Going vegan can be daunting. What can’t you eat? What can you eat (trust us, there’s a whole lot from hearty, warming soups to creamy noodle salads)? A whole host of questions will run through your head, and you may fear you just won’t be able to do it. If you’ve been ruminating on making the amazing change to a plant-based lifestyle for a while now, we want to encourage you to do it now.
Two of our juice-loving friends, Juliet Raymer and Maxine Parker, have both embarked on the journey to a plant-based lifestyle and took the time to chat with us about what it was like and how it’s affected their lives. Keep reading to find out about what a day in the life of a vegan looks like, their favourite resources for vegan inspiration and what wellness looks like for them.
Hi guys! Such a treat to chat with you guys and find out more about you. Could you introduce yourselves?
Maxine: I am a dog-obsessed, plant-loving yogi from the windy city of Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
Juliet: Hi! I’m Juliet. I’m from sunny South Africa and recently relocated to Amsterdam six months ago. I study biology and sustainability and currently work as a team leader at TCPJ. I’m obsessed with the ocean, animals, goof music, food and film.
Amazing! So we love that you are both living your best plant-based lives. Can you tell us how you came to this way of eating?
Maxine: It all stemmed from a misalignment of my thoughts and my actions. I couldn’t justify my previous way of life, so I had no option but to change.
Juliet: I grew up eating a lot of meat. It wasn’t a meal if it didn’t include meat, and salad often meant a potato on the side haha. This was quite normal back then back home, although this has changed drastically in the last decade. I became aware of the healing properties of food when a close family member was diagnosed with cancer. She opted to skip the chemo and instead radically changed her lifestyle, eating only organic, plant-based food. She became immersed in healing herself holistically. She not only beat the cancer but also looked ten years younger and had more energy than ever before! I was amazed and extremely inspired. She would speak to me a lot about her new lifestyle, and I became more and more aware of how incredible a difference it can make in your life! I decided to cut out meat a while back and slowly eliminated more and more animal products. It was a lot easier than I thought and allowed me to really ‘play’ in the kitchen, coming up with exciting new additions. My boyfriend and I LOVE to cook and entertain! And our menu options have just become more varied and colourful!
We feel the same. Veganism only encourages creativity, rather than limiting it. So you are both plant-based now, but what did you eat like before you made the switch?
Juliet: Like I said, I ate a lot of meat. In South Africa, our social events happen around the ‘break’ (BBQ). It’s a big meat-eating culture. We always ate organic at home but definitely cooked the meal centred on a meat source. I was always very active, playing a lot of sports and considered myself to be healthy and conscious, but of course the more you research, the more you realise how you can constantly improve your lifestyle.
Maxine: I previously followed a generally high protein (for the gains, apparently) and low carb diet. In hindsight, I don’t know if I would consider it that healthy anymore ha.
So things have really changed for both of you. Can you walk us through what this change was like?
Juliet: There were some challenges, of course. My biggest struggle was not to “burden” friends when being hosted by someone. But people are so supportive and always make you feel great. A friend made me a vegan tiramisu from scratch the other day! It was so sweet and even opened the conversation about going vegan. Finding healthy alternatives is quite easy, especially in a city like Amsterdam, where you have such great options like TCPJ.
Maxine: There were a few challenges, but I would say the biggest challenge was changing what I thought of animal products while living in a society that perpetuates the opposite. Once you shift your mind-set, it honestly just comes naturally.
It sounds like even though there were some challenges, it was nothing you couldn’t overcome! Now we’re curious: what does a day of vegan eating look like?
Maxine: My breakfast is cooked oats (made with almond milk) topped with some natural peanut butter (it gets all melty) and bananas – an old favourite. For a morning snack, I’ll have hummus with super grain crackers and some dried mango before a hearty vegetable soup with some cape seed bread for lunch. My afternoon snack will be a handful of nuts and a date ball (or 5), and then dinner would be black bean and veggie fajitas with guacamole and salsa. Don’t forget the pickled jalapenos.
Juliet: I eat a lot. And a lot of different foods! For breakfast, I’ll start with oats with some fresh fruit and occasionally coconut yoghurt (that I’m obsessed with!). I’ll add some nuts and seeds for texture and crunch! I love to have an oat milk cappuccino on the go. Lunch will be some sort of bowl with a variety of grains and cooked veggies with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast. Or I’ll have a big, fresh salad of mixed greens with added seeds and some fruit too. Snacks include berries, almond butter on apples or a fresh smoothie. Dinner will be a warm, wholesome cooked meal. We love cooking Thai food, so a green curry is a fave! Made with coconut milk, fresh coriander and a whole lot of delicious veggies! I always cook from scratch, making the paste myself. We love to make Mexican food too, swapping out the meat for a filling and delicious bean dish.
Mmmm you’re making us hungry. Now do you have any great resources for those of us who want to go vegan or already are and merely want inspiration?
Maxine: I would recommend finding a few like-minded individuals in your daily life (being vegan is infectious, I swear). Finding an online community of vegans in your city or country is also helpful, and Instagram is great for farm sanctuaries to remind yourself why you started (@Boochaces is Queen) and daily inspiration for food or otherwise (@DeliciouslyElla and @LiveKindly).
Juliet: Surround yourself with inspiring people online and offline. It’s great to follow inspirational people on Instagram! Join newsletters that are informative. Speak to your friends and family. Learn from them and share your experiences. It’s a great sense of community.
Duly noted! We’re adding those all to our list. Do either of you have any favourite healthy hotspots that are vegan-friendly?
Juliet: In Amsterdam, TCPJ, of course, but also Vegabond. Super yummy! In SA, The Kindred Kitchen in Port Elizabeth.
Maxine: In South Africa, The Kindred Kitchen is also my favourite spot. It has healthy, wholesome vegan food for everyone. In Amsterdam, I also love Vegabond; I am yet to taste a better apple pie in my life, vegan or not. When I’m in Paris, I like Cloud Cakes for healthy treats and Hank for burgers.
So many tasty spots. We can’t wait to try them all! Alright, if you could give us one last piece of advice, what would it be?
Juliet: Your future self will appreciate what you do NOW. It’s never too late to make a change for the better!
Maxine: Remember why you started. Whether it was for the animals, for the planet or your health.