April 28, 2014 12:00 PM

It may not seem like it, but, Alicia Silverstone insists, it’s actually pretty easy being green. Sure, the actress and bestselling author, a vegan for 16 years, shuns sugar and processed foods – as well as plastic toys and TV for son Bear, nearly 3 – and opts for natural health care whenever possible. But, Silverstone says, the benefits far outweigh any burden. “Many women assume there’s only one way,” says the star, whose second book, The Kind Mama, chronicles her experience with childbirth and child-rearing. “But there are so many choices. I want to build the healthiest foundation possible for Bear so he is able to go out into the world thriving and strong.”

Raised in a family that ate “everything,” Silverstone flirted with the idea of vegetarianism for years but became vegan at 21, two years after her breakthrough in the hit Clueless, when she watched documentaries about food production. “It shook me,” she says. “I knew that changing my diet was the right choice for me.” Apart from the obvious weight benefits, within weeks, “my skin was glowing, my eyes got really white, my nails got strong, and my cystic acne went away.”

Now, Silverstone, 37, married to musician Christopher Jarecki since 2005, says her son loves healthy food – sample breakfast: miso soup – and has never been sick. As for the more controversial methods she employs (Silverstone has spoken out against vaccines and advocates for family bed sharing), she won’t succumb to pressure. “I’m very secure in every choice I make as a parent,” she says. “I’m not against Western medicine. The problem is we’re using it as a first step for everything, even when it’s not needed.” With plans to have more kids “one day,” Silverstone vows to keep up her lifestyle. “Being a mommy takes every morsel of your being,” she says. “I want to be my most present self so I can soak in every magical moment.”

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