Ever thought about eating a banana peel? Ok, that’s an extreme example (sort of) but if you want to know more, you will love this week’s interview with Max La Manna, a self-taught plant-based chef who is looking to end food waste with easy-to-recreate recipes that use every part of the ingredients.
ABOUT OUR GUEST
Born and raised in North America, Max La Manna is a self-taught chef and the award-winning author of More Plants, Less Waste and You Can Cook This! He has been featured in Vogue, Food Network, The Times, BBC News, and Vice and, boasting over one million followers, has electrified social media with simple, delicious, low-waste recipes that put vegetables at the heart of his cooking. His down-to-earth, few-ingredient approach means that he advocates for low-waste living in a truly accessible way. Max lives in the English countryside with his wife and their thirty-three houseplants.
- Symposium in honor of Professor Sherry Colb
- Max La Manna’s Website
- You Can Cook This!
- Max La Manna on Instagram
- Max La Manna on Facebook
- Max La Manna on TikTok
- Max La Manna on YouTube
Jasmin Singer: Welcome to Our Hen House, Max.
Max la Manna: Hey Jasmin, thanks for having me.
Jasmin Singer: I'm so excited to chat with you. It's such a different subject matter for us. And before we get going, I am curious, you said that you recently, that yesterday you flew into New York, is that right?
Max la Manna: I did fly into New York yesterday,
Jasmin Singer: From where?
Max la Manna: London.
Jasmin Singer: Okay, that's where you live?
Max la Manna: That's where I live now. I live there now, which is crazy for me to think. It's been a little over four years now. I lived in New York previously for about eight years, and now I've spent the last four years in the uk in London.
Jasmin Singer: Oh, well, that sounds lovely. I was intrigued when we were chatting before recording by what you were telling me about some of the signs in your area. Can you tell our audience about that? Cuz I was like stop stop stop I want you to talk about that while we're recording because it's too good.
Max la Manna: Let's jump into that. So, my wife and I moved out of London about two years ago, and we live in the countryside and just thought, why are we stuck in a shoebox in London? And I understand there's some privilege that goes alongside of that and having the ability to move out when you can and, and all those sort of things.
But because we work from home and we're self-employed, we moved out. And we moved to an area that is particularly, and predominantly, like, an open kind of part of the world, or especially in the UK, and it's quite... I guess, there's some vegan restaurants and vegan outlook on the world and climate where we are. And, six months out of the year, there are cows, horses, and some donkeys. I think there's one donkey, um, that, just the one donkey who's hanging out with all the horses, and that donkey's usually in the back of the pack. I feel for the donkey, but there's signs that are posted up around the area, during these six months that say, you know, cows are out or we're out, or.
Cars dent, cows die, and it's very, like, in your face, you know, messaging, letting people know that, you know, drive appropriately. I can't just think that it's for the drivers who are just driving by and using their caution. I think there's also probably a little bit of a, vegan message behind it as well.
It's like... Hey, you know, your car will live, but we won't live if you hit us. And it's like, oh, okay.
Jasmin Singer: Yeah. It's like you entered a portal into, like, a vegan mecca or something where people actually give a crap.
Max la Manna: Yeah, I wish there was more vegan restaurants to be completely honest. But... Yeah, I think my neighbors in the community I live in are, open to plant based options. And then, you know, it's not the first time they've ever heard of oat milk before.. So it's an open community, you know.
They're happy to have that conversation.
Jasmin Singer: Yeah, I want to talk more about that, so let's put a pin in that, because I'm curious about how you go about your outreach, but before we get into that, let's sort of contextualize who you are for your soon to be biggest fans, because I think that Our Hen House listeners are going to be all over you.
We hardly ever feature... cooks or cookbooks anymore, but I absolutely couldn't resist interviewing you. Now, everyone listening knows that you're vegan, since otherwise it would be weird to have you on Our Hen House, but can you just start out by telling us what your mission is vis a vis wasting food?
Max la Manna: Yeah, of course. Thank you, and I really appreciate you thinking that more and more people will come over to, or you know, they'll listen to what I have to say after this interview, so I really appreciate that. Fingers crossed.
Jasmin Singer: Yes.
Max la Manna: I've been around food since I was a, as a child. I'm sure we all have, but my outlook and my view on food is probably a little bit different than what most people might have had as, children growing up and teenagers and being young adults, depending on where you are in the spectrum of life.
I've worked in restaurants for around 15 years. I've done every single job in a restaurant, from washing dishes to managing restaurants. And, the one thing that really kind of caught my eye having worked in restaurants was the amount of food we throw away. And I can, I still hear my mother in my head, in my ear saying, do not waste your meal.
Do not scrape your food into the bin. And I can actually see the moment when I was about to do that as a kid, you know, eight or nine years old, my mom telling me not to waste my food. I don't know what I did after that point if I sat down and continued to eat my food. But, you know, there's another, there's another moment where my father wanted me to finish my broccoli and I decided to revolt and say, you know what? No, I'm not going to finish my broccoli. And he said, well, you'll sit here all night if you have to.
And I said, fine. And I sat there all night and I think I fell asleep at the kitchen table. In the morning, the broccoli was still there. And he chopped it up and I think he made it, put it into a meal. At the time, I wasn't vegan, so it was, you know, in scrambled eggs in some form or something. And he says, now you'll eat it, right? And I was like, okay. You didn't call my bluff, um, and here we are.
So, for me, food waste is a huge issue around the world and my focus is to show and highlight simple and easy ways to waste less food at home because when we boil it down, we earn money to then spend money on food to then waste food.
We waste around a third of the food that we bring into our home. So, for me, it's about saving time, money, the resources that go into it, the labor, the water, the manufacturing, the packaging. But also the food, to save that food, because that food it could be the vessel of bringing people together and enjoying a meal with your loved ones and friends.
So, food has a huge connection to me in bringing people together.
Jasmin Singer: And I know that you started all of this to save money, right? It sounds like it's really broadened in its scope since then. Tell me about that.
Max la Manna: Yeah, when I moved to New York City, you know, when I was around 20, that was the first time I was actually starting to learn to cook for myself. Prior to that, my parents would always cook meals for us, and I wasn't making any money. I was struggling between job to job to job, paycheck to paycheck, so I would literally buy what I needed, put the money away to pay for rent and transportation, and the money I used for food I would use every single bit of my food.
It was almost... I wasn't even mindful of the fact that I was, okay, I can't waste this food. It was more of I need to save money. I can't go out to the supermarket once again to spend more money on food. So, for me, it started a long time ago for me to think this way.
It was all about saving money, and it still is. I, I mean, I don't like wasting food. I don't like wasting money. I just went out for a cup of coffee and, uh, my wife and I had a cup of coffee and it was around 10 or 11 dollars, and I just think, oh my goodness, this is so expensive! And then you go into the supermarkets and you see what a carton of fresh blueberries are like 6 or 7 dollars and you're just thinking, what is this?
Like, imagine bringing that food home and then just wasting it and throwing it away. That's a lot of money.
Jasmin Singer: Yeah, and given those financial limitations, you had to be a pretty imaginative cook if you were still making good food. Were you always a good cook?
Max la Manna: Ooh. Was I always a good cook? No, I don't think I always was a, no, I definitely wasn't. There have been times where I was, you know, horrible meals. What was I, what was I doing here? What, yeah, I, I had to learn. I had to be creative. I had to make mistakes. And I think that's the beauty of doing what I do and having worked in restaurants is that I've learned from people who went to culinary school. I'm, I'm self taught. But having learned from chefs and some chefs who have Michelin stars, and other line cooks who have worked in other Michelin star restaurants and learning tricks and tips along the way, you know, slowly you...
It's almost like, uh, how do I explain this? It's sort of like capturing what they share, those bits of knowledge and wisdom, and then you just like, tuck it away, and you go, ooh, I'll remember this one, I'll remember how to use that next time. I'll know how to cut an onion properly next time for this. And so, over time, you use these methods and these techniques.
And sometimes it takes slow to get used to the, you know, the cutting of a carrot or julienne a carrot or the dicing an onion perfectly every single time. These sort of, preparation tips and tricks, and just the practical and the proper protocol for preparing food. And slowly as you do that, I think the meal starts to change, starts to shift.
So, I think it's always an evolving and learning experience for me. Wherever I go, if I'm cooking in a one night cooking demonstration in a restaurant, or it's a pop up dinner, or supper club for a week, or a cooking residency, I'm often always keeping my mind open to take in more information from other people and wisdom and hopefully apply that to my cooking.
Jasmin Singer: So how do you end up cooking for other people and then going online?
Max la Manna: So... oh man, I feel like we could talk forever. There's so much I want to share with you, but for the purpose...
Jasmin Singer: Let's do it. Let's talk forever.
Like whatever, rest of the world.
Max la Manna: Yeah, we'll end this in a few minutes and we'll just keep talking. Um, I was working in a restaurant here in New York City and at some point I just thought I could be doing this on my own.
I could be cooking for somebody else. I just know that my opportunities were greater if I stepped outside my comfort zone and I've always been someone to kind of push myself to limits and give myself challenges. So I decided to walk away from working in the restaurant at one point.
This is about six years ago, actually, six years ago around this time. And from there, I just started posting ways to reduce food waste at home, my recipes, I kind of started doing like a daily vlog, but via my Instagram stories.
So people were tuning into the Instagram stories, I'd post a recipe, wasn't recipe video, it was just like bits and bobs of what I was doing and I was really lucky in the first sort of one to two months of walking away from the restaurant. I had a family in the Upper East Side, in New York who reached out and said, we love what you do, our family want to incorporate more plants on our plate, and we'd love you to cook for our family three times a week.
And I was just like, yes, this is what I need. It was, you know, so lucky. I often find myself, if I push myself past those boundaries, and I stay open minded and hopeful, things start to open up for me. I'm quite lucky in that regard. And, slowly that kind of unfolded. It opened up. I didn't do that for too long because I felt, I don't want to be doing this.
I don't want to be cooking for a family. So yeah, then social media started taking a little bit more, had a bigger bite of me and started posting more and more about food and recipes. And, but I've always hosted supper clubs from like supper parties, like dinner parties from my apartment in Brooklyn, where I was living.
And friends of mine started reaching out to me in the UK. And that's when I decided, oh, I'll go to the UK and cook for people. For me, it's about cooking for other people. I love cooking for myself, I love cooking for my wife, my family, like, my close group of friends. But it's about cooking for other people, that brings me real joy.
Because that's when I get to really kind of flex my muscles, so to speak. You know, when I'm in the kitchen, I can use a little bit of flair. I can... You know, take my time in creating a dish, you know, and just elevate dishes to a whole other level. It's not what I typically highlight or share on social media because I want people on social media to see kind of the simple and easy ways to of like cooking a meal.
Whereas when I host a supper party, or dinner party, or have a residency, I elevate my dishes to another level.
Jasmin Singer: So, where does low waste come in here, and what do you mean when you say low waste? How low?
Max la Manna: Low, real low. Um, I...
Jasmin Singer: We'll do the rest of the interview down here.
Max la Manna: Yes, I'll do it down here. Um, low waste. I, at one point I was calling myself a zero waste chef, but I don't think we can be zero. I don't think we could be completely zero cause there's waste in every chain of the process.
From the farm to the supermarket to me, there's waste that is happening through that chain. So I decided, okay, let's be realistic. It's probably low, it's low waste. And sometimes, you know, I might not use the whole entire ingredient. I might have onion skins that I put in the compost, but that goes back into a cycle.
So the last, like the last line of defense for me is composting. So if I don't use everything, if I don't make the onion peels or the garlic peels or the skins of certain vegetables into dehydrated salts or oils or powders, I usually then put it into the compost bin, which then is turned into biogas, or it is used for soil, it is composted back into the ground to use to grow food eventually.
So, for me, I feel that's low waste. It's putting the food back into the cycle. I never want it to be a linear system where we take, we borrow, we use, and then we waste and that's it. It goes back into the system.
Jasmin Singer: So, let's get into some details. First of all, the most important question, how do you eat banana peels?
Max la Manna: Haha, I actually have some bananas right here. I can show you how we do that. Well, bananas are being eaten in other parts of the world, mostly in like Southeast Asia, they're eating banana peels. They use them in their recipes. Why aren't we? Why aren't we thinking more broadly in that way?
And so I have one recipe in my book that shows you that you can use banana peels. I don't, I'm not here saying, okay, eat banana peels every single day of the week. Every time you have a banana, eat the banana peel. It is simply there in the book to highlight that you can use ingredients that you typically wouldn't see as an edible ingredient, an ingredient that you would use in your meal.
So, for me, it's about making sure that the banana first is organic. I try to do my best with sourcing organic or locally fresh ingredients whenever possible, and then giving it a wash and a clean. And then I remove the kind of, the flesh or like the pith. I don't know if it would be called the pith, but the inside of the banana.
I remove that, compost or use that to make a tea to water my plants because there's still, potassium and nutrients that could be fed to my plants at home. And then, I marinate the peel or I chop it up and fry it and, yeah, you can make bacon out of it or you can make pulled pork out of it.
I mean, I've also blended the whole entire banana peel. I've actually put the whole entire banana, removing the stem, and put the whole banana into a blender, made it into a smoothie, and then used that kind of liquid to make banana bread.
Um, so it's edible, we just don't see it that way. Our minds, we're not educated to think banana peels are edible. This is the one ingredient that is often mentioned to me. What can you do with banana peels? I find it so fascinating and it's a great topic to discuss.
Jasmin Singer: I know this is somewhat separate, like completely, but you're just reminding me because you were talking about London that the last time I was in London, which was 2019, I like took three buses to go to this restaurant that had fish and chips made from banana leaf. And I know it's, do you know which restaurant I'm talking about, by the way?
Because I completely forget the name of it.
Max la Manna: I think it's in Soho,
Jasmin Singer: Uh, I'm not, maybe, I don't know. I feel like that wouldn't have been so out of the way, but
Max la Manna: Okay. Yeah. It wouldn't be out of the
Jasmin Singer: But, uh, banana leaf, yeah, anyway, I just...
Max la Manna: The banana blossom.
Jasmin Singer: Yes, right, yeah, and I'm like, hmm, I am very uncreative, clearly, I've been vegan for 20 years, and I'm like, uh, how do you eat coffee grounds? That's another thing that you talk about.
Tell me more, because you're bringing a whole other level to coffee addicts here.
Max la Manna: Sky's the limit. I think when we look at our ingredients and I often look at ingredients and go, this is kind of the premise of whenever I'm developing a recipe, whether it's for content on social media or for its publication or for a book, or a show idea. It's, what can I do with this ingredient that would be different?
I think simply just asking the question, what can I do with this? I think we need to ask ourselves those questions on a regular basis. What can I do with this? Or, and, and don't even apply that to food. Just apply that to trying to figure out your life or I think if we just take a beat, we take a moment and think, how can I do this or what can I do with this to make it a little different? But coffee grounds are another ingredient that we can consume. I wouldn't consume all of the coffee grounds, I would consume a little bit of the coffee grounds, but it's another ingredient that we can use.
So, in my book, I use coffee grounds, and add it to pancakes. So you have coffee ground pancakes. It just adds another, depending on the coffee bean, can add a floral, or a nutty, or, you know, a fruity flavor to your pancakes. If you are... You know, if you're sensitive or you have that acute taste and smell to coffee, I would use it very sparingly and, you can also make body scrubs with the coffee grounds as well. So, you know, kind of detoxifies or makes your skin a little bit smoother too as well. So, it's always thinking a little bit beyond, what can I do with this ingredient?
Jasmin Singer: I love that. I have to say, for all the times that I've been asked that ridiculous question that every vegan gets asked at least 10 times, which is, what would you do if you were on a deserted island? I just want to say, if I was on a deserted island, And I could be there with one person, no offense to my wife, but like, Max, it's you and me, baby.
Like, I would be like, what are you going to make for me? I'm like, now that we're here, for the rest of our lives, sorry. But that's, I mean, I love the way your mind works, because my mind doesn't work that way at all.
Max la Manna: I think everyone has their own, you know, special unique ways... what they can offer in life, and for me, it's food. I love being in the kitchen, I love cooking.
Jasmin Singer: Yeah, and so what other ingredients do people not think about as ingredients? Like what gets wasted that you're like, wait, wait, wait, don't throw that out. So we've got banana peels, we've got coffee grounds, like, what else? I mean, I use my orange peels for cocktails, which feels very important.
Max la Manna: That's it. That's it. Yeah. Yeah. The peels are great. The peels can be dehydrated. You can actually blend the whole entire citrus. So you could kind of just pop it into a high speed blender and blend it with a little bit of water and put it into an ice cube tray and freeze it.
So you, I mean, you can get creative, if you want it to be a little bit sweeter, you can add a little bit of, a sweetener of some sort in there as well, and freeze it. And I often do that with my citrus to elevate my cocktails or my non alcoholic drinks.
Peels is a great one, but yeah, you can also dehydrate them to make powder from them after they've dried out, you can blend them with a little bit of salt, use that for your next rimmed drink as you salt rim your cocktail drink, your glass, and you can have a little bit of like dried, salted citrus on the rim.
Other ingredients. Some of the kind of obvious ones like broccoli stems and carrot tops and the tops of um, I don't want to say courgette... zucchini. I've really adapted to...
Jasmin Singer: That's okay. We have plenty of listeners there who are very happy right now that you said that.
Max la Manna: Great, I love that. So, yeah, the tops of courgettes and zucchinis, that kind of, it seems like a rough stem, at the top of the vegetable, that could be chopped up, I use the whole entire thing, grate the whole entire vegetable. Don't throw away the bottom bit, the top bit, don't throw them away. All of it. Use it all. It's all edible. Strawberry tops. People are throwing away the tops of strawberries. Eat them.
Jasmin Singer: Okay. Alright, now I'm, you know what's so funny? The moment that... I, and I'm going to speak on behalf of every vegan everywhere, the moment that we realized what aquafaba is, we all had like a collective mourning for all of the times that chickpea water went down the drain. And, you know, like now I'm feeling like, oh my God, strawberry tops.
Are you kidding me? Because I'm also like, I'm so precious that I think that there's a little bit of, it's not even just the top, there's a little bit of red. And I know you want to. Kill me now because what a terrible human I clearly am. Now I feel bad. Now I feel like a terrible, thank you, Max, was that your goal?
Max la Manna: And this is the end of our conversation. Have a great day, everyone.
Jasmin Singer: See you on the island.
Max la Manna: Yeah, see you on the island. Um, by the way, we're having strawberries for the rest of our time on this island. Great. Yeah. So, I don't want people to think when they walk away from this conversation, Jasmin, to think, oh gosh, my individual purpose or change or impact on this planet is causing the destruction of this planet.
It's not, it's, it's so much more than that, and I think we can all make small changes that will lead to a bigger impact. So, I don't think there's... You know, there's no better time than now to make those changes and slowly change and slowly evolve over time. Like that's the beauty of life. Like life is short, but we can make changes along the way.
And, who knows we'll surprise ourselves. So yeah, the tops of strawberries can be consumed. It's just it's a green leaf. It's fine. You know, I give it a wash and a rinse, make sure that there's no little buggies hiding underneath and that sort of thing. But, I remember just looking at it.
I, this is what I do. I go, I wonder if I can do something with this. And then I remember just eating it and going, Oh. It was actually when I went strawberry picking in, in sounds so idyllic, uh, strawberry picking in the UK. And, you're picking them and then you're just like popping them in your mouth and eating them and then you go and weigh the basket afterwards.
Um, and I thought, oh wow, I can actually eat the tops of these strawberries. I'm still here. I'm still alive. So yeah, I, I think it's, it's just looking at ingredients a little bit differently now.
Jasmin Singer: For sure. And how would you describe your cooking style? Meticulous? Adventurous? Spur of the moment? Dangerous?
Max la Manna: Dangerous. I wish I was a little bit dangerous. No, luckily I haven't cut myself in the kitchen. I have, you know, nicked my finger from using, you know, brand new, like, microplanes or box graters.
Jasmin Singer: Did you know that avocado hand is an actual diagnosis? Like, cause I was with my mother once when she got avocado hand and I had to take her to the hospital. It's like actually in the medical books. Avocado hand.
Max la Manna: Oh, yeah, when I see... ugh! Oh, when I see people cutting, not holding the knife properly, and especially my wife, um, not using the kitchen equipment properly, I'm just like, oh my goodness, I, I kind of, you know when people sometimes see blood and they like, almost pass out? I almost get sick to my stomach when I see people using kitchen knives improperly.
So yeah, I'm very careful in the kitchen. Am I adventurous? Yes. Am I dangerous? No. Adventurous, creative, I kind of like being spur of the moment. It depends. I mean, this is how I started cooking. I looked in my fridge and thought, okay, what can I do here? What can I put together to make a meal so I can use up these last bits of food that I have?
So then come Friday, I get my paycheck and then I can go to the supermarket again and buy more food. So it's, yeah, I like being creative. I think that's where... you know what, it still shocks me when sometimes I put food together, even if it's like not a quote unquote like recipe, like a classic traditional recipe.
It's kind of just, I'm going to play around with some of these ingredients and make something out of it. It shocks me when things taste really good because I'm like, I didn't think I could do this and that and put that together and this spice and marinate with it or whatever it might be, whatever the technique might be.
But I like being open minded to cooking. I think when we're open minded, things are allowed to kind of access my mind and the way that I cook. So, it keeps me open.
Jasmin Singer: So what foods should everyone have in the house, would you say?
Max la Manna: Ooh, this is a great question. I recently pretended that I was on an interview and I had asked myself that question. If this ever comes up, what three things will you have in your back pocket to answer? And those are frozen peas, bread, and I think the last one was... Tomato puree, tomato paste. So peas, I think peas are great because you can make pea fritters, you can smash them, you can blend them up to make it into like a smooth paste or a sauce or a dip.
They're great on their own, steamed, you can fry them, they bulk out meals, and so, and they're usually cost effective. They're, they're inexpensive.
They're in the frozen section. You pop them in your freezer whenever you need them. They'll hang out there for months.
Jasmin Singer: Wow.
Max la Manna: Bread. Bread is another ingredient that I like. Could be relatively cheap.
You can make it yourself at home and it'll be even cheaper and inexpensive to make if you have the time and the resources to make bread. Um, but bread can also bulk out a meal, uh, like. Papa Pomodoro, like and soups, ribolitta, panzanella. I'm, I'm using all these kind of like poor Italian meals.
I think that's what they would say. They're like poor Italian meals. They use leftover bread to make these meals . Put them in meatballs. Just for the record, I haven't said this. I normally don't say the word like vegan meatballs or vegan this or vegan that. I just say, for me, this is cooking. I don't put the word vegan in front of anything anymore.
Though I eat vegan, I don't put that label on anything because sometimes I catch more people, um, that way. And people see, oh, okay, I'll use these ingredients instead and make this dish that Max is showing.
Jasmin Singer: Let's actually, let's unpack that a little bit because right when we started, when we started chatting and I was kind of giving you the spiel I give all of the guests, one of the things I say is like, our listeners are already vegan, or presumed to be, and you know, frequently our guests are like, Oh, what a relief, you know, because then they don't have to start with like, Oh, meat is bad.
They were just starting from that commonplace. And, and so I said to you, which is probably a bit of a relief for you, given the people who you're usually reaching and you said that that's more complicated than that and that you might not contextualize your work that way. So tell me more about what you meant.
Like why did something catch you when I said, Oh, our audience is already vegan?
Max la Manna: Yeah. because I often don't speak to vegan audiences, but the majority of my audience on social media from the last time I've done check ins and polls and surveys is that 80 to 85 percent of my audience are not plant based. And the majority of my following are buying my cookbook or cooking from my books or cooking the recipes I share on social media.
So, this is, you know, for me it's really interesting. And then I go in a little deeper and I ask why they follow me. And people are looking for, they want to incorporate more plants on their plate. And that is the number one biggest factor. People want to incorporate more plants on their plate.
I also think the reason why they might also follow me is that it's not preachy, it's not in your face, it's a bit more approachable. I'd love, I'd love if everyone incorporated more plants on their plate.
I think more people in, you know, in the Global North should be eating more plant based and we need to head in that direction to lower our carbon emissions. But I think that that responsibility is on us here in the Global North, who are creating more, carbon emissions and impact to the planet. But I I think it has to do something, you know, I don't want to put labels on anything and I want people to... My whole thing is everyone's welcome to the table. We wouldn't be able to sit at a table if the person was cooking animal products. We wouldn't be able to sit at the table. But if I say, everyone's welcome to the table and I'm cooking plant based dishes, everyone can eat it. Everyone can. I've never met anyone or heard of anyone who says actually I'm, I can't eat fruits, I can't eat vegetables, I can't eat grains, I can't eat fungi, I can't eat these ingredients, or I'm allergic to it, or I'll die, you know, I've never met anyone who's ever said that, including spices, spices are a plant, they come from a plant, so for me it's I think, making my dishes approachable for everyone, and if I can get those people who are not plant based, who are not vegan, to try some of my dishes, then maybe we can, you know, maybe they'll, they'll listen to Our Hen House podcast, or they'll come across Jasmin's page, or they'll come across somebody else's page, and recipes, and little by little we can, we'll start to attract more people.
I, I think it's more about attracting, and maybe this isn't a vegan friendly thing, but we're attracting, bees with honey instead of, you know, with, with, is it sugar?
Jasmin Singer: Yeah, so, no, I think that our audience would be mostly aligned with... I can't speak for all of them, even though I pretend I can…would be very aligned with many of the things you just said. We're not trying to change the world in areas that aren't where we're necessarily like living and existing, I think we completely agree that it's people in the global North who need to be looking at what we're eating differently.
Our Hen House listeners for the most part I think are extremely, extremely open minded to different ways of changing the world for animals and certainly the way you're doing it is unique and very different from most of the people who we have on. We don't focus a lot on vegan food because we're focusing more on animal advocacy and obviously the default there is veganism, and we're like very passionate about veganism, but we're usually focusing on, on animals. And I have a question for you. There is a lot of back and forth about the importance of individual action to save the world and the animals and the importance of systemic action from government and industry. Some people say that individual action is pointless, given the scale of the problem.
Do you feel that individual action and systemic action go together?
So individual action, like, in your platform, it would be like incorporating more and more plant based foods and being much more cognizant of waste and living as waste free as possible. That would be individual action, but the systemic action from the government and the industry might be, for one example, like subsidizing fruits and vegetables to the same degree or much more so than, like, dairy farmers are subsidized, for example, that would be governmental change, or, or just kind of revisiting the nutritional requirements for children.
Like, those are just a couple examples. Do you feel that these go together? Or are you just like, my lane is the individual action? Like, what are your thoughts?
Max la Manna: I don't wanna put the pressure on us as individuals. I think it needs to be a collective, a collectiveness. And, yeah that may mean that the government also needs to play ball with us as well. I think it's such a, it's an interesting avenue to take if we're both on that together.
Both the government and both the individual , us, are there as well, trying to create this change together. We do need to be in that room. And I recently read a quote from a climate activist from, I believe she's from Brazil, or she's from South America. And forgive me, I don't know, Shay Bastida, I think is her name, and forgive me on her, on her location, where she's from, but she says that the global south has a large population of people who are under the age of 30, about 87 percent of the global South are from around the age of 30 and below.
So when we're having these conversations on the global South and having these conversations about children and the youth, and we're talking about the climate, who's going to be impacted the most, and the room, when we're having these discussions, the room who are having that conversation should be represented of the people who are going to be impacted the most.
So 87 percent of the room should be those who are going to be impacted the most. So I think it's going to be a tough one. It's going to be a it's a challenge. It's a tough one I think we're on the precipice of something happening where there is going to be change. And we see it slowly and we take those small victories whenever we can and little by little we chip away at it.
I you know the top 100 companies in the world are creating, you know, 70 to 75 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
I was brought up told to turn off my lights and turn off the faucet and walk to work and ride a bike and eat local sourced food and, you know, all these things and I'm doing it, but I look around and I sometimes feel a bit uh, depressed, not depressed, but defeated when there's still all this waste around us. I'm in a hotel room right now speaking to you and I'm looking out and I'm seeing a plane, a helicopter, another plane. I'm seeing all these flights and that, hey, that's alright. Fly if you need to fly, but there's just, it's this
Jasmin Singer: Yeah, it's like a greedy, unrelenting... yes, I totally hear you.
Max la Manna: We take one step forward and then something else comes and then it's like two steps back and then one step forward and then two steps back, so it's gonna be a slow grind, but I think it's about working in a collective, working with other like minded people, joining forces, other forces joining other forces to come together to make a bigger impact.
So I think we all need to come together in the end.
Jasmin Singer: I totally agree with that. And also, I have to say, I know you were teetering on whether you're depressed about it or defeated. And as a Gen Xer, that is like, not that I want you to be sad, but it is sort of music to my ears to hear a millennial, presumably, be also depressed about it because I have such a, my generation is, we're just like all frigging sitting on a beach, like wearing all black and like crying into our soy lattes because of how bad it is. Whereas I feel like millennials are much more hopeful. I don't know if I'm, I'm, I'm definitely making huge sweeping generalizations right now, but like, what do you think? Do you think that there's more hope in your generation and in younger generations?
Max la Manna: I am hopeful. I have to have hope and I think those who are in my generation and below, I think, are also hopeful as well. I think we have to be. I think this is, like I said before, I... I strongly feel we're on the precipice of something great happening, something huge that's going to shift and change.
And, and it might take, it might be a city, it might be a state, it might be a country, it might be, I don't know what it is, but I feel strongly that there's gonna be some positive impact on society, on the planet that is going to benefit everyone. I don't know what that is. And I'm not a, uh, I'm not looking into a crystal ball or anything, but there is after, you know, many, many years of trying and, and, and fighting for change and being a part of these protests and walking and marching and rallying and, and campaigning, I just feel like where's this all leading to?
So I have to have hope. I have to feel that there is going to be change
I don't want to live in the doom and gloom. I want to live in a happy, healthy state of mind. And so I try to live that every single day and think, okay, I need to live and breathe that through my being every single day.
And hopefully others will see that and we'll create more and more change. And, I think the most impactful change that some people can make today is to join collectives, join groups, speak out, stand up, reach out to your local government, your council, your MPs, reach out to them and demand systemic changes. So yeah.
Jasmin Singer: I couldn't agree with you more, and it's very hopeful to hear you say that. I have a few more questions for you, Max, but I want to save it for our bonus content. I want to talk to you about when food goes bad and what that means, but let's, let's hold on with that.
Max, before you go, can you tell our listeners how they can follow your work and support you and support your efforts?
Max la Manna: Yes, you can follow me on social media, I'm Max La Manna on all the platforms. You can find me on social media at Max La Manna. Head over to my page, in my link in my bio, I often do cooking demonstrations, events, cooking classes, dinner parties at residencies. I'm based in the UK but I'm trying to get out to the US more.
So keep your eyes peeled, find out more there, and hopefully I get to cook for you someday.
Jasmin Singer: Keep your eyes peeled, but your bananas unpeeled, because you can eat the whole banana! That's bananas!
Max la Manna: I see what you did
Jasmin Singer: Yeah, I'm always good for the dad joke. Thank you so much for joining us, Max. Hang on the line so we can chat a little bit more.
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This episode is brought to you in part through the generosity of A Well-Fed World. A Well-Fed World provides the means for change by empowering individuals, social justice organizations, and political decision-makers to embrace the benefits of plant-based foods and farming. Learn more at awfw.org.