Often we don't realize the power behind our food choices. A reality that really hit hard this year when I took a food sensitivity test and discovered that I had intolerances to many things that I loved. These included the usual suspects (dairy, wheat, soy, corn etc.) but also things that I thought to be healthy (blackberries, pistachios, beans). What this showed me was what might be healthy for someone else, wasn't necessarily healthy for me. So even though there are general guidelines about what's good for our health, what it really comes down to is taking this basic knowledge but adapting it and taking time to learn what is best for our own bodies.
And this is something that Lisa had to do from the age of two when she developed sensitivities to dairy, eggs and meat. Unable to digest animal proteins properly, she chose to replace stomach aches with a vegan diet. This made her feel vibrant and full of energy. Her food choices are based both on dietary needs as well as a lifestyle that has a positive impact on the world around her.
Beyond her writing as Vegan Lisa, she has completed a Raw Chef Certificate, hosted many cooking demos around the world and created food-based outreach events. She has worked extensively as a recipe tester and is finally putting her fine tuned skills to work writing a vegan cookbook currently set to be published in 2015.
What impresses me most about Lisa is that this isn't even her day job! By day she works as a public servant specializing in policy and research with a background in social work and children with special needs. And in her free time she unleashes her passion for food, writing and travel. She is a beautiful person both inside and out as well as a creator of healthy alternative recipes helping those who have chosen a plant-based, nutrient rich lifestyle. And she masterfully combines all these delicious moments with compassion-based cuisine.
What drives you? What's your mission?
I want to fill the world with more joy and compassion.
For me that means being passionately curious, finding ways to learn from and connect with interesting people, playing with new ideas and being open to discoveries. Behind that passion is a desire to have a positive impact on the world. I want to learn about the options I have to build a life that I'm proud to live.
Along the way I've discovered that the little choices we make every single day have the biggest impact in the long run.
Focusing on what we eat, wear and buy makes it easy to have a significant effect with simple shifts.
And because I know there are a lot of people out there who are concerned about their health, their well-being and the environment, I don't like to keep my finds a secret. I think each person is looking for ways to live their best life - but since I only know what's right for me, I share amazing discoveries not unsolicited advice.
Was there a key/favourite moment in your experience/journey so far that has made it all worth it?
There have been so many amazing moments from teaching crowds how to make green smoothies in Delhi to watching my nephews name off their favourite beans in order of preference. But recently I had a colleague with rheumatoid arthritis who was experiencing a great deal of chronic joint pain. We started talking about how healing greens and ginger can be. She started including green smoothies in her routine and I made a double batch of green juice every morning to share with her at work (one for her and one for me). After a few months she noticed a significant change in her well-being, what was once debilitating joint pain was more of an ache every once and a while. She started being able to go for walks again and to get out and enjoy her evenings with her friends and family. She told me that she felt that we were meant to meet so that I could change her life. I felt grateful for the chance to give her some new tools to try. I am always amazed by how incredibly adaptive we are. Change is intimidating but those who take the leap quickly settle into a new normal.
What is your favourite way to nourish yourself and your health?
Can I pick three?
I eat fresh, whole foods as much as possible. Right now, I'm spending time wandering around farmers markets, snacking on berries and massaging my kale.
I make time for friends because I find conversation and affection incredibly nourishing.
I find creative outlets even in the busy chaos of everyday. Be it drawing, photography or writing, I find ways to play with ideas and create because it feeds my soul.
When do you feel the most beautiful?
This is a difficult question to answer because it isn't something I spend a lot of time thinking about. Like most women, I've had times in my life where I haven't felt particularly good in my skin. But with time and perspective my feelings have changed,
I love my body now for what it can do not for how it looks. I have such incredible gratitude for my body - it is the amazing vessel that lets me experience the world.
It has carried me through many miles, steadied my voice through difficult moments and has healed itself after some harrowing adventures.
I feel the most beautiful when I'm moving - dancing, yoga, running, hiking, biking, swimming. Maybe it's the endorphins but being sweaty, flushed and happy is my preferred state.
If you had one piece of advice for the next generation of young women, what would it be?
...and any additional notes/quotes you might want to share!
Enthusiasm is very attractive. If you love what you’re doing and how you feel other people will notice. Find things you're passionate about and jump in. Meet people, explore. Be bright, be kind, have fun, do what your soul, deep down, wants you to do.
Wear colours, eat delicious food, and dance.