Holly White is determined to show us all that it is possible to live a life that’s slightly vegan-ish, and as she launches her first cookbook we pick her brains on all things food
Are you interested in eating a more plant-based diet but don’t want to commit to becoming vegan full time? Then Holly’s You Tube channel might just be the solution to all your problems
What made you decide to adopt a plant-based diet?
I watched a lot of documentaries including Cowspiracy and Forks Over Knives and I made the connection between what I was eating and the environmental impact and really wanted to make a difference both for my health and animal ethics.
And is that why you decided to study nutrition?
Well my degree is in fashion journalism, over a decade ago at this stage, but also in terms of food once I realised that I needed to educate myself I completed several cooking courses both in Ireland, London and also LA. I also completed a certificate in plant-based nutrition with Cornell University to better understand the health impact of plant-based eating.
Where should people start if they want to start adopting a plant-based diet?
I think the easiest change is cutting out dairy. There are countless links between dairy and skin condition and personally for me my skin cleared up completed once I removed it from my diet. There are so many plant-based alternatives now also. I know baristas favour oat milk. I make my own almond milk at home twice a week and it’s so easy to substitute whether it’s in cereal or smoothies or coffee.
How did you stay dedicated in the beginning
Once I knew why I was doing this it became much easier. I would recommend if people are interested in changing their diets to watch a few documentaries or read books like The China Study. I view it as a long-term investment in my health and knowing nothing has to die for me to live makes me love the decision I made.
What’s been the biggest change you’ve noticed since changing your diet?
Most importantly I feel a great sense of peace in knowing nothing has to unnecessarily die for me to live. On a physical level my skin is so much softer and has a glow to it that it never had before.
Did you struggle to find balance in the beginning?
Initially, before I knew how to cook really satisfying main courses, I ate way too much pasta and sweet potato fries. Now I’m familiar with and consume more vegan proteins such as beans, lentils and tofu and I don’t crave the sweet stuff as much. In terms of eating out I prioritise enjoying the fact that I am out with my friends, which as a lot of them have babies and their hands full, is a treat. I can always work around a menu but if it’s a special meal, like a birthday, I would email the restaurant in advance. It’s amazing how helpful places can be, if you give them notice.
The book is called Vegan-ish, do you think veganism is something we can dip in and out of?
Like any big lifestyle change slowly but surely often wins out over dramatic changes. I wanted the book to be inviting and accessible. Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose. It’s incredibly vast and not a quick lifestyle change to easily make.There are many ways to embrace vegan living, but a few small changes in diet are usually the first steps. The book has lots of recipes that whether you’re vegan or not, are totally delicious.
What’s your favourite recipe in the book?
The vegan shepard’s pie is really satisfying and comforting as we come into the colder months. Also the cacao and chia cookies are so tasty. I’d recommend both!
What five ingredients do you always have in your fridge?
Almonds, dairy free milk, tofu, avocado and good sourdough bread!
What’s your favourite five minute meal?
A quick stir fry with some leftover rice is always good. I add some cashew nuts for crunch and tamari or miso dressing, which is really rich and savoury. I also have lots of smoothie recipes I turn to all the time. They can be thrown together in minutes if I need something to tide me over.
What would people be surprised to see in your fridge?
I’m really into fermentation and make my own kombucha and kefir. But currently I am resting the scoby, the bacteria you use to make it, and it’s very freaky. Not a nice sight if you’re not used to it.
Vegan-ish by Holly White (Gill Books) is available from 31 August
READ MORE: 9 things to consider before becoming vegan