What is your view on the connection between food and health?
"I think that there is a huge link between the two, on a physical, mental and spiritual level. What we eat has the power to nourish and heal us, but also to harm us and others. I never considered what eating the bodies of animals who suffered tremendously did to my body before I went vegan. I believe that when you explore and learn about a whole foods plant-based diet and also the psychology of emotional eating, you can learn to use it for the best and become healthier on all of those levels."
Where did you grow up, when did you interest for food start?
"I’m from a lot of different regions (mostly Belgium, Denmark, Scotland and the Congo), but I actually grew up in Berlin, Germany. My mom would cook a lot and always let me help. In addition, I loved watching cooking shows on TV from an early age on and have always being fascinated with the art of cooking."
Don’t you think it’s extreme to be a vegan?
"I used to think that, until I went vegan myself. I think that people like to call veganism extreme so they have an excuse not to go vegan. If you think of it logically though, between eating plants in order not to cause harm and accepting that innocent animals live horrendous lives and are killed for food we do not need, I wonder which one is more extreme. That’s of course a very simplified way to look at it as there are many more factors that come into play. I don’t think that veganism is equally as accessible to everyone, but generally speaking, I believe that eating meat is much more extreme than not eating it.”
We wish we have had your book when we became vegans - please tell us a bit about it!
"My book, Vegan Reset: The 28-Day Plan to Kickstart Your Healthy Lifestyle, is a practical guide, a 28-day meal plan and a cookbook. I wrote it as the kind of book I would have needed when I first went vegan. Even though I developed a passion for cooking early on, everything changed when I started using food to numb my emotions. I started living off of mostly processed and very unhealthy foods, including a high amount of animal products. So, when I became an ethical vegan, somewhat accidentally and very unexpectedly, I had to do a lot of research and experiment with different ingredients. I didn’t enjoy fruits and vegetables and had no idea where to even begin. My book answers the most pressing questions someone might have in the beginning, but it’s also for people who are already vegan and simply want to find out more about meal prepping and quick and easy healthy recipes."
What do you eat, it must be complicated - no cheeeeese?? - How do you respond?
"It may sound complicated, but you get used to it very quickly. Over seven years into it, I don’t even think about animal products anymore and just zone them out when I’m at the supermarket. We can adapt so much more quickly than we think."
Where do you get your protein from?
"The same place herbivorous animals get their protein, from plants. It’s a myth that you can only get protein from animal products. Plants are full of it."
What are your thoughts on climate change, have you seen any changes with your own eyes?
"My thoughts on climate change are that it is very real and that it’s hard not to see the changes. I think that the most urgent step towards bettering the situation has to be reducing the impact of animal agriculture, which needs to be done both on a governmental level, but also on a personal level. Eating a more plant-based diet is one of the best ways to help. For anyone who’d like to find out more on this topic and the link between the environment and animal agriculture, I’d highly recommend the documentary Cowspiracy."
What makes you happy?
"The little things. Quality time with people I love, sleep, good food, traveling, gratitude. But also seeing that our choices can make a difference and that sharing your passion can impact people, it’s not all hopeless."
CHICKPEA TACOS WITH SHIITAKE BACON
Makes 6 tacos
2 cups mixed greens
1 cup baby kale
6 Soft Corn tortilla shells
1 Bell pepper, chopped
1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
2 avocados, cubed
1 cup chopped purple cabbage
1 handful fresh cilantro
1 lime, the juice
2 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms to make shiitake bacon (see instructions below)
Dressing of choice
Mix all ingredients in a bowl, then fill the tacos with the chickpeas & greens and top with the avocado and shiitake bacon.
For the shiitake bacon, preheat the oven to 400F/200C. Mix 1 tbsp liquid smoke with 2 tsp olive or coconut oil, ¼ tsp sea salt or smoked salt, 1 tsp soy or tamari sauce and 1 pinch smoked paprika and coat the mushrooms evenly. Bake on a baking tray lined with parchment paper for 25-30 minutes (they should be crispy).
Excerpted from VEGAN RESET © 2018 by Best of Vegan LLC. Photography © 2018 by Best of Vegan LLC. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.