An interview with author Kim Barnouin by Nell Alk.
Skinny Bitch by Kim Barnouin and Rory Freedman catalyzed my own switch to veganism. Already a years-long vegetarian, I’d been delaying the inevitable until this irresistibly foul-mouthed twosome got through to me with their short and not-so-sweet tome. Since then, Barnouin in particular has been busy putting out follow-ups, among them Skinny Bastard (geared towards men, and also co-written with Rory Freedman), a couple of cookbooks, and a home, beauty, and style guide.
Her latest contribution to the cause is Skinny Bitch Book of Vegan Swaps. A spiral-bound how-to, it’s all about helping novice and veteran vegans alike negotiate animal-free alternatives. From decoding product labels (for instance, if it contains cholesterol, an animal was involved) to offering substitutes for all sections of the supermarket, this 13-part resource makes it easier for aspirers to make the switch and for converts to make the most of seemingly hostile territories—like airports, chain restaurants, and less-than-cosmopolitan cities and towns.
Below, Barnouin dishes, quickfire-style, about Swaps, raising a (mostly) plant-based little boy, and what’s up next in the Skinny series.
Are you this sassy in real life?
In real life I still have a potty mouth, but I upped the sassiness for the book. I am a little more laid back in real life.
Let’s say I own every other Skinny Bitch title. Why should I own Swaps?
This book really is different from the others. For one thing, it includes what to eat in traditionally tough environments—at some of the major chain restaurants and at airports, for example—where transitioning vegans tend to feel pretty helpless.
What’s your number one piece of advice for someone considering veganism?
They should take their time getting there. I didn’t go vegan overnight, and after taking the time to become informed and prepared, it was a smooth transition.
What’s your greatest indulgence/guilty pleasure?
I have a huge sweet tooth and I love to bake. I couldn’t go without my treats! I feel no guilt since they are vegan.
Some people gain weight when they convert to veganism; what are they doing “wrong” and what advice, as a hot mama yourself, would you offer to anyone wishing to avoid this extra poundage?
It’s hard to go wrong with a diet balanced in whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and proteins such as tofu, beans, seitan, tempeh, veggie burgers, and quinoa. Exercise is also crucial. What energy you consume you must expend in some way.
You have a young son. What do you think about raising kids vegan?
The subject of raising your kids vegan is touchy, but it’s absolutely possible to do in a healthy way. The fact that many kids have unconventional dietary needs is widely recognized nowadays, and I feel like more and more people are accepting veganism. So I don’t see the idea of vegan kids as a crazy notion.
Kids may want to eat non-vegan foods sometimes. How strict do you think vegan parents should be about that?
It’s a personal thing. For a number of reasons, I want my son to have some freedom to make his own choices when certain situations arise. If he’s at a birthday party and wants pizza, he has pizza. Still, he eats a very healthy diet for a five-year-old!
Next up is a baking book, which will be out in January 2013. As I was saying, I love to bake and love desserts. I want to bring those passions together in a great cookbook.