How long have you been eating plant based foods and what made you get into plant foods?
My journey to this way of life has been very long, beginning with becoming vegetarian at age 19, realising that I was dairy-intolerant at 34 and finally giving up eggs at 38. There wasn’t any huge conscious decision to change: one day I realised that I hadn’t had meat in months and I was quite happy to continue this way, and to reap the benefits in terms of health and saving the lives of animals by not eating them. It was the same with eggs. Towards the end of 2012, I realised that I’d only had eggs a handful of times that year and had lost the taste for them.
Do you like making food and what are your favourite foods?
I love cooking or otherwise preparing food. I include greens in at least two meals every day, usually in the form of a smoothie or a salad, and I add greens to stir-fries and stews. In particular, spinach and pak choi are my favourites.
- KARYN Aviani
I think that some people just need to tackle one meal at a time and move at their own pace.
Describe your day with plant foods.
My day usually starts - after the coffee, of course - with either a green smoothie or a juice. There might be some fruit midmorning with a spoonful of coconut yogurt. Lunch is often a huge salad with a ton of greens, tomato, cucumber, avocado, a handful of walnuts and some hummus. If I want something warming, then gluten-free pasta with lots of veg - either raw, roasted or cooked in a sauce) and toasted nuts or seeds is another favourite. Dinner is usually a stir fry with rice or noodles, a pasta dish loaded with veg, chick pea curry and rice, vegetable stew over quinoa pilaf or lentil pancakes with all kinds of side dishes and salads. As I’m on my own with three kids, our meals are simple, child-friendly and very nutrient-dense. My kids are vegetarian and all family meals are plant-based. We generally have tofu once a week or so and that aside, everything is pretty much cooked from scratch. They love homemade pizza with wholegrain spelt crust and I try to make that once a week. Obviously it’s loaded with lots of veg, pineapple and nuts ;-)
What’s your favourite kitchen tool/gadget?
When my blender died earlier this year, I bought a Nutribullet from a friend. I use it for everything from making my green smoothies to nut butters to grinding coffee beans :-)
What one food could you not live without and which food do you miss the most since switching to plant based foods?
I don’t think I could live without greens. It shocks people to learn that I eat three to seven cups of greens a day.
As for what I miss….well, I couldn’t say. The changes to my style of cooking were so gradual that I never felt deprived of anything and still don’t!
What do you consider the most important foods in your diet and why?
Greens, other vegetables, healthy fats. I come from a very large family and though I’ve always been well, there’s a family history of excess weight, heart disease/high cholesterol and breast cancer on my dad’s side. I’ve always felt that people need to be more proactive about keeping themselves healthy. Having a plant-based diet and keeping fit is my way of being proactive about my health. I owe it to myself and to my kids to be as well as I can.
Would you say you look and feel more healthy?
You know, I’ve never looked or felt old! But I do feel healthy and I manage to pack a lot into my days. I guess the way I eat fuels that.
How has eating plant foods changed you?
For starters, I eat a lot of foods I spurned as a child. Mushrooms, avocado, olives, hummus, beans, lentils. I even refused broccoli and peas! I’ve also spent more time reading about different plant foods and learning about their health benefits. I feel that I’m more able to talk to customers at the shop about healthy eating habits and new recipes. I always make sure to stipulate that I’m not a health professional but that I can give them tips on how to make the meals they eat tasty as well as nutritious and often scribble recipes for them on notepaper.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about getting into plant based foods?
I’ve been part of the Leicester Vegan Challenge from its beginning and, as a mentor, I always tell my challengers to take it as slowly as they need to. I know that the challenge is meant to be a month-long switch to a fully plant-based diet, but I think that some people just need to tackle one meal at a time and move at their own pace.