When people ask me what I eat (or what I don’t eat), the answer usually surprises them. To be vegetarian is one thing. But vegan? And no wheat? Nor sugar? That’s crazy. They assume I have to live on water and carrots, I guess… That’s why I love cooking for friends and family, to show them it’s easy, nourishing and delicious.
Actually, I no longer fit entirely into any of the special diet clubs. Which makes me a flexitarian, I guess, but I prefer not to be given a tag. A couple of years ago I went through an extreme phase where I was totally into raw food for a while, then strictly vegan and gluten free. I had a vitamin B12 deficiency just as I was moving to LA for a while. As I stood in Wholefoods looking for a food supplement I asked myself: “How does this make sense?”. I’m so conscious about what goes into my body and put all this time and effort in a healthy diet, yet here I am: relying on supplements to actually be healthy… I decided there and then to start doing things differently. So I researched which foods I would need to reincorporate into my diet to get enough B12 vitamins. Neither meat, fish nor milk were an option for me, so it was eggs, occasionally some goat or sheep cheese and yoghurt. About six months later I went back to Belgium and had my blood checked again: B12 levels were normal!
Ever since my diet has been less strict. I’m not against eating meat, fish or bread. I believe balance is the key for everything in life. But I just prefer avoiding mass production, conservatives, pesticides, white sugar, artificial sweeteners, and other kinds of junk. So I always try to go for local products that are organically grown, chemical-free and zero-waste. I like my food pure and fresh. That way I’m not only taking care of myself but at the same time also preserving this planet I call home.
Although more and more people are becoming conscious about their ecological footprint, not many are aware about the impact of what they eat and drink – AKA their foodprint. And if you don’t care all that much, just compare a fresh organic tomato or carrot to any other you buy in the supermarket… That should convince you.
I know it’s amazing to find bananas and avocados in every store at any time of the year… Tempting, for me too. I’m not saying you should stop buying bananas and avocados – I wouldn’t want to either. Just take a second to stop and think where they came from and how they got there. And maybe sometimes go for apples and broccoli instead? If everyone would be a tiny bit more aware about what they buy, we could make a big difference together…
So, maybe find out where the most nearby organic farm is. Get a seasonal fruit and vegetable calendar. Or start a garden! Go fill your basket at the local market instead of having to buy tasteless stuff wrapped in tons of plastic at the store. Take a vegetarian cooking workshop. Be creative with leftovers. You’ll be surprised at how easy and fun it is! You’ll feel healthy and energized, you’ll produce less waste, and you’ll be proud of yourself for contributing to a better world. Clear conscience: check!
Maybe you’ll meet cool people from the local community. Maybe you’ll discover a passion for gardening. Maybe you’ll fall in love with the guy or girl who’s doing a pop-up restaurant with leftover food… Because your good karma will be through the roof, obviously!
Here’s a small list of cool initiatives in Belgium, I’ll be posting more stories and simple recipes soon…