s Main Street Vegan Academy.  It was the highlight of my year, and maybe even the decade!  It was amazing to spend nearly a week with so many like-minded people, and I am still in contact with many of them today.  We learned about all things vegan in Victoria’s living room, and went on vegan field trips of New York City.  I highly recommend the course, and it is an honor to feature her today on the blog!  -AP

Victoria Moran (www.mainstreetvegan.net) is a vegan of over three decades, an obesity survivor, and the 2016/17 female winner of the “Peta’s Sexiest Vegan Over 50.” Listed by VegNews among the Top 10 Living Vegetarian Authors, she’s written twelve books, including The Love-Powered Diet, The Good Karma Diet, the international bestseller Creating a Charmed Life, and the iconic Main Street Vegan, whose fans range from Bill Clinton to Ellen Degeneres.

Victoria was featured twice on Oprah; she hosts the award-winning Main Street Vegan podcast; and directs Main Street Vegan Academy, the exciting in-person program in NYC that trains and certifies Vegan Lifestyle Coaches and Educators. She is also producer of the upcoming documentary film from Florida filmmaker Thomas Wade Jackson, The Compassion Project, introducing veganism to people of faith. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at MainStreetVegan.

How did you create the Main Street Vegan Academy, and how has it evolved?

It came out of a vegan miracle. Short version: My publisher wanted to take “Main Street” out of the title of my 2012 book, and I was trying to write it with other, quite uninspiring, working titles. During this period, I ran into filmmaker Michael Moore on the street, and he offered to have a 3-way call with my editor and me and convince her that it was a great title.

I said it was a miracle and I wasn’t kidding, because he actually had that call and convinced the editor. She in turn convinced the higher-ups; when she called to tell me I could have my title, ideas just started bubbling up. Among them: a Main Street Vegan radio show (that happened), and Main Street Vegan Academy, training and certifying Vegan Lifestyle Coaches in an in-person program in New York City.

I offered the first 6-day course not knowing if anyone would enroll, but twelve wonderful women and one brave man did just that. Then the American Vegan Society came through with some start-up capital that helped us get off the ground that first year. Since then, the program has thrived on its own, with 17 courses to date, and over 250 graduates from fifteen countries.

What can your students expect from the MSVA course?

They can expect an incredible life experience; wonderful friendships; enlightening classes that bring the various aspects of vegan living into a congruent whole; inspiring field trips to successful vegan businesses; and tools to translate an interest in veganism into a part-time — or in some cases full-time — business or job. We’re a very intimate program — about half the lectures actually take place in my home — and we keep each class under 20 students.

Our faculty is comprised of an astounding array of vegan luminaries presenting in three curriculum areas: Vegan Principles (all areas — animal rights, environment, health, nutrition, environment, fashion, intersectionality, vegetarian/vegan history), Communication Principles (coaching techniques, presentation techniques, social media), and Business Principles, preparing students to practice as vegan coaches and educators, open a vegan business, or work for a vegan company or nonprofit.

We also offer outstanding support and networking after the program, and in 2017 we’ll be offering our first Masters Level certification course for graduates. I had no idea how many alumni would be interested, but the class filled in two days.

What is your philosophy on the importance of meditation?

Meditation is like plugging in your electronics. Machines work when they’re powered and are useless when they’re not. We work much better when we’re powered, too. As someone with a yoga background, I think of this as being plugged into our spiritual source, but it can work in a completely secular way, too: focusing the mind results in a healthier body and a renewed attitude. The science on meditation that goes back to the 1970s is very impressive in terms of meditators’ immune function and health status. In my favorite study, people who meditated regularly for 5 years or more were shown to be 12 years younger physiologically than non-meditators. Twelve years! That’s more than you get for quitting smoking, and it comes from simply sitting quietly twice a day.

 

 

 

Can you share with our readers your experience speaking with Muhammad Ali?  What did you learn from that conversation?

When I was twenty-five, I spent the week between Christmas and New Year’s in Atlanta, sleeping on the floor of the gym in the Ebenezer Baptist Church and fasting — water only — with comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory and 120 other brave souls from around the country.

Our purpose was to draw attention to world hunger and the need for people to go vegetarian. To keep us in good spirits, Mr. Gregory had arranged for evening conference calls with prominent people — Coretta Scott King called in one night, and a couple of times, Muhammad Ali. Someone asked when he was going to become vegetarian, and he said, “When I get out of this violent business [boxing].” About a month later, I was walking through the lobby of the Crown Center Hotel in my hometown of Kansas City and there he was, the Champ himself, more handsome and charismatic in person than on TV.

Not being a shy young woman, I went up to him and said, “I was on the fast with Dick Gregory, and having you call in meant so much. You were our hero.” And Mr. I-am-the-greatest stunned me with his response: “No: you were the heroes. I should have been there fasting with you.”

What I learned in that moment was the difference between public persona and true character. Sure, he needed to get out with “I am the greatest” for his own career and for the furtherance of the cause of civil rights, but he was humble enough to call a group of nameless strangers “heroes.”

I admired Ali so much, felt such sadness at the way Parkinson’s ravaged his later life, and feel grateful to have lived at the same time as someone this inspiring.

Congratulations on being named Sexiest Vegan over 50 by PETA!  What do you plan to do during your reign?

I hope to have the opportunity to spread the word about the benefits of veganism in a bigger way. I’ve hired a publicist who plans to go out strong in January to try to get print and TV coverage, and I intend to go for partnerships with other vegan businesses and organizations.

I’m also toying with the rather daring idea of celebrating my 67th birthday in March with a photo shoot befitting SVO50 — you know, age-appropriate but showing a little skin. It’s a rather daunting thought — first, I’ll be 67; and I went to Catholic school — but being a regular person in her 60s looking good — not Christie Brinkley-good, but not bad — could be helpful for making new vegans. And if it’ll do that, I’m all in.

 

Meditation is like plugging in your electronics. Machines work when they’re powered and are useless when they’re not. We work much better when we’re powered, too.

 

 

 

My Mom's Wacky Cake by Vicotria Moran, Photo by Anna Pelzer

As a Certified Holistic Health Counselor and a proponent of whole foods, it seems contradictory to start with a recipe for a rich chocolate cake containing white flour and sugar.  The reason I’m doing it is to illustrate that, as a vegan, you can still have some blow-out-the-stops treats on those occasions you deem appropriate.  (Your dad’s birthday may be such an occasion; Rutherford B. Hayes’s birthday probably isn’t.)  Besides, Wacky Cake is a classic, invented during World War II when eggs and butter were rationed.  The version I’m sharing with you is the one I got from my mother, Gladys Marshall.  This recipe makes one 8 by 8-inch cake.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 5 tbsp mild-flavored oil

Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F
  2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into an ungreased 8×8 inch baking pan
  3. Make 3 depressions in the flour mixture
  4. Add the vanilla to one hole, the vinegar to another, and the oil the the third
  5. Add 1 cup cold water and mix well in the pan
  6. Place in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, until–and this is a direct quote–a broom straw inserted comes out clean
  7. Allow to cool for 20 minutes then top with vegan ice cream, mousse, or frosting

 

Victoria’s Notes
Even though some of these options weren’t available when my mom started making this cake, you could use unbleached white flour (or even half whole-wheat pastry flour); organic unrefined sugar, such as one of the varieties from Florida Crystals or Wholesome Sweeteners; and organic canola oil. To make a 9 x 13-inch sheet cake, double the ingredients and bake for 35 minutes.

 

Reprinted from Main Street Vegan ®, ©2012 Victoria Moran

 

 

 

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2 Responses to “Interview with Victoria Moran

  • Christine
    7 months ago

    Thank you for sharing this interview, I found it inspiring and informative and Victoria’s personality comes through in such a wonderful way.

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