Mayim Bialik - Actress, author & neuroscientist
Mayim is an american actress, neuroscientist and author born in San Diego, California. From 1991 to 1995, she played the title character in Blossom. After the end of Blossom, Mayim attended UCLA and in 2007 earned her PHD in neuroscience. Since 2010, she has played Amy Farrah Fowler in The Big Bang Theory. Mayim has written several books; Mayim's Vegan Table contains over one hundred vegan recipes. Her third book, called Girling Up, is about the struggles and ways in which girls grow up while showing the scientific ways in which their bodies change. Mayim also founded Grok Nation in August 2015 for people of different ages and backgrounds to have conversations on contemporary issues. It aims to engage readers in online conversations that lead to offline action, mobilizing individuals toward changing the world as a community.
How long have you been vegan and what inspired you to make that lifestyle change?
I was vegetarian since I was 19 for ethical reasons and in college, after repeated sinus infections, a UCLA doctor suggested cutting back on dairy. I haven't had an infection since. I still ate a bit of dairy but when my first son was born, I discovered he had a milk allergy (as many babies do) through breastmilk, so I cut it out completely. Trace eggs left my life after reading "Eating Animals" by Jonathan Safran Foer about 9 years ago. And I haven't looked back!
Eating meat is a big part of Jewish traditions and customs, how difficult is it to stand by your morals ethically, whilst also being true to your faith? i.e. hosting passover meals, dealing with disputes within the community etc?
There have always been vegetarian Jewish people; the Garden of Eden was a vegetarian existence and meat historically was eaten rarely and with great reverence for the animal. There are ways to observe holidays without meat; the Talmud, which originated thousands of years ago, has vegetarian options for the shank bone at Passover for example (mushroom or beets are acceptable!). And while it is culturally customary to eat meat on the Sabbath, I believe our culture will continue to shift just as secular culture should and does: towards less meat consumption and normalization of the use of animals for food and clothing. I find it gratifying to honor my faith by repairing the world one meal at a time!
What is your favourite family meal to prepare from your cook book “Mayim’s Vegan Table”?
We love chili. That's such a safe bet for us. And you can customize it with toppings depending on what you like. That's always a hit.
How important is it to you and your family that there are organisations around, like us, to support and educate young people in their vegan lifestyle?
It's the most important thing! I used to feel so alone. We need more and more support so we know we are not alone!
You were a self-confessed “awkward teenager” growing up, what’s your most important piece of advice to young people who feel “different” or are having a hard time fitting in with their peers?
You won't always feel as bad as you do or as weird about not fitting in. And as you get older, it will feel less isolating to be weird. I can't promise you will be "like everyone else" but your need to be will lessen!
Your book "Girling Up" is mostly intended to empower young girls. But are there any parts of it that can cross over to boys or maybe even those that fall somewhere else on the gender spectrum?
Of course! The facts about the body and brain are for everyone! And I do discuss the gender spectrum and how to break down perceptions of gender identity. It's a very friendly book for anyone really!
Tell us your process of writing for this book - what was the one thing you wanted to focus on most of all and what were you hoping to achieve/for the readers to take from it?
I wanted to answer the questions I needed answered. Basically, I took the entire growing up experience and wrote lists of questions..and set out to answer them!
Lots of younger people are taking an interest and stance on social justice issues, feminism, veganism, human rights etc and many opposing individuals are calling it a “just a trend”, what do you think of that?
This is an age of information. Young people know things I didn't at their age and they are using their smarts to change the world even earlier than we ever dreamed we could!
Marvel or DC?
So hard to pick!!!! Marvel!? Ugh, DC!? BOTH!!!
Sloth, llama, any bat, naked mole rat.
Chocolate Babka or Sufganiyot?
sufganiyot; easier to veganize.
Favourite book of all time?
Visiting a science Museum or watching a Star Wars marathon?
Photo credit: James Banasiak