A Peek Into Vegan Living with Attila Hildmann
Knowing I’m a vegetarian and fitness pro, a P.R. friend of mine recently sent me two books by Europe’s top-selling (almost 1 million copies) cookbook author, Attila Hildmann. The books are “Vegan for Fun” and “Vegan for Fit.”
I was a bit hesitant to accept them at first, as we are extremely
picky discerning when it comes to recommending lifestyle philosophies. After looking through both books, I can see why Hildmann is so popular. He isn’t a zealot, yet shares his passion. He details how and why he became a vegan in a straightforward way that feels inviting rather than browbeating. The best part? He agrees with so much of what we say! Hahahaha. Don’t we all think someone is clever when their philosophies are close to our own?
Main Selling Points for Me
Quotes such as, “Vegan for Fit isn’t a diet, but rather a healthy way of eating,” and “The recipes…weren’t in any way influenced by the food industry.” And my fitness favorites – “It doesn’t matter what shape you’re in; you can start now-even if you just walk around the block at your own pace… Starting slow and then building up is the key to success. My workout plan serves primarily to increase my feeling of well-being.”
He recognizes that vegans can be the worst advocates for veganism. For example, when Hildmann discusses his transition from vegetarianism to veganism, he acknowledges the “all or nothing” mentality that puts many people off. “What makes me really sad is this ‘I’m a better vegan than you’ phenomenon.”
The people who took his 30-Day challenge have realistic Before and After pictures and results, and Hildmann includes the downsides as well as the upsides when he shares those results.
The actual recipes. Once he gained my respect, I was ready to check out the food. The pictures and ingredients looked really enticing and surprisingly achievable for me (based on the ingredients I keep in the house). I tried a few of them, and they were super tasty. Except for green bell peppers. I’ll never like green bell peppers.
To get a well-rounded feel for Hildmann, I sent him some questions, which he answered in more detail than I was expecting. To put the interview into context, you should know that his dad’s death was a catalyst for his transformation from overweight, junk food eater to healthy chef.
Interview with Attila Hildmann
How old were you when your Dad’s death caused you to make a life change, and what was your life like prior to his death? Were you already into fitness?
I was 19 years old when I watched my father die of a heart attack. You can’t even imagine the pain I felt because I always looked up to my dad. Before it happened the doctors didn’t tell him to change his diet in a specific way; they prefered to open up his ribcage for open-heart surgery and after that was done, pump him full of pills to lower his cholesterol. I was also worried about myself because at that time I was severely overweight at 230 pounds and my cholesterol was critically high. I always loved sports, competed in Triathlon and swimming from an early age, but I always struggled with keeping my weight consistent. Yo-yo dieting was what I did, so the weight always came back in the off-season. And I loved what many young people love: burgers, fries, steak, chips and ice-cream. One day I went to the doctor for a check-up and he did a blood test. When he got the results he told me “Attila, if you keep eating what you’re eating, you’ll end up just like your father!” I had to change something so I did some research and cut out all the foods that contained cholesterol and worked myself up to a vegan diet. Instantly I felt better, my skin got clearer, my energy level went up, I had more power and the fat around my hips melted away. It was the best decision in my life!
Can you share some of the specific steps you took to get from the Before to the After?
The first step was to forget about the clichés that I had in my mind about healthy vegan eating. At first I was afraid about belonging to a group of hippies that eat nut roast for Christmas and preach to people that meat-is-murder. It all began in my head. And I just wanted to try it out as well, as I always like to challenge myself. But I fell into one trap that many new vegetarians and vegans fall into which is vegan junk food. Although it may not contain cholesterol, soy pudding, soy ice cream, fries with ketchup and vegan burgers with meat alternatives still do contain a lot of calories and I ate way too much of that in the beginning. Back in 2000 I hated vegetables. So first I learned how to cook so that I could make them tasty and delicious for myself. Working out is always a good idea but 80 percent of my weight loss success is due to sticking to a balanced vegan diet!
What do you recommend as the first thing someone should do who’s a carnivore, yet is curious about the benefits of being an occasional vegan?
You don’t have to go all the way and change your whole life! One vegan dish per week or a day is a great step toward a healthier life. It should be fun – don’t force yourself into something. If you start to like it, that’s great, and you can incorporate more vegan dishes into your diet plan. About 600,000 Americans die of heart disease every year; that’s one out of four deaths. We have to start somewhere. Make baby steps and pat yourself on the back for doing them.
Why do you prefer veganism over vegetarianism?
At first I was a vegetarian, but even that increased my cholesterol level. I also like the aspect that you save lives by eating completely plant based — it is so good for the environment, climate and the planet! Vegan foods touch so many levels of my well-being, it’s absolutely incredible.
Do you have any simple recipes for people who are time-pressed?
I have a lot of easy, quick to make recipes in my books. You can order them on amazon.com. There are also free recipes on my website attilahildmann.com. I love to make vegetable pasta with a spiralizer and serve them with a quick Carbonara sauce made with almond butter, smoked tofu and parsley. And I looove sandwiches: whole wheat bread, lettuce, some hummus, roasted peppers and some pesto and you are good to go. It’s really that simple! Vegan cooking is even easier and less expensive than cooking with animal-based products!
I’m not trying to persuade anyone to become a vegan or buy these books; I’m just sharing my opinion. But if you are interested in knowing more, you might want to enter the giveaway, as we are giving away one copy of each.
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