By Paul Zahn | April 21, 2017 | People
We caught up with John Salley at The UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability Annual Gala to chat everything from cooking to where he has keeps his championship rings.
When did you become a vegan?
John Salley: I became a vegetarian and started paying attention in 1991 when I was 27. Then in like 2000, it became all about the animals and I was one of those vegetarians that thought you can have other things. Then, in 2008, I stopped lying to myself and everyone around me and became a real vegetarian, which is a vegan.
What do you find changed about your life after you became a vegan?
JS: When you become conscious, that means you wake up. You are no longer unconscious. So, when you become conscious then you start paying attention to everything. I guess from the end result to where you are. And my wife got the Prius, and I was like you got the Prius? I can’t believe you got the Prius. And then I got the hybrid Lexus and I was like, I like not hearing my engine and not smelling that and feeling like I should be in the HOV lane. I just looked at it and we started paying attention to every single thing we do. I guess when I got to an age, and I guess the reason why I do what I do, is to get people to do it at a younger age. You get to an age and they start telling you how to vote, what you got to think, or your choices with your money. We make smart choices. We make great choices. We buy local. We buy organic local. I go to Farmer’s Markets on Wednesdays and Sundays. I am constantly explaining it—people ask us.
Which farmers markets do you go to in LA?
JS: I’m at the Santa Monica farmer’s market on Wednesday; don’t be sending people to get me there! I’m at the Encino market on Sunday and Studio City, and if I really have to get something I go all the way down to Ivar, the Hollywood market. I make a day of it. Today I spent an hour and a half cleaning kale. It’s better than smoking cigarettes or drinking soda. So I prepared it and left it, now I have to store it.
Do you have an easy go-to vegan recipe for our readers?
JS: Look for the quickest thing, I would say a salad, that’s raw food. But the go-to vegan I would say is Biolife cheese, Earth Balance butter, gluten-free vegan bread, and grill cheese yourself to death! With coconut cheese not animal product. Another thing I would say is burritos. The best thing living in California, this Mexican state, is the tacos with jerk food. Then you can have beans—always great. I like sprouted stuff—sprouted greens, sprouted nuts. You just have to eat everything that was grown and well, things that come off of plants and trees and out of the ground. Not just things that are grown because they grow animals too.
Where is your favorite vegan spot in LA and why?
JS: My house. Our favorite restaurant would be Craig’s because Craig keeps putting more and more vegan items on the menu and then he’s going to carry my wine, The Vegan Vine Wine and my cheese Biolife pretty soon. So, I like going to people who support me—I support them back.
Do you cook? Do you do all the cooking?
JS: I don’t do all the cooking but I do the majority of the cooking. The whole house is an all cruelty-free house.
What do you think Magic has to do to get the Lakers back on top?
JS: Man, he’s already done it, coming back to the Lakers, they’re going to put the Lakers on top. Magic’s energy and his existence changes everything. Trust me, I’ve been on the other side when he steps on court, that crazy "I Love LA" song starts playing—took me awhile to get used to that song! But when it happens, just when he walks in, the guys now know that their careers are in his hands, or in their own hands and Magic has no problem removing the ones that don’t deserve the real Lakers uniform.
What is your favorite memory going against him as a player?
JS: Yeah—in 1989 we won! [laughs] That’s my favorite. I don’t even remember the game, I just remember the party after.
When do you decide to wear your rings or not?
JS: Well I don’t have them; they’re with a guy on tour with like posters that go around. I don’t wear my wedding ring to events, I really don’t like jewelry. This earring is my first championship. I would never thought I would get an earring, but then when Chuck Daly got one I couldn't stop so. I think women wear jewelry, I just collect it.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY Vince Bucci