Mayim MishegaasMayim Mishegaas

“Changing the world with every purchase I make”: Harley Quinn Smith interviews Mayim about the vegan lifestyle

The teen actress and passionate vegan talks with Mayim about finding vegan products and finding meaning in vegan living
By Mayim Bialik     Published on 07/31/2017 at 9:00 AM EDT
Harley Quinn Smith

As most of you probably know, Mayim is a longtime – and very high-profile – vegan; she even wrote a vegan cookbook, Mayim’s Vegan Table. And she’s spoken about living la vida vegan many times. So when recently, 18-year-old actress and passionate vegan Harley Quinn Smith (yes, the daughter of writer/actor/director Kevin Smith who is named after the comic book villain!) reached out to Mayim to interview her about the vegan lifestyle, Mayim said yes! 

Harley Quinn Smith: What were some of the first changes you made when you decided to become vegan?

Mayim Bialik: Well, I had been vegetarian for a long time but cutting out eggs and dairy in food products was a big shift, since it eliminated me eating a lot of things at parties and events for example, since dairy and eggs are in most breads, cakes, and doughs. So one of the first things I did was learn to plan ahead. If I knew I was going to be going somewhere, I brought little snacks or made sure to eat beforehand, so I didn’t associate being vegan with being hungry!

HQS: What are some of the lifestyle choices you make as a vegan beyond food?

MB: Not everyone who is vegan does these things, but I choose not to use any animal products. I don’t buy leather products (like shoes or purses or belts), I don’t buy silk (made from silkworms’ spinning), and I don’t buy wool (even though the sheep is not killed to make wool, the corporate factory system of shearing is not something I choose to support). I also use vegan makeup products as much as I can, since all red coloring in traditional makeup comes from grinding up bugs (it’s listed as “carmine” which is technically a “natural ingredient” since it is…bugs; coffee chains that make peppermint coffee drinks had a news flurry when it was revealed that “carmine” was what made the popular drinks pink!). So I use companies that use alternate non-animal sources of red and pink coloring for make up.

HQS: In terms of fashion and beauty, what was the most difficult aspect of using lifestyle to change when you went vegan?

MB: Oh wow. Shoes. Almost every shoe is leather!!! There are companies making vegan shoes but they tend to be quite pricey…I find a lot of vegan options at large chain stores like Payless since at those prices, they typically don’t use real leather, which is expensive. Sneakers can even be hard. And for events, if my stylist can’t find a vegan shoe, I have had to sometimes wear leather but I don’t own it and it’s not my preference and she and I both work to find non-leather options!

HQS: How has being a vegan affected your use of beauty products?

MB: It has made me have to think a lot more…which can be exhausting! But realizing there were ground-up bug shells in my makeup grossed me out sufficiently that I looked for alternatives pretty fast!

HQS: How do you find shoes, leather jackets, etc.?

MB: One of the best things I have done as a vegan to help me find clothes and such is to subscribe to the main vegan “lifestyle” magazine called VegNews. It may sound silly because so few magazines exist anymore really, but every issue features not only recipes and articles, but many of the pieces focus on fashion and lifestyle: how to deal with skeptical or judgmental family or friends, how to make decisions about lifestyle, and suggestions for shopping! This is a great resource for me and I get so excited when it comes in the mail. I always find a new ad or website in the back pages for shoes and clothes that are fair trade as well as vegan. And not pricey!

HQS: What are some of the main differences you notice about your lifestyle/beauty routine since becoming vegan? Have there been notable positive results due to the changes you made?

MB: I smell better. My skin is clearer. I feel better. I never ever ever have problems in the bathroom. Ever! My body runs like a clean machine! I also stopped having seasonal allergies and getting sinus infections all of the time. Most people actually can’t process dairy and we don’t know it – we assume this is just how things are in our stomachs or sinuses…but dairy in particular is really not for us to be trying to digest! So my health has improved so much. And I love that I consume no cholesterol and very little unhealthy fat simply by not eating animal products. I love that.

HQS: What do you consider the most valuable piece of advice for maintaining a vegan lifestyle in all aspects of your life?

MB: I know it’s not for everyone. But I don’t have guilt or mixed feelings about my decisions. I am consistent. I have to work a bit harder sometimes to find shoes or makeup that is vegan, but so many more companies exist now that it’s almost not an excuse anymore for me to say it’s hard! I love the challenge of finding vegan shoes and wallets and stuff; it makes me feel invested in changing the world with every purchase I make! I love that part of being an advocate for veganism.

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