1. What do you consider your diet to be?
I consider myself to be a whole foods, plant-based eater, and 95-ish% vegan. You can read more about this in the “About” section.
2. Is it challenging to be a student and cook for yourself?
Not at all, although I couldn’t have managed to do this as easily when I lived on campus in dorms. Living off-campus during my senior year made everything quite a bit easier. I tell people that you have to enjoy the process (or even just pretend to) or it will feel like a chore. I go grocery shopping about 2 times a week, at health food stores, farmer’s markets, and normal grocery stores. Whenever I have a free moment, I cook a big batch of something: steamed veggies, spicy tofu, quinoa, bean salads, lentil stew, baked potatoes, roasted squash, chopped raw veggies, etc. Then I eat these things throughout the week, often combining things into “macro bowl” form or “stew plus grain”, or making up a big salad. No two meals look exactly the same. I rarely use recipes (unless as a way to find inspiration if I’m trying a new ingredient or technique) but rather I tend to make things up as I go along. This way, whenever I come home and just want to eat immediately, I can. I rarely come home and make an entire elaborate meal, because that would definitely take more time than I have. Instead, I find batch cooking to be the way to go. I personally like to space this out throughout the week, but doing it on one day (like Sunday) is a good idea as well.
3. Does it take a long time?
Nope. Almost everything I make takes 30 minutes or less and most of the prep work is 5 minutes or less (chopping, putting things in a pot, etc.)
4. Do you use recipes?
Rarely. Sometimes I’ll read recipes to gain inspiration for new dishes if I’m having trouble coming up with something new or if I feel that I’m getting into a rut. Then I usually spin it into my own version. But I love love love to read cookbooks, and typically have 5-6 in my kitchen sprawled out on the table 🙂 I think cookbooks are works of art and will happily spend all of my money on them, but I’m actually really bad at following recipes! I just don’t like being too constrained when I cook and I think part of what I love about cooking is making things up as you go along.
5. What is your favorite breakfast?
In the summer, açaí bowls or banana “ice cream” with coconut, fresh fruit, and granola. In the winter, steel cut oatmeal with banana or pear, almond butter, and cinnamon.
6. Is there anything you miss about a non-plant based diet?
Nope! This is one of the questions I get asked most often. There is obviously a certain ease about making baked goods, for example, that aren’t plant-based, because of textures and flavors that you just don’t really get in plant-based baking. But as far as I’m concerned, everything can be made into a plant-based alternative that tastes just as good or even better than its non-vegan counterpart.
7. What is your favorite plant-based treat?
Plant-based cake/quickbreads/homemade crackers.
8. Does your family eat this way?
I was raised as a pretty healthy eater and was lucky that my mom prepared dinner for my family every night when I was younger. This definitely taught me a lot about putting love and effort into cooking, and treating it as an important part of your day. We also belong to community gardens and CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture programs, where you get a box of fresh produce every week). This taught me about sustainability and to care for the earth. I also grew up with gardens on our property by my house, and my dad raises bees, which are vital to pollination of flowers, fruits, and vegetables. My parents both eat meat, as does my sister. My mom could probably be a vegetarian though, and eats less meat than the other two.
9. What is the greatest challenge about becoming plant-based?
Usually (and perhaps surprisingly), it’s just occasional critiques from other people about my lifestyle. I try to inform those around me as best I can. There are plenty of ways to get all the nutrients you need on a plant-based diet, and in fact it’s far healthier to get them in this way than from animal sources. That’s really the only challenge I’ve faced though, the rest has been totally smooth sailing.
10. What would you recommend for someone who is a student and is trying to eat healthier in general?
If you’re eating at dining halls, try to eat as close to a whole food diet as possible. Eat what you enjoy, eat a lot of color and a variety of different fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes/tofu/tempeh so that your meals fill you up. Salad and sandwich bars are great for this! But don’t stress too much. If you’re cooking for yourself, try to incorporate more batch cooking into your week, and set it aside as a de-stressing activity, rather than a chore. Play some music and don’t worry too much about following recipes. Start with basic things and keep your diet varied! Eat as seasonally and locally as you can to increase the nutrients your body absorbs. Pay attention to what looks good at your market or grocery store. Buy in bulk sections to save a ton of money. Go on field trips with friends to local farms to pick apples, buy from local providers for things like granola and bread, and compost/recycle when you can!
11. Do you use all plant-based beauty products?
I am slowly incorporating these into my beauty regimen in place of others that either don’t label or for which it is unclear whether animal products were used.