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Kevin Gianni: Vegans vs. Meat-Eaters, Hidden Lead in Health Food, & The All-Yogurt Diet

Kevin Gianni

We’re on the podcast today with my friend, Kevin Gianni. Kevin is an author, activist, blogger, former vegan, and co-founder of Annmarie Gianni Skin Care.

After years of health research, Kevin and his wife Annmarie were surprised and horrified about the harmful chemicals that are added into most skin care products– and the negative effects they have in and on the body. What they found shocked them, so Kevin and Annmarie set out to create pure products using the best quality ingredients, which lead to glowing and vibrant skin.

Don’t miss this – Kevin tells it how it is.

On the show, you’ll learn:

  • How Kevin gained 60 pounds in his year post-vegan
  • Why he ate 64 ounces of goat-milk yogurt a day!
  • One surprising health food that’s full of lead
  • What to do when your toddler eats a Goldfish cracker
  • And how to keep toxins off your skin and out of your life


Kevin is personal friend with a cool backstory of touring around with his wife in an RV for a few years before having kids. Actually, in some way, he’s inspired us to travel and live out of an RV for the past year. So if you need an excuse, hopefully this interview will give you the little boost you need to take that adventure.

On another note… If you want to hear me sing like Johnny Cash, Elvis and/or Joe Cocker, stay tuned – we’re almost finished with an album I recorded with a past guest of the show – band leader of the Tim Mcgraw Band, Mr. Denny Hemingson.

The album is called Swamp Thing, and it includes some of my original tunes, some of Denny’s, and a few we wrote on the spot in the studio. You can get an insider’s listen to a few cuts of the album as soon as they’re ready, just sign up for the newsletter (if you haven’t already) to stay posted.


Discover how to drop fat with chocolate, bacon, and cheesecake. Plus: learn the 3 worst foods you should NEVER eat and the 7 best exercises for rapid fat loss. Click below to to claim your FREE gift ($17 value)!

When you sign up for the newsletter, you’ll also get a free guide on how to lose weight by exercising less and eating great food, plus updates on all the articles, podcasts, and freebies.

And one more thing before we get to the show, here’s our review of the week. (I read all of your comments so please leave a review on iTunes.)

Openminded awesomeness!!! 5 STARS from Dancincrazy —May 3rd, 2015

I have become addicted to listening to this podcast and inspired to make positive changes in my life, and try new things each time I listen. My favorite thing about Abel is that his approach is very open minded and non-dogmatic. I believe that fitness are not one-size-fits-all, and he does a great job of interviewing a wide range of guests with various opinions and being open to their ideas. There is more than one way to be healthy, and he covers all aspects and possibilities in a down to earth and entertaining way!


You have a very fascinating dieting history, so I’m told. You’re a very interesting man, and someone who knows more about skin care than any other man I know. Let’s start with food and the radical adventure you’ve been on.

In high school I was a big sports player. I played basketball, football, tennis— I was an outside linebacker and a guard on the football team. But my diet was awful. Before my tennis matches I would sit down in the school cafeteria and have a pack of Twinkies and a Mountain Dew, then I’d drive out back and have a smoke. That’s where my nutritional journey started.

I went to college and did college things, then I got into this funk where I wasn’t doing anything I was passionate about. So, my mom told me I had to read this book— The Seeker’s Guide by Elizabeth Lesser.

It taught me something really important…

It was a turning point for me. Later on, I was running and training for trail marathons and stuff. A friend gave me some audios from David Wolfe— all about raw food, raw chocolate, etc. I’d listen while I was running, and so I got really excited about raw food!


I already knew about the sort of generic nutrition– brown rice and chicken and broccoli—but raw food was the next level. Now I’m going to like a superhero, supernatural sort of being. The raw food diet just sort of became veganism. I was vegan for six years. Then, four years ago, I was having trouble getting out of bed.

I was getting really scared, feeling really lost, so I looked on the internet. WebMD has a symptom engine, and I plugged in all of my symptoms. Turned out I had everything from AIDS to cancer.

Obviously, I had to try something else. So, I went to the doctor and ran a bunch of blood tests. The problem I have with blood tests is that I felt the sample sizes were from people who were sick—how could I tell if my numbers were right?
But Dr. JE Williams (my doc) had been in the business for 30 years… he had worked with the people who train the people who train now. So I trusted him.

It comes back that my pregnenolone is that of an 85 year old man. I’m not producing hormones—can’t get out of bed, no sex drive, etc. My doctor said that it wouldn’t be a bad idea form me to start eating some meat again. So, I said no… And I went back into the RV and sat with it for a couple months.

I started to feel worse.


Finally I make a decision. I’m not going to eat meat, I’m going to get yogurt. But how was I, a vegan blogger who gets recognized at the grocery store, going to buy yogurt? I went into the grocery store, got all this kale and put it in my basket, got some goat’s milk yogurt, and stuffed it under the kale so no-one would see it if they recognized me.

EVERY SINGLE DAY. Breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner. Within a week I was feeling amazing! Bouncing out of bed, running for longer.

It was crazy going from something I believed (vegan raw) to something I didn’t kind of believe. I had been 6’2” and down to 160 pounds. But I was feeling better, so I decided to break all the rules—eating anything, as long as it was organic: Organic craft wine, spec, scrapple, and all these animal pieces I’ve never heard of and it felt really great.

I felt fantastic for about a year and a half, then I started to get sluggish and lethargic. I was up to about 220 pounds and I couldn’t button my pants.

I set out to find out more about health, and about this nice balanced approach where you can kind of have your cake and eat it too.


What are your habits now?

One thing I’ve found that’s a fantastic way to get myself reset or started for the day is to make my green smoothie. I take a whole head of romaine lettuce, cherries or berries, peaches or apples, plant based protein powder, pop everything in there and blend it up.

“If you eat a green smoothie in the morning, you make green smoothie type decisions. If you eat pancakes in the morning, you make pancake decisions the rest of the day.”

It’s such an easy fix, so easy, it’s like “come on is that the advice you’re giving me?”

There’s a woman named Victoria Boutenko who did a small-scale green smoothie experiment. She took 40 people, and for one month she gave them a green smoothie every day, but didn’t change anything else in their diet. Every single person who finished the study showed increased energy, raised sex drive, weight loss, lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar… it’s so easy.


You are knowledgeable about health, but also very successful entrepreneur… seeing the health industry from the inside out. What do you say to the typical shopper, a consumer of brands?

Oh, what would I say? “Beware,” in an ominous voice.

Throughout this renegade health thing, my wife and I started a natural skin care company because we couldn’t find anything out there to fit our standards. Most skin care products are full of toxins.

We wanted to formulate a natural, organic shampoo—we had this earth-mama chemist working really hard to formulate something for years. We ended up with two situations, either 1) it works but it’s $70 a bottle; or 2) it’s natural but it doesn’t work.

We tried to find someone else who was formulating these products. We found a product—and it was amazing! We called up this person, interviewed her, got an ingredients list.

We ordered a bunch of product and bottles and labels and such and we were ready to go into business… I was in the shower, and I’m using the shampoo, and I’m like this stuff is too good to be true. There’s something about it, I just have to ask again…

I just smell artificial anything now. I can taste it, smell it…

So, I call her up and I’m like, “I know you gave us a list of ingredients, I know we talked, and we’re cool. Is there something you can get to me though, because I don’t get it.” Yeah, well, nothing comes and nothing comes.

Finally, she sends a fax—which included 13 ingredients not listed on the initial list she sent us—including such toxic ingredients like fragrances, emulsifying wax, etc. We couldn’t launch with her—that sort of stuff is rampant in the skin care industry, and even in the food industry.

“How many other people are just getting the wool pulled over their eyes because they don’t fully vet the people who are producing or farming their products?”

My advice is that even if you think you really know, do some further digging and vetting to find out if you really know.

You’ve seen the Moroccan oil shampoos—Alyson was using Moroccan oil shampoo and ran out, so she got it from Amazon and noticed it was a little bit different. Customer service says that they don’t sell on Amazon, so if it’s from there it’s counterfeit! It’s not the real stuff, and full of who knows what? And it’s difficult to regulate that.

There was one popular food company (not David Wolfe’s company), they were selling raw chocolate that was not raw at all the whole time!

Many companies are out to make money, but to me, the consumer is like my mom, my wife, my kids…

Check up on your factory, your farm, go there!

“You have a responsibility as a company to own up to what you’re doing. Just take some time.”

We audit our sources regularly. What source is it from? Are you sure about that? You’ll find just by asking, people will tell you things that you’re just like, “Wait a minute, that’s not what you said the first time.” It’s people not really knowing the people that they’re getting it from.

A lot of brands are marketing brands that mass produce a product that then gets various labels slapped on it. So, the supplier (brand) isn’t really the supplier.


There’s like five or six players who produce products for everyone! They’ll gladly brag about all the other brands that they make. You have these big mega companies producing these products, and the marketing arm is the distinction.

How do you find a good quality supplement?

Call customer support and then ask to speak to someone higher up. Ask questions about everything.

What are some everyday toxic products?

Shampoo and conditioner are some of the worst. We don’t really need either one. Skin care products are definitely this place where you really have to go as natural as possible. The FDA says that skin can’t absorb stuff on it, but then they also recommend the nicotine patch…

Your skin absorbs everything quickly, so you don’t want to put toxins on it. Petroleum chemicals are the worst ones, the ones we don’t want to put on our skin at all.

Chap sticks, soaps, fragrances… your body can be extremely sensitive to.

I travel a lot and go to these fancy spas because people want to get us to promote their product. I was in Sedona at a really nice spa, and I picked up a really nice looking natural product but then I turned to the label and there’s nothing natural in it—not even an herb! And it certainly looked like there was!

It looked like some hippie woman went into the woods, and picked some herbs, and distilled them and put it in a glass bottle with a cork…

I’m extremist, but at the same time I know that some of these things aren’t actually that dangerous. You can get away with using an artificial flavor sometimes or a fragrance—maybe 80-20 or 90-10 kind of rule.

But with the kind of environment that we’re in, why wouldn’t you want to stay away from them?

Pesticides in our organic and nonorganic food, bioaccumulation of metals and pesticides in animal foods, emissions, possible EMF’s, all these other things…

“Doesn’t it just make sense to cut as much out of your diet and your lifestyle as possible?”

Yeah, there are these guys that claim that science says this doesn’t cause cancer!

The question is, why am I eating this chemical? Glyphosate? Why would I even bother? It doesn’t make sense to me!

I’m always skeptical about someone who says, “Science says that it doesn’t cause cancer.” Unless you combine that research study with the subjects’ hormonal environment and other genetic makeup plus the accumulation of toxins throughout their lives, you can’t really prove that.


I kind of got a little toxic chemical crazy, and I decided I was going to send 12 or 13 things that we have in our house that we feed our son and our daughter and ourselves to a lab to get tested for heavy metals. I wanted to catch a big company doing bad things. (Most of them have big legal teams, so that’s close to impossible.)

I sent ten items away and got ten back and I wasn’t pleased with the results… the GREEN TEA I was drinking had a larger amount of lead in it than anything I had sampled.

I don’t really know what lead levels are acceptable, so I talked to a scientist at UC Davis, and he’s on the science side. So, I got three more green teas and tested those—the one first was from China, then Hawaii, Japan, Brazil.

The one grown in Hawaii had a little more lead content (like 1500 parts per billion), it’s not super high, but it’s not low. The two from Brazil and Japan were like 60 parts per billion. I could be drinking one green tea that could be giving me more lead exposure than another—it might be manufacturing process, pollution, the bag they’re putting in.

Green tea is something you’re consuming because you want to be healthy—it contains polyphenols, antioxidants, etc. Then you find out it’s potentially full of lead!

You don’t have to freak out about this, you just have to think about: Can I get less exposure by doing certain things? In addition to that, you can call and ask any company for their Certificate of Analysis.


There are two things to do as a parent of healthy kids:

1. be flexible.
2. involve them in preparing their food.

The thing is that all the things we thought we were gonna do before we had kids, they don’t always pan out. We had a vision of children in cloth diapers with non-plastic toys sipping on green juice and never eating French fries.

It’s not exactly that Shangri La over here—we lasted about 40 hours on cloth diapers, until they kept blowing out. Then, we switched to biodegradable disposables.

You definitely have to be flexible.

The first time I saw Hudson (at three years old) eating Goldfish crackers with his little friend—I thought, is this going to be the moment where I become crazy health food dad? Or, do I just let him eat some Goldfish and then when he comes home, he just never eats them again…

We opted for the latter. A few crackers weren’t going to kill him, but making a big deal out of it would kill the friendship moment.

Look how we grew up, on Mountain Dew and Twinkies, and we turned out okay.

Even as toddlers, there’s stuff the kids can do to help cook their food. If you involve the kids in cooking the food, making the smoothie, making the green juice… dude, they love it!

If he’s pouring the protein powder, chopping fruit for smoothie, or if he’s helping stir broccoli in a pan and adding garlic and salt, Hudson will eat it as he goes and enjoy it. I’ve never seen anyone’s kid eat as much broccoli as he does, only because he’s involved in the process.


Discover how to drop fat with chocolate, bacon, and cheesecake. Plus: learn the 3 worst foods you should NEVER eat and the 7 best exercises for rapid fat loss. Click below to to claim your FREE gift ($17 value)!


You can find Kevin’s blog, his book, “Kale and Coffee,” and more at http://www.kevingianni.com/

We get a lot of questions about which brands we trust – we do our best to use products that are organic, all-natural, plant-based, and free of toxins.

Kevin sent my wife and I a sample kit of their soaps and lotions. Alyson is raving about them. I think they’re pretty cool, too.

If you’re interested in plant-based, non-toxic skincare products, Kevin is giving away a $10 off coupon with his sample kits! Check them out below.

Let us know what you think of this show – leave a comment below!



  • Will says:

    Goat Greek Yogurt! I love it! I went through a similar transition from veganism to omnivore that Kevin went through. But I would buy only put down one of those pints per day. I was reaching a plateau in my performance as a vegan, and going through the whole slough of gut problems and mood problems that are so common. I actually broke the vegan diet with some local, NW sockeye salmon, and I was dabbling with other animal foods (my first bone marrow was an almost mystical/religious experience). I was doing much better with some meat, but when I discovered this goat yogurt, I launched like a rocket. I was hitting 650+ watts on my spin bike interval sprints, I hit my heaviest of all weightlifting exercises, and I was killing the metabolic circuits. There were times I literally thought I was going to explode with all the energy I was producing. I have since toned down the yogurt consumption and my exercise regimen, but I still do enjoy it, especially as a base of a salad dressing. Excellent podcast, I’m a huge fan

  • Susanelizabeth Turner says:

    Other than Kev sharing his green smoothie in the morning, I wish he’d have had more of a chance(or taken it) to share more of what and how he eats. I was hoping he would. Hope there will be more in the book…

  • Heidi says:

    I appreciate Kevin’s honesty so much. I, too, followed the raw lifestyle and my health has declined. I am so excited to read Kevin’s new book entitled Kale and Coffee. Excited to hear more of the companies he trusts most. Love Dr. Williams too–he is such a caring doctor. Thank you Kevin for all I have learned from you. So grateful : )

  • Beth says:

    Really enjoyed this interview.
    I used to follow Kevin & Ann-Marie (via their vlog) back in the day, and appreciate how honest Kevin is about what he went through and what he has changed & learned along the way.

  • Skai says:

    That beard!

  • PghPammy says:

    Abel it was interesting to me that Kevin mentioned asking for (certificate of authenticity) COAs from companies. I recently was refused a COA from UpgradedSelf.com. I wanted to do a comparison of the Bulletproof Executive’s C8 MCT oil (Brain Octane) to another brand MiCkey T Eight (which is sold exclusively on Amazon and their COA is right there with the product description. You don’t even have to ask for it). The BPE team claimed their COA contained ‘proprietary information” and would not share it. I have been waiting weeks for an answer from their CS about why their nutrition label information on the website does not match what is on my bottle (the label information doesn’t even match from the 16 oz bottle to the 32 oz bottle on their website).

    This really shocked (and saddened) me coming from Dave’s company. I wholeheartedly agree with Kevin – if they can’t even give you a COA, it HAS to make you wonder (what are they trying to hide?). I am talking to more and more companies now. The ones that get right back to me with meaningful information are the ones I will do business with…. screw the other one.

    • Abel James says:

      Hi Pammy, this is really interesting and thank you for bringing it up. I’m sorry to hear that about your experience with UpgradedSelf. Next time I talk to Dave I’ll ask him if he can share more information…

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