A recap and resource guide based on the Earth Day 50: IG LIVE conversation between Olympic Athlete, Lauren Sesselmann and Stone Sevyn founder, Kathryn Knox. It's long, but PACKED with information!
FIRST THINGS FIRST...
Being quarantined in nature has been amazing! Unfortunately, it’s not so amazing for IG LIVE! Ooops!
Therefore, my iPhone and I send our most sincere apologies for the “technical difficulties” during the first half of the conversation… and to the potatoes and Androids of the world who were wrongfully blamed!
Lauren and I covered a few “touchy topics” during our hour long conversation celebrating Mother Nature's Special Day... and we want to make it very clear that we acknowledge others personal choices.
In fact, our only goal is to inspire others to venture outside their echo chambers by offering a different and also VERY authentic and timely perspective on living sustainably!
We’re aware a vegan lifestyle is NOT for everyone. That said, everyone CAN make informed decisions, ones that lead to a more robust life for all. Furthermore, there is no one or right way to translate this narrative into a size that fits all. To think otherwise is nuts.
Speaking of nuts, we’ll get to those shortly...
SO, LET'S BEGIN!
I’m a VEGAN FROM TEXAS and an environmentalist who doesn’t subscribe to the Greta Fan Club… more on that in a bit.
I’ve been a vegetarian my entire life and grew up camping while living and breathing all things fashion and New York City. I’ve also been organic for 20 years, vegan for 16 and actually did move to Manhattan for a career in fashion. Now, I’m in LA and by the way, my family still eats meat.
Throughout the years, I’ve attempted to live this life “perfectly”, which my friends, is IMPOSSIBLE to achieve. Anyone suggesting otherwise, especially the charlatans not walking their talk, swipe left!
Let’s start by clarifying what living sustainably actually means… along with a few other buzzwords!
For additional buzzwords, check out the Stone Sevyn Sustainable Glossary.
NOW, IT'S Q&A TIME!
Lauren Sesselmann: I thought Global Warming / Climate Change was what living sustainably was all about? There’s an entire movement dedicated to this, right?
Kathryn Knox: Well kind of. The environmental movement has been hijacked by the Climate Change / Greta Fan Club… in support of both corporate and “charitable” agendas... ie: money and power grabs.
In reality, we have humanitarian and pollution problems, which "amazingly" enough those issues have tangible solutions that don't include Green Deals or taxing ourselves into economic ruin.
In fact, it’s not governments, environmental organizations or corporations that will fix this. Rather, it’s UP TO US, THE CONSUMERS, to elevate our decisions and make better choices.
Translation: if we vote with our dollars, and put OUR money where our mouths are, brands and organizations are naturally pressured to evolve in a more authentic and sustainable way... should they want to survive.
LS: So, what are you wearing today?
KK: My favorite brands... top: Cali Dreaming, bodysuit: Groceries Apparel, jeans and sneakers Stella McCartney, rings Mika Cali, See Eyewear, Evolvh haircare, various makeup brands from Credo Beauty... and I'm drinking my mom's green juice special!
FOOD + NUTRITION
LS: Speaking of green juice, and food in general, you mentioned the other day that you supported hunting. You’re vegan, so I’m confused.
KK: I know, I know... this get's me in trouble with my people! To clarify though, I am an environmentalist AND a vegan... I’m also from Texas, meaning I naturally think BIG (picture).
If vegans / vegetarians are being honest, they know not everyone is going vegan. They're just not.
What's the solution?
We're incredibly disconnected from our food these day - vegetables and animals alike. As with farmers, or even gardeners, if you hunt, you're intimately connected to your food supply... and in theory are only taking what you need.
The alternative to this of course, factory farming and GMO frankenfoods, are so much worse that I would rather support hunting and even some butchers over the atrocities that our factory systems have created, supported and promoted.
While I'm in trouble, time to mention that I'm also a BIG fan of both honey and milk!!!!
LS: Honey? Milk?
KK: Yep! Vegans don’t like honey, because of how commercial honey is produced, but I support certain bee keepers and the organic farms those bees pollinate vs agave which is highly processed and our body treats like High Fructose Corn Syrup.
As for milk… I actually make fresh organic almond / nut milk in my vitamix.... or if anyone from the dairy industry is reading this, I make nut juice! White, frothy nut juice to be exact!!!!
LS: Nut juice! Brilliant! BTW: I just got a NutraMilk and I LOVE it!!!!!
KK: OMG!!! That machine is AWESOME!!!! It’s like the Complete Idiot’s Guide to making Nut Milk, which by the way I started my organic journey by reading the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Being Vegetarian, and then later Vegan!!!!! It's so cool!!!!!
LS: Hahaha!!!! Okay, from nut milk to nut cheese, I’m from Wisconsin. What are a few good dairy and cheese alternatives?!
KK: Ohhhhhh there are so many options now, but my favorites are:
Dr Cow is great for cheese boards!
Miyoko's mozerella is great on pizzas! Love her butter, too!!!!!
Culina yogurt is AWESOME!
BTW… vegan cheese shops exist!!!! There's Riverdel in NY and Vromage in LA!
LS: I can't wait!!!!! And I’m so excited to make nut “juice” and also butters!!! Speaking of making things… I’ve seen so many labels like Gluten Free, Vegan, Natural, etc and ingredients I don't understand. It’s easy to get confused by all of these. What should we look for?
KK: Oh, I know. Labeling means nothing these days. Seriously, they’re labeling water vegan and gluten free!!!!! My Rule of Thumb…. if you need a dictionary to figure it out, put it down!!!!
LS: What’s in your refrigerator, and what’s not.
KK: Yes to avocados, tomatoes, potatoes, an assortment of organic fruits and veggies… nut milk... sourdough bread... Simple Mills pancake and waffle mix, Braggs nutritional yeast, apple cider vinegar and both liquid + coconut amino acids!
Fun fact: the bacteria in our system is ADDICTED to sugar!!!! It’s hard, sugar being a Trojan horse, but if you clean your system out, you won’t crave the sugary garbage. And remember, garbage in equals garbage out. Why I avoid canola oil, agave, white and / or overly processed food when possible!
LS: So, favorite thing to make?
KK: Organic nut milks, tomato sauce, waffles (see above), pizza, tacos… you name it!
PS: two of my good friends are wonderful resources for plant-based cooking: restauranteur Jessica Klein Ventouras (book forthcoming) + Leslie Durso (vegan chef for the Four Seasons).
LS: Who do you follow for nutritional knowledge and healing?!
KK: Well, when it comes to nutrition, most doctors aren’t focused on this discipline. Rather, they’re trained to hand out Band-Aids, I mean pills. That said, over the last few years a movement called functional medicine has become popular, and a lot of doctors are FINALLY starting to come around.
However, before there was a name, or industry, there was Dr. Robert Morse, ND. He is one of the foremost thought leaders on how to successfully detoxify and heal the body from disease, naturally.
A student of these practices, and good friend, Nicolas Torrent is another one. He’s brilliant at translating immune boosting detoxification programs into something that’s easy to follow… and that you’ll actually want to follow!
Not only that, he’s created plant - focused programs for some of the BEST athletes in the world. In fact, one of these athletes is still playing at the top of his game... a quarterback with a few super bowl rings to back things up!
LS: What about supplements? Or do you get them from food only?
KK: I don’t take supplements. I eat the rainbow. That said, I like to incorporate powders into my daily berry antioxidant powerhouse smoothie including Lucuma, Moringa, Raw Cacao, Cinnamon, etc.
FASHION. WITH A SIDE OF GRANOLA
LS: Okay, so from food to fashion… I’m a sneakers and sweatshirt girl. How can we be more mindful about wearing sustainable fashion whether we’re on the field or in a corporate office?!
KK: Well, I think we’re all joining your club now! Hahaha!
As far as performance brands, not many are doing anything meaningful. However, my personal favorite is the Stella McCartney x adidas collaboration! If you build it, they will come, and she’s led the way for over 15 years.
In general, including the brands I'm wearing (above), from home to work to play, I appreciate that while not perfect, these brands embrace fashion. with a side of granola in a variety of ways!
L to R top row: Brave Gentleman, Natasha Tonic, Coyuchi, Santicler
L to R middle row: Threads 4 Thoughts, Tintoreria Project, Mara Hoffman, Mate the Label
L to R bottom row: I Stole My Boyfriends Shirt, Henry Rose, Industry of All Nations, Yatay
LS: I’ve heard of a few sustainable brands using recycled plastic bottles!!! Thoughts?
KK: Oh recycling. We have a complicated relationship, and I call this “doing good, in theory” because there are A LOT of issues with recycling plastic.
There are so many different kinds of plastics that it makes it near impossible to actually recycle most of it... meaning landfill.
It’s also cost prohibitive to recycle... meaning like almost everything else, we outsourced this to China... who recently cancelled their US recycling "subscription".
Plastic is not infinitely recyclable. It's actually really low quality, and there’s a HUGE toll on the environment when it comes to actually repurposing it... meaning, we need to step up our glass and metal game!
Recycling issues aside, plastic in our clothing sheds microplastics into our water, then into the fish and eventually into us... and us being plastic is a BIG PROBLEM!!!!
LS: What’s your closet filled with and what is not allowed?
KK: I’ve been “collecting” Stella McCartney for over 15 years, so she has a decent amount of real-estate. Next, I’d say vintage and consignment along with all of the brands I mentioned above!
What’s not?! Obviously... NO leather and NO fur. I also believe we are what we wear, so NOOO FAST FASHION!!!!!
LS: I didn’t know so much of what we consume was made in China!!!!! With recent events, it seems like there’s a major push to bring back MADE IN AMERICA. What are your thoughts?
KK: It’s about time!!!!! Nowhere is perfect, we're all human, and even LA has sweatshops. However, in terms of human rights and environmental laws, Made in America and other responsible countries including France and Romania focus on cultural sustainability, too, which is THE MOST IMPORTANT PART of the sustainability equation!!!
Remember, there’s a saying… you get what you pay for.
Well, Italy imported the business practices and people from Wuhan and other provinces in China- purchasing factories, trafficking in human slave labor and tarnishing the reputation of a once highly respected country for the coveted Made in Italy stamp.
LS: Wow! So much information! Last question… you talk about #JustOneThing and the #RippleEffect a lot. What is something we can all do at home, on various incomes and with various lifestyles?!
KK: see below!
LS: Wow! Seriously, so much information, but this has been a great start! I’m excited!!!
KK: Hahaha! I can talk about this for hours, clearly, so when you’re ready for more, let me know!
For everyone that's made it to the end, thank you! I know I've packed in a LOT of information that makes for a longer read, but wanted to connect a few dots!!! Hope y'all have an awesome day!
PS: one more thing... if you really want to pull back Oz's curtain, check out these documentaries:
True Cost, Cowspiracy, Living in the Futures Past, Rotten and What the Health.