A Q & A with the talented Haile Thomas, author of Living Lively, and accomplished international speaker, activist, and wellness expert. Much more than a vegan cookbook, Living Lively is also a motivational guide and call to action, inspiring readers to change their mindset as the foundation to a healthy diet and lifestyle.
At the time of the publication of her first book, Living Lively: 80 Plant-Based Recipes to Activate Your Power and Feed Your Potential, Haile Thomas was nineteen years old! As if that’s not amazing enough, she’s also the founder and CEO of a wellness non-profit, and is an international speaker and activist.
Here’s more about Haile from her publisher, William Morrow (NY), a division of HarperCollins:
Haile Thomas is 19 years old, an international speaker, wellness & compassion activist, vegan food & lifestyle content creator, the youngest to graduate from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition as a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, and the founder/ CEO of the non-profit HAPPY (Healthy, Active, Positive, Purposeful Youth).
Haile founded HAPPY when she was 12 years old to redefine youth empowerment through holistic education and address the need for peer to peer free / affordable plant-based nutrition and wellness education in underserved / at risk communities.
Haile has personally engaged over 80,000 people around the world since 2010 and has spoken at events like SXSW, WeDay UN at the Barclays Center, and GITEX Future Stars in Dubai. Haile has worked with brands like Williams-Sonoma, Nike, Bank of America, Vitamix, United Airlines, and Audible. She’s been featured by BuzzFeed, MTV, CNN, The Today Show, O Magazine, and Teen Vogue to name a few.
Haile, I read through your book and it was only afterwards that I realized that you are 19 at the time of publication! When did you realize that you already had a book in you, and what gave you the belief that you could achieve that goal, even as a teen?
Ever since I was little, I’ve loved writing and always dreamed of publishing a book one day. But I think what made me feel equipped to write a book and do so at such a young age came from how I was raised and how my parents always instilled in me that my voice is valuable. They taught me that anything is possible if I’m committed to making it happen.
They’ve always encouraged me to do things with purpose and intention. I would also say just facing universal growing pains as a young activist gave me some clarity on what true well-being is. I noticed my wellness was shaped by more than what I was eating or how I was moving my body.
It was also deeply connected to my thoughts + mindset, the relationship I had with myself and others, and the ways I nurtured my creativity and being of service. Witnessing this interconnectivity within my own life and the lives of those around me made it clear that there was a gap between nutrition/food and also self-growth/ spiritual-growth.
And the inspiration behind Living Lively is to close that gap. It provides a holistic wellness perspective that encourages introspection and shares tangible steps to take for positive growth + recipes for nourishing your body.
See Haile’s recipe for Spiced Maple Masala Hot Cocoa
A good third of this book is a (very lively, fittingly) workbook and inspirational guide to developing personal power — all of this to be thought about and considered even before we take a look at your delicious recipes.
Though I think anyone can enjoy and benefit from your book (I certainly do!), who would you say you most hope to inspire with your message — young women? Young women of color?
My intention is really for this book to resonate with and positively impact all who may need it. Of course, I would love to see young women of color connect with and be empowered by this book!
Mainly because we tend to unconsciously internalize what society thinks we are capable of and or deserve while also facing the social/systemic manifestations of those projections. I would love to see that internalization (that I’ve encountered at points in my life) to be dismantled. Still, I most definitely hope it will encourage all sorts of people of all ages to tap into compassionate self-care and self-reflection.
I hope the book is like a hug or a hand to hold on this journey of figuring out how to be human and help ourselves and others thrive. If anyone walks away from reading Living Lively, knowing they are worthy of prioritizing their mental, physical, and spiritual well-being… I’ve done my job!
Though you go into this at length in the book, could you give me your brief take on how developing one’s personal power ties in with a clean, compassionate plant-based diet?
I think this year, especially, we’ve realized that compartmentalizing our lives isn’t serving us. And that’s precisely what Living Lively is intended to highlight — the many pieces to the whole picture of well-being.
Our personal power is 1000% connected to what we eat. Through being empowered, we can make intentional food or wellness choices that align with the ways we want to make a difference in the world or grow as individuals. For instance, through eating plant-based, we nourish our bodies and make a positive impact on the environment and animals.
Living Lively by Haile Thomas is available wherever books are sold