Clarke is a Broadway, TV, film, and voice actor who has starred in Broadway hits such as Hairspray, My Fair Lady, The Who’s Tommy, Titanic, Mama Mia, and Annie and appeared in The Sopranos, The Americans, 30 Rock, and House of Cards. Clarke practices yoga regularly, loves to cook, and believes deeply in the power of plants. We caught up with Clarke in New York City where he survived an early bout with COVID, and was productively sheltering in place.
What does a plant-based life mean to you?
For me it’s about a continual desire to learn from what’s around us, above us, and under our feet. The intelligence of the natural world is staggering and awe-inspiring. I can completely geek-out on it, and I’m continually falling more in love with it.
How do you practice a plant-based life?
Living primarily in NYC means that the space for gardening isn’t always available. I do have a modest outdoor space so I grow a lot of herbs and container plants. I want to grow more regional flowering plants that attract pollinators, which are responsible for a huge part of our food supply. I get most of my produce from CSA farm shares, local farms via green markets, and I support programs like Misfits Market. I’m big into using therapeutic grade essential oils, topically, in diffusers, and for cleaning. I like making educated responsible choices with personal products like soaps & shampoos, laundry detergents and home cleaning products, to make sure I’m minimizing any negative impact on the earth. Even with incense, a part of my home life, I want to know about the different resins or woods they’re made with. For me it’s so much about appreciation and respect.
What do you think the benefits of a plant-based life are?
Endless. The more we can live with a sense of respect for the intelligence of the natural world around us, the more we’ll discover how to live in harmony with it, and enjoy being stewards of it.
What is your favorite tip or hack for a plant-based life?
I’ve always tried to “listen” to what my body needs. I think we’ve all got an inner compass that we can tune into.
What is your favorite plant-based recipe?
Lately I’ve been really into fermenting – Sauerkrauts & other lacto-fermented vegetables, kombucha, (an awesome friend just turned me onto Jun, the green tea & honey version of kombucha), experimenting with all sorts of non-traditional veggies in kimchi, and the list goes on. I’ve also replaced a lot of dairy with cashew and other nut-based sauces, and “cheeses”. Clearly, I find it impossible to pick a single favorite.
What is your favorite plant medicine?
Functional mushrooms are probably my current favorite even though they’re not technically in the plant kingdom. Lions Mane, Cordyceps, Chaga, Reishi to name just a few – they’re all super beneficial, and we’re just in the early days of discovering their untapped potential. I do love cannabis, and its medicines in multiple forms – CBD, is obviously experiencing a well-deserved moment in the spotlight these days. The use of essential oils for respiratory health, changing our neurochemistry, calming or stimulating the nervous system, and on & on. Again, I find the intelligence of plants ridiculously cool.
How do you learn about plant based life? What books or sources inspire you?
I can easily go down a YouTube rabbit hole. I watch documentaries, read books & listen to audiobooks & podcasts. Some favorite reads are; The Hidden Life of Trees, Kiss the Ground, What a Plant Knows, The Secret Life of Plants. The Overstory is new on my list. Dr Andrew Weil, and Paul Stamets are big sources of inspiration, and I’m really encouraged by new crops of like-minded, forward thinking inventors & entrepreneurs who are re-thinking everyday products that will no longer cause harm to the planet, but ideally even benefit it.
In what category do you wish we had more plant-based solutions?
I think trauma therapy is a super important area to address, and one which I know could benefit from more plant based options. Addiction to opiates and benzodiazepines, and suicide rates in the medical field are heartbreaking – and it’s a no-brainer that men & women of the military suffering from post traumatic stress deserve much better than the current options (usually dictated by big pharma).
Do you have a plant-based hero?
Shari Boyer is one of them (Founder of Plant Society), for sure! And, again, I have to mention Paul Stamets, (even though he’s a mycologist).