I’ve lived all over the US, including Japan and Dubai. After becoming a vegan in L.A. then moving to Texas a year later was quite an adjustment. We live just north of Dallas/Fort Worth in a small suburban town called Highland Village that has gradually become more and more vegan-friendly over the past 4 years. I still go back to L.A. on a regular basis to visit my daughter and eat at the forever multiplying vegan restaurants all over the city. But L.A. is not a reality. Where I live is. Many people are not aware of what ‘vegan’ even means. Many times they will point to the chicken section on the menu. After experiencing my own ‘Aha’ moment of how amazing it is to ‘go vegan’, I realized that there are many people out there missing out on this life changing phenomenon. So, I educated myself to help others that are interested in transitioning to a vegan lifestyle. I received my Plant Based Nutrition certification from Cornell University and became a Culinary Nutrition Expert, through the Academy of Culinary Nutrition. I recently started teaching cooking classes on healing foods which happen to be vegan but focus on whole plant-based foods. My main focus is gut health. I am currently in web development for the vegan cooking school. Also in the near future are vegan cooking retreats. Follow www.GreenSparkMafia.com for updates.
What was the moment you realize that you wanted to go vegan?
Over six years ago, before I became vegan, I felt old and sick. This was after attending an event in Beverly Hills, CA. My friends had done a documentary on a group of people that went whole food plant based. These people were part of a food bank, went vegan and lost weight, went off most of their medications and felt alive again. After hearing their stories, I went vegan that very day. I had no idea what to eat, but I slowly figured it out. Then the blinders were removed. I watched documentaries on factory farming and how the animals and workers were being exploited. Not only that but how they were pumped full of antibiotics and other medications and being fed food that made them sick. The idea of feeding my family sick meat from suffering animals seemed wrong. Then I learned about the way animal agriculture is killing our planet and contributing to world hunger. Being vegan just made sense. Since then, my family became vegan, one by one. Even my mom is vegan.
How long have you been Vegan?
6 years. I was vegetarian in my 20’s but consumed so much dairy that it made me sick, so I stopped. When I found out about a vegan diet, all was a well in the world.
Why is being Vegan important to you?
It just feels right. If you believe in Karma, you can see how it makes sense. Cause suffering, you suffer. Eat a sick animal, you become sick. Eat a dead animal, you are fueling your body with death. Eat life, you are alive, vibrant. Eat a rainbow, you feel happy and free. Stop killing animals, then the planet can heal. Stop polluting the waterways and life will come back. Stop overfishing and we will once again have life in the ocean. Stop killing and violence will cease.
Do you have a blog or favorite vegan blog you read?
I have an Instagram page with vegan food and recipes called @BrookeAli_GreenSpark_Mafia.
Any recommended social sites, Facebook Groups or other?
On Facebook: Our Vegan Journey is great for new vegans. I also am part of many local vegan groups on FB – Vegans of North Texas, Vegan Families of North Texas, etc. I also like my friends over at vegsource.com. The Dallas/FortWorth Area has a very strong and supportive vegan community:
The Harvest Hands orchestrates the tastiest vegan, four-course pop-ups in Dallas restaurants that otherwise wouldn’t have vegan options. Then after the event, the venues usually implement them into their menu! (Instagram: @theharvesthandstx)
We also have a quarterly pop-up market called V Market Dallas that provides a venue for local vegan businesses to sell or advertise their services and products. (Instagram: @vmarketdallas)
Any recommended Vegan books?
Do you have a favorite movie or videos or your own media that you want to share?
Do you actively promote veganism? How? Please share any stories you would like.
I promote veganism through food on my Instagram page, website and cooking classes. Also, work with the Humane League of Dallas. I like to promote change in a positive way, without forcing anything on anyone. After all, I too ate meat. People are on their own journey. If they want to learn, I am there. No judging. The less meat people consume, the less death. That’s why I’m writing a book, teaching classes and posting recipes on my website and Instagram. Many of my kid’s friends want to go vegan but are lost on what to eat. So I’m trying to bridge the gap on how to gradually switch over to a healthful vegan diet and some naughty treats as well.
Do you miss any non-Vegan foods?
Not at all. There seems to be an alternative for practically everything. We can actually make meringue cookies with the water from a can of garbanzo beans. They taste amazing too. (recipe attached) Plus, I prefer just regular, whole, plant-based foods. I couldn’t be happier being vegan.
What is your favorite Vegan meme?
I think it is important to keep a sense of humor and not get too caught up in the negative side of what we are trying to turn from. I follow a page on Facebook called Vegan Humor where people share jokes. Plenty of memes there.
What is your favorite Vegan stereotype? If someone asks you a question about it, how do you respond?
Probably a lot of tattoos and young. I don’t fit this at all. I’m your vegan version of Martha Stewart.
What’s your favorite Vegan restaurant?
Crossroads in L.A. and Sun Cafe or H.O.P.E. in Studio City, CA. We have a new vegan restaurant in Dallas called V Eats, it’s vegan southern comfort food. Of course, Spiral Diner in Dallas/ForthWorth and coming soon to Denton is the best ever!
What’s your favorite recipe? Please share it.
There are so many listed on my Instagram page. But my go to for entertaining is “Not YO Hummus!” It’s thinly sliced potatoes, sprinkled with cayenne pepper and turmeric, salt and pepper. Bake 10-15 min on each side (depending on oven and how thin they are). Then either make your own hummus or buy it. The potatoes are the nachos, the hummus the dip.
What is the one big stereotype you hear about Vegans that you want to dispel?
That we are crazy or a bunch of hippies, but in all actuality, vegans are from the future. (that may be my favorite meme)
Are you a cruelty free vegan?
I try to be. I don’t buy any animal products like leather or down or products tested on animals anymore. But I have not thrown out my old shoes.
What are your favorite non-food vegan products or companies?
Shoes from a company in Brazil called Insecta. There’s a photo on my Instagram.
What is the toughest vegan item to find that you need?
Nothing that I can think of. It’s pretty easy being vegan where I live nowadays. If I can’t find it locally, I just order it online. For my son’s graduation party I ordered vegan puff pastry. I ended up with a huge box of 50 sheets. There’s still some in my freezer.