I’m thrilled to have renowned musician Michael Bearden share on his veggie ways.. I met Michael through our friend Russell Simmons a little while back and was so excited to learn he was vegan!
Music director, keyboardist, composer, producer, arranger, conductor, Michael Bearden is a musical chameleon. Bearden directed renowned artists such as Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga, Usher, Rod Stewart, Mary J. Bilge, D’Angelo, and Michael Jackson’s final triumph, “This Is It”, to name a select few. He served multiple years on the board of governors and trustees of The Recording Academy, Los Angeles Chapter. He’s currently serving as Global Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations.
Over to Michael!
How long have you been vegan?
I’ve been vegan around 25+ years or so. Way before it was in “fashion!”
Why did you make the change? Following the shift, how did the diet effect you?
I made the change because I wanted to feel better and give myself the best chance in my later years to be healthy. I travel a lot as a musician and that can take a serious toll on your body. I wasn’t feeling my best when I was on the road and a few friends suggested that it could be more than just the traveling. It could be that my diet is contributing as well. Unfortunately, I have more than a few extended family members that have succumb to diabetes and other health issues. I wanted to end that pattern. It’s one thing to live your life, it’s another to feel good while living your life. So, I gradually started cutting out all meat, dairy and processed foods. it was not easy, but it soon became a way of life.
I noticed changes almost immediately. My skin was clearer, my energy was higher, my mental capacity was sharper, my mood was better. But, more importantly, I feel great. I can’t even tell you the last time I’ve had a cold or something like that.
When your diet comes up in conversation with non-veggie friends, do you have a favored elevator pitch to encourage them to eat more plants? If so, what is it?
Haha! Yes! It comes up all the time. I have a few things I mention. One is, you can get just as much protein from green leafy vegetables, nuts and legumes as a cut of meat. Moreover, vegetables have fiber and are easier to digest. So when they ask me where do I get my protein? I ask them where do you get your fiber? Also, I love to say I eat what gorillas, elephants and rhinos eat!
When you hit them with facts, and not chastise them for eating meat, they’ll usually start asking more questions about how they can change their diets to feel better. It almost always happens that way. People want to do the right things for their bodies. Many just don’t know where to start.
What is a typical..
Usually a smoothie. It usually consists of, kale, spinach, ginger, cayenne, amla, maca, camu camu, baobab, hemp seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, frozen bananas, mango, filtered water. Or some variation of this. Depending on my mood.
Usually some kind of super food salad with lentils, various kinds of lettuce, tomato, radish, red cabbage, sprouts, light carrots, avocado, etc…
This varies too. I may have a combination of some kind of organic soup with a salad and grains. Or, may do something soulful like, black beans & dark rice, collard greens, yams, etc… I try not to do the substitute meat thing like, fake chicken or beef or whatever. I’m not opposed to it if you do that, I just do very little of that kind of thing. Too much gluten or soy can do some damage too. So basically, I stick to the cleanest version of stuff I can get.
Raw Almonds is my favorite thing to have. Especially when I’m working in the studio or something. I have various “KIND Snacks” that I like. And nut butters are always good to have around.
What are some of your favorite spots to dine at (in whichever city you spend the most time)?
You know. When I started this diet, there was not that many places to eat. Now, there are so many vegan dedicated places. As well as vegan friendly places to eat. Some of the places I like include: CrossRoads, Cafe Gratitude, Real Food Daily, and Au Lac here in Los Angeles. Atlanta has a few places I love. Spots like Herban Fusion, R Thomas Deluxe Grill, and Sunflower Cafe are great. There’s Eats By Chloe and Blossom in NYC. Ethos Vegan Kitchen in Orlando. Karyn’s in my home town of Chicago. There are amazing places overseas too. Especially in London, Paris, even Italy! And so many places you can find at least one thing to have wherever you’re from. It’s a really great time to be vegan!