Continuing on my healthy living theme this month, this week I’m chatting to Marlene Watson-Tara – author of “Go Vegan”, co-founder of the “Human Ecology Project”, Health councillor, teacher and expert in the field of plant-based nutrition. It was Marlene’s book “Go Vegan” that was the inspiration for my potato dish blogpost recently (view HERE). So, it is with great excitement that I welcome Marlene onto my blog….hi Marlene!
Hi! I’m Marlene, a long-time vegan, activist, lover of animals, nature and life and passionate about human ecology. As an eternal optimist, increasing the number of people worldwide to switch to a wholefood plant-based diet and vegan life is my mission. Together with my husband Bill Tara, we have created The Human Ecology Project.
As a high profiled and dedicated health counsellor and teacher with over 40 years’ experience in the health industry, my dietary advice draws from the fields of Macrobiotic Nutrition, my studies in Traditional Chinese Medicine and my certification in Plant- Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.
My clients range from the movies and arts to members of royal families. In the last 10 years I have been teaching chefs the art and skill of wholefood plant-based cooking and nutrition. As a regular columnist for many health magazines and websites I share my knowledge on living healthily. My vast experience informs a body of knowledge that I eagerly share with the world.
As the international author of Macrobiotics for all Seasons and my latest book Go Vegan I share information that is simple, direct and effective, along with delicious recipes and medicinal teas. I teach alongside my husband Bill Tara. We have graduates from our “Macrobiotic Vegan Health Coach Programme” in 27 countries. I’m a driving force for health and fitness to all who cross her path. Our “Ultimate Health Experience” workshops have been offered in Europe, America, and Australia
My favourite saying – “If you don’t look after your body, then where are you going to live?”
Being a long time vegan, what inspired you to embrace the vegan lifestyle?
On school holidays my family would go to the countryside and it always seemed such a sad time when all the lambs were taken from the fields and loaded onto trucks. As I grew into my teens, I had health issues with skin, digestion and menstrual pain. As I wouldn’t eat meat, I ate mostly dairy. When I changed my diet to completely plant-based all these health issues disappeared. When you connect the dots with diet and the development of disease, there is no turning back. When you look behind the curtain to the scale of what happens globally to our animal kingdom you cannot pretend to not know what is there.
As you are an author of “Macrobiotic For All Seasons” and “Go Vegan”, surely you must have a favourite tried and tested recipe? Do you prefer cooking “main meals”, desserts or are you a baker?
I find it exciting to create new recipes and train chefs and home cooks utilizing my seasonal menus and cooking skills, using the five tastes. My favourite creations are soups, I live and love them daily. From my delicious creamy decadence soups to the bean comforting cozy stews, soup is a daily staple in our home.
Food historians tell us the history of soup is probably as old as the history of cooking. The act of combining various ingredients in a pot to create a nutritious, filling, simple to make meal was inevitable. Healthy and healing soups are part of the cooking traditions in every country.
I always try and prepare my soup from fresh, organic, in season, and ideally local ingredients. Whether your ingredients are coming freshly grown from your own garden or you’ve bought them directly from the farmers’ market, making the connection between the food you eat, and your local environment is important. The food we eat is part of our cultural identity. Eating local foods helps produce a more resilient and sustainable future, both for yourself and for future generations.
Recently in my local supermarket there has been a promotional “push” towards plant-based meals. As you are an expert in the field of plant-based nutrition, what do you feel are the main benefits to follow a vegan/plant-based diet?
Thankfully, the popularity of plant-based diets has grown, which makes this an easier era than ever to start. Can I Get Enough Nutrients on a Plant-Based Diet? This is always the number one question that I am asked. Yes, and it’s easier than you’d think to consume these essential nutrients. You just need to know where to get them. For example, Omega-3 fatty acids often come from animal-based sources like fish. However, you can also get an ample supply from hemp seeds, flax, chia, and walnuts. It’s merely about understanding the alternative ways to get the nutrition you need.
Plant-based/vegan diets have been linked to a number of health benefits, including reducing your risk of heart disease, certain cancers, obesity, diabetes and cognitive decline. Plus, transitioning to a more plant-based diet is an excellent choice for the planet and will end the death and suffering of our animal kingdom. Two billion animals are slaughtered daily for food. There is no need, we receive all the nutrients we require from plants. At the end of the day, the largest and strongest animals in the world are vegan, giraffes, elephants etc., they get their nutrients from the same source we as vegans do… from the plants.
Having received a copy of “Go Vegan”, I was impressed by the range of recipes – the ingredients were not too daunting or difficult to obtain; the cooking instructions were easy to follow; and the glossary was a godsend especially when I came across an ingredient I had never heard of. Was it difficult to put together suitable recipes that lived up to your ethos?
Eating from my ethos is simple and doable for everyone. 95% of what constitutes my approach is obtainable from most supermarkets. Grains, beans, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. Foods like miso, tofu, and even some dried sea vegetables are now available in supermarkets. This makes my heart sing to see this growth year on year. One or two of the condiments I use are available from natural food stores or online. My teaching of plant-based/vegan nutrition is based on my teachings of Macrobiotics, a wonderful philosophy that teaches us that everything is connected, animal, plant, human, environment. When I create and cook all of these considerations are always there.
As you are currently based in the UK, is “Go Vegan” available to purchase worldwide?
Yes, Go Vegan is available world-wide on amazon. U.K. and US
You currently teach alongside your husband, Bill Tara, your MACROVegan Health Coach Programme. Sounds intriguing. In a nutshell, what does that involve?
We now have students who have travelled from 27 countries to study and graduate as a MACROVegan Health Coach. We see this as switching on lighthouses around the world. We now have students studying with us online which is fantastic. Our students leave as proficient and amazing cooks as well as wonderful health coaches. It makes our heart sing as more and more graduate and teach this work.
MACROVegan Health Coach Course
The dramatic rise in degenerative disease attributed to diet and lifestyle has created a demand for solutions to disease prevention and personal health maintenance. What is called for is a new generation of men and women who are capable of offering practical advice on how to live a healthy life in modern society.
During the two weeks of study you will have the opportunity to learn the techniques of effective Health Coaching and experience the power of healthy living. You will leave prepared to be a more effective promoter of natural health care and set up practice as a Professional Macrobiotic Health Coach.
The Macrobiotic Vegan Health Coach curriculum has been designed by Bill Tara, co-founder of the Kushi Institute, creator of the International Macrobiotic Institute (Kiental, Switzerland) curriculum and designer of the American and European Kushi Institute Teacher Certification Programmes along with his wife Marlene Watson-Tara who is certified in Plant Based Nutrition.
This is a rare opportunity to study with teachers who are expert consultants and draw on decades of practical experience. Macrobiotic philosophy serves as the foundation of these studies and provides the link between the disciplines and life skills we will explore together. This course also offers additional tools to enhance professional or Para-professional skills in both the orthodox or complimentary health and healing arts.
Health, Healing and Human Ecology
Health and Emotion / East and West
Traditions of Nutrition
Wholefoods Plant Based Cooking & Home Remedies
Principles and Practice of Health Coaching
When you are not working, what activities do you enjoy, to relax and unwind?
I adore growing my own vegetables, and love being in nature. I am an avid and longtime yogi, (my daily practice keeps me in check) and miss teaching yoga, one day, I will have my own studio again. I adore cycling with Bill and of course, reading and writing, and I am currently working on my next book.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
I live in yoga gear… always cycling, doing yoga, or working at my desk here so casual and comfort works for me.
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?
Yes, I love https://bambooclothing.co.uk
I always purchase clothing using cotton, hemp, linen, etc., More and more companies offer these wonderful alternatives for vegan and ethical clothing. I love Matt & Nat for more dress shoes and bags and Wills London for my backpack and casual shoes and have boots from both of them.
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
A new Ciao Bella – I adore feminine frilly dresses on the search. My next pair of yoga toe sandals from Supplefeet are on the list. They are fantastic, I have worn them for years and they keep your fee in great shape.
Boots or Shoes?
I love my chunky rubber sole sneakers, they look great with jeans, yoga gear, shorts and casual dresses. They are my first choice daily for comfort.
My Chelsea boots are my second choice…they are so versatile and can be worn in all seasons.
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter/ instagram etc so that readers can find out more about you and Go Vegan.
Website, Instagram, facebook, you tube, linked In, twitter,
Thanks Marlene for an interesting chat and you have given me and my readers “food for thought”.
All photographs have been published with kind permission of Marlene Watson-Tara