Leilani Munter is an environmentalist, animal activist, vegan…and race car driver! She has been to Taiji, Japan several times to document the slaughter of dolphins, driven a “The Cove” themed race car at Daytona to raise awareness, and promoted the eco-friendly impact of a meat-free diet.
Recently, she opened up to Care2.com about her plant-based diet. Munter says, “I went vegetarian when I was six years old, when I found out what meat was. I made the next step and gave up dairy products in the last year. At age six I didn’t understand those types of issues; it was purely because of my love for animals. They were my friends and I wasn’t going to eat my friends. Obviously the environmental benefits of eating a plant based diet is huge. When people ask me what is the number one thing they can do for the planet, I tell them to cut back on their meat consumption.”
When asked about her favorite veg foods, Munter replied, “I have so many favorites, it’s tough to choose. I just got home from California where there are a lot of vegan and vegetarian places to eat out. I had my favorite potato burrito from Don Carlos Taco Shop in La Jolla. I ate some fantastic raw food at Planet Raw and Rawvolution in Santa Monica.” At home, the eco race car driver likes to use “regular non-vegan cookbooks” and use vegan ingredients. “I make an amazing white wine and mushroom risotto. Eating a plant based diet is easy once you try it,” she says.
She adds that people who are just starting to go plant-based should start out slow, like being meat-free on ‘Meatless Mondays.’ “I think that asking for people to be perfect — whether it be their diet or anything else — is the quickest way to lose their interest altogether. Just work your way there slowly and I think you will find that it’s easy,” says Munter.
Munter is always quick to point out that eating animal products is not just harmful to animals, but to the planet. “Everyone is focused on fossil fuels but more greenhouse gas emissions come from raising animals for food than all of the planes, trains, cars, trucks, ships, and all forms of fossil fuel based transportation put together. We need to help people understand that the food on their dinner plates has a big effect on their carbon footprint.” She is also working on a greener racing industry. “I have talked with several different groups that are working on electric race cars. There is already an electric drag racing series in California. Our NASCAR and ARCA race cars are already using a biofuel mix and I am certain we will be on 100 percent biofuels in the next few years.”
She adds, “As a driver, my goal is to use my voice to educate and engage the 75 million race fans in the USA to rethink their day to day habits for our planet…My next race car we are raising funds for now is a Fueled by Veggies race car that will have fruits and vegetables all over it and will be calling to action race fans to try Meatless Mondays. We want to have a chef at the racetrack cooking vegan food for the race fans. Each time my race car hits the track (nine more times this year) it will address a different environmental issue and will have a specific call to action for the race fans to get involved.”
Munter’s other race car themes will include “clean energy, giving up single use plastic bags and bottles, and unplugging electronics when you are not using them.” She adds that she doesn’t have a personal car right now, and is searching for an electric or hybrid.