vegan tips

INTERVIEW WITH KENDEN FROM JEWISH FOOD HERO

My JGV Interview series is making a comeback and I am really excited to kick it off with an interview with the lovely and inspiring Kenden from Jewish Food Hero. From travelling the world working with the UN and NGOs, to being a working mum, to writing an awesome blog and cook book, Kenden has a wealth of knowledge and experience to share. I have absolutely loved hearing more about her journey and lifestyle and I’m positive you all will too ►▷►

Q: How did your vegan journey start, what were your main inspirations and influences?

When I was 12 years old, I became a vegetarian after reading a part of a simple book about Mahatma Gandhi.  His commitment to nonviolence in all aspects in his life, including food, inspired me to change the way that I ate. As I became an adult and started traveling all over the world as an aid worker, I started to see and experience more traditional food cultures, which are starch centered (rice, corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes).  During my overseas experience, I read the Starch Solution.  This book coupled with my field experience reaffirmed my commitment to plant based eating.   
JEWISH FOOD HERO

Q: You have an awesome blog – Jewish Food Hero, tell us all about how you got into blogging and the inspiration behind JFH.

I yearned for healthier Jewish food options that were modern, plant based and beautiful. When I couldn’t find recipes that inspired me for the holidays, I created my own.

Shortly thereafter I started Jewish Food Hero to share recipes and inspire other Jewish women to include healthier foods on their tables. At it’s core, Jewish Food Hero is a place that nourishes the minds, bodies, and spirits of women around the globe. I also provide inspiring and beautiful resources, such as the luxe letterpress holiday calendar, to support women as they engage in Jewish life.

JEWISH FOOD HERO BLOG

Q: As well as creating Jewish Food Hero, you’ve spent 10 years working with the United Nations and NGOs which has taken you all over the world. I’d love to hear more about your fascinating career and travels and how you maintained a vegan diet whilst travelling?

Since 2005, I have lived in worked in five countries (India, Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Switzerland and Cambodia) in addition to traveling a lot in Africa, Asia and Europe.  At the beginning of this global experience, I stopped being exclusively vegan for one year as an experiment.  At the time, I was not sure how to negotiate my food preferences with the multicultural experience I was having.  To put it simply, I did not want to go around saying “no” to people who wanted to share their cultural foods with me.  My health deteriorated during this year.

Looking back, I feel grateful that I had a non-vegan experience with food because it showed me two important things.  First, it is showed me that I like creating an inviting atmosphere around food (it really is more fun to say “yes” than “no”).  It is important to me to be kind to others and allow them to share with me.  Sharing food is a common gesture in every culture.  Second, it allowed me to recommit to eating plant based as an adult.  Plant based eating is the best choice for me because it aligns with my values and it makes me feel physically well.  

Now, I find it very simple and exciting to be a vegan as I travel.  There are so many vegetarian and vegan restaurants now (I use the Happy Cow app and search “vegan food in city X” on Google to find healthy places to eat wherever I am).

Q: Where in the world have you found the best vegan food?

For me, Asia!

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam: Hum Vegetarian Restaurant and Cafe offers an ambiance that is beautiful and well thought out. Each dish is plated beautifully, and the food was fresh and delicious. The restaurant tagline is “Peace comes from within” and this is indeed how I felt eating there, both during and after the experience.  

Bali, Indonesia: I ate a beautiful organic vegan meal at Liat Solomons Down to Earth Cafe.  The cafe feels aligned with Solomon’s values to create a business that is grounded in love,  non-violence and health-conscious living.

Kyoto, Japan: Zen Vegetarian lunch at the Tenryu-ji Temple is nourishing and peaceful.  The meal in this Zen monastery “is just enough to satisfy the palate and the soul.”

Q: They all sound great! I love finding delicious vegan eateries when travelling. What are your top tips for someone travelling as a vegan?

Transform anxiety into excitement:  Looking back, when I had a hard time being vegan, it was less about the geographic location and more about me.  When I was younger, I was less willing to speak up about my food preferences.  I had in my mind that I was holding onto a perspective that I might burden others, or that my preferences indicated that I was “difficult” or “controlling” about food.

Ask for what you want and be specific:  When I travel now, I create laminated business sized cards that say “I eat vegan. No Meat. No fish. No dairy (milk, butter, yogurt). No oil.” in the local language.  When I go to restaurants, I show this to the server so they know help me order food that meets my preferences.

Eat your starches:  Eating simple starches every day will keep you energized and your digestive system in good shape as you travel.  My favorites are rice (white and brown), potatoes and sweet potatoes.  

Q: I love the idea of carrying a card in the local language explaining your dietary needs – I’ll definitely use that tip when I visit Asia later this year! Now, onto your delicious cook book, what kind of recipes does it contain and do you have an absolute favourite?

Jewish Food Hero Cookbook: 50 Simple Plant-Based Recipes for Your Holiday Meals offers simple and healthy recipes for 10 major Jewish Holidays.  The recipes align with what we know about the benefits of plant-based food, and pull from our Jewish traditional and symbolic dishes. That said, anyone can enjoy these recipes!

A Sweet Squash Spread that can be served with apple slices, break-fast Cardamom Coffee Cake, Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie… I can’t choose!

If you’d like to get a taste of what’s in the cookbook, you can download my mock chopped liver recipe. It is delicious, healthy and touches at our Jewish food memories.  It is a savory dip made from mushrooms and walnuts and can be enjoyed on a salad or as a spread on healthy bread and crackers.  

JEWISH FOOD HERO COOK BOOK

Q: If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life what would it be?

I would (and will) eat simple meals for the rest of my life.  For me, this means centering my meals around a starch (brown rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc), and eating a variety and good quantity of vegetables and a bit of fruit every day.

jewish food hero plate

Q: Describe a day in the life of Kenden.

My daily routine and  schedule is that of a working mother in perhaps a somewhat exotic location.  Here are some details that happen daily:

Early Rise: I wake up very early and try to have 30 minutes to one hour to myself before the rest of my family wakes up.  I drink 1 liter of water with apple cider vinegar or lemon and then enjoy a fresh cup of coffee.  I sit quietly, pray, and/or do some intentional reading as a way to grounding myself for the day.

Family: I became a mother in 2010.  My daily rhythm includes caretaking: making and sharing meals, brushing teeth, reading together, practicing piano, bedtime rituals, and school drop-offs and pick-ups.

Move my body: 4-5 days per week, I do some type of physical movement.  For the last years, I have been enjoying barre3, yogaglo and pilates anytime.   

Work: Quite simply, when my daughter is at school, my heart and mind are devoted to Jewish Food Hero.

Community:  I create community mostly through cooking and sharing meals.  Our family sits down together to share 2-3 meal a day. I connect with 2 close female friends per week via skype and by going out to coffee together.  We happily invite guests (the more the better) to our table every Shabbat dinner (Friday night).  

Q: Do you have a favourite inspirational quote to leave us with?

inspiring quote

Thank you so much to Kenden for sharing her story with us! To find out more about Kenden, head over to her blog jewishfoodhero.com ♥

I started a YouTube channel!

Hi guys!

I have some exciting news to share with you all today…

▹▸▹▸ I STARTED A YOUTUBE CHANNEL!!!

This is something I’ve been thinking about doing for a while now and I’m so excited I finally did it! I’m hoping this will be a great way for you guys to know me even better and I’m looking forward to sharing lots of fun and (hopefully) helpful content with you all! I’m planning on creating a wide range of videos including vegan tips, travel vlogs, beauty videos and recipes – what do you guys think? I want to create videos you’ll all enjoy so please let me know if you have any requests/ideas of things you’d like to see!?

You can check out the first video I uploaded here:

I’d love to hear what you guys thought of it and if you have a youtube channel, please let me know in the comments so I can go and check it out!

Jade xxx

Top tips for going vegan in 2015

As today is the last day of 2014, I’ve been reflecting on the past year and all of its ups and downs. Transitioning into a vegan lifestyle and starting this blog is by far one of the best things that has happened to me this year. Not only am much healthier now, but I also feel so much happier in the knowledge that I am living a cruelty-free lifestyle. I feel really fortunate to have been able to connect with so many like-minded people through my blog and instagram, and have loved promoting a kind lifestyle. Over the past 6 months, I have received a lot of questions from people considering the vegan lifestyle, particularly with regards to how I made the transition and if I’ve faced any challenges. So for my final post of 2014, I thought it’d be fun to share my top 5 tips for transitioning into a vegan lifestyle.top tips for going vegan

Before I get into my top tips, I thought I’d share a funny little story with you all. Before publishing a post, I usually ask someone to proofread it for me to catch any silly spelling mistakes I’ve inevitably made. This post’s proofreader, who wishes to remain anonymous, suggested I change ‘the lifestyle’ to ‘the vegan lifestyle’ in the opening paragraph as apparently it refers to swingers (I’m not sure how they know this ;)?!) At first I thought they were pulling my leg but after a quick google, it turns out it’s true. So if you’re looking for some interesting NYE reading, just google ‘the lifestyle’. Anyway, back to my top 5 tips for transitioning into a vegan lifestyle; I hope you all find them helpful!

Visit your local health food store and get creative in the kitchen

One of my favourite things about going vegan has been learning how to cook. I used to be what you would call a ‘junk-food vegetarian’, surviving on a whole lot of pizza and pasta. However, I love that I now have a reason to get into the kitchen and create healthier and cruelty-free versions of some of my old favourite dishes. I have also loved discovering lots of exciting new health foods which has led to an improvement in my overall wellbeing – a huge but unexpected benefit of this lifestyle.

food art

Educate yourself about the meat, dairy and egg industries

As a lifelong vegetarian who didn’t use any products that were tested on animals or wear any leather clothing, I thought my lifestyle was about as cruelty-free as they come. However, when I started to expose myself to the hidden truths behind the dairy and egg industries, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t gone vegan sooner! Understanding the cruelty of factory farming, as well as the health and sustainability benefits of a vegan lifestyle will give you a good foundation for making the transition. Personally, just doing some online reading was enough to make me want to go vegan but if you’re looking to learn more about a vegan lifestyle there are some great documentaries out there such as: Cowspiracy, Forks over Knives, Earthlings and Vegucated.

cute micro pig

Go as slow as you need

Having been a vegetarian for the majority of my life, I didn’t find the transition into a vegan diet too difficult. However, I can imagine that for a meat eater it would be a huge change. I started with ‘vegan mondays’ that quickly turned into vegan tuesdays, wednesdays and before I knew it, I was eating entirely vegan. I think it’s really important to make the transition in whichever way works best for you, whether you’re able to cut out all animal products straight away, or whether it takes you a couple of weeks, or a couple of months.

vegan cauliflower cocktail

Ask questions and do lots of research

I love connecting with other vegans, as being newly vegan in a non-vegan world can be quite daunting, so it’s really nice to chat to other people who share your passion and can offer advice. I have really enjoyed  getting to know some lovely and inspiring vegans through my JGV interview series which you can check out here. I’d also recommend reading lots of vegan blogs for inspiration on everything from cruelty-free fashion, to vegan recipes, to tips on the best places to eat out. One of my favourite sources of vegucatation is Alicia Silverstone’s website The Kind Life and I would highly recommend you check it out.

alicia-silverstone

Never let the haters get you down

There will inevitably be people who disagree with your lifestyle choice and want to let you know about it. I don’t like to get into negative conversations, so whenever possible I try to briefly explain to people why I chose this lifestyle and that it works for me and then change the subject. However, if people don’t want to accept it, I’ve  found that the best way to deal with it is, in the words of the absolute goddess that is Taylor Swift, to ‘Shake it off!’

Taylor-Swift-Shake-It-Off

I hope these tips are helpful for any of you considering going vegan and if you have any more tips or even questions, feel free to leave a comment in the box below. I hope you all have a great NYE and I’m looking forward to expanding the blog and connecting with even more of you in 2015!