Long before Scream reinvented the horror genre in 1996, Troma Entertainment was producing horror films with tongue regularly planted firmly in cheek. In between starring in such films as Class of Nuke 'Em High and The Toxic Avenger, film actresses Leesa Rowland and Lisa Gaye met, and discovered a common passion: The vegan, eco-friendly lifestyle.
Now these two avant garde New Yorkers have teamed up to produce short, simple vegan cooking videos on their YouTube channel, Two City Girls.
I chatted with Leesa and Lisa to learn more about their journey from cult films to compassionate lifestyle advisers.
BlogHer: Tell us a bit about your film background.
Leesa: I have done and do mainstream films too, but I got more work in the horror genre, starting with Class of Nuke 'em High 2. My latest film is Slaughter Daughter premiering in October. I like it, because it's fun...no one takes themselves too seriously.
BlogHer: So, how did you get on the path to green and particularly vegan lifestyle?
Leesa: I've been a vegan all my life. I grew up in Texas. Part of my family has cattle ranches in Paris, TX. So I always associated the meat with the animal. Most folks see something cut up in the market, and they don't associate it with an animal. For example,I don't think people know what factory farms are. They don't understand. I hear people say, "I drink milk because they don't kill the cow," but hello!
It was tough being a vegan in Texas; there weren't too many others. It's so cool to see it has grown so much.
Lisa: It really came naturally to me. I've been on this path for over 25 years, little by little changing the way I did things, thinking out of the box that was brainwashing a generation or two. I found myself happier, feeling healthier and stronger with each gradual refining of not wasting, of being kind to life, of keeping it simple. This lifestyle is more fun, easier to keep up a quality of life, and it's more adventurous than the traditional one. I'm proud that I have very little trash, that I eat fresh and local even in a big city, that I am kind to all living things.
BlogHer: So, why a vegan cooking channel on YouTube?
Leesa: We got together and wanted to do something that was informative. We just bought the gear ourselves and started putting it together.
BlogHer: I've noticed all your recipes are pretty attainable...reasonable number of easily-acquired ingredients, not too many steps (or dishes required). Would you say your target audience is folks who aren't vegan yet, or maybe vegans who are relying too heavily on convenience foods? [For example, check out their Pumpkin Curry Stew...sounds complicated, but really isn't.]
Leesa: We played it by ear, and did what we liked. Everything's green and vegan. But yes, we are looking for a non-vegan audience and trying to make it accessible to them. Hopefully it will touch even one person.
BlogHer: You've been on YouTube about six months now...what's your vision for Two City Girls?
Leesa: Our vision, ultimately, is to be on a TV channel. But it's fun this way because you get to go back and forth. You get that feedback: Sometimes you get really rude things. But others have said they've gone vegan! We will eventually do videos on factory farming. We'd love to go to the Farm Sanctuary and film there, so people can see the animals. I've worked with Last Chance for Animals since 1989.
BlogHer: What are your favorite vegan online resources?
And everyone should watch "If Slaughterhouses Had Glass Walls", a video narrated by Sir Paul McCartney
Lisa: I always start clean with a Google search. New things are popping up all the time. I usually begin with an ingredient, something local and in season. Then I see what other ingredients I have and create, on the fly, a meal. I take a really relaxed approach, but most of the time the results are quite delicious.
BlogHer: If you had to articulate why you're a vegan (and others should be) in one sentence, what would it be?
Leesa: My go-to argument is this: The lives of animals are more important than my appetite.
There's plenty to eat without eating animals. Plenty to wear without wearing animals. It's the compassionate choice.
Lisa: It leads to a sweeter life.
Elisa (couldn't resist adding mine, especially given that my name fits right in!): I (and all humans) do not *need* to eat animal products to thrive, and if it is more kind, more eco-friendly, and more healthy to not do so, why on Earth would I?
Thanks to the Two City Girls, Leesa and Lisa, for the fun chat and their words of vegan wisdom. Happy World Vegetarian Month!
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