I’m a family doctor; here’s what I tell my patients about going plant-based

I’m a family doctor; here’s what I tell my patients about going plant-based

As part of our “Chat with a Vegan” series, Emma Levez Larocque sat down and spoke with Dr. Jules Cormier. Jules is a family doctor in Dieppe, New Brunswick. We hope you find his experience and advice helpful no matter where you are on your own plant-based journey.

You can follow Jules across multiple platforms:

If you’re interested in learning more after reading this blog post, you can find great resources on the Vancouver Humane Society’s PlantUniversity Platform and subscribe to get free plant-based recipes and be notified when the next interview is posted.

My name is Dr. Jules Cormier. I’m a family doctor practicing family medicine, lifestyle medicine, and skin surgery, and I’m based out of Dieppe, New Brunswick, on the east coast of Canada.

Why did you go vegan?

I became vegan after about 12 to 18 months of transitioning towards a plant-based diet and this changed my life considerably, considering that I was suffering from asthma, eczema, urticaria, and cholinergic angioedema. which can also be called exercise induced anaphylaxis. So, I transitioned to a plant-based diet for health reasons at the beginning.

But after about a year, once I was fully transitioned, I started to connect even more with the ethical side of it. And after watching Dominion online, I decided I wanted to be 100 percent vegan, and I never looked back since then. That’s been more than a decade now.

What was your biggest challenge in becoming plant-based?

When I went plant-based, my biggest challenge was probably trying to navigate my small town.

 I’m from a small fishing village. So, telling people that you’re not consuming any animal products when you’re surrounded by fishermen and hunters was difficult for me. For a long time, I actually kept it quite secret until at some point I just couldn’t keep a secret anymore. So, just telling everyone around me was probably my biggest challenge.

And after that, well, it was accessing vegan food and plant-based options while eating out because when you’re from a small, small town, the plant-based options aren’t as refined. It was difficult to eat out and travel around from where I live, but once I was at home, I was good to go.

How did you overcome the challenge of eating out, or is it still difficult?

When I started about in 2012, it was more challenging and we found ourselves very often looking at menus beforehand and even emailing restaurants and calling chefs to see if they could prepare vegan options for us. And to my surprise, most of them could easily accommodate us. Nowadays, the vegan movement has grown exponentially.

I don’t meet that much resistance when eating away from home now. It was mostly when traveling that we’ve seen our challenges.

Even if the options aren’t plentiful, at least there were one or two options at most places where we used to go.

How do you work to spread the message about plant-based diets?

I try to spread the message about plant based diets and the vegan lifestyle pretty much everywhere I go. I have a website called Plant-Based Dr. Jules.

For the general public, I regularly publish free information about tips and tricks on how to transition. I want to make sure that people do it in a healthy way. I do most of that through my social media platforms. At work, I work at a teaching clinic where about 80 percent of future doctors will at some point come through our doors during their medical training. So, I try to have a trickle down effect where I can talk about plant-based lifestyle and ethics and climate change to future doctors, hoping that they’ll then talk to their patients about that.

Also, I have about 15 other doctor colleagues who are super open minded and a lot of people once they’ve read the data on the differences that a plant-based diet can make for health or for the climate, they’re a lot more open to changing. I know that if we can have the medical professionals on board and they can trickle that information down to their patient, I think we can reach a lot more people that way.

How do you encourage your patients to learn about plant-based diets?

I encourage my patients to learn about plant-based diets by simply looking at the data, which often shows that lowering your amount of animal products on your plate is often correlated to reduce risk of most of our chronic diseases. And as a doctor, I’m seeing these chronic diseases daily. So sometimes just linking their health conditions to what they’re putting on their plates is a way to kind of educate my patient on having a more plant-predominant diet.

Now, that being said, I send them to my website very often for free information on how to transition. I send them to my free recipe book, and I give them tips and tricks on how to substitute animal products and replace them with plants.

What advice would you give to someone who is finding it difficult to make the switch?

For someone who’s thinking about going vegan and finding it hard to make a switch, I’d suggest two things.

First of all, I’d say surround yourself with resources of like-minded people. When I started on my vegan journey, I subscribed to YouTube channels, to vegan community groups on Facebook, I watched documentaries. I got educated on all the facts.

My other tip would be start low and go slow.

 It took me about 18 months probably to make a full transition. Within about 12 months, I had almost no animal products on my plate anymore, but I say small incremental changes will add up over time. It’s not about what you’re removing from your plate at the beginning.

That’s the way I transitioned and this way I felt a lot less friction with my daily life by just kind of making small steps in the right direction.

What is the biggest challenge you hear about and how do you help people address it?

One of the biggest obstacles in the way of people that want to change is simply our food culture. For a lot of people where I’m from, animal products is simply part of our culture. I very often refer back to the 2019 Canadian food guide, which was based purely on science, because there’s a lot of old traditions and culture that goes into the way that people eat. And unfortunately, people still think that you need meat to be healthy and you need meat to have muscle.

 For a lot of people, it’s just lack of education. So, find solace in knowing that kind of the Canadian government is backing us by having a plant-predominant food guide. I think that that gives a lot of credibility to the movement. I think the Canadian food guide for a lot of people is the way to start.

It at least opens up their eyes to, it’s not just vegan propaganda. There’s a lot of signs behind why we should be eating a plant-predominant diet, regardless if you connect with the ethics of it or not.

What is the Plant-Based Academy?

The Plant-Based Academy is a project that I’m working on. It’s a mix of a podcast, my blog, and an online e-course that people can take and provides them with video lessons on how to transition towards a plant-based diet, step by step. I’ve been working on that for over a year and my goal is to publish it in 2024. Hopefully that can be a great resource for people that want to have the A to Z transition towards a plant-based diet.

What do you find most rewarding about the work that you do?

The most rewarding thing about promoting plant-based diets are the success stories. I mean, just today I had a patient with chronic abdominal pain that said, I just changed my diet and my symptoms went away. We’re talking about a patient that had undergone x-rays, ultrasound, CT scans, blood work- too many investigations where the issue was simply his diet.

And regularly I get messages of people on my Facebook and Instagram of how just making small changes has drastically improved their lives. I mean, I have patient getting rid of their CPAPs because they lost weight on their plant-based diets. I have patients reducing or even removing antihypertensive medication because they changed their diet.

So, I get that validation right from my patients that tell me about the success they’re having in either managing or even reversing some of their chronic medical conditions, basically through diet and through evidence-based plant-based nutrition.

This interview from PlantUniversity’s “Chat with a Vegan” series was hosted by Emma Levez Larocque of Plant-based RHN and featured Dr. Jules Cormier.

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Chat with a vegan: Stephanie Redcross West, business coach and marketing strategist

Chat with a vegan: Stephanie Redcross West, business coach and marketing strategist

As part of our “Chat with a Vegan” series, Emma Levez Larocque sat down and spoke with Stephanie Redcross West. Stephanie is a business coach and marketing strategist based in Orlando, Florida. We hope you find her experience and advice helpful no matter where you are on your own plant-based journey.

You can follow Stephanie across multiple platforms:

If you’re interested in learning more after reading this blog post, you can find great resources on the Vancouver Humane Society’s PlantUniversity Platform and subscribe to get free plant-based recipes and be notified when the next interview is posted.

Note: If you’re listening to the video using earbuds or headphones, the interview audio only works on the left side.

Why did you go vegan?

When I think about why I went vegan, a lot of my initial foundation was around health. When I was in my senior year in college, I got E. coli. I’d been traveling around and ended up getting in contact with my food. Through that process, it helped me start to think about what I eat; think about how food and how diseases transmitted. Through that discovery, I started thinking about and learning about more of the chronic diseases that are often linked to the foods that we eat.

As I started to make a better connection between the food I eat and my health, I started to realize that getting on this vegan path was an option. And as I spent more and more time with the vegan community, I started to understand not only the animal rights perspective of it, but understanding how I needed to bring more compassion to what I do. I became much more of a vegan that understood that yes, health might’ve brought me into it, but the reason I stay is for the animals and for the environment.

What advice would you give for making a transition easier?

When you first transition, you should find things that you like. I know a lot of times when people are thinking about going vegan, often they’re trying to be the healthiest, they’re trying to sometimes get the award for putting in all the goodness, you know, chia seeds, flax seeds, all these things that you hear about superfoods and all of that.

But if you haven’t been eating those things, it can be hard to transition to them because your palate hasn’t developed. You haven’t developed a relationship with those foods. What I often tell people is to take the foods that you already have an existing relationship, often a positive relationship with, and transition those and make them and veganize them.

So if you have a favourite cake that you make normally for people for their birthday, or someone made it for you for your birthday, veganize that. If you have a favourite dish from your childhood, veganize that, especially if it brings about a happy memory.

What happens is, you’re not only going vegan, but you’re connecting a positive experience with those dishes and those items, and therefore you start to build those memories that really many of us unconsciously do through our lives as kids and so forth. And I think by creating that new pattern, it will not only help you bring some enjoyment to the transition, because it can be hard, any type of change can be a little bit hard, but it can also build an experience around it that can be highly positive.

What does ‘veganizing’ something mean?

 Veganizing, at least for me, is often about substitutions.

It’s not necessarily what was in that original recipe is the only way to make it. When I was trying to veganize things, I would pick up a recipe that I knew and loved and looked for a substitute. So if it was calling for milk, I would look for a plant-based milk to substitute it with.

This day and age, there’s a lot of one-to-one substitutes for you to take something that was maybe an animal derivative or item and substitute it for plant-based items.

What is Vegan Mainstream?

A coaching and one-on-one business support tool and system for anyone who has or is planning to start a vegan business.

What we do is we help either teach you the marketing through like courses, or through group coaching. Or what we can do is we can work with you one-on-one to help you set up a strategy to help you understand all the marketing tools out there that are available to you at your fingertips and how to ultimately build, grow or scale a successful vegan business.

What changes have you seen in the marketplace?

 I started my business back in 2009. Not only has the world changed, the vegan world has changed. I think the natural evolution of what many of us hoped for, where veganism is a topic of conversation in mainstream media and mainstream discussions.

Even as we’re going through grocery stores, even as you’re going to restaurants, you’re starting to see options on the menu. It’s so exciting to see the increase in demand for vegan products and services out there, not just from the vegan community, but from a larger group of people; maybe people who aren’t ready to buy a vegan t-shirt, but those individuals are showing up consistently and buying and purchasing these products and getting a benefit from it. So it’s been kind of amazing to see the expansion of the market.

However, there’s still so much work to be done. I think we would all hope there was a larger portion of the population that identified as vegan, but I do feel like the world has really shifted and the discussion is less of a “them versus us”. I really feel like more and more people feel like they can step their toes into veganism.

I believe opening up to discussions about things being plant-based has allowed even more people to join in on that discussion, participate, and individuals almost feel like they could be at home in the vegan community now, where maybe five and ten years ago, that wasn’t the case.

Why are vegan businesses so important?

I think vegan businesses are so important and ultimately can change the world is because of the ethics that we bring often to these businesses. And when I say ethics, I don’t want to make it sound like it’s a moral superiority or anything like that. What I mean is often when vegans are in business, they’re looking at a larger picture. They’re sometimes rewriting the way that we see success in a business where traditionally many businesses were just looking at their bottom line.

You’ll see for many vegan businesses, they’re concerned about their footprint. So therefore they’re trying to make sure that every product or service or anyone that they engage in in the entire. You know, supply chain that they can reduce their footprint, ensure that their products and services are more sustainable.

We want to be more compassionate. We want to be individuals that are aware of the impact that we make. Now, we can’t be all perfect. We can’t all do everything without making some mistakes. So I don’t want people to feel like they have to live up to this perfect picture. But what I feel that vegan businesses often do, and this is not just on the product side, but this is on the service side as well, is that we will often bring a different perspective to the party on how we do discussions, how we negotiate, you know, how we are looking to build solutions that benefit all as opposed to winner takes all.

What was your favourite food when you first transitioned?

When I first transitioned, I was much more of a comfort food person. I was always looking for like vegan pizza, that kind of thing. Also, when I first transitioned, I spent a good amount of time eating a lot more ethnic dishes.

Over time, what I’ve done is mash those two ideas together. While I still eat a little bit of vegan junk food, a lot of what I do is I like building bowls. I think the reason I like comfort foods is because they have high taste and comfort. And then, I’d like a lot of ethnic foods because of the flavor that I really love to, like, build a rice bowl and be able to say, okay, I have a rice bowl here with some pickled onions.

I have some seasoned up tofu, maybe it’s Thai seasoned tofu, you know, I may have some cut up cucumbers in there. I might throw some sprouts on top. I may sauté some mushrooms and onions. And then that way I’m able to kind of get multiple layers of flavor and crunch.

And that’s kind of my way of taking a lot of the different elements and styles and flavours that I ate when I first went vegan.

What vegan business are you loving right now?

As far as the landscape of products and services, there’s much more variety out there. When I first went vegan, it was kind of like you had a vegan burger, you had a vegan makeup or a vegan deodorant and everyone was mostly using the same one. It didn’t really cater to the variety of individuals who are in the vegan movement. And what’s so exciting to me today is how much more diversity is in products and services, how there’s more and more products that are available.

So someone like myself, you know, when I’m looking for makeup, it’s hard to have one-size-fits-all makeup. I love that you have brands like The Lip Bar out there that is offering makeup. And then for someone like myself with African American skin, it’s like, all right, I got some foundation that matches my skin like that really makes you feel represented in the movement.

This concept of inclusivity in products is really key, but some people say it, but they don’t necessarily do it.

It inspires me to be more comfortable of being me, of showing up as me in the world and feeling comfortable more and more in my own skin as I see more and more people being comfortable in their skin and more and more brands celebrating it.

This interview from PlantUniversity’s “Chat with a Vegan” series was hosted by Emma Levez Larocque of Plant-based RHN and featured Stephanie Redcross West.

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Chat with a vegan: Dreena Burton, cookbook author and fascial stretch instructor

Chat with a Vegan: Dreena Burton, cookbook author and fascial stretch instructor

As part of our “Chat with a Vegan” series, Emma Levez Larocque sat down and spoke with Dreena Burton. Dreena is a plant-based cookbook author and a yoga and fascial stretch instructor based in Vancouver, British Columbia. We hope you find her experience and advice helpful no matter where you are on your own plant-based journey.

You can follow Dreena across multiple platforms:

If you’re interested in learning more after reading this blog post, you can find great resources on the Vancouver Humane Society’s PlantUniversity Platform and subscribe to get free plant-based recipes and be notified when the next interview is posted.

How did your vegan journey begin?

I kind of just went through this period in my teenage years where I noticed I wasn’t feeling so good, and that’s when I really started to pay attention to what I was eating.

I was constipated a lot. My digestion didn’t feel good. I was starting to have joint pain problems in my early twenties and I came across a couple of books that opened my eyes. One was Diet for a New America by John Robbins and the other was Fit For Life. Both really opened my eyes to dairy, big time to dairy, and also to not eating meat, and phasing it out. So that’s how I moved into it, was phasing it out. There’s that magic time of about, I think a month, they say to really let the body change and adapt and your palate to open. And that happened for me.

It’s been over 25 years, but I can’t imagine having lived any other way. It was so obscure at the time. And I think living out West gave me a little more opportunity to feel that was accessible because there was more interest in it in the area that we live.

How did you get started writing cookbooks?

I was led into my cookbooks, I’d say largely, from moving out West. And at the time, my husband’s father had had a heart attack and his cardiologist in St. John’s recommended a plant-based diet, which was really unheard of.

I had been working in a marketing position in St. John’s and my heart was not in it at all. I was just like, I cannot see myself doing this for the rest of my life. People said to me, you know, when you talk about food, you light up. I was like, of course I do. Loved it since I was a kid. I knew my parents-in-law were needing help with recipes, and that’s when I just started to sketch things out myself. I wanted to create recipes that I felt like they could use, and they were healthy, whole foods, very low in fat for what health conditions they were going through.

That was the start of it for me. And then I kind of grew with it with every life change in a way, because the next book involves after having our first daughter and trying to incorporate more foods to feed her and those concepts.

How did you start teaching yoga and fascia classes?

 I felt great in my body through food, through diet. That removed a lot of pain and discomfort in my body up until about my 40s. And then things started to change where I was feeling like my joints were hurting and my body just the things I love to do like cooking, for instance, even caused me pain. I thought maybe I’m just missing something like alignment, how to align your body.

So I took yoga and I wasn’t sure if I was going to teach. To me, it was just to learn, but something kind of pulled me into wanting to teach.

So, I just kind of kept on that journey in the background and I was teaching at a studio. But the joint stuff didn’t go away and it was irritating to me because I felt like I’m doing everything right.

And then I came across this work to change your fascia, which really has changed my life because I don’t have the pain anymore. When I talk about fascia work, this is working at the tissues on a deeper level from the inside out. It’s a movement practice, but it’s not yoga.

Everything that we’ve done in our life has shaped the quality and health of our connective tissue. And we want to keep it healthy because if it’s not, it’s dense and dry and not pliable as it should be. It restricts the movement of the limbs. So this is why you have pain. When you can free up the fascia, then the limbs move better. You feel better in your body. And so it’s a really simple formula where you move to create the change from the inside out. It’s the most interesting form of movement that I have.

After a couple of months, I noticed, wow, I can turn my head again. I was like, wow, my tissues feel really different and I’m feeling good in my body again.

So when I started to feel shifts in my body, I can’t explain it other than I felt a draw to it. Just like when I started writing recipes, I felt a draw to it and I’m feeling that with this work.

I’ve had classes that I’ve been running online and now I’m soon to launch a site called Fascia Flo and running zoom classes and video recordings for people to also take.

How do you think healthy veganism and movement are connected?

I feel they’re so interconnected. I feel like you really cannot live well with only one. So let’s say that, because eating a vegan diet, if you’re not really paying attention to the health properties of that vegan diet, if you’re relying a lot, a lot on, we all eat some processed food. If you rely a lot on processed food, then you’re not going to feel good for it.

But similarly, if you’re not moving your body, then you’re also not going to feel good for it. And some people move their bodies all the time and don’t really pay attention to healthy diet. And that, you know, can cause stagnation and issues later on. And also people eat super healthy, but don’t really pay attention to the movement.

We are animals, after all. Species all follow a certain way of eating and they all move. We’re not meant to be as sedentary as we are, and you know, we have to work, we have jobs, we have these things, but we also have to pay attention to what we need to do to balance that out when that is part of our life.

I think when you’re following a plant based diet, you tend to then pull in all these other elements of wellness along the way. If you stay with it, right over time, you want to learn more about this part of wellness. All these little things start to kind of come in and movement’s part of that to me.

What inspires you?

I feel like learning inspires me. I mean, that sounds kind of corny in a way, but I’ve never really idolized people. I’ve looked up to people like I, I would love to meet Dr. Campbell one day. And people who’ve, who’ve taken a different path. even though it was so challenging for them to do so, that’s very inspiring. But also just seeing, you know, people do the things they want to do despite their challenges.

That growth of a human that’s possible is what’s inspiring, and knowing that it doesn’t stop, you know, you remember being in your twenties thinking you know everything, and then you get to your thirties and you think you still know quite a bit. And then you get to your forties and you’re like, I don’t know, I think I’ve got tons to learn. And so you really can keep learning and it’s exciting to keep learning.

This interview from PlantUniversity’s “Chat with a Vegan” series was hosted by Emma Levez Larocque of Plant-based RHN and featured Dreena Burton.

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Chat with a vegan: Pamela Fergusson, Registered Dietitian

Chat with a Vegan: Pamela Fergusson, Registered Dietitian

As part of our “Chat with a Vegan” series, PlantUniversity’s Brighde Reed sat down and spoke with Pamela Fergusson. Pamela is a Registered Dietitian who owns a private practice in Nelson, British Columbia. We hope you find her experience and advice helpful no matter where you are on your own plant-based journey.

You can follow Pamela across multiple platforms:

If you’re interested in learning more after reading this blog post, you can find great resources on the Vancouver Humane Society’s PlantUniversity Platform and subscribe to get free plant-based recipes and be notified when the next interview is posted.

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Pamela Fergusson, a Registered Dietitian. I have a Ph.D. in nutrition and I have a private practice. I live in Nelson, British Columbia, Canada, and I run my practice from here. I see people from across Canada and also internationally too. I specialize in plant-based nutrition and I am vegan, but I see all types of eaters. Generally, the omnivore clients that I see are usually looking to transition to more plant-based and I always help my clients move in the direction of being more plant-based. We have so much evidence that it is an optimal way to eat.

For fun, I’m very fortunate. I live in the beautiful Kootenay region of B.C. We live in such a gorgeous place, full of hiking, swimming, beaches, and amazing skiing in the winter. And I try to take advantage of that as much as I can. I have four children. Three of them are still living at home, so I’m a busy person with a business and also a busy family and I have a beautiful dog as well. Life is busy, but when I have the opportunity, I’m outdoors. I’m also very passionate about yoga; I try to go to yoga five or six days a week.

When did you become vegan and what was your motivation?

I get asked this all the time and to be honest, I cannot remember the exact time that I went vegan, but I think it was around nine or ten years ago. Before that I was a vegetarian for a long time.

I originally went vegetarian in university after reading the book Diet for a Small Planet. I went vegetarian partly for environmental reasons, but also this idea that was put forward in that book that we have enough calories on our planet to feed everyone, we’re just distributing them poorly. That was compelling for me as I was interested in eating lower down the food chain so that we do not squander our food resources.

Much later on, I became fully plant-based and it wasn’t until then that I switched on more to the ethical issues so I decided to be fully vegan. I was motivated by the environment, and I was somewhat motivated by health. But once I made the connection with animal suffering, that was what took me from 90% of the way there to a hundred percent and fully committed.

What was easy for you when you went vegan and what was more of a challenge?

I have to say I do have a little bit of an advantage that I am a Registered Dietitian. I have a Ph.D. in nutrition, so I went vegan feeling quite confident that I would be able to cook meals that I would enjoy. I had been a vegetarian before for a long time, so I already had some expertise in preparing plant-based options.

Probably the more challenging part was bringing my children on board. We transitioned the children over a year. The kids had been omnivorous before that. We went very slowly with the kids so they felt on board with the transition and just moving at the pace that was comfortable for them as their taste buds adapted and as their identity adapted.

My kids eat a plant-based diet at home and make their own decisions outside the home. They have varying levels of commitment to or interest in being vegan. At home, they are fully plant-based and they enjoy plant-based food.

What are some nutrients that vegan children need to make an effort to get?

Key nutrients for vegan children include dietary fat. Children, particularly younger children, and toddlers require a lot more fat in their diet than adults do. This is not an age group to be eating low fat. They should be enjoying sources of fat like nut and seed butter; hummus is a great one because it’s providing healthy fats as well as protein.

Don’t hesitate to use some oils when cooking for children. If oils are something that you use in your household, you certainly can use those in preparing foods for your children.

Protein is also important. We don’t need to overly worry about protein, but we certainly wouldn’t want to get into a pattern of feeding children mostly only fruits and vegetables. They do need to be getting a few protein-rich sources a day like beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh, and meat alternatives are also an option if your family includes those.

Nuts and seeds are also sources of both proteins and healthy fats.

Next, we can consider some of the micronutrients like iron, a key nutrient for kids. Iron deficiency is common in children, not only for vegan kids but actually among omnivorous children as well. We do need to think of iron-rich foods in plant-based options, those again are a lot of the high-protein foods. Beans, lentils, and greens also are good sources of iron and tofu is a pretty good source of iron too.

Finally, calcium. I encourage all plant-based families to offer a cup or even two cups of plant-based milk to their older children each day. If you have a baby or a toddler who is consuming breast milk or formula, then you may be waiting until they’re old enough. Talk to your dietitian or pediatrician to introduce plant-based milks. For school-aged children, pre-schoolers, and certainly teenagers, including a cup or two cups of plant-based milk that’s fortified with calcium each day will help them to meet their calcium needs.

Calcium is well distributed across whole foods in a plant-based diet as well. Dried fruits, nuts, and seeds, particularly sesame seeds, so tahini and tahini dressings are a good source of calcium, or once again hummus.  Green veggies and leafy greens as well as tofu, beans, and lentils are good sources of calcium. The combination of choosing mostly whole plant-based foods, along with fortified plant-based milk; I would underscore that.

Although those are key nutrients for plant-based families to consider, they’re really just the nutrients that are important for growing children, and these are certainly available on a plant-based diet.

This interview from PlantUniversity’s “Chat with a Vegan” series was hosted by Brighde Reed of World Vegan Travel and featured Dr. Pamela Fergusson, RD.

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Chat with a vegan: Rian Peters, recording artist

Chat with a vegan: Rian Peters, recording artist

As part of our “Chat with a Vegan” series, PlantUniversity’s Brighde Reed sat down and spoke with Rian Peters. Rian is a recording artist based in Vancouver, and a vegan of many years. We hope you find his experience and advice helpful no matter where you are on your own plant-based journey.

You can follow Rian on Instagram at @iamtheliving and @livingplantfoods, or on his website.

If you’re interested in learning more after reading this blog post, you can find great resources on the Vancouver Humane Society’s PlantUniversity Platform and subscribe to get free plant-based recipes and be notified when the next interview is posted.

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Rian Peters, I am a recording artist. I go under the stage name I Am The Living. I’m based in Vancouver

Why did you become vegan?

I became vegan because a friend of mine sent me a video a few years back and I decided to watch the video, and when I watched the video, it really resonated with me it sparked something inside of me that I would never forget. He was talking about veganism and, the reasons why it’s good for the environment and good for animals, and for your health to turn vegan. There were some images that he showed within the lecture and yeah. I just built a newfound type of compassion and empathy for other living beings. So after I felt that I told myself I can’t continue to consume animals.

What were you concerned about when you went vegan?

To be honest, I didn’t really have any fear, I just felt that it was the right thing for me to do. It was more so just the gradual steps, a lot of people can go cold turkey, excuse the pun. But for me, I decided I’d take it to step by step. That really helped me on my journey to where I am today.

What piece of advice would you give to someone thinking about going vegan?How do you get your protein?

I would just say to them just be confident in your decision and also take your time. But at the same time, if they feel like they’re just ready to cut out certain things from their lifestyle when it comes to what they eat then, go for it. If they’re a bit more on the edge about it, not too sure of what to do take gradual steps. So, just take your time with it and know that this is the best thing for you to do for your health first and foremost, and for the animals, because if you’re not consuming animals, then the animals don’t have anything to worry about.

Yeah. It’s taken me to a place that I never thought I would ever get to. The foundation of my nutritional intake is a raw frugivore lifestyle. I eat an abundance of, natural whole fruits. This is a huge part of what I eat on a daily basis with tender leafy greens, juices smoothie bowls. I stick to uncooked foods. That’s where I’m at right now. I didn’t start that way though. But now, I’m in the best place I’ve ever been to in my life. I’m very happy with how I feel and the energy that I have.

Do you miss eating animal products?

I sometimes still get that question, but I remember when I did transition, a lot of people asked me if I had missed the animal products. From the start, I didn’t miss animal products at all because I knew that it was the best thing for me, for my health, and once my senses started to change and adapt to the foods that I that we are naturally supposed to consume, I didn’t miss the smell or the texture or anything to do with animals.

What benefits have you experienced going vegan mentally, physically, and emotionally?

Absolutely. All of those three. Everything just went onto another vibration. It’s the best I’ve ever, felt inside and out. I wouldn’t change it for the world.

When I was a lot younger I never had this amount of energy and freedom. I feel like sometimes the foods that we eat can really hold us down mentally and spiritually and physically.

What’s your favorite food?

My favorite, my number one favorite vegan food has to be the mango. Fruit is definitely my number one go-to. The creator created mangos for us to eat, you can just grab it off a tree and eat it. That’s my top fruit.

What do you cook when you’re trying to impress?

So there was a time I had a really fun gathering with a bunch of vegans. It was like a potluck, people brought, different foods and I decided to prepare some plantain wraps. They’re literally just made from raw plantain, I blend it up in the Vitamix add a little seasoning, and spread it out on the dehydrator trays, leave them in a dehydrator for a few hours and you can use them as a burrito wrap. So the plantain wraps definitely were a winner.

This interview from PlantUniversity’s “Chat with a Vegan” series was hosted by Brighde Reed of World Vegan Travel and featured Ravi Boghan.

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