VegFamily Magazine Articles
Profiles: Marilyn McDonald Peterson

VegFamily interviewed Marilyn McDonald, a vegan nutritional consultant and private chef.

Why and when did you adopt a vegan diet?
I became vegetarian 33 years ago, by way of the transition. First eliminating red meats, then chicken, later fish and even later eggs. I became vegan 17 years ago, at a time when I was a colon therapist, and I saw the difference in elimination on the colonic machine. There was a difference of elimination that reflected the client’s dietary choices. The vegan was most impressive. The carnivore was bloated with a great deal of gas, often there were undigested foods. The vegetarian (depending on how long one was a vegetarian) had better eliminative results, less undigested foods. However, the vegan won the “Pooper of the year’ award, as the releases were ‘movin’ right along from all of the blocked areas in the colon.

How did you get started cooking?
I got started cooking when I was living in the Santa Cruz Mountains, as a single Mom, cleaning cabins so I could be home with my kids, when they came home from school.

I was asked if I would clean up at a Doctor’s seminar. They said I did a beautiful job, and asked if I would come back next week. I came back with my cleaning supplies, and they said “what’s this?” I told them, “I thought that you wanted me to come back.” They said “We do, only we don’t want you to clean. We want you to cook.” I said “I don’t know how to cook” (I had just become a lacto-vegetarian) They said, “Don’t worry, we will teach you”. They gave me a recipe, went on a break, and I don’t ever remember them coming back! I ended up cooking for that doctor for one and half years.

This was over 28 years ago.

Tell us about what you do and the services you offer?
The services I offer are broad and varied. As my expertise is in the transition diet, I work on every level of nutritional lifestyle change. Many doctors consider me a food nutritionist, as I make dietary recommendations to my clients as a nutrition consultant.

I take my clients shopping at natural food stores and at Farmers Markets where I introduce organic, high quality products and delicious flavors.

As a teacher, after shopping, I teach them how to make entrees, soups, sauces, dressings, etc. I am a cooking teacher, as well as a raw food teacher. I teach privately, as well as groups.

I 'm also a private chef for clients who have neither the time, nor the inclination to be in the kitchen. Since my background is therapeutic, I am trained to teach the medicinal value of the natural foods, which is integrated into the gourmet dishes that I prepare for my clients. I offer personalized programs, as well, for clients who have a health condition.

I presently coach the transition over the internet, as well as lecture on the Transition Diet. I am also a consultant for Spas and retreats, offering dietary expansion in their programs.

What is the biggest block people seem to have about changing their diet to be more healthy?
The biggest blocks that people seem to have about changing their diet to be more healthy is CONDITIONING. The program fed to us from the meat and dairy industry from the 4 basic food groups, such as Meat, Chicken, Fish and Dairy groups! It certainly was not designed for good health. Unless you categorize heart disease and cancers in the section for good health.

Another reason is that people often feel overwhelmed about change. They want to change, however they do not know how to make the change. This is why I chose to teach the transition over 25 years ago.

Mothers, for instance. Every mother knows that nutrition is the foundation for the health of their child. And if they do not know this, it is the first thing they need to learn, before they get pregnant, for their sake and for the sake of the baby. I see mothers giving their children all the things that money can buy. Good health is the only thing that can never be bought. It has to be taught. Every mother wants to give their child the very best, and I am here to teach mothers the best there is in nutrition.

What advice do you have for people who are overweight and vegan?
There are some issues that they need to be willing to take a look at. One is the overeating issue in general, and the food choices they are making in their overeating. Often, the body is simply not getting the nutrition from the foods they are choosing, so they keep eating, as the body is craving good nutrition. Also the body needs essential fatty acids to gain, or to lose weight. Many people go on a “fat craze” and eliminate the nutrients necessary for building a healthy body. This is like throwing out the baby with the bath water! It is necessary to eliminate the poor quality fats such as in animal products and dairy.

It is not enough to be a vegan, what counts is being a healthy vegan.

What are your favorite dishes to prepare?
For me, I love greens! I prepare varieties of salads, such as kale, or watercress, endive, dandelion, etc.

I enjoy marinating kale, collards and cauliflower in a variety of ways. I enjoy eating a major part of raw foods, as I feel that it is optimal, in terms of health.

I do my best to choose my meals by what is healthy, rather than what will excite my taste buds, however, since I’m a chef, I can accomplish both! I enjoy raw Hummus, California roll, which is like Sushi (vegan)

I like to have dialogue with my body when I eat, such as ‘watercress is a blood purifier’ or ‘kale is a calcium food’. Some people’s dialogue is ‘Twinkies will put me in an early grave’.

What are some good, fast, dishes busy moms can prepare for their kids?
Good, fast dishes moms can prepare for their kids are also great sandwich fillings, such as Nut pate’s, Hummus, Tofu eggless salad and Tempeh tuna. Busy moms hardly have time to eat, never mind prepare! However, an abundance of raw foods can be simply prepared, and integrated into a child’s diet.

In the formative years of parenting, it is valuable to demonstrate compassion, as well as giving a child a healthy foundation. Sometimes, it is short of criminal to see what some mothers are willing to feed their families! This is only because mothers are not properly educated, not because they are bad mothers. They simply lack awareness of the current issues relating to the food chain today.

What are you most looking forward to accomplishing in the next 10 years?
In the next 10 years, I have filed in my dream box, to accomplish writing a cookbook, creating a video on the transition diet, a TV cooking show, a Radio Talk show on how to make the transition, including recipes. On some level implementing change in the paradigm shift for hospitals, nursing homes, etc.

Do you have an book projects in the works?
Presently I am writing a cookbook proposal. I am featured with other chefs, in a book by Christian Paer “Celebrities and their Chefs” with James Cromwell.

Learn more about Marilyn at her website
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