In the Kitchen
alicia silverstone wellness

Alicia Silverstone Will Tell You What Grey Water Means

And, yeah, she was a vegan before all of you.

By: Noah Lehava
Photography: Jake Rosenberg

Beyoncé and Jay-Z challenged us all to resolute this year; the environmental impact of industrial farming is no longer irrefutable; and forgoing animal products has become synonymous with a healthy lifestyle. But declaring veganism two decades ago was hardly a favored (or understood) notion. Just ask Alicia Silverstone, who made appearances on OG late-night shows with Jay Leno and David Letterman after reaching cult success from Clueless and beyond and spoke openly about her lifestyle to many eyebrow raises. Let’s just say things have changed, but Silverstone has not.

After we raided her closet, we segued to her kitchen and then garden, where she plucked massive fresh zucchinis and cherry tomatoes to add to her overflowing bowl of lemons, later opening her fridge of impeccably organized and labeled perishables. The holy grail was found in the pantry—a rainbow of Silverstone’s very own brand of supplements, mykind Organics. We’re talking sleep sprays, turmeric gummies, and clean, clean, clean vitamins. Over glasses of cucumber water, she told us what wellness means to her, why sometimes a glass of whiskey is her ultimate indulgence, and how a big bowl of brown rice hits the spot.

 

The first thing we noticed were your veggies. Have you always had a green thumb?

“I’ve had a vegetable garden probably since my early 20s, and they’ve been in all different corners on my property. I’ve built a really beautiful reclaimed veggie garden, and ours have such an abundance right now, I can’t even get through it. I’m eating so much zucchini my head is spinning.”

You have to make zucchini bread!

“I have! I’ve made zucchini muffins, zucchini soup; I’ve been baking with zucchini, I’ve been grilling the zucchini. It’s making me zucchini-crazy.”

What else do you love growing?

“I love artichokes because they’re so beautiful. We have a massive avocado tree, but right now my avocado tree is taking a break—he just finished his season, and we had an absolute abundance of avocados. It’s fun growing strawberries; my son can go pick the strawberries and the blueberries and the raspberries and the blackberries. We use grey water to feed all the plants. I have a great grey-water system in place, so all of our water feeds our fruit trees and the bushes like that.”

Wait, what’s grey water?

“It’s so great. You save gallons and gallons—it’s way more efficient than rain-catching. Especially where we live, because we’re in sunny California where it doesn’t rain that much. So what it does is, whenever you use your shower, your bath, or your sink, all that water that gets used can go straight to the fruit tree. Instead of leaving the property, it just gets used again, it goes right into the soil.”

 

Since you grow so much at home, what does a grocery list look like for you?

“Today we ran out of kale and bok choy. Kale is hard for me to grow because the animals come and munch on it a lot, so we usually don’t have as much of an abundance of kale as I would like. So this morning we needed to get more lemon, more kale, and some bok choy. Usually we go to the farmers’ market every Sunday, and we pick up whatever we need there, and then sometimes we need a grocery run for brown rice, quinoa, or some beans. That’s kind of the routine.”

You were really ahead of the curve with your veganism. What sort of shift have you noticed in the last two decades?

“You know, I was definitely stepping out in a time when not many people knew what [veganism] was. I went on David Letterman or Jay Leno at the time, and they would be like, ‘What? You’re a vegan? What is that?’ and make such a big fuss, it was so funny. And I think that people didn’t understand it as much. Now, well, hopefully this is because of books that I’ve written, like The Kind Diet and The Kind Mama, there’s just so many vegans, you can’t escape us. People understand that as a concept now, whereas 20 years ago, people were like, ‘Are you OK? Are you going to be all right?’ They didn’t understand that we weren’t suffering, that we were actually thriving and doing better because of it, you know what I mean?

“I was going through security at the airport where you show your ID to the guy before you go into the security machine, and the guy was like, ‘Oh my god, my wife would have been so bummed that she didn’t get to meet you and I did.’ This was somebody that I never in a million years expected to even know who I was, and I just said, ‘Oh, that’s so cool.’ He said, ‘My wife and I are huge fans,’ and I said, ‘Really? Well, are you watching American Woman?’ assuming he wasn’t, and he was like, ‘Yes, we’re watching American Woman! But more importantly, we buy your vitamins, and we’re both vegan. We just went vegan six months ago!’ And I was like, these are very unsuspecting people to think would be doing this, and it’s just kind of everywhere. I’ll go to a meeting, and three of the people will be vegan, it’s just like that now. It’s really exciting and really cool.”

 

What does wellness mean to you?

“There’s physical wellness, and then there’s your mental and heart wellness, right? And they really are all connected. When I first changed my diet and started being vegan and following what I call the Kind Diet, everything changed for me. My nails became very hard, whereas before they were bendable, brittle nails. All my acne cleared away; I ditched my asthma inhaler and my allergy shots; I no longer needed any of that. My body trimmed up a lot; I lost all this excess I was carrying. And then, on top of all of that, my energy changed drastically.

“When I would walk through the world, I felt lighter and more full of myself. What I mean by that is, I was living my truth. I was making a choice that was aligned with what I believed in. I was doing it for the animals at the time, I didn’t even think the health stuff was going to happen—that was all a happy bonus. My heart just felt so much happier knowing that I was doing something that I believed in, and it gave me so much confidence and strength. For the first time I just stood up and said, ‘Absolutely not. No thank you!’ and it was so empowering for me as a woman and as a person—realizing how much power we all have as individuals to make this choice. Even if it’s one meal a day, it makes such a powerful statement and change in the world. It’s the most powerful thing we do—we do it three times a day.

“And also, I think, [finding] wellness in not being perfect and knowing that it’s OK to mess up! You know, some of us don’t try anything because we don’t want to fail or we don’t want to mess up and decide ‘Ah shit, I can’t do this. I messed up, I can’t do it.’ But that’s not the way to look at wellness. Every single meal matters, and so if you have three meals a day and two of them are amazing, and one of them is a mess, you did so much better than the day before, when they were all bad, right? Just be kind to yourself. When you get rid of all of the icky gook inside of you, all of the sludge, I think when you do that, your heart softens and everything opens—you become more clear about what you want.”

 

What made you decide to launch your vitamin line, mykind Organics?

“I was pregnant with my son, and my midwife said it would be a good idea to take a prenatal supplement. I was looking for what would be the best prenatal on the market, and I couldn’t find anything that was a certified organic, non-GMO-verified, all food-based, no fillers, no binders, and just total, pure nutrition. I just couldn’t find it, so I thought, Why on earth would I take a vitamin that’s less healthy than the vegetables I’m eating? People take vitamins assuming that they’re getting really clean, healthy nutrition, but do they know that they all have this icky stuff in them? So I thought that I have to make some, this is absurd, and I went looking for a partner. I co-founded this company, and we started developing mykind Organics. We have a whole line of vitamin C sprays, B-12, B-complex, your regular multis, prenatal, and then we came out with this really cool one, the collagen builder, because that is something that people misunderstand. They take vitamins that have collagen in them, but collagen doesn’t work in your body that way—you need to take something that’s actually going to build the collagen from within your body.”

What else is in the supplement line?

“Then we came out with gummies, and what makes the gummies so special is that any gummy on the market has sugar in it, and like, two teaspoons of sugar per serving, which I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have a glass of wine if I’m going to eat sugar. We spent a lot of time trying to make them, and basically our sweetener is organic pureed apples and peaches, and it’s wonderful and delicious. We also don’t use any gelatin, so that’s great, too, because gelatin is gnarly, nasty stuff. They’re like having candy in the middle of the day, except it’s not candy, it’s your vitamins, and it’s great.

“And then, the latest invention that we’re so excited about are gut herbals. What makes us different from anyone else out there is our extraction process, and also we’re using all organic ingredients. Our farms are certified organic, we are using certified organic materials as our base—if it’s turmeric, it’s certified organic turmeric. It’s non-GMO-verified, and then we’re taking those very pure ingredients and when we extract, we’re doing it with a clean extraction method. Everyone else on the market is using hexane, which is gasoline. I don’t want my organic vitamins to be processed with gasoline. I’m very proud of the process that we’re using and how clean it is. And we have really great new products.”

 

What supplements do you take on a daily basis?

“I’ll always take a gummy because they’re just delicious. I don’t feel like I need it, I just do it because it’s yummy and it’s like a good pick-me-up. I take the B-12 spray for the same reason—I take it because it tastes good and it gives me energy. I take the vitamin C spray almost for the same reason, just because it’s so delicious and it’s just a nice little boost. I take the B-complex because I think that’s really good for our moods and our balance. I’m not religious about anything, it’s sort of like as often as I can. I’m getting much, much better at it because I have all of these delicious things to take. Sometimes I’ll take my iron around my period time. I take the collagen builder sometimes, but I’m not really regular about that. I’ll take the adrenal, I’ll drink the golden milk for a special treat because it’s so yummy, and if I’m getting sick I’ll probably use the sleepy-time formula. I’ll definitely use the elderberry immune boosting, because again, the gummies are just so delicious I can’t stop.”

What’s your ultimate indulgence?

“I do enjoy having a little whiskey on the rocks with a friend. If I’m going to be really crazy and wild, I’ll have sourdough toast with Earth Balance butter, tomato slices, and salt on it, I just love it.

“Sometimes I go crazy on nuts, and I really shouldn’t because having too many nuts is not good for me. It makes me break out, it makes my skin get funny. I don’t feel as good, but I love them. A little bit is fine, but sometimes I can over-indulge in that when I get really excited, and dried fruit—oh my god.”

 

What’s your favorite thing to cook?

“Oh, I love cooking, but basically my favorite thing is usually just making the simple, basic healthy stuff, because that’s what you’re needing. Like when I come home from a trip, the first thing I want to make is a pot of brown rice. I know it sounds so boring, but eating a fresh pot of brown rice is one of the most yummy things ever and I will make greens—I always blanch or steam them. I’ll do bok choy or kale with umeboshi vinegar and flaxseed oil drizzled on it, and lemon—that is delicious. But then I also make fancy things that are in my book. Recently I made everybody this amazing Caesar salad, and I make my Cuban sweet potatoes a lot because they’re amazing. I make artichoke dip, I make these leek crostini that has leek pesto and artichoke and mushrooms on them, and they’re incredible.”

What is your ultimate breakfast?

“If I’m feeling really light, then just even having herbal teas and water with lemon, or like a green juice or soup makes me really happy. My two really yummy decadent breakfasts that I love to make are an English breakfast, and also mochi waffles that are so delicious, and also in my book, with vegan sausage on the side and greens. My everyday, go-to healthy, amazing breakfast is I’ll usually make greens with how I described the umeboshi vinegar and the flax and the lemon, and then I’ll make steel-cut oats for my son. On my steel-cut oats, I’ll cook that for like, 25 minutes, and then when it cools down a little bit, I use flaxseed oil and I use maple syrup and cinnamon and chopped-up walnuts and dates and apple. That is hearty.”

What’s the last thing you do before bed?

“I usually put up my pillow wall for my son because we sleep together. So I’ll snuggle him to sleep, and then I’ll put the pillow wall up so I don’t get arms and legs all over me, although I still do somehow, but it’s so cute I don’t care.”

 

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