Exploring Ethics, Ethos, and the Power of Plant-Based Living


Exploring Ethics, Ethos, and the Power of Plant-Based Living

Exploring Ethics, Ethos, and the Power of Plant-Based Living


“My dollar is my vote. I tell my students that every day when they feel helpless. You’re not! Everything you purchase, everything you consume, everything you use… That is your contribution to society. And I think when you make that choice every day, every moment, leading with someone else being at the forefront of your decisions. That’s a selfless life. That is a life that I am proud to be a part of, because I feel like we are on the right side of history.” -Shabnam Islam

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Ella Magers, MSW: Let’s do this. Oh my God. I’m so happy to have you here.

Shabnam Islam: I’m happy to be here. I’m really happy to be here. 

Ella Magers, MSW: Yeah, and we were just chatting before we got started that, I mean, we’ve been in the same circles, in the same space for so long, I mean, for a number of years, and it took a friend who’s not even in the vegan space, right?

And how did that, how did that happen? 

Shabnam Islam: I think I was going, I was going to the Vegan Women’s Summit to speak and you and Mike reached out to me. Thumbs up.

Ella Magers, MSW: I don’t, I didn’t do that. I didn’t, I wasn’t touching anything. 

Shabnam Islam: And that was Universe giving that, um, he was like, he was like, my, my girl is going to be there.

I need to connect you to via social media and. It’s ironic because, yeah, he’s not even in the vegan space. 

Ella Magers, MSW: I’ve worked on him for a long time. It’s not happening. 

Shabnam Islam: No. Well, he was vegan. Plant based. I hate to say he was vegan because when we talk about going vegan, it really is truly about the connection of all the dots, right?

You can’t go back when you, when you take that pill to… to exit the matrix. You truly can’t. Um, if it’s not your ethics and ethos, then you’re never vegan, right? And that’s okay. That’s okay. You don’t have to be, but I don’t, I think for those of us that are, it’s important to identify or have the distinction between being plant based or exploring being plant based versus truly being vegan.

Ella Magers, MSW: Yeah, I agree. I agree. And I have a few questions that I want to throw at you at the beginning. Is that okay? Yes. Yes. Okay. All right. I think I have, usually I have like five and for you, for some reason I had to have seven. Oh, they’re, they’re mostly easy. Okay. Yeah. Like I start off with the easiest one.

Okay. Number one. I mean, hopefully it’s easy. I’m not sure a hundred percent, but you only, this might be actually very difficult. You only get one for the rest of your life. Tofu, tempeh, or edamame. And you’re not allergic to soy, are you?

Shabnam Islam: No, and it would totally be tofu. 

Ella Magers, MSW: Yeah, I mean, see? Easy. 

Shabnam Islam: Like, so easy. 

Ella Magers, MSW: I mean, how many things can you do with tofu?

Shabnam Islam:Too many! Right? Like everything from ice cream to my, to my entree, to my appetizer, to my dessert, seven course meal. I can make it and each day it could be different. That’s the wonderful thing about tofu is that it takes on the characteristics of whatever you play with it with. 

Ella Magers, MSW: Yeah, exactly. And you know when I went vegan in 1995, so I went vegetarian in Yeah, 1987 and vegan in 1995. 1995. 

Shabnam Islam: This is why she looks 22. Y’all like, it’s like, it’s like my bestie chef of BET bestie Chef Babette is 72. Yeah, you can’t, she, she looks like, she’s like 45 People often think that we’re, and I’m like, This, I can’t wait for me to just stop aging at some point like you, you’ve done. It’s amazing. 

Ella Magers, MSW: Thank you.Yes. I know you you’re in the 40 club now, right? 

Shabnam Islam: I am. I just turned 40 this July. Yes. 

Ella Magers, MSW: July what? 

Shabnam Islam: July 1st.

Ella Magers, MSW: July 1st. Wow. 40 40 is a. Freaking fantastic. 

Shabnam Islam: It’s phenomenal. It’s phenomenal because you know, now I hope in their journey around the sun is you know who you are, you know, at this point you’re like rich or poor.

This is who I am. And I feel like maybe that’s why at times I don’t have the wealth that I need that I have desired because there are some, some accommodations I’m willing to, I’m unwilling to make. And there are certain things that I will not sacrifice for capital gain. And I think that’s something that we often, we come, we combat in this lifetime.

And I think at 40, I’m so proud of who I am today because of the no’s I’ve said, no, the things I’ve said no to, um, more than the things that I’m. Said yes to or, or done an example of a no, I don’t know if I can share that here, but you know, well, I think my biggest no is no more, no more animal exploitation.

My biggest one, my, my dollar is my vote. My dollar is my vote. I tell my students that every day when they feel helpless. You’re not! Everything you purchase, everything you consume, everything you use… That is your contribution to society. And I think when you make that choice every day, every moment leading with someone else being at the forefront of your decisions, that’s a selfless life.

That is a life that I am proud to be a part of because I feel like we are on the right side of history. 

Ella Magers, MSW: So powerful. And Thank you. I think part of that also is really getting connected with your true values, not the values that you were told you have, you know, the programmed values and, and that doesn’t always happen at 40.

That sometimes never happens for people their whole lives 

Shabnam Islam: and people. I’m sorry. Hello table. Um, and people will often, like, argue, well, then veganism is programming. Well, I think every source of education, um, Or whatever influence it is, is programming, but you have to be able to further dissect the information you receive.

It’s like, I’m so wowed by flat earthers. I’m like, are you for real? Like, like, what? The earth is flat and you’re so committed to this, this thought process when there’s mountains of evidence. That shows that this is not scientifically true. And so when we look at the evidence of what our contributions are, and the biggest contributor to climate degradation is what animal agriculture, um, then why are we doing it?

I see people up in arms about tearing away families at borders. You remember that while you’re put while you’re eating cheese and crackers. Like, how could you be okay for one species to be torn away from the children while you are the very reason why we tear mothers away from their children? 

Ella Magers, MSW: Yeah. And at this point, you know, back in 19, back in the day, uh, there wasn’t so much information, right?

Read it readily available. There was no. Internet. I mean, was the internet? Yeah, I guess the internet was out, but it was like the dial up, you know? Yeah, 

Shabnam Islam: I remember.

Ella Magers, MSW: Yeah. Yeah. 

Yeah. But now, now it’s out there and it’s, it’s, but there’s, what do you think about, I mean, the social media and we’re still on question number one.

Um, But, but, you know, the bubbles that we create for ourselves and we think that this is the information age and it’s, it’s out there, but it’s being so curated, right? And so people are getting backed up. Whatever their belief is currently is just getting backed up by so much misinformation, right? It’s scary.

Shabnam Islam: That’s terrifying, but, you know, that’s when we have to teach people how to read information and that’s the point of education. And when people devalue things like higher education, like college, the things about courses that teach you how to look at information through a critical lens, which we are.

Totally advocating against now in Florida, the state of Florida is problematic because it allows us to view. Remember, we only see the winner side of history, right? So what we read in the textbooks was given from a lens created from like a white patriarchal male position, um, that, that saw the benefit and the capitalization of the oppression of people of color.


When we limit people to the access of, of real information, we, we oppress a community. Like, when we think about things like Fahrenheit 451, banning and burning books, we take away free thought, thereby freedom. And your freedom of thought is a very powerful thing, but it needs to be based in evidence. And so we have to be able to teach people, what are they reading?

What are the sources of information from, you know, are, are they, are they real? And that’s the biggest issue I have now with social media is because very often we can We can spread like a, an untruth, like Ryan Gosling is vegan, you know, at the height of the Barbie movie, we, we see a post like this and it’s actually false information.

And we have to wonder like, what’s the purpose of this and why are we, why are we doing this? Um, and do we correct our mistakes when we’re, when we’re called out about these things? So a lot of these, these, these are issues that we are seeing in all spaces, right? In veganism and non veganism. And so less than a third of the country has a, has a, has a degree.

You know, and we’re looking at less than 32 percent of the country, and that’s an alarming rate of people that are really devout to their beliefs without having the knowledge of how to thoughtfully read and comprehend and validate. Information, right because there is some, there is some weight to higher education and that’s the thing that we want to see is that we want to advocate for people to read more, write more be part of thought.

So. Limiting access to books and things are probably not a good solution, particularly when we are facing climate change, because we even see that now state of Florida is allowing. Educators to talk about how climate change is a farcity and that that’s terrifying because these are future leaders of our country.

Ella Magers, MSW: And speaking of degrees, somebody is getting their doctorate. 

Shabnam Islam: I’m trying to finish it up. This is taking forever. I’m finishing my educational doctorate in educational leadership and policy because I really want to transition to more like policy development, um, of our food systems. I think the only way we instill change is through.

Government intervention, because that is currently the state that we live in. We either live in a very highly capitalistic entrenched society or where government runs everything right? And that’s that’s the duality that we live in. So, um. There are plenty of ways to do this. I can create a company that starts to instill change, but to do so, you have to have a lot of capital and we do know that that particularly.

Women entrepreneurs and of color have a lot more challenges when it comes to developing the funding and foundations you need to to build these robust functional companies. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but I’m saying everything comes with this challenges. Right? But policy development is something that really fascinates me because I think we can.

We can really start to see a shift in our food systems. I mean, here’s the cool thing is that the evidence shows that change happens from within the home. Usually powerful instilling change comes not from the top down, not from the parents telling the child what to do. But if the child comes home and says, you know what, I’m not eating animals ever again and now really good parenting.

And we see a majority of the time when a child does have this. Adverse reaction, because then the child just won’t eat it. So then all of a sudden you have a kid that just only eats rice or beans or whatever is happening. So, um, we see that that implements major change in the family unit. And so it would be really great to start teaching children at a very young age where their food comes from, like, not to have such a disassociation between the chicken and the chicken nugget.

Like, it’s not that you just share a name, they share a flesh, they share a soul. Um, we need to do that. 

Ella Magers, MSW: Yes, we do. Yes, I was, it’s, it’s exactly what happens in my family. My, I went vegetarian and said, I’m never eating meat again. And my parents are like, oh, it’ll be a phase, not a phase. 40 years later. Um, and then they’re all vegan now.

And now I’ve got vegan nieces and nephews and a whole little snowball effect.

Shabnam Islam: So proud of you. And so when did you shift from vegetarianism to veganism?

Ella Magers, MSW: When I was 15. Yeah. So between seven and 15, I was writing in school notebooks, you know, about why are we eating animals? We have so many other things to eat, but of course I didn’t know the cruelty of the egg and dairy industries.

But when I did figure that out, I immediately went vegan and was, uh, Was sitting in the cages in, in the side of the road on, in cages, you know, being like, well, I think people just don’t know if only people knew like me, they’re going to obviously just turn vegan like that. That was, you know, that was my thinking.

Shabnam Islam: It’s amazing how many people just would rather. Not know a blind. I don’t know. Ignorance. This is the point. The statement where ignorance is bliss really comes into fruition. I think people can really see that I have had this difficulty. I have to be quite candid with my mom. She’s like, I will not give up my milk and my, my tea every morning.

And I’m like, There’s so many delicious milk alternatives and she’s just been holding very dear to this and she’s 72. And it’s very interesting because my best friend, as we said, Chepabet is 72 and they’re like polar opposites in this approach, right? Um, 

Ella Magers, MSW: coffee, people with their creamer and their coffee, that, that seems to be one of the toughest ones.

Shabnam Islam: To let go. 

Ella Magers, MSW: Yeah, they’re just that their people are very attached to whatever creamer they’re used to using. Well, speaking of kids, question number two, when you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? 

Shabnam Islam: I wanted to be a TV anchor, ironically enough. So I think that was such a big part of why I went into, um, when I moved to LA, I wanted to be a TV host.

And I, um, because to be quite candid, the reason why news Wasn’t so appealing to me anymore is because of it was constantly like a death or a fire or a shooting, which is basically, well shootings, you know, now we see way too often, but, um, that’s why when I came to LA, it was like entertainment. Like it was nice to be able to find your own niche and then, and talk about it.

So TV, what about you? 

Ella Magers, MSW: Me? Um, I think I went through, I, I, I went through the zoologist. Uh, yeah, 

Shabnam Islam: You are so great. I love it. I love it. I wish I had a veterinarian for a second, but I wish I had you as a friend in high school. I think I my trajectory to veganism would have would have propelled, uh, ages.

Ella Magers, MSW: Probably, probably. I was ordering from PETA and, uh, Vegan Outreach all there. I had the whole, um, it was L’Oreal and Revlon, you know, stop testing animals campaign. So I had buttons and I was passing them out in school and, you know, all that good stuff. 

Shabnam Islam: You are amazing. 

Ella Magers, MSW: Fun fact about yourself that most people don’t know.

Shabnam Islam: I grew up doing musical theater. And when I lived in L. A., I also did burlesque. Oh, I did not know this. Yeah, so there you go. 

Ella Magers, MSW: Oh my goodness. Wow, okay. And was it a theater and?

Shabnam Islam: You know what? Mike is, I think Mike has come one to one of my shows. Yeah, 

Ella Magers, MSW: that’s amazing. That’s amazing. 

Shabnam Islam: Yeah. Mike has been a supporter of me.

Like our friend, Mike, um, Carpinko, who is the creator of tap out XT. He’s done so much stuff. He’s just an influential health, uh, health coach. Um, I, I’ve done so much with him. Like I was, I was a fitness tech for him on his tap out XT program and he’s just such a great guy. 

Ella Magers, MSW: He is. I met him doing if it was Brazil butt lift the video series.

Yeah. I was one of the background for Brazil butt lift 

Shabnam Islam: Yeah. For beach body. Nice. Okay. 

Ella Magers, MSW: I figured as much as modeling days. 

Shabnam Islam: I love it. We all have a history. I was also Miss Bangladesh in 2012. So there’s a little. 

Ella Magers, MSW: Wow.Yeah. Lots of layers there.

Shabnam Islam: Lots of weird. Yeah. Different, you know, detours. 

Ella Magers, MSW: Yeah. All right. Well, I was an exotic dancer in college. 

Shabnam Islam: Amazing. I think most people feel like they have to be 

Ella Magers, MSW: at some point.

Shabnam Islam: I mean, now, as an educator, I feel like I have to be having an only fans to supplement my income because we’re the only country that doesn’t pay the people that deserve to be paid what they need to be paid, but bonuses for billionaires, please.

Any day. 

Ella Magers, MSW: Of course. All right. Number four. If, um, what was it? Oh, wait, that’s not number four. Uh, Oh, do you have any regrets? And if not, what is or or maybe this is a better question. What is something that was painful at the time, but looking back, you’re very grateful that it happened.


Shabnam Islam: I always know I always feel okay. So I moved out to Los Angeles when I was 24. And, you know, so I spent most of my formidable years in L. A. 15 years. And I was with someone that I was living with someone in love of my life and, and I just had to go. And it was just the decision that I really thought I was going to be with this person forever.

And honestly, now that I look back, we had nothing in common. I mean, it was like a Republican. I’m a liberal, vegan hippie. Um, I mean, there are just so many things that we value that are so different, but I think the choice of saying no. To something that I knew that was comfortable guaranteed, um, which is something that most of us do.

We stay in that comfortable bubble. Right. Um, was the best decision of my life. Wait, the, the leaving it, leaving the comfortable. Yeah. Yeah. Like leaving, leaving Richmond was, and that relationship was the best decision of my life. 

Ella Magers, MSW: Speaking of Virginia, you know where my, the sanctuary I helped found is do you ever

Shabnam Islam: really?

Yeah. Do you have, do you have family friends there? 

Shabnam Islam: I do. Everybody’s still there. My mom and dad are still there. I have friends that are still there. You know, I just. I haven’t been back in a few years. Where are you in Rich? Where are you in Virginia? 

Ella Magers, MSW: Yeah, we’re out right outside of Charlottesville. So about an hour, hour and a half from Richmond.

Shabnam Islam: Beautiful. I love Charlottesville.

Ella Magers, MSW: Yeah. We have a bed and breakfast. It’s beautiful. 37 acres. 

Shabnam Islam: Wait, what? Farm pegs. Okay. What?

Ella Magers, MSW: Yeah.

Shabnam Islam: Do you ever go out there and host anything?

Ella Magers, MSW: I’m, I’m out there many times a year. I’ll be back up there beginning of October.

Shabnam Islam: We should co host something there.

Ella Magers, MSW: Let’s do it.

Shabnam Islam: Oh, my God. Yes. 

Ella Magers, MSW: Gorgeous. It’s gorgeous. I’m going to, we need to do a FaceTime while I’m there. I want to show you around. Yes. Let’s do.

Shabnam Islam: When are you going back?

Ella Magers, MSW: I’ll be there for a week in October, beginning of October.

Shabnam Islam: My mom’s trying to get me out there in October, but I, well, we might have to do this. Okay. We’ll talk about 

Ella Magers, MSW: We’ll talk about this at a later date. Okay. Um, what was the first thought you had when you woke up this morning? 

Shabnam Islam: Tapping for my interviews today, oddly enough, because I actually did an interview with Monica Chen, who’s the executive director of New Roots Institute. You probably know you are at the ABA summit and all that stuff.

And so she was great. And I was like, and I needed to go over. I needed to go over some notes. I have an interview with Dr. Columbus Batiste tomorrow on his show. He’s actually interviewing me, which I’m excited about. So I wanted to go over some like. Key science points. And then I didn’t know if you were gonna ask me the same thing, so I was also going over points

Ella Magers, MSW: Well, you know that that’s the thing about this interview. I mean, we could go in so many different directions, but I really enjoy getting to know you

Shabnam Islam: yeah. Is fun. This is fun. It’s like vegan Oprah.

Ella Magers, MSW: right? Yeah. Oh, that’s a, that’s a big, I like that.

Shabnam Islam: Yeah, you’re good. Like that’re good.

Ella Magers, MSW: I like that.

Shabnam Islam: This is, you make people very comfortable.

Ella Magers, MSW: Thank you.

Shabnam Islam: I think. Yeah. 

Ella Magers, MSW: That means the world. Okay. A pet peeve or something that triggers you.

Shabnam Islam: Entitlement. Like, it’s just, and it comes in so many forms, like, it comes with students in school, like, expecting a grade without doing the work. It comes with people in while we’re waiting in lines, you know, it comes in every form, but every time I see it, it just. It makes me want to drop somebody off in the middle of Bangladesh and some of the poorest countries and communities where I’ve ever been and be like, go two weeks, Basta, and now experience what life or difficulty or hardship is because people need a reality check.

Like, You, you should be so happy that you’re alive, able bodied, like to have 2 working legs and 2 working arms and then to choose to not be physically active to choose to not to not eat healthy, nutritious foods, particularly if you live in. Middle class, high income class communities, you know, where you have accessibility, where the excuse isn’t genetic, where isn’t a metabolic need.

It really, truly is a choice of not being proactive in your health. I, I don’t, I don’t, I find that. Incredibly selfish, you know, like people have the capacity to thrive. We have some Terrians and the only person that’s going to live their life for them is them. And so I think when we talk about things that are coming.

Mm hmm. 

Ella Magers, MSW: And how do you, how do you handle that when you, for, let’s talk about your, you mentioned your students potentially. Is there, I mean, how do you handle that internally? Is that something that..

Shabnam Islam: I think it’s honestly, it’s a caring conversation that has to happen because with you, I’m like, talking like, oh, this person, but really the only way to transfer https: otter.

ai Form this person into someone that can have a thought process about it is to walk them through it. Right? So, you know, like, with the student, I’m like, listen, okay, well, here are the requirements of the class required 20 days of participation where you only actually showed up for 4. And I am really lenient with, with absences, as long as you give me, like, formal notice, you let me know the excuse, you know, but you did not communicate with me at all.

In addition, it requires these three papers due, which this one wasn’t turned in, this one was turned in late, and this one… was actually a paper you wrote for another class and you forgot to change the title page. So these are very candid conversations I think we have. So we have to be like, you know, there are things that I think when you’re having an expectation for this class, you have to ensure that you’ve done the work to receive the grade that you have the expectation for.

And I think you can, you can give criticism to people without making them feel bad. As long as you can drop some knowledge and you’re there to ensure that they’re. You’re there for their understanding. You’re there for their support, right? 

Ella Magers, MSW: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that goes for. Everyone we speak with in the world.

I mean, to be able to, it’s an art to be able to speak candidly with somebody in a way that doesn’t create a wall between you, that the other person doesn’t immediately put up their defenses, because if that happens, then it’s pointless, right? 

Shabnam Islam: Absolutely. And I think that’s why I’m really grateful to education, because I’ve seen it go from where I’ve been incredibly politically incorrect.

And. That is not the best way to instill change in someone, shaming them, making them wrong. Um, there were points where I was not taught on how to be an educator and I made mistakes, right? Uh, no, do I regret that? Never made a mistake. Do I regret them? No, because they have made me the educator I am today to know that I, those are behaviors that are not okay, and I will not do them ever again.

Do I have my apologies to probably people that I maybe have negatively impacted along the way? Then yes, absolutely. I never want to imprint anything negative on anyone, especially if my intention was to make a point to ensure that they kept themselves safe or that they were following the right path.

You know, um, but I do that so much more grace these days and it feels so great, you know.

Ella Magers, MSW: love that. Okay. Last question. You are gifted a button, like a button you push that performs one action of your choice every time you push it. What action does that button perform? 

Shabnam Islam: Oh, of course. It turns every person vegan.

I mean, everybody knows that. Yeah, right? 

Ella Magers, MSW: See? Ended with an easy one. All right. So. Is there any of you? You went through some science. Is there any science that is particularly exciting to you right now?

Shabnam Islam: I want to talk about, like, often inside or in media, we feel like sugar is the enemy, right? There’s so much advocate. Advocation against sugar and you have to remember a lot of these things are part of big ag and big dairy trying to pivot from the actual issue. What we need to know is that fat. That’s the real issue, right?

Fat cells are like hormone factories. When we think about estrogen production, that doesn’t happen from our intake of glucose. It happens from having so much excess fat, adipose tissue, fat cells, lipids, adipocytes. The more we have of this, the more of these negative hormones that we secrete and produce.

Right. Estrogen, testosterone, all of these pro inflammatory cytokines or the cytokines, like a cytokine storm. All of these things happen with an excess of fat in the diet. And so when we have a clinically obese population, these are all things that can be mediated with a whole food plant based diet and with significantly more intense physical activity.

People need to move with rigor, like. Yes, if you’re totally new to a fitness program, walking 5 days a week with some rigor where you’re like, this is it can’t just be like walking your teacup poodle dog that’s going and you’re barely moving like there has to be intensity allotted in this. And so I think when we prescribe.

Exercise and we prescribe nutrition advice. We really need to look at we need to look at the science of it. Why are we prescribing less meat and dairy? Well, because it’s ridden with fat and these animal routines and heme iron, which are associated with all of these cancers and cardiovascular diseases that we do not see when you eat a whole food plant based diet.

And so I think the biggest thing to remember is that when we are eating things like. Meat and dairy, they are lacking the fundamental thing that we do need, and that is fiber. You know, oftentimes the USDA said that you need a minimal amounts of fiber, 26, 24 grams for females and 20 grams for males. That is just absolutely absurd.

The average individual should get a minimum of 40 grams. 40 grams of fiber, right? And the reason that is, is because fiber is what is going to eliminate all of these toxins from your body, right? And so when we talk about toxicity elimination, how does that occur? Well, we’re talking about digesting food and then eventually everything being filtered out by the liver, right?

For all of you people that love to eat organs. The liver is a filtration device. I have no idea why we would want to eat it. I digress. So it filters through the liver, it enters through the bile duct and exits out the intestine. And then these hormones, the excess hormones that we have, like estrogen, all these toxicities, they get carried out of the intestines through fiber.

You literally will flush them away. Now imagine people that eat copious amounts of meat and dairy. Well, what ends up happening is all these toxicities enter into the intestines, and then they get sucked back into the bloodstream and then back into the liver. And through this process called Entero, hepatic circulation, Entero, E N T E R O H E P A T I C enter hepatic circulation.

And so this happens multiple times. Within the day. I mean, no, no wonder people are getting sick.


Ella Magers, MSW: And people are worried about protein. 

Shabnam Islam: And that’s a fascinating thing, because when we actually look at protein origination, you know, this, it comes in plant form. Some of your most plant, your protein dense foods that people think, right? Like for talking about their meats and all this stuff, the more does your protein get your protein from, right?

Yeah, it’s fascinating. Yeah. And now like the things that people eat because we’re starting to see exposés on, on like what is in your animal feed and we’re singing things like microplastics and cardboard and, and when we talk about a bioaccumulation of things like, like having antibiotic resistance, having a bioaccumulation of microplastics in our, in our, in our, in our DNA now, uh, we don’t know the longterm effects.

We, but we’re going to start to see them. But what we are seeing is that we’re having things like we can’t, you’re resistant to the antibiotics that you need to fight an infection that you’ve an ongoing effect infection you’ve been having. And that is terrifying. That what we’re starting to see is another outbreak of Corona virus, which is a significantly more violent and we do know that the originations of this.

And when we start looking about the epidemiology of of these zoonotic viral diseases, as they are originating in animals. In wet markets, and in places that if you just don’t consume these things, or you’re not around these places.

It just puts another bubble of protection, you know, you’ve heard about like that neat tick in Texas, right? 

Ella Magers, MSW: The tick that might save the planet, 

Shabnam Islam: we should just call this tick. Jesus. Yeah, it’s a Jesus. Jesus. Um, it would be great, but it’s, it’s like nature’s fighting back. It’s really, it’s interesting to see.

Ella Magers, MSW: Fascinating. That’s fine. Yeah. For people that don’t know, do you want to, do you want to tell about 

Shabnam Islam: apparently, apparently there’s a tick these days that makes people allergic to meat. Um, and, uh, I don’t really understand the actual basis of physiology of it. I didn’t read in too much into detail, but people actually get an allergic reaction when they consume this, they can get violently ill.

And so you just can’t eat it. Right. It makes me so happy. I know. I’ve never been. I don’t mean to smile when I talk about someone getting violently ill. Please don’t think of me as that person. But the irony. Right. 

Ella Magers, MSW: Exactly. No, it’s literally, I don’t even know how to describe it, but it’s the world fighting back.

It has to be. You know, I mean, talk about systemic change. I mean, this is, uh, it’s just, it’s just fabulous. I can’t stop smiling when I think about this tick. It’s just, yay. Oh, my goodness. Oh, my goodness.

Shabnam Islam: Oh, no. Did I lose you?

Please internet.

You’re frozen or there you are. There you go. Now I’m not. Oh, you’re frozen. 

Ella Magers, MSW: Oh, you know what? We’re having a, oh, do you know what? Yeah, we’re having a torrential, um, storm.

Oh, okay. So it’s good to know that it’s your internet. 

Ella Magers, MSW: um, storm. Yep. Let’s give it 2 seconds or maybe 10.

Shabnam Islam: Yes. There we go.

Ella Magers, MSW: Yep. So I think it’s coming back together.

Shabnam Islam: Yeah. Yeah. You’re back. Amazing. 

Ella Magers, MSW: All right. Um, Ivy, when you’re editing. Thank you. I’m sorry. Uh, yeah, it got really dark in here too, but I don’t have any more lights, so it’s just going to have to do, uh, yes. So yeah, just want to kind of pull things together from the systemic angle.

And I, I’ve heard you talk about intersectionality as well. And I was saying that I had a podcast called Solutionary Vegan, where we really looked at, at. These solutions from a systemic standpoint, can you just talk a little bit about intersectionality? What that means to you and how that relates to our food systems.

Shabnam Islam: That’s a great question. I think when we’re talking about the intersectionality of things, we’re talking about how different areas are combining to make an impact in the way we see food the way we approach food the way we eat the foods that we eat. Right? So we have places like a food deserts. We have food scarcity.

We also have chronic obesity. And so, when we take a look at all of these different things, we also need to look at them from a critical lens, like, from the objectivity of. Social injustice, because often when we look at certain food systems that oppress people of color or immigrants, like people will argue that, you know, people of color are abused in the agricultural industry, and they are not only in the fields, but equally in the slaughterhouses.

And we know that there are also child worker cases in slaughterhouses. So there are so many things that are so wrong. We are also seeing, like. Human trafficking and chicken chicken houses like there’s so many things that are hidden behind big ad that should be terrifying people because it is like the mafia.

It is the governmental mafia. And the only way that we change these things is when informed citizens make choices. And they voice their opinions to have institutional change. This is how we, this is why we have amendments in the constitution, right? Like, I know people are like, oh, all about, you know, the 2nd amendment, my right to bear arms, but this is an amendment and it can be amended again.

And that is what. Progress is about because if we continue to look through the lens of who we were 200 years ago, we’ll never be able to be 200 years forward. And so I think when we look at big ag, when we’re talking about you having the right to eat your meat. Yes. In an ideal world, would I love everybody to be vegan?

Yes. Is that the only solution to reversing our current climate degradation? Yes, it is. We have to be like, no, you can’t eat meat, but that’s not going to happen. So can we. Can we argue that then we can break down the top five, like JBS, Tyson Foods, Cargill, and break the subsidy approach that we give billions of dollars to these companies who, by the way, are not supporting you.

They’re not paying your bills. They’re giving you heart disease, diabetes, and they’re killing you, and they’re taking your money. So, I don’t know why we’re up in arms to support these people. You want to support someone, support your family. local rancher and farmer, and they may slaughter their own cows.

And if they do that, then at least your cow gets slaughtered in their own field or however process it is. And it is significantly, there’s no way, no humane way to slaughter anything. So I can’t put that in the conversation and say that with any ethics. Um, but guess what? The cost is then going to be put onto you where it belongs.

Versus on society in terms of taxing and whatever we’re paying for in terms of our excess cost in health care. And listen, so if you are required to pay 12 for a dozen eggs, and if you’re required to pay the 48 it would cost for one steak, when it’s hitting your pocket and not subsidized, you’re definitely not going to have the ability or the freedom to eat what you want when you want it.

So. There are amazing plant based industries in this space that are creating accessible plant based foods from mushrooms, from microprotein, from lentils. I mean, it’s endless and it doesn’t require animal intervention. And those are the solutions that we should be supporting with our policies and with our dollar.

Ella Magers, MSW: Amen. You guys go follow Shabnam on Instagram. You do some phenomenal posts, like just so both educational and fun and yeah, they’re great. Follow, follow, follow, follow. All right, what’s next for you? Do you want to talk about VKind a little bit and what projects you’re doing and what? 

Shabnam Islam: I love that you’re asking.You can even see that I’m wearing my P. U. L. E. shirt, this um, This was Peeled was the very, uh, first of its kind, a vegan cooking competition show. It was hosted by myself and chef Bobette Davis, who is the owner of Stuff I Eat Inglewood. And we basically put really four great chefs up to the challenge of cooking particularly particular meals.

And it was just such a fun show. And what we have coming up next. Is the be kind experience in Los Angeles help at the magic box from November 11th and November 12th. Um, this is a fully immersive experience. And what I mean, have you, did you do the Van Gogh experience ever or anything? 

Ella Magers, MSW: I didn’t, I saw it and I, but I haven’t been.

Shabnam Islam: So for those of you that have had the opportunity to go ever go do an immersive experience, this is going to be like one of its kind. It’s going to be an event where it is all. All inclusively paid for, which is what I love. Like, I hate going to a lot of vegan events where you, you just have to pay at each event and you’re going to each vendor and vendor and those pop ups are great.

But be kind is this ticket allows you to go in and explore. the entire globe. We want you to travel from continent to continent and experience what vegan cuisine is like on each continent. And so like you can even go to Antarctica and experience what we were going to have the polar room. So you get to try all these different vegan, um, vegan ice creams and desserts.

So they’re being really creative with it. We will also have like a sweet room where we’re going to have the most incredible vegan chocolates, my favorites. I can’t drop brands yet, but, um, it’s going to be basically be like a psychedelic Willy Wonka experience. I mean, and then we have a mushroom room, which takes you into like.

Fungi, like, imagine the Redwood Forest of where E. T. is held, right, and then just being around all these massive mushrooms, a little bit of Alice in Wonderland, and it will be AVR based, we’ll have live entertainment, we’ll have Asian, Asian, Eastern Asian dancers. So I’m really excited about the experience that we’re going to be having there.

And also, my favorite part is probably going to be the networking room. So at the end of the experience, there’ll be 1 major room where everybody can network. They can have cocktails. They can try more foods. They can go shopping. It’s going to be an incredible experience. So I’m really excited for it.

Ella Magers, MSW: I saw the mark. I mean, I saw the website and I was like, blown away. I mean, really, it does. You know, I do the magic mushrooms every now and then. And I was like, okay. 

Shabnam Islam: Yes. I mean, and we want and we want people to be invited into the space where they walk in and they go, okay, I’m in the oceanic room and they see sea whales in their actual habitat that are actually whizzing by them through AVR and you’re going to smell the ocean and you’re going to eat plant based seafoods or things with seaweed.

Um, we’re going to promote plant based companies and have incredible cuisine, which is curated by, uh, chef Chris Tucker, who is just brilliant, brilliant, brilliant vegan chef. Um, and so it’s, it’s just really exciting to be a part of an. Of a movement that is taking veganism to a different level of experience.

Like we want to show people that are non vegan that like, Oh my God, this is awesome. And this should be the standard, right? 

Ella Magers, MSW: Thousand percent. I am, I’m really considering. Heading out for that.

Shabnam Islam: You’re coming for that. I’m going to send you my, Oh, by the way. So if any of you want to go, um, I’m going to give you a 10 percent off on your tickets.

Use Dr. Shabnam. That’s D R S H A B N A M. I hope to see you there in Los Angeles, November 11th and 12th. Um, for great experience. Unforgettable. 

Ella Magers, MSW: All right. We’ll put that in the show notes. Where else can people find you? Any final words? 

Shabnam Islam: Um, you can find me on VKindConnects. com. Um, also on Instagram, Dr.

Shabnam Islam. Uh, but Chef Babette Davis and I have a channel called Vegan Corn Hub. You can find us on YouTube at Vegan Corn Hub. That’s V E G A N Corn Hub. It’s like all one word. I’m not down to spell it right now. You got it. We’ll put it in the show notes. Yeah. No, but thank you. This was, this was a lot of fun.

Thank you so much. 

Ella Magers, MSW: Super fun. Thanks so much for being here.

Shabnam Islam: Of course.


“My dollar is my vote. I tell my students that every day when they feel helpless. You’re not! Everything you purchase, everything you consume, everything you use… That is your contribution to society. And I think when you make that choice every day, every moment, leading with someone else being at the forefront of your decisions. That’s a selfless life. That is a life that I am proud to be a part of, because I feel like we are on the right side of history.”  -Shabnam Islam

I’m especially excited to be sharing today’s episode with you, because I got to meet my guest, Shabnam Islam, in person for the first time just a few months ago at the Vegan Women’s Summit where she was speaking. And it seems crazy that we hadn’t met, because as you’ll hear (or see if you’re watching on YouTube), we get on like we’ve known each other for years which makes for a super fun and deep conversation. 

Stay tuned until the end to learn about The Vkind experience… a plant-based fully immersive epic event coming up November 11th and 12th in Los Angeles. Check out the show notes for a link to learn more and code for 10% off your tickets. 

Some of the topics we cover:

  • How Shabnam came into the vegan lifestyle, and her fascinating life and career journey
  • The advice Shabnam has for her students when they are feeling like they don’t know how to make a difference in the world
  • The intersectionality of injustice and what we can do about it
  • Intriguing science on metabolism, disease, dietary fat, protein, and sugar 
  • So much more!


Official Bio: 

Shabnam Islam is a global health educator and first-generation Bangladeshi-American vegan, who joined the vKind Team as their official spokesperson in 2022 and as the host of the vKind Connects series. A true leader in the health and fitness industry, Shabnam is a Professor of Kinesiology, Clinical Exercise Physiologist, television host, and spokesperson for health-based projects across the country. Her commitment to education and creating accessible community health programs has been widely acknowledged through her academic research efforts where she has earned special recognition as a pioneer for developing free fitness programs for people in low-income communities. Shabnam has a Masters degree in Exercise Physiology and is currently completing her Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy where she continues to develop sustainable and affordable public health programs for communities in need.

*Use Code “SHABNAM” for 10% off The VKind Experience ticket



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