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How To Get Good At Gratitude — Plus: What It’s Like To Be Profiled In The New York Times

By September 30, 2015January 19th, 20249 Comments

“Our whole idea was to present [the vegan] lifestyle in an aspirational and modern way. We want to present it in a way that looks appealing, as opposed to deprivation-oriented.”

Rich Roll in “Vegans Go Glam” – NY Times 9.30.15

A while back I fired off this missive:

Admittedly, the tweet was inspired by a little low grade frustration at utterly failing to generate any mainstream national press interest whatsoever in our book The Plantpower Way, which had recently come out. A self-reminder that you can’t push buttons and expect a pat on the back.

Fast forward three months to today’s publication of Vegans Go Glam in The New York Times (The New York Times!) — a very large profile on our family and the growing vegan scene in Los Angeles and New York deftly penned by Jeff Gordinier. It’s a big article (like, really big) in perhaps the most respected mainstream publication on the planet (do I even need to say that?). It’s also an article that has kicked up some dust, generating lively discussion around the global water cooler. So much discussion in fact, Vegans Go Glam is the #1 most e-mailed story on the entire New York Times website today.

Vegan Goes Glam, by Jeff Gordinier (photos by Amy Dickerson)

“Vegans Go Glam” by Jeff Gordinier (photo by Amy Dickerson) for the New York Times

Little Jaya just owning the New York Times homepage lead.

Little Jaya just owning the New York Times homepage lead.

C’mon! Now, that is just insane.

So what does it all mean? That’s for you to decide, not me. But today Julie and I do our best to talk it all through — including practices for cultivating gratitude — on this latest installment of Ask Me Anything. A conversation that explores:

  • what it’s like to have a huge story about you & your family in the New York Times
  • cultivating tolerance beyond veganism
  • restricting judgment of others & focusing on self; and
  • how to get good at gratitude

The show concludes with Held So Sweetly, written and performed by Julie — aka  SriMati – accompanied by our sons Tyler & Trapper Piatt.

Special thanks to “Jo” for today’s question, as well as everyone who submitted inquiries — keep ‘em coming!

I sincerely hope you enjoy the conversation.

Peace + Plants,


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Background, Context & Reference:

Production, music & sound design by Tyler Piatt. Additional production by Chris Swan. Graphic art by Shawn Patterson.

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  • catsmeow05 says:

    After listening to your podcast, let’s all officially coin and define this new word, Plant Based vs. the existing word Vegan. Vegans tends to be zero tolerance with the main underlying principle of stopping cruelty to all animals. Not only their food, but all products and aspects of their life are animal product free. ie: no leather shoes, purses, car seats, cosmetics etc. While this is admirable, this is very difficult, and often can carries with it an oppressive and militant zeal, comparable to that of a religious zealot.

    On the other hand I see this new word, Plant Powered. To me it means a lifestyle rooted in health, wellness, and positive spirituality. These are it’s underlying principles. Yes they will eat a diet completely void of all animal products. But a plant based person may wear some leather shoes, or have leather accent trim in their car, but this won’t disqualify them from being plant based. The most important thing about plant based lifestyle is that it is not judgmental, but instead an all inclusive and positive environment. It prides itself in the principles of slow change, practicing a continuum of movement toward a greater and greater light.

    This is the movement I want to be a part of. For years I was part of an oppressive vegetarian community. One that silently judged or marginalized you because you weren’t living up to their standard of perfection. They equated Being vegetarian with your moral worth, and to not practice it, made you a bad and immoral person. That turned me off and I left that movement to return to the SAD diet and forget it all together. Twenty years later, I’m now paying the price of poor health. It is only in the last year that I have rediscovered and returned to the vegetarian ways of my past. But this time under new terms, motivations, and friends like you guys.
    I’m grateful, and I proud to call myself Plant based and to live this life.
    Namaste – Peace…..Plants
    My Real Name is Ken….thanks guys for all you’ve done for this community.

  • Tommy F says:

    Very well written NY Times article. While framing the outer edges of where the vegan/plant-based movement currently is, you both were showcased at the centerpiece. Sending good vibes… that this will be the exposure needed to launch you both onto a higher platform of opportunity, for authentic service to this evolving plant-powered revolution.

    No matter how sexy, privileged or entitled you guys may present to the uninitiated RRP’er, your struggles in arriving on this platform really come through in so many of your vulnerable moments during past podcasts. Your inner light led you to this noble path, as the article quotes Julie, “…my nonalcoholic, meditative, yogic, vegan lifestyle.” The way you both present the vegan lifestyle in an aspirational and modern way, “is” the most effective way to attract more than 2% of the current population, to the most sustainable and compassionate form of living our human life on this planet.


  • Anne says:

    All morning I have been silently expressing gratitude to each person I see. It’s been an amazing day. I love the Rich Roll podcast and I can’t wait for the Julie Piatt/Srimati podcast. I’m so excited to learn from both.

  • SpinsBackwards says:

    Howdy Rich,

    Our September grocery bill:

    This was our best month yet. We just keep getting better at this, we’re psyched.

    I didn’t get much out of Jason Garner or Macaskill. But I did like John Salley and the last Ask Me Anything.

    I dunno. I get tired of hearing stories from successful people who think their message scales, because “they’ve been there” or “know what’s it’s like”. They haven’t, they don’t.

    Meet Mary. Mary lives in the hood, she’s a single parent with a child.

    Mary doesn’t have time to blog, tweet, share or listen to podcasts. She’s too busy trying to survive.

    When the bell goes off on Monday she has to feed her kid, get them to school, then she’s off to her two jobs. When she gets home that evening she has to scrounge for dinner, help with homework, get the bath ready, and read to them before bed. 5 or 6 hours later, it starts all over again.

    Mary gets one day off. On her day off it’s laundry, clean the house, errands, somehow find a way to get the car fixed (if she has one), all while taking the kid to the park or an activity. If Mary doesn’t have a car, she has to use public transportation to pull all this off.

    If Mary’s managed to figure out that cooking really is lower cost and better than fast food — most like Mary haven’t, because the message and lifestyle doesn’t connect and isn’t available — she needs to spend a few hours in the kitchen getting meals ready. By the time her “day off” ends it’s 9 or 10:00. Her kid still hasn’t had a bath and she hasn’t read to them.

    Mary didn’t go to college, she grew up in the hood. Her dad is in prison, her mom is lost on drugs somewhere. If Mary hasn’t been arrested, she’s probably the most successful person she knows. She has no network, no one to call and help her land a job, no credit. Maybe, she has an Internet connection or a smart phone. That’s if her service hasn’t been shut off this month because she had to choose between food or paying AT&T.

    Mary is literally one parking ticket away from disaster. If she pays the parking ticket, there goes that month’s savings. If not, she risks going to jail.

    Social is full of those who’ve had a “transformation”, who say they’ve been there or know what it’s like. But what’s not told in their transformation is who they knew, called, or the favor they cashed in. Yeah sure, they made a change. But this happened from the front of the pack.

    Yes, Jason overcame his stuff. Now he’s selling a book. But I couldn’t help but wonder why he’s not giving his books away free. I wish you would have asked.

    There’s on old saying, it goes something like this:

    It’s really hard to break into the circle of wealth and influence. But it’s even harder, to get thrown out.

    Next time you go to a dinner party in your circle, ask the guests how they got there. Friend of a friend, man. While you’re standing around the conversation may shift to one of their friends who f’d up, acted in disgrace, or needs to go to rehab. That’s cool, they take care of their own. And rehab is cool. But when someone not in the circle does the same? NOKD – “not our kind, dear”.

    Business is about who you know – not what you know.

    Next time you’re with some friends in your circle, ask them how many Mary’s they’ve hired. I don’t mean to wash their cars, mow their lawns, or clean their homes. I mean how many Mary’s they’ve given jobs to that otherwise would have gone to highly qualified applicants. Or, ask them how many people from the hood with felonies they plan on hiring. Or ask them what their plans are to hire Iraq vets. Again, for jobs that otherwise would have gone to insiders or the highly qualified.

    Instead what you’ll find is that they don’t hire Mary, because she’s not qualified. No, they’re only hiring the best of the best, from the very best schools. Or, it’s an inside job — jobs are given to a friend of someone already hired. When it comes to hiring it’s all about the Benjamin’s.

    But here’s where it gets weirder.

    Once the “leaders” of these companies have made bank, now they want to be philanthropic. Like Jason, they want to give back. They want to give back to the Mary’s of the world, the very same people they ignored while making their fortunes. I call it trickle down transformation. They have this delusion that somehow their book, website, or podcast is going to make its way back to Mary and Mary is now, going to realize the American dream. Their message is, “You can do this, Mary. You can transform your life like I did”. You have them on your podcast.

    I love your podcasts. But man, I just don’t feel like they connect with anyone but those who can afford the latest upgrades.

    I don’t hear a message for the disadvantaged or people of color. Yeah, you have on David and John. But just because they’re black, that doesn’t equate to a message of color. That’s hype for people of color or the disadvantaged. I talked to Adam, he’s a good dude. But he’s not, an average person.

    I’ll keep listening for Mary to come on your podcast and tell her story.

    Man, I hope it happens.

    Until then, here’s my dream.

    Your next book cover is a table of food on a street in the hood. Sitting at the table is you and your family, sharing a plant based meal with neighbors nearby. The backdrop is a brand new building that your friends built. People in the neighborhood go to work there. They’re paid well, they have support, free child care and great benefits. Next to the building is a grocery that your friends built. The grocery is a co-op for those in the neighborhood. Everything in the grocery is organic or beyond organic. The grocery has cooking classes and other classes throughout the week, taught by your friends, all designed to help people in the neighborhood move up the ladder. People from the neighborhood come on your podcast and talk about how they’ve transformed their lives.

    Now that’s a message of transformation.

    All the best to you, man.

  • Jonny Carnage says:

    Hi Rich and Julie,

    I really enjoyed this podcast, I think you touched on some really important issues that need further debate.

    You have mentioned Gary Francione in the last few podcasts as he has clearly had a significant impact on you. Me too. You seem to regard his stance as ‘hardcore’ but I do not believe that to be the case at all. He just tells it like it is from a place of compassion to all animals including humans. I think honesty is something we need more of in this world not not less of.

    I don’t think you represented his position regarding ‘Meatless Mondays’ properly so if you don’t mind I have pasted in a link below to an article he wrote back in 2010….

    Keep up the good work, you guys are a major inspiration to me!


  • Faye says:

    nice chat, yeah the animal product thing is a tough one. The way I do it is to try my best. I swap out animal products like leather shoes to charity shops and replace with non animal products. At least if someone buys the shoes second hand a charity benefits. It was interesting yesterday for me, my brother who is a massive meat eater started a conversation about animal slaughter without me prompting, except for choosing a veggy meal, my quietly made choice got him thinking. He volunteered that he actively did not want to know what happened to animals because if he knew he would have to stop eating them. This was a big step for him to admit it. I stayed quiet and listened. I did not need push at all. He got there by himself. It’s amazing how people come to their own realisations if we step back and quietly set an example.

  • Em says:

    I am grateful for you both. I knew you before you were glam 🙂 . I read Finding Ultra…and then the podcast.. I have also bought the Plant Power Way. I had intended to ask the library to buy and shelve. It is a beautiful book and I am happy to won it. I think a paperback would be better for borrowing purposes as the hardcover would get a lot of wear and tear.
    Speaking of wear and tear I own a book that is so worn out from use. It is called Breadtime Stories. I thought of you Julie because it has techniques for all kinds of breads and natural rise breads. When my kids were little bread making was part of our home school. We had a desem that lived in the basement :-D…. it is a great book. Author is Susan Jane Cheney.
    Another thing I am grateful about is that I have heard that a vegan supermarket chain called Veganz may be making it’s way here to the US. It is started by Jan Bredeck. You might have heard about him? He seems very interesting and I would love to hear him on your podcast.
    Anyway- loved seeing the article and your wonderful family!

  • JasonRH says:

    That must’ve been an awesome moment for you guys to see that article. It was certainly well deserved! They couldn’t have picked better people to highlight it. Keep doing what you’re doing.

  • jane says:

    hi rich and julie,
    wonderful and very very inspiring episode.

    i was just wondering how ethical bonobos is…
    is their stuff vegan and fair?

    and did you know this?

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