She played the lead role in the hit 1995 film Clueless, but Alicia Silverstone, 33, is totally clued in to what she wants for her life. Besides forming her own production company, First Kiss, the longtime animal lover has tirelessly supported charities working for animal welfare. A self-described "foodie," she's also amassed files of vegan recipes she claims never sacrifice taste. These recipes, along with her research on the connections between what we eat, how we're treating the planet, and how we feel—inside, and out—created the basis for her new book, The Kind Diet.
Q What inspired the book?
A I've been living this lifestyle for so long and have so much information, people would ask me to share it. I'd send them big packets, and they'd say, "Why don't you just write a book?"
Q Why the title The Kind Diet?
A It's important that people know there's no beating yourself up on this plan. It's called The Kind Diet because I want people to be kind to themselves and have a whole new awakening to the word diet. Diet means "a day's journey," and I think that's so beautiful. Diet is a way of living and a way of making healthy choices for yourself. I wanted the book to be really easy for people.
Q How did you develop the recipes?
A There were recipes I'd converted from my parents' kitchen to be vegan, recipes I grew up on, like my mom's artichoke dip and my dad's roasted potatoes. Or I'd ask my husband, "What are you wanting these days?" and I would create that. I also have a lot of chef friends. The tricky part was paring down. I had to choose from something like 300 recipes.
Q What about writing the book surprised you?
A It was so much work! I would be in my house on lockdown for like 12 days, and my husband would ask, "Have you even showered?" Even though writing was this extremely time-consuming and sometimes grueling experience, ultimately the biggest surprise was that I could be working on something and feel so fulfilled and happy and inspired by it at every turn. I think it's the most artistic thing I've ever done.
Q Were any resources particularly helpful to your research for the book?
A I can't remember if it was Dr. Neal Barnard who blew my mind first or if it was John Robbins. I learned so much from Dr. Barnard's books Food for Life and Foods That Fight Pain. John Robbins himself gave me a copy of The Food Revolution, which was his next book after Diet for a New America. I love how he lays it all out: "Here's what they tell us, and here's the truth." My newest hero is Dr. T. Colin Campbell, who wrote The China Study.
Q How has going vegan changed your life?
A It's really opened me to my heart. Learning that I can stand up for what I need and what I want for this world is huge. The more you go into this deep, deep journey, the more it becomes clear what's draining your energy or exhausting you or holding you back. And you get the courage to make changes.