This is an interview published by Farm.org and highlights a new volume by Virginia Messina and co-authored with Carol J. Adams and Patti Breitman:
Virginia Messina, also known as The Vegan RD, has a few books under her belt including “Vegan for Life” and “Vegan for Her;” both which I highly recommend. In her latest installment, co-authored with Carol J. Adams and Patti Breitman, “Never Too Late to Go Vegan: The Over-50 Guide to Adopting and Thriving on a Plant-Based Diet,” Messina provides essential nutritional information pertinent to folks who are over age 50. In addition, the trio of authors tackles some of the challenges facing folks who are interested in transitioning to a vegan diet later in life and help guide their readers towards a goal of ultimate health.
I was privileged to have the opportunity to interview Virginia Messina regarding her latest book. My interview is posted below. Messina will also be speaking at this year’s Animal Rights National Conference held July 10th-13th in Los Angeles, California.
1. There’s a lot of vegan books on the shelves, how is “Never Too Late to Go Vegan” different from the others; what sets it apart?
We look at issues that are often important to people over the age of 50 and that have never been addressed in any other book. For example, people over 50 are likely at some point in their lives to become caregivers for a partner or parent who is ill. That experience is different for vegans. And some of the social situations–those revolving around long-time friends or adult children–can also be different for older vegans than for younger. Dietary needs are a little bit different, too. And also, people in their 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond often think it’s “too late” to change. But people at any age can reap benefits by going vegan or taking a few steps toward veganism and we wanted to address that.
2. Why did you choose to focus on the over 50 age demographic?
Obviously, everything doesn’t change on the day you turn 50. But it’s sort of a natural cut off point. It’s the average age of menopause, and is also the average age at which some nutrient needs begin to change. The Institute of Medicine–which establishes the RDAs for nutrients–has separate recommendations for some nutrients like calcium and vitamin D for those over 50.
3. How did your collaboration with Carol J. Adams and Patti Breitman come about?
It came about because I’m the luckiest person in the world! Carol and Patti actually came up with the idea for this book. They wanted a vegan dietitian to work with them and they asked me. I’ve known them both for a long time. I contributed material to a book that Carol wrote 10 years ago or so, and Patti used to be my literary agent. I knew we’d have a great time working together and we did!
4. What made you include a section on relationship dynamics?
Other books aimed at vegans have talked about some of these issues, but they can be different for people over 50. For example, we all know that vegans sometimes experience tensions around traditional family meals. But those tensions are very different when you are the person–the mom, for example–who is responsible for those traditions. Older people might also find that some of their social circles are more resistant to their veganism. It can even cause a strain in long-time friendships.
5. I believe sharing personal stories on why and how individuals go vegan is an integral part of this book, who decided to include these personal short stories?
I think that Carol and Patti already had the idea that they wanted to interview over-50 vegans for the book before I was brought in to this project. They already had a list of people to interview. But on a whim, I asked for feedback from my blog readers who had gone vegan after 50. We were astounded at the responses from more than 100 people. Their stories were wonderful; some made us laugh, some made us cry, and others gave us good ideas for information we needed to include in the book. As a result of those responses, we ended up including more of these personal stories and observations than we originally anticipated.
6. It seems like you covered all the major topics of concern regarding veganism, was there anything you didn’t include/cover that you wish you would have?
I don’t think so. But of course, there is always something new in the world of diet and nutrition as well as endless opportunities to explore new foods and recipes. So we’re expanding on the information in the book through the blog on our website NeverTooLateToGoVegan.com.
7. What do you hope readers will get out of this book?
In Western society in particular, cultural stereotypes suggest that people become less influential and powerful as they age. But veganism is a way to feel empowered and to realize that your choices have a huge impact on so many things–not just your own health, but also on the world around you. That includes the animals we share the planet with and the planet itself. We wanted people to know that at any age, you have the power to make this life-affirming, influential change. So our book is about sharing the benefits of veganism and showing people that it is never too late to reap those benefits. And then, of course, we show readers how to be healthy on a vegan diet. There’s lots of great food, too!