In 2008 Sophie Uliano attempted to bring environmentalism to the masses with her book Gorgeously Green, which became a New York Times Best Seller and led to appearances on Oprah and Good Morning America. This year she takes on our fast food nation with her new book The Gorgeously Green Diet. Sophie joined us recently to talk about her new book and personal "green" choices.
Raegan: Your first book Gorgeously Green was a New York Times Best Seller and focused on 8 simple steps to live a greener life. Why did you decide to narrow your focus to people's eating habits for your second book The Gorgeously Green Diet?
Sophie: I wanted to focus on food because I believe the diet choices we make can have an extremely powerful impact on the planet. I am also passionate about good food and believe that a good diet is preventative health care at its best.
In your book you have recommended meal plans for everyone from meat eaters to strict vegetarians (vegans) but they all start their day with an eight ounce glass of lemon water. What gives with the lemon water?
I suggest lemon water because it's important to give your digestive system a mini-cleanse before you start the day. Lemon raises the alkalinity of the water, which is great for digestion and any inflammation that might be present. It's also refreshing.
You discuss a lot of hazards in modern food production from GMO foods to sewage sludge fertilizer - ick. What's the worst in your opinion and why?
Two aspects bother me the most: Factory farms, where meat is produced on a massive scale are scary. If we are going to eat meat it needs to be 100% organic and ideally "humanely raised too". My second concern is the liberal use of genetically modified seeds. The health implications have not been adequately studied long-term - so it's a rather risky human experiment.
What do you believe is the biggest misconception people have about a "green diet" or "eating green"?
That it's going to be just eating a lot of the color green foods, and that it's going to be very expensive. My diet includes everything (chocolate, bread, pasta etc), however, these foods are healthy, clean, whole, and minimally processed foods. I go beyond the ubiquitous "local/seasonal/organic" and try to make this diet affordable and accessible to everyone. It's about eating real food, as opposed to fake/processed food.
What was the hardest step for you in eating greener? What was the easiest?
Sophie: The hardest step is organization. I'm a very impulsive/last-minute kind of girl and in researching for this diet, I realized that in order to be successful, I needed to learn to think ahead, make lists, plan and that's why I created eating plans with shopping lists. The easiest step was the exercise thing. Once I told myself that I didn't have to do a full exercise program everyday and that it was just as effective to break it down into ten or fifteen minute segments - it became pleasurable and easy. If I don't have time for a full workout, I go on a fast-paced walk for 15 minutes and then I feel one hundred percent better and have met my minimum exercise requirement for that day.
You appeared on Oprah's Earth Day show last year to promote Gorgeously Green. What was that experience like?
The audience response was amazing. They say your life changes after Oprah and it really does. The thing that has blown me away is the letters that I still receive almost everyday from women all over the country. It restores my faith in humanity and that there are plenty of incredible women out there who are invested in making a difference.
If you could snap your fingers and make people stop doing one harmful environmental behavior what would it be and why? (examples: People throwing cigarette butts on the ground, drinking bottled water, unsafe cosmetics, etc.)
As boring as it sounds, it would be to stop everyone using plastic bags at the store. Even with our increased awareness and every store giving out reusable bags now, the majority of people (over 95%) still use plastic bags and lots of them!
What next on your agenda (a new book, a TV show, a wind turbine in your yard, a vacation, etc.)?
A possible TV show, yes another book and I wish I could have a wind turbine in my yard - but it's not big enough and my vacation will be to England visiting my gorgeously green family.
The National Resources Defense Council because they really make things happen.
Sophie's new book The Gorgeously Green Diet is now available on www.Amazon.com.
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