Wednesday, May 8, 2013
As I say in my talks, if you’ve adopted the plant-based lifestyle, you’re all certified to go out like me and be the broccoli rep. “Because who else is?” I plead with my audiences.
Many people become vegan for a variety of reasons, often a combination. When I worked in TV newsrooms, PETA wasn’t taken very seriously. The only time PETA or any of the fur store or circus protestors got media coverage was when someone in a protest removed part of their clothing.
“Growing up” in that shadow, I always thought that approaching animal rights from the health and economics angle might appeal to a broader audience. It didn’t mean I loved animals less. In fact, in my reporting career, I covered some of the most gruesome animal abuse cases of our times. The video my photographer and I shot of the improper disposal of euthanized pets at the Miami animal control shelter got more phone calls and responses than any story I’ve ever done.
I learned early in my TV career that in order to avoid the frustrating stories of murders and fires, I had to do “enterprise reporting.” That meant coming up with my own ideas for stories that I felt would really make a difference.
I was once interviewed for a network correspondent’s job. “What’s your proudest accomplishment?” I was asked. “Seeing change happen as a result of stories I do. It’s a measure of how well I’ve done my job.” I immediately quipped. “But wait,” the network exec said. “You’re not supposed to have an opinion of how the story ends. You’re just supposed to be reporting.” How things have changed. The line between entertainment and journalism has become very fuzzy.
In my socially responsible investing work, I found that corporations didn’t care so much about the environment. But show them how recycling their own company’s cans as well as other company’s cans would generate even more of a profit, then all of a sudden, they could say they were socially responsible and cared about the environment. I always believed that if you could show people exactly how much money they could save not only at the store, but the savings created by avoiding disease, then consumers would not care so much about what they were eating, but more about how much they were saving. I was adamant that every recipe in my book have an estimated price associated with it. It took me years to get published. When I started, no other book like it had been written. The original title was “Eat Well on $3 a Day.” That gives you an idea of just how long it took.
I want to shout my running performances running to the heavens and to all the people I see needlessly suffering. This IS the best-kept secret in the world, though that is changing too! My parents were so sick and diseased by the time I had kids, they couldn't lift them, let alone baby-sit. Entire generations are losing each other and don't even know it. My mom, aunt and BOTH sisters had breast cancer. I was the only healthy person, by a long shot. It’s got to change. Running and eating vegan is a magical combo.
Forgive my boasting, but I don’t know any other way than to lead by example. I keep racing to show that you can get plenty of protein, calcium or fill-in-the-blanks eating a plant-based diet. When I run with the high school girls, the reaction I get most often is, “No way you’re the age of my grandmother! AND you’re vegan!” I just love to defy myths, such as that it’s expensive to eat vegan, or that vegans aren’t strong.
I always say, “Blood tests never lie.” Before you begin, get a baseline. Keep your annual medical test records so you can track your great results over decades. The only real race that matters is against time to save the environment, animals and ourselves. The clock is ticking.
Ellen Jaffe Jones is a certified personal trainer (AFAA), running coach (RRCA) and accomplished endurance and sprint runner. Her best-selling book, “Eat Vegan on $4 a Day,” inspired her publisher to sign her for more 2 more books, including soon-to-be-released, “Kitchen Divided.” Ellen spent 18 years in television news as a consumer/investigative reporter and morning anchor, won 2 Emmys and the National Press Club Award for Consumer Journalism. She spent 5 years at Smith Barney where she was the #1 market performer in her branch. She is currently 3rd in State (FL) in the 200, 400 and 1500 meters, and 4th in the 100 meters. She has placed in her age group in 44 5K or longer races since 2006. Great Vegan Athletes honored her as one of a few female runners. When not on book tour, Ellen loves to volunteer coach high school girls cross-country and track.