It’s 2017 – almost 73-years on since the term ‘veganism’ was coined, yet society still likes to label it as something ‘new’.
To a certain extent you can understand why veganism has fallen into a trap of being heavily associated with millennials or 90s and 80s babies. The majority of people have consumed at least some animal products from birth – veganism tends to be a lifestyle change that one comes to know as they evolve and learn about the world around them. And fortunately for our younger generation, they’re the ones who have been brought up into a culture where they don’t have to take half-hour out to source information from a library; instead they have a search engine almost always held in the palm of their hands.
Although, that is not to say vegans are extinct over the age of 35. Just because they aren’t all on Instagram sharing their delicious plant-based protein-packed plates with a beautifully filtered image, doesn’t mean they don’t exist. In fact they are very much so alive and educating the world on the benefits of going meat and dairy-free.
“I know so many people who are in my age bracket that watch my YouTube videos, who have switched over to a vegan diet. Like I tell people in my videos, it is never too late to become vegan; it’s never too late to make the change,” explains Mimi Kirk.
You may already know Mimi, but if you don’t, she’s the 78 year old vegan behind the award-winning book, Young On Raw Food. Having been vegetarian and vegan for over 40-years Mimi retells the moments that transformed her into a compassionate vegan.
“I was studying the Hindu philosophy and meditating at the time,” she says. “I’d grown up eating meat; my mother actually thought that meat was important at every meal, like so many standard American diets. But then one day I was eating a piece of roast beef and it dawned on me that this was actually flesh and from that point I made the decision to eliminate it from my diet.
Yet it wasn’t the simple realisation that animals are innocently butchered for human fuel that sent Mimi on a raw route to veganism. In fact the raw aspect of her lifestyle happened later in her sixties due to a health scare from her doctor. Mimi says: “At first raw food didn’t sound good to me, I was a real foodie and I loved cooking. Vegan was great as I could cook so many delicious things and I understood vegan.
“However, I didn’t understand raw. I thought it was just carrot sticks, celery and cold food all the time. But I thought if this was going to cure my health problems, then I’d give it a go. I began juicing and eating an abundance of raw foods.”
Following the global success of her book, it’s pretty clear that Mimi soon learnt if she wanted a plate full of health-enhancing and actually tasty raw foods, she’s going to have to start experimenting in the kitchen herself.
‘I started to create my own raw recipes, I knew exactly what I wanted them to taste like and at this point I had an understanding of how raw food works. After creating my own food combinations, I found it so easy to stick to the raw diet.’
Amongst innovating incredible whole vegan food recipes, the raw chef and coach is also renowned for her international lectures where she teaches both adults and kids on the conscious decision of choosing kindness over killing.
“I get people that engage with me and write to me that are as young as 11 years old, all the way up to my age and older,” she explains.
“I’ve had parents come up to me at shows telling me my book was their child’s favourite Christmas present and I think that’s amazing, that I can be an inspiration to a whole host of people of varying ages not just older vegans.”
And that’s beauty of Mimi’s take on veganism. Society gets so caught up on the newbies taking the vegan limelight with social media acting as center stage that we forget about the leaders that fed them with the knowledge and power to develop their take on veganism in the first place.
“I can see that I’m a role model; people tell me that I’m a role model and I’m inspiring. It is pressure in some way, it keeps me very grounded though, to ensure that I am living my life the way I tell other people to live theirs,” explains the raw food vegan.
So aside from consuming a strict diet of pumpkin lattes, Bonsai Salad and Mockarita cocktails just to name a few of her scrumptious raw vegan recipes, what other rituals does the world’s sexiest vegetarian over 50 practice to maintain her youthful persona?
“You have to step up your game the older you get. You can be vegan but you could be a junk food vegan. And there is so much vegan food on the market, which isn’t necessarily healthy,” says Mimi.
“When you get into your 60s and 70s you start to age faster. When I compare images of myself from 10 years ago to now, I can see that following a vegan and raw vegan diet, has slowed down my own aging process. As far as I am concerned I should definitely look a lot older than I currently do.”
Not only is Mimi passionate about teaching all ages to adopt an animal-cruelty-free lifestyle, but she’s also extremely driven to educate her audience on the correct ways to fuel their body. And arguably, that’s a hidden problem within veganism. Just because you have removed dairy and meat that contain high level of saturated fat and preservatives does not mean you are fulfilling a healthy lifestyle.
The vegan food market is growing so fast, as so are the wholefood vegan bloggers to accompany it. But we have to realise that there’s an awful lot of processed junk popping up on vegan shelves too. That brings us to highlight one of Mimi’s most unique older veganism values- a lot of us are educated on the veganism lifestyle, but how many of us are actually educated on the nutritional side of veganism? Do you know how much refined sugar or saturated fat is disguised in your food?
That’s where one of the biggest pros to opting for a raw veganism diet comes into action- not only are you being considerate to the world around you but you are also taking care of your body. And we think it’s a fair comment to say that Mimi Kirk is living proof.
“I guess at 70, people have a perception of what you’re supposed to look like, act like, feel like and everything else that the media tells us. People got so excited; my social media pages just blew up,” Mimi reveals.
“My age, which to me feels like nothing (I’m going to be 79 this year), is a shock for some people. But It’s not about how old I am it’s how old I feel. I have long hair, I dress young, and I feel young. Being a raw vegan really steps it up for health.”
Of course not everyone has the desire to be healthy. If you want to eat corn chips coated in sugar and salt then there is no problem in that. That’s your decision. But the fact Mimi is educating younger and older vegans on how to live a happy and healthy lifestyle that is friendly to our environment and self, is inspiring, whether you choose to cotton on to it or not.
To an extent, you could argue would blogger sensations like Deliciously Ella be as successful today if it wasn’t for older vegan’s like Mimi publically paving the raw vegan way? Youngsters have the knowledge to build a following online, but don’t forget their veganism menu would have been inspired by someone, somewhere.
So whether you fancy getting in the kitchen and making some raw peanut butter cacao smoothie or not- there is one thing everyone can take from the world’s sexiest ‘older vegan’…
“I think the most important thing is that we all learn to love ourselves, as that’s how you take better care of yourself,” Mimi says.
From now here on out- don’t underestimate an older vegan.