Interview with Melvin Laidlaw

“Well, first let me wish everyone a warm hello. It is nice to connect with people of like interests and minds. My name is Melvin Laidlaw, and I am the creator and proprietor of Mr.Spinner’s, an organic hemp and functional foods production company.”

The second common ground interview finds us discussing the vegetarian lifestyle with entrepreneur and natural foods gourmet Melvin Laidlaw. Melvin’s roots lie in Jamaica; however, he and his family are finding that people living in Canada can’t seem to get enough of his exceptionally tasty functional foods.

Q: Tell us at a little bit about yourself, your diet, and how vegetarian foods have affected your life.

A: Well, first let me wish everyone a warm hello. It is nice to connect with people of like interests and minds. My name is Melvin Laidlaw, and I am the creator and proprietor of Mr.Spinner’s, an organic hemp and functional foods production company. I take great pride in using only the best ingredients that won’t compromise good health practices. Earlier in my life, my diet was one of the typical North American: high in saturated animal fat, low in fiber and essential fatty acids. Basically I ate a lot of meat and fiber-deficient carbohydrates. Having discovered that I had irritable bowel syndrome (a condition that causes bloating, bleeding and physiological discomfort), I went to see a lot of doctors, but that proved to be unsuccessful in treating my condition. My sickness helped lead me to research the causes of irritable bowel syndrome and to try and remedy the situation through my diet. Many people ask me “why focus on the diet?” My research showed me that I have an alkaline-acid imbalance in my bowels (too much acid). In order to reverse the imbalance I needed to change my diet and lifestyle. Meat, white flour and processed sugars are very acid forming foods, whereas fresh fruits and vegetables are alkaline forming. I found it really important to look into the issues myself, because there were so many different opinions. I try and go by what I not only feels right, but what experience leads me to.

Q: Do you feel that you are getting enough nutrition for your condition from a vegetarian diet?

A: Yes, because I have researched the nutritional components of the vegetables, fruits, legumes etc. in my diet, and I more than meet the basic nutritional requirements. Plus I feel healthier too. The proof is in the pudding.

Q: Were there other reasons to becoming vegetarian other than health?

A: Yes, in order to be a part of creating a better environment, and to connect with other cool folks who were living the vegetarian lifestyle.

Q: Who or what has influenced you to embrace vegetarianism?

A: My intuition has been really clear about vegetarianism being the perfect lifestyle for humans, a diet centered on plant foods as opposed to meat. Spiritually enlightened people who I look to guidance for are also advocating a vegetarian lifestyle. Some of the world’s greatest thinkers, like Einstein or Gandhi, were vegetarian.

Q: How do your friends, family and colleagues respond to your vegetarian lifestyle?

A: Some are open-minded to vegetarianism, but are not in a position to be ready to take that lifestyle on. Some people are against it citing a lack of enough nutrients in the diet without meat. There is no point in arguing with these people because they obviously are not ready to dig a little deeper, to do some research, and are basically towing the party line of the mainstream viewpoint, which is often off-center. I don’t think ignorance is bliss though.

Q: How do you deal with people who are hostile to vegetarianism?

A: I understand that they are not ready for this choice this lifetime, and will have to come back and learn that which was not learned in this kick at the can.

Q: Have you noticed any particular changes in your body, mind, emotions and life since you became a vegetarian?

A: Yes, less aggression, my skin does not break out as much, my bowel movements are more regular, and the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome is now under control.

Q: What vegetarian foods give you the most energy, and what are your favorite foods?

A: We have an energy bar product made of sunflower, flax, sesame, hemp and pumpkin seeds with honey, molasses and plant sterols that gives you over 300 kilo/cal in a 72 gram bar. That is a lot of energy, and the taste is fantastic as well. We also have a sun-dried tomato pesto with hempseeds that is full of value and ready-to-eat energy food. I like eating a wide variety of beans, cassava, yams, cocoyam and vegetables like ackee, beets, carrots, and fruits like avocado, oranges, mango, sweet and sour sop.

Q: I am always amazed at the sheer variety of plant foods! Tell us how you deal with the issues of protein and calcium requirements.

A: I don’t worry about it too much. We are more than just what we eat, but I do eat a good amount of hemp seed products, along with beans, and I know they are excellent sources of protein. I am also being exposed to wheat grass and sprouts, and leafy-green vegetables have lots of calcium. I don’t eat any meat, or rely on dairy for my calcium or protein.

Q: What approaches do you find effective when trying to spread the good news about vegetarianism?

A: Just by living my life the way I see my ideal diet and goals to be, and if someone sees and likes what they see, and want to pattern their diet along the same lines, that would be great. My company, and the foods I produce are also a great way to influence people, especially because they are so tasty and healthy.

Q: How are being a vegetarian helped you to better serve humanity and the Earth?

A: Just by being a more conscientious human being and recognizing that way we have been going about things for the past while is getting our environment into a lot of trouble, and us as well. I find the diet helps me to be more peaceful, think more of others than just myself.

Q: Do you know any unlikely/interesting vegetarians?

A: Off hand no, but I would like to hear from more vegetarians from the Native community, or from the African Diaspora, as well as older vegetarians who have a lot of experience and can look back on a lifetime of vegetarianism. I like the idea of lots of sharing of recipes and helpful tips for staying vegetarian.

Q: Hopefully we can engage in some dialogue with people like that. I love to talk with different walks of life as well, and notice how similar we can all be sometimes. There seems to be so much focus on our seeming differences and separation right now. It is a shame. Tell us about one of your favorite recipes.

A: Just recently I was at a sprout farm in Toronto called Supersprouts, and had some raw-living food that consisted of spaghetti zucchini with almond nut butter, tomato and hemp seed pesto topped with a gomashio type seasoning mix. Man, it was good.

Q: What ways do you find effective in promoting vegetarianism and the vegetarian lifestyle?

A: Simple, practical ways that don’t get too philosophical works best for most people. Food service and retail sales of premium, vegetarian foods, along with always moving in a circle of like-minded individuals, building a consensus that grows bigger and bigger everyday. Wishing everyone out there lots of support and respect.

Q: Thanks Melvin for your time, and your service. The vegetarian lifestyle and diet supports the life of animals, planet and personal health, and is really fun at the same time. Let us know at if you know about someone who has benefited from the vegetarian diet, and help spread the word about the joy of choosing vegetarian foods. Best wishes. Please tune in again for another “Common Ground” interview with vegetarians around the world.

“…Some people are against it citing a lack of enough nutrients in the diet without meat.”

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