Guide To Going Vegan

Jill Skeem
Presenter: Neal Howard
Guest: Jill Skeem
Guest Bio: Jill Skeem teaches adult and children’s cooking classes and lectures to people at companies and organizations on health and wellness. She’s a contributing writer to various publications, hosts a talk show on, and guests frequently on television and radio. Her popular cookbook is COMFORT FOOD GETS A VEGAN MAKEOVER, featured by Robyn Spizman on The Giftionary Show.

Segment Overview
Jill Skeem talks about the decision process as it relates to going Vegan.


Health Professional Radio

Neal Howard: Hello. You’re listening to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host, Neal Howard. It’s our pleasure to have in studio today with us, Jill Skeem. She is a certified macrobiotic health counsellor, educator and chef, and she’s graduated from the Strengthening Health Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Also a graduate of Ohio State University. She teaches adult and children’s cooking classes, and also lectures to companies and organisations across the country. How are you doing today, Jill?

Jill Skeem: I’m doing great, Neal.  How are you?

Neal: I’m doing good.  Okay, so you’ve spent your whole life living on this protein-laden diet.  You’re not a vegetarian.  For whatever reason, you’re – I don’t know – 30 years old and you decide to go vegan.  Other than just getting a copy of your book, Comfort Food Gets a Vegan Makeover, now what do you do?   Do you find someone like yourself?  Do you talk to your physician and let them know about your decision?

Or, is it even necessary?  Do you just do it and live your life?  Or, there’s certain things that you should be tuned into?

Jill: Well, I think you need to educate yourself and no offence to the physicians out there that listen, but I don’t know how much education they get in nutrition.  I know it’s probably not a lot in medical school.  My dad is a doctor and he, to this day, would think it would be better if I ate a big old steak.  It’s hard, but I would just think I’m sure there’s plenty of books out there that you could read.

I think it’s important to understand what you’re doing, to make sure that you’re not deficient, just eat peanut butter sandwiches or just eat chips or just eat French fries.  Things like that, it’s so detrimental to your body.  You have to look at it as really what you eat today makes tomorrow’s blood.  It’s important to nourish yourself.

A lot of times I hear people that maybe are marathon runners or great athletes who work out all the time, and they’ll say to me, “Oh, I can eat whatever I want.”  I think, “But, why?”  Because every day you create new cells.  You recreate your body; for women every seven years, for men, every eight years.  Every cell in your body turns over.  Why wouldn’t you want to recreate in the highest way you could?

Neal: Absolutely.

Jill: Why not put the best food in your body?  Plus, you’ll have less injuries.  You’ll recover faster.  I think why not feed yourself the best and you could perform at the best rate, too?  I always think it definitely includes whole grains.  I know we have a carb-phobia in this country right now, like, carbs are so bad.

But honestly, whole grains are not bad for you.  Brown rice in your life is a good thing to add.  If you don’t have anything else, add some short-grain brown rice to your diet, and that will help.  Some people are actually practising meatless Mondays.

Neal: Meatless Mondays?

Jill: Yeah, meatless Mondays.

Neal: As opposed to tasty Tuesday, or thirsty Thursday?

Jill: Yeah, they do.  They call them ‘meatless Mondays’, so maybe one night a week, they don’t have meat.  In these economic times, it’s much more economical to eat this way.  Beans and rice are so cheap compared to cheese and meat and chicken.  You can eat in such a great way and healthy way, on such a low budget.   I think, my gosh, just economically, you could save money and be healthier.

Neal: Now, in addition to being an author and an educator, you’re also a co-host of ‘A Top Story’, a local radio talk show there in Idaho.  You’re doing a show and you take a call, or you have a topic about the person that has diligently been trying to lose weight or improve their diet, maybe going vegan and taking your advice, but they’re just not getting it.  They’re discouraged and they want to just say, “You know, what?  Just give me the McDonald’s and the shake and I’ll just …”

What do you say to that person?  How do you lift them up psychologically and get them to keep on keeping on?

Jill: Well, I’d say, like I said before, “What you eat today makes tomorrow’s blood.”  I would tell them that.  I’d ask what their frustration is.  I actually worked with the managing editor of the local paper a number of years ago in Twin Falls.  He was a young man who was 306 pounds.  He tried every diet alive.  He was drinking two gallons of water a day.  He was measuring out his food; all those things that made eating just not pleasurable at all.  Part of eating is enjoying it.

Honestly, he wrote about it.  We did it in five issue segments.  He lost 60 pounds.  He changed his life and to this day, his life has been totally different.  A lot of times what happens when people have a huge eating problem like maybe morbidly obese, is you have to look at knowing not what they’re eating as much as maybe what’s eating them.

A lot of times I find that you’re almost a therapist in a lot of these cases.  And that was the case with this man, when you start peeling the onion as to what he’s doing – because a lot of times, people are eating to push down the feelings that they have, or that they can’t say, or for whatever reason, they’re pushing it down and they’re just eating mindlessly and whatever – you have to sometimes really look at what’s causing that, what’s creating it.

Oftentimes, it’s some trauma, or something where they’re not happy about something.  I mean, it’s not normal to eat like that and people will be like, “I like food.”  You know what, we all like food, but there’s something else going on here, and you have to look at that.  Amazingly enough, when things start peeling away, you get to the root of it and then they have a happy life.  He’s now living in Iowa now, and he’s totally happy and healthy and riding his bike, and back to a normal person.  It’s really amazing.

Neal: Well, it sounds a little bit easier to say than do, but, I’m sure it’s doable.  I’m sure it’s doable if you really want it bad enough, yeah.

Jill: Well, I always say and I always think this too, and I’d always say to him, too, because the whole town had gotten involved since he’d write about it in the paper, and they’d ask him, “Can you eat this?  Can you eat that?”

 It’s not so much about restricting yourself.  It’s about sitting down and enjoying it.  If you choose to eat something, like, say you wanted to eat a hamburger and fries, then sometimes he did.  I’d say to him, “Did you sit down?”  He said, “Yeah.”  I go, “Did you chew it well?”  “Yeah.” “Did you enjoy it?” “Yeah.”  Then it’s like ‘next’ – you know what I mean?

Neal: Yeah.

Jill: We put so much guilt attached to our food, what we’ve eaten and what we haven’t eaten, that it’s ridiculous.  You have to accept the fact that you made that choice.  Then you know what?  The next meal is a new opportunity to make a better choice.

Neal: Right, absolutely.

Jill: It’s like, “Okay, you’ll be better the next meal.” That’s how you have to look at it.  It can’t be all at once, because you psych yourself out.  You freak yourself out.  Just ‘baby steps’, is what I say.  You sat down, you ate today, that’s better than what you did yesterday.  You had a good meal, that’s fine.

The other thing is oil.  People are so freaked out about oil.  That’s really not what’s making us fat.  When you deprive yourself of good quality oil … and in my cookbook, there are recipes where there’s vegetable tempura, there’s sautéed vegetables, sautéed fried rice.  You need good quality oil, otherwise, you’re going to start craving French fries, potato chips, ice cream, chocolate … because you want the oil.  You want the fat.

Neal: Your body basically wants what it wants when it wants it.  It’s up to us to get it used to the healthy things, as opposed to what we’re basically shoving into our faces on a daily basis, right?

Jill: Right.  When you pay attention and say, “Wow, I’m needing potato chips,” or, “Wow, I want some chocolate, I want some ice cream”, think about … I always say, “Well, add some sautéed vegetables to your diet.”  Sauté up some in a little olive oil, a little pinch of sea salt, sauté it up.  It’s so delicious.  It’s so satisfying.  That’s really what your body is craving.

People think, “Oh, this is good, to eliminate the fat.”  Right now we’re in a very cold season, and you need fat to survive, it gives you energy.  You have to add it to your diet, and that will stop you from craving other things.

Neal: Great.  You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio.  I’m your host, Neal Howard.  Our guest in studio today has been Jill Skeem, certified macrobiotic health counsellor, educator, chef and author of the book, Comfort Food Gets A Vegan Makeover.  It’s been very well received.   She also teaches adult and children’s cooking classes.   We’ve been here talking today about some of the important items that we must have in our kitchen when we decide to go vegan and take that journey on a healthier life.  It’s been great having you here with us today, Jill.

Jill: Thanks for having me, Neal.  I really enjoyed it.

Neal: I’m looking forward to speaking with you again soon.

Jill: Me, too.

Neal: Transcripts of this programme are available at, and also at

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