The Jazzy Vegetarian Brings Health With Music and Food
Laura Theodore started asking for acting and singing lessons at age 3, when she made herself the star of home movies that were supposed to have her baby sister as the focus. Laura got her first acting job when she was 11, and had performed in 40 plays and 5 television shows by age 16. Her acting was interrupted by idyllic summers on an island in Lake Erie between the US and Canada, where she learned to love nature and fresh-grown fruits and vegetables.
Laura, now popularly known as the Jazzy Vegetarian, shared with me her story of how she’s developed her cookbooks, PBS television series, and weekly radio show to get everyone to try their hand at healthy, compassionate cooking. Her journey started with frequent childhood stomach aches that became intolerable by the time she started her professional career in New York. “I grew up eating a typical American diet with lots of meat. During rehearsals as a kid, we would be given fast food dinners. I got terrible stomach pains after, but never put it together with the food. By the time I was 20, my stomach was sick all the time,” Laura told me.
Luckily, a health food store employee suggested to Laura that if she stopped eating meat, her stomach would feel better. She began the transition of deleting all animal foods from her diet; the process took about 10 years to complete. “I was traveling all the time to perform, and it was hard to find plant-based meals. I was not as motivated as I needed to be until I learned all the compassionate reasons to not eat dairy and eggs. After that I just could not eat them anymore,” Laura observed. “Today it’s easy to travel and find healthy plant-based meals. Whenever I’m going to travel, I use Google to figure out the nearby
vegetarian restaurants and health food stores. Being prepared, I never have a problem.”
Laura explained the health benefits she experiences from a vegan diet. “For me, the main health benefit of being on a plant-based diet is that my weight is more stable. I gain weight really easily. While managing my weight is still a challenge, being on a plant-based diet makes it easier to maintain.”
I asked Laura how she gets ideas for recipes, and discovered it went back to when she first learned to cook from her mother and grandmother. “We have family recipes that are a tradition. After I became vegan, I didn’t want to stop cooking and enjoying those favorites. So I found ways to veganize the recipes and still have them be delicious. Now, whenever I see a recipe I like or that is a classic American choice, I start thinking right away about how I can make it healthier and vegan. For example, I might decide to substitute a finely chopped apple for eggs and sugar in a muffin recipe.”
Laura let me know how her lifelong career in acting and singing meshes with her career as a vegan cookbook author and TV chef. “They have merged and are the same career now, there’s just one path for me. My mind works the same whether I’m developing a recipe or singing jazz. When I’m singing, I picture the next bars that will complement and carry forward all the music played before. When I’m creating a new recipe, I visual the ingredients and how they come together. Doing either creates a natural high for me. There’s always a music subtext for my food shows, and always a plant-based subtext for my music.”
Jazzy Vegetarian fans include many non-vegetarians who want to learn to make a tasty, appealing plant-based meal for themselves and their families. I ask Laura what she hears from her audience. “I’m not vegan, but I like this. You’re making it so much easier for me.”
Laura shares the reasons for success of the recipes in her books, TV show, and radio. There are four secrets.
• The ingredients have to be convenient and accessible in just about any supermarket
• There should be minimal steps to prepare the recipe, unless it’s in the gourmet category
• The end result should be delicious
• Bake in the entertainment, however you present the recipe; everyone loves to be entertained and have fun
Laura lets me know that she is grateful every day that she can use her creativity to help people get healthier and reduce the demand for factory farming. I am grateful too that she is working so hard to make plant-based food a tune that everyone wants to sing.
If you enjoyed this post, you might want to try some of the Jazzy Vegetarian recipes.
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Blog posting by Janice Stanger, Ph.D. Janice authored The Perfect Formula Diet: How to Lose Weight and Get Healthy Now With Six Kinds of Whole Foods. The book describes a whole foods, plant-based eating plan that can prevent, and even reverse, most chronic disease. Janice enjoys the Jazzy Vegetarian’s radio show, and is honored to have been a guest.