Colleen Holland, Co-founder of VegNews Media

ColleenHolland

Why did you go vegan and what was that experience like?

Growing up, I never liked the taste of meat. I remember eating just side dishes, and having no desire to bite into the meat. But it was nothing more than a dietary preference, and my parents were okay with it. It wasn’t until I went away college when I discovered that vegetarianism was something bigger than just avoiding the flesh on your plate—it was a conscious choice people made for myriad reasons, so I started identifying as one. After graduating, I spent nearly two years traveling through Asia and didn’t have my beloved skim milk the entire time (cereal, berries, and skim milk had been my breakfast mainstay for years). Not only did I feel great, I also had a lot of time to read and get educated on the health, ethical, and environmental detriments of dairy products. Upon returning to the States, a Whole Foods Market had just opened up a mile from my parent’s home, and a new world of dairy-free products were at my disposal (Rice Dream rocked my world!). I officially went vegan, and I’ve never looked back. That was 19 years ago.

What impact has being vegan had in your life?

Even now—19 years later—my veganism continues to deepen every single day and has become my foundation and my belief system. So many of my daily choices are based on my vegan values, whether it’s what stores to patronize, which companies to support, how I treat others, and, frankly, how I view the world. At VegNews, every business decision I make is predicated on how that action can help animals, as the brand really is just a vehicle for my activism. My end goal is always to package the lifestyle in a way that’s appealing, accessible, and shows zero deprivation—and I do this through positive journalism, gorgeous design, and carefully selected language. I often wonder what life would be like to not be a part of a community, to not be a part of something bigger than ourself, or to not have a sense of purpose outside of our basic existence. I am deeply grateful to have found this path, and I know that sharing veganism with the world is what I was meant to do.

What motivates you to stay vegan?

Without question, not a day goes by when I don’t think about what life must be like for an animal on a factory farm. I have never become hardened to this issue, and it is my driving force in life. After nearly two decades of not having dairy or eggs, and many more without meat, I have no desire for a glass of milk, an omelette, or a hamburger. I seriously think I would self-implode, as my body wouldn’t know what to do with it. Plus, I am a die-hard foodie and love to cook, eat, and dine out. To me, there’s nothing better than my morning strawberry-cacao smoothie made with coconut water, my favorite marinated kale salad with avocado and shiitake mushrooms, a towering plate of VegNews’ Signature Mac ‘n’ Cheese, a Sunday brunch of pesto tofu scramble and roasted potatoes, or a decadent slice of dark chocolate torte from San Francisco’s Millennium restaurant. In 2014, there really is no reason to consume meat or dairy, and I can’t imagine living any other way.

Recipes for Colleen’s Marinated Kale Salad and VegNews’ Signature Mac ‘n’ Cheese can be found following Colleen’s bio!

Bio

Passionate about publishing and marketing, Colleen Holland is the co-founder of VegNews. From the company’s humble beginnings in 2000, she grew the vegan lifestyle brand into an award-winning, international media company complete with a flagship magazine, digital properties, events, e-cookbooks, and global vacations. A graduate of UCLA and the Natural Gourmet Institute, Colleen is one of just six people worldwide to have been elected into both the Vegetarian Hall of Fame and the Animal Rights Hall of Fame—honors which she says are her greatest achievements. A 19-year ethical vegan, she is a die-hard foodie and yogi.

Contact Info

Subscribe to VegNews here and be sure to join them on Facebook and Instagram! Want to learn more about Colleen’s vegan adventures? Follow her on Facebook!

Marinated Kale Salad

Though kale leaves can be a little rougher than your average roughage, it is certainly one of our favorites. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as a huge salad when the clock strikes noon, and this recipe blends the perfect variety of textures and flavors. The secret is to marinate this salad for at least 10 minutes before serving to tenderize the kale and develop the flavors. Of course, feel free to throw in any of your other favorite veggies—the more the merrier!

MarinatedKaleSalad

What You Need:

1 large bunch fresh kale, destemmed
1/2 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/2 avocado, diced
2 tablespoons flax seed oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons tamari, Bragg’s, or soy sauce

What You Do:
Tear the kale into small, bite-size pieces. In a bowl, toss all the vegetables with the kale.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flax seed oil, lemon juice, and tamari. Pour the mix over the vegetables and let them sit for 10 minutes before serving.

VegNews Vegan Mac ‘n’ Cheese

photo by Hannah Kaminsky

photo by Hannah Kaminsky

This is the best mac ‘n’ cheese on the planet. End of story. VN’s signature Macaroni & Cheese, and we absolutely couldn’t live without it. Serve it to your omni friends and family members and watch as they convert under the influence of the nutritional yeast-free cheese sauce. We honestly make this recipe at least once a month—it’s just that delicious! Oh, and there’s the added bonus of sneaking in a few veggies, which makes this comfort food more than just a pretty plate. Serves 6

What You Need:

4 quarts water
1 tablespoon sea salt
8 ounces macaroni
4 slices of bread, torn into large pieces
2 tablespoons + 1/3 cup non-hydrogenated margarine
2 tablespoons shallots, peeled and chopped
1 cup red or yellow potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup carrots, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup onion, peeled and chopped
1 cup water
1/4 cup raw cashews
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon paprika

What You Do:

In a large pot, bring the water and salt to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook it until it is al dente. In a colander, drain the pasta and rinse it with cold water. Set it aside.

In a food processor, make breadcrumbs by pulverizing the bread and 2 tablespoons margarine to a medium-fine texture. Set this aside.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a saucepan, add the shallots, potatoes, carrots, onion, and water, and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are very soft.

In a blender, process the cashews, salt, garlic, 1/3 cup margarine, mustard, lemon juice, black pepper, and cayenne. Add the softened vegetables and cooking water to the blender and process until perfectly smooth.

In a large bowl, toss the cooked pasta and blended cheese sauce until completely coated. Spread the mixture into a 9 x 12-inch casserole dish, sprinkle with prepared breadcrumbs, and dust with paprika. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese sauce is bubbling and the top has turned golden brown.