If you’re a child of the '80s like myself, you probably binge-watched more than your fair share of the cult sitcom, Blossom. I mean, I owned like, 47 floppy hats because of that show. But, even if you weren't born in the '80s, you’ve probably heard of mega-show, The Big Bang Theory, or its Emmy-nominated star, actress, mother, neuroscientist, and activist, Mayim Bialik. And now, Bialik can add “author” to her list of accomplishments. With a new, plant-based cookbook out, Mayim’s Vegan Table, and a recently launched campaign against animal testing with Cruelty-Free International, I sat down with Bialik to talk about veganism, true beauty, and what keeps her glowing. And yes, she’s every bit as lovely, funny, goofy, and real as you’d expect.
Ashlee Piper: You've played very different female characters on TV. From Blossom who was hyper-clothes-and-makeup-oriented, to your Emmy-nominated role as Amy Farrah Fowler, who is decidedly less girly. How have these roles shaped how you see femininity? Are these roles at all representative of the different phases in your own life?
Mayim Bialik: "Well, Blossom was actually a pretty no-frills girl. She loved fashion, as did most teens in the '90s, but she/I looked like what teenagers looked like in my experience...kids! When I see young actresses today, they often wear a lot of make up and sexy clothes starting in their tweens, but Blossom (and I) stayed pretty unadorned until later in high school. I think both Blossom and Amy Farrah Fowler are smart women, and sometimes smart women spend less time on looking hip because they're busy with other stuff. That's not to say there isn't room for both, and I am glad there are all kinds of women, but for me, I am happy that as a character actress, I get challenged to play unusual women with a lot on their minds."
Amen to that. As a multi-faceted woman yourself, you're consistently among the list of "Famous Hollywood Vegans.” When did you become vegan and why?
"I was always an animal lover and became vegetarian at age 19. I still ate dairy and eggs, but after cutting out most dairy in college, my health improved significantly. I didn't get seasonal allergies, and I haven’t been on antibiotics or had a sinus infection since. When my first son was born, he got gassy, fussy, and really miserable if I ate any dairy, so I cut it out completely and that solved that problem! I read Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer about six years ago, and after that, I cut out all traces eggs and dairy. I am vegan for environmental, nutritional, health, and ethical reasons. In some ways it's hard, but mostly it's incredibly rewarding every day and every meal I eat, so it feels so easy."
Your work with Cruelty Free International has helped to echo recent proposed legislation to end animal testing in the United States. What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about animal testing?
"I think people believe animal testing doesn't happen anymore. It does; and it's not necessary at all."
Agreed! I think many people block out the fact that animal testing is the norm in cosmetics, personal, and home care because it’s almost inconceivable that it’s so widespread. What are some of your favorite non-animal tested beauty products that get you through a busy day?
"I use Votre Vu hand cream and I love Hourglass' lipsticks. I also love Murad's cleansing cream and their day and night creams, too. I also love Votre Vu's sunscreen, which is important for me to use daily."
You always seem to look radiant despite a busy schedule and parenthood. Any secrets?
[Laughs] "That's called a hair and make-up team! When I'm not working, I wear virtually no make up and look like a normal mom, I promise. I do credit being vegan and drinking lots of water for my skin, which I am told looks younger than my 38 years."
Is being vegan in Hollywood difficult? Do you have any celebrity vegan buddies?
"It can be hard at 'rubber chicken' dinners, but I usually snack before events and make sure to request vegan meals for big events. On set, fruits and vegetables are always around, so I am usually pretty good. As for other vegan friends, I know who's vegan, but haven't gotten invited for dinners at Ellen's… yet."
You have a new book out, Mayim's Vegan Table. Why did you write the book?
"I write for Kveller.com and would share recipes I had veganized. There was interest [from readers] in me publishing them and that's literally what we did. I took the recipes I make the most for my kids and for our friends and family (most of whom are not vegan!) and put them together, along with expert advice from pediatric nutritionist and pediatrician, Dr. Jay Gordon. I'm not a fancy chef or celebrity chef; I'm really a normal mom and this is how my family and I eat."
What's the best recipe in your book to turn to when you want comfort food (your mac n’ cheese is lookin' pretty solid)?
"I like that vegan mac n' cheese for comfort food for sure! The Shepherd's Pie is also pretty easy, and even though it's healthy, it tastes like comfort food!"
What is your favorite recipe for feeling your best or eating for beauty benefits?
"Green smoothies all the way. Tons of nutrients, great energy fuel, and delicious and filling, too."
My goal with this column was to show that beauty is multi-faceted. That it's not just about buying a beauty product, but knowing the story and values behind it. And that, many times, beauty is not about products at all, but confidence, milestones, etc. You're an accomplished neuroscientist, mother, and maternal advocate. What do you find beautiful?
"Honesty is beautiful. A sense of humor is beautiful. Being appreciated for parts of you that rarely sees sunshine is beautiful. "
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