Sherra Aguirre, author of the soon-to-be-released book Joyful, Delicious, Vegan: Life Without Heart Disease, discovered the positive health effects of a plant-based diet in her personal life and is passionate about getting the word out. Overcoming her own hypertension as well as mitigating her family history of high blood pressure, heart disease and strokes, Sherra sold her successful business so she could dedicate herself full-time to promote reclaiming one’s health. Her book is going to be released in late May but is available for pre-order and you can find her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and through her website, SherraAguirre.com.
I am thrilled to be able to feature Sherra as our latest Vegan Rockstar.
1. First of all, we’d love to hear your “vegan evolution” story. How did you start out? Did you have any early influences or experiences as a young person that in retrospect helped to pave your path?
I spent summers as a kid at my grandparents’ farm in East Texas and was always around chickens, pigs, horses and cows. I saw my grandmother kill a chicken by grabbing it by the head and twirling it to break its neck, then tossing it on the ground where it flopped around until it died. Although I still ate chicken at the dinner table, I would hide when she went to pick one from the hen house for our meal. As horrendous as that sounds, it pales by comparison to current factory breeding and slaughterhouse methods. Another major influence was watching my parents struggle with hypertension and seeing many members of my family experience heart attacks, strokes and other effects of cardiovascular disease.
2. Imagine that you are pre-vegan again: how could someone have talked to you and what could they have said or shown you that could have been the most effective way to have a positive influence on you moving toward veganism?
I spent about twenty years eating a mostly vegetarian diet out of concern for my heart health and my interest in finding a healthier diet and lifestyle. At that point I had not been exposed to movies like Forks Over Knives, Vegucated, nor read books like Diet for a New America by John Robbins. I think had I known people who ate a vegan diet earlier, I could have been persuaded by more information about the abuses in industrial food animal production.
3. What have you found to be the most effective way to communicate your message as a vegan? For example, humor, passion, images, etc.?
For me it’s passion for the enjoyment and benefit of eating whole plant foods, and the joy of feeling deeply connected to our natural environment in the process.
4. What do you think are the biggest strengths of the vegan movement?
We have entered a unique period in which there is heightened awareness of several critical factors: the negative health impact of the standard American diet; the climate impact of the meat and dairy industry; deforestation and wild species extinction; and the threat of food insecurity at home and globally. By showing how these issues converge, the case for a vegan lifestyle is more compelling than ever.
5. What do you think are our biggest hindrances to getting the word out effectively?
I believe our advantages outweigh the hindrances. Two of those hindrances are the influence of the meat and dairy industry in mass media advertising, and the association of meat and dairy with American and Western cultural identity.
6. All of us need a “why vegan” elevator pitch. We’d love to hear yours.
A vegan diet is the most powerful way to stay healthy, promote compassion for animals and humans, and rescue our environment.
7. What do you find to be one of the most common misperceptions of vegans or veganism to be and how do you approach demystifying that?
Most of us think that the only or best way to do anything is the way we’ve always done it. This is certainly true of food, which is so central to family, culture and tradition. So when we think of eating healthier our first thoughts go to loss and deprivation. I like to flip the script and tell people how I still enjoy the dishes and tastes that I’ve always loved, just made with healthier, fresher, better natural plant ingredients and spices. There are also so many new recipes and foods to try, including some they will like even better!
8. Burn-out is so common among vegans: what do you do to unwind, recharge and inspire yourself?
Burnout may be most common among those who are trying it because it’s trendy or out of curiosity. Coming back to it when you understand its importance in your own life, and to all the other lives who share our planet, is powerful and inspiring. That perspective for me is a source of great energy and joy.
9. What is the issue nearest and dearest to your heart that you would like others to know more about?
The end of needless suffering — both human suffering from diet related chronic diseases, and the animal suffering which fuels it.
10. Please finish this sentence: “To me, being vegan is…”
…treating our bodies, all of life and Earth itself with respect and compassion.
Thank you, Sherra! We can’t wait to read your book!