Say hello to Mr. August! I have been a fan of his for years… His Youtube channel alone is just an awesome resource for some of the most amazing vegan recipes. It has been wonderful to watch his great healthy dishes come from Youtube all the way to the Cooking Channel! If you have not checked out his awesome work, make sure that you do (as soon as your read about him as the Sexy Bad Ass Vegan of the month). So join me in welcoming Mr. August -Jason Wrobel!
Name: Jason Wrobel aka J-Wro
Where do you live and where are you from? Los Angeles, California
What do you do for a living/profession? Professional vegan & raw food chef and TV host of How to Live to 100 on Cooking Channel
What do you like to do for fun? Singing, playing the ukulele, hardcore karaoke duels, traveling the world, long hikes in the wilderness, swimming in the ocean, yoga, pilates and reading a good book.
Why did you become vegan? Growing up in Detroit, I started to take note of the emerging diseases and health challenges starting to affect my family. When I was in my late teens, my Grandfather passed away from cancer which planted a seed of curiosity in me to find a different way of eating and living. I gradually started adding more organic foods to my diet and examining a lot of the research regarding Mad Cow Disease and genetically modified foods. As I went further down the rabbit hole, I was shocked to discover what was in our food supply and how animals were being treated in factory farms. My decision was initially motivated by personal/family health concerns and wanting to extend my lifespan and reduce my risk of disease. However, the more I researched a vegan lifestyle, the more I resonated with animal rights, environmental/human ethics and the realization that by choosing to eat differently and be more conscious of my lifestyle, I could reduce suffering, violence, disease, pollution, waste and toxicity in the world. It is the single most important and life-altering decision I’ve made.
How was your transition? I decided to take the gradual approach to veganism. I eliminated one animal product at a time (including food, clothing, body care and cleaning products) and over the course of 2 years, went from omnivore to vegetarian to adopting a full vegan lifestyle in 1998 at age 21. Doing it gradually allowed my body the time to detoxify and adjust to a new way of eating. I’m really glad I did it gently – I think that’s one of the reasons why I’ve had such long-term success with it.
What is the funniest misconception(s) that you have heard about vegans? Where do I start with this one? Shockingly, people still think that we are all just long-haired hippies walking around in hemp ponchos eating sprout sandwiches. It’s honestly hilarious how backwards some people’s ideas of modern veganism are. The other most popular misconception is that we’re all weak, scrawny, emaciated, undernourished beings. It’s easy to dispel that one with the numerous vegan bodybuilders, fitness competitors and professional athletes these days. The last one, which I hear more often than anything, is, “Yeah.. but don’t you ever miss (burgers, cheesecakes, bacon, ice cream)? People have this crazy misconception that vegans are tragically deprived when it comes to our food choices. As a professional chef and food edutainer, I’m always quick to remind people that since becoming vegan, my culinary horizons have expanded exponentially beyond what I ate on a Standard American Diet. There’s a big world of amazing plant-based foods that opens up to you when you become vegan. I’m still discovering new fruits, vegetables and superfoods all the time!
What is your Favorite thing(s) about being a vegan? The feeling that I am choosing to live from my deepest and truest values. Being vegan is the single most important and life altering choice I’ve yet made. It’s been a choice to live from my soul’s purpose and to extend compassion not only to myself and other humans, but all living beings on the Earth. It has led me to a flourishing career, to the most amazing group of friends I could have ever wished for and to my true calling in this lifetime. And honestly, I NEVER thought I’d be vegan. Growing up in Detroit – I think I was one of only three vegans in that city back in the ’90s. I did it as an experiment in my late teens to see how I would feel. I felt so damn good that I never looked back. It’s also a nice added bonus that being vegan helps me stay really lean and ripped with little excess body fat. To have people constantly remark that I look ten years younger than I am is pretty sweet, too.
What do you think makes a Sexy Bad Ass Vegan? A sexy bad ass vegan is someone who’s clear about their purpose on this planet. Someone who chooses love over fear and is unwilling to compromise their core values and ethics. It’s someone who lives, breathes and emulates compassion, style, sexappeal and power – yet is modest enough to know they don’t need to flaunt any of those qualities. A sexy bad ass veganembraces their role as an ambassador for this lifestyle and consciously chooses to use their talents and gifts to make a difference in the lives of others – both human and animal.
What is the best vegan dish that you make in your kitchen?
Well – my most POPULAR dish ever is my Cauliflower Lentil Tacos from my vegan TV series, How to Live to 100. Here’s the link to download the recipe:
- 6 ripe avocados, halved and pitted
- 1 1/2 cups diced red onion (about 2 medium red onions)
- 3 jalapenos, seeded and minced
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- Ground black pepper
- Cayenne (optional)
- 1 1/2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 1 cup green or brown lentils
- 1 head cauliflower, cored and broken into florets
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium yellow onions, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 teaspoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 cup canned tomato sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 package organic taco shells
- 4 cups shredded romaine lettuce, for topping
Add the cooked lentils to the cauliflower mixture. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons chili powder, 1 teaspoon cumin and 1/2 teaspoon coriander. Stir in the salt and pepper and cook for 3 minutes more to blend the flavors.
For the tacos: Scoop the taco filling into taco shells, top with some shredded romaine and a dollop of guacamole. Serve immediately.
The hearty cauliflower-lentil taco filling makes a great side dish on its own. Serve it alongside refried beans, guacamole and salsa. It also makes a fine filling for enchiladas.
What is the best Vegan Restaurant you have ever had the pleasure of eating at? There’s no way I can pick just one restaurant. That’s like asking me to pick my favorite song! Since I can’t pick just one, I’ll give you my top four: Pure Food and Wine in New York City, Millennium in San Francisco, Terre à Terre in Brighton, UK and Shojin in Los Angeles.
What advice do you have for those that are thinking of transitioning to a vegan lifestyle?
Do your research before you go vegan. Prepare yourself on all levels for the changes to come, both mental, emotional and physical. Really focus on your nutrition and eating a clean, minimally processed whole foods plant-based diet. Learn a ton of great recipes and get comfortable in the kitchen. Make sure your nutrient intake is both dense and balanced. From an emotional and mental level, seek out vegan groups, restaurants and like-minded individuals in your local area – and feel free to reach out on the internet to connect with people on social media. There’s an infinite number of recipes, blogs, YouTube channels and local meetup groups dedicated to veganism. Remember that you’re not alone and there’s a huge world of possibilities waiting for you when you choose this lifestyle. Remember to stay curious, hold true to your ethics and never be afraid to ask for support on your journey. It’s easier now than EVER to go vegan in 2014. You’ve got this, baby!