“I found that I was being betrayed by the food industry…and it was only as I started to pull that apart and what that meant did I realize all of the ways I had also been betraying myself.”
The facts of our experiences are different. But so many of the emotions we experience along our journeys are remarkably similar.
Meet Jasmin Singer.
As a kid, Jasmin was an outcast. Fat and persistently bullied, she was hopelessly drawn to foods that only fueled the depression and confused disposition incited by her chaotic upbringing.
Encouraged by her gorgeous mother to trade in her Oreos for pre-packaged Weight Watchers brownies resulted in an endless rotation of Nutri-System appointments and Jenny Craig weigh-ins that ultimately did little to rectify her love of cheddar, resolve her body image issues or soothe the pain of childhood trauma.
The grub always won. Because food offered Jasmin something she found nowhere else. She basked in the safe reassurance of mealtimes, in the calm friendship she shared with snacks. She lived for the sweet tingling of a vanilla shake as it slid down her throat, filling up her stomach and, more importantly, her heart.
This is a long way of saying that Jasmin was, in fact, addicted to food – physically and emotionally. And no wonder. The foods she regularly ate growing up – Cheez-Its, Lunchables, Twinkies, Big Macs – were literally designed to activate the pleasure centers in her brain, making her want more and more and more.
A growing awareness of the horrors of industrialized animal agriculture led to Jasmin’s emerging sense of just how profoundly her culinary proclivities had betrayed her. So at 19, she became a vegetarian. Later, she went entirely vegan, stepping into a lifelong passion for animal rights advocacy. Nonetheless, the skinny vegan trope eluded her. Instead, she continued to gain weight due to her continuing love affair with greasy rich foods.
Just because it’s vegan doesn’t mean it’s healthy.
In the firm grips of her hopeless addiction, Jamin became resigned to the deep sense of shame that accompanied her every minute of every day, further isolating her in a bottomless pit of desperation and loneliness that drove an isolating wedge between her and the world.
From the extra pounds and unrelenting bullies that left her eating lunch alone in a bathroom stall at school to the low self-esteem that rendered her physically and emotionally vulnerable to abuse, her struggle with weight came to define every aspect of her life.
And then one day, she decided to make a change…
By committing to monthly juice fasts and a plant-based diet comprised of whole, unprocessed foods, Jasmin lost almost a hundred pounds, gained an understanding of her destructive relationship with food, and finally realized what it means to be truly full.
Today, Jasmin is the co-founder and executive director of Our Hen House, a nonprofit multimedia hub working to change the world for animals. She also serves up co-host duties on the popular Our Hen House Podcast, produces an online magazine and video content and travels extensively to publicly speak on the subjects of veganism and social justice.
As laid bare in her brave and intensely vivid coming-of-age memoir, Always Too Much And Never Enough, it’s a story you might be surprised to learn really isn’t about weight loss. Rather, it’s about one person’s quest to find peace with one’s self. From feeding her emotions to feeding her soul, it’s a journey to wholeness through embracing the idea that true health comes from abundance on your plate and in your life.
This week, Jasmin shares her powerful story with laudatory honesty and vulnerability.
Specific topics explored include:
- finding personal authenticity
- identity & weight stigma
- bullying in today’s society
- true food addiction
- the price of mindless consumption
- political veganism
- body positivity & fat shaming
- life-altering acceptance
- the progress of animal rights
- her quest for social justice
- the perils of vegan junk food
- the distinction between diet & lifestyle
- a life devoted to advocacy
- the journey to true wellness
Special thanks to Jessica Mahady for graciously allowing me use of her photography in today’s podcast.
I love Jasmin, respect her courage and sincerely hope you enjoy our exchange.
Peace + Plants,
Thanks to this week’s sponsors:
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Read Jasmin’s memoir: Always Too Much and Never Enough*
For more information on how to help the movement to end the exploitation of animals and listen to the Our Hen House (OHH) Podcast check out ourhenhouse.org
Listen to the newly released “Teaching Jasmin How to Cook Vegan” Podcast at ourhenhouse.org/cooking
Background, Context & Reference:
- TOFU Magazine: Animal Rights, Human Rights: An Interview With Jasmin Singer
- Thinking Vean: Jasmin Singer: Always Too Much And Often The Exact Right Amount
- Soulful Vegan: Vegan Of The Month: Jasmin Singer
- Louise Wallis: An Interview With Jasmin Singer: On Life Writing & Authenticity
- Book: The Pleasure Trap: Mastering the Hidden Force that Undermines Health & Happiness* by Douglas Lisle
- Book: Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us* by Michael Moss
- Book: Eat to Live: The Amazing Nutrient-Rich Recipes for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss, Reversing Disease, and Lifelong Health* by Dr. Joel Fuhrman
- Book: The World’s Strongest Librarian:A Memoir of Tourette’s, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family* by Josh Hanagarne
- Book: Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget* by Sarah Hepola
- MindBodyGreen: What Losing 100 Pounds Taught Me About How We Treat Overweight People by Jasmin Singer
- Metro: How animal rights activist Gary Yourofsky ‘turned 8% of Israel vegan’ after comparing slaughterhouses to the Holocaust by Deni Kirkova
- Ourhenhouse: Never Too Late to Change the World: Why I Became Vegetarian at Age 86 by Sherrey Reim Glickman
- Documentary: Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead* by Joe Cross
Notable People/Companies Discussed:
- Gary Yourofsky: animal rights activist and lecturer
- Mariann Sullivan: lawyer, professor of animal law at Columbia University, and founder of The Animal Law Podcast
- Joe Cross: documentarian and author best known for Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead
Related Podcasts You Might Enjoy:
- RRP #047: Joe Cross on “Fat Sick & Nearly Dead”
- RRP #062: David Simon on Meatonomics:How The Bizarre, Rigged Economics Of The Meat And Dairy Industries Co-Opt Consumer Choice
- RRP #063: Josh LaJaunie on How One Man Overcame Incredible Obstacles
- RRP #079: The China Study & Beyond With T. Colin Campbell
- RRP #113: David Clark On Losing 150 Pounds & Conquering Badwater
- RRP #138: Living In Alignment With Your Values With Gene Baur
- RRP #152: How Josh LaJaunie Lost 200lbs & Transformed Himself
Thanks to Jason Camiolo for engineering, production and interstitial music; Chris Swan for production assistance; Shawn Patterson for his graphic wizardry; and Ana Leimma for Be Still (the song at the end) and theme music.
*Disclosure: Books and products denoted with an asterisk are hyperlinked to our Amazon affiliate code. Any purchase will not cost you a cent extra but will support the show by shaking loose a little Amazon affiliate change in our direction, which is a great, free way to support the show.
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