I am so happy to be back with my 5 minute juice series. My aim is to share an inspiring individual and hopefully some pretty good chat with you all weekly, however, with the madness of life it’s not always possible so apologies for the somewhat unplanned vacay from this section of the blog.
Anyways, we’re back and this week I’m juicing with 18 year old Flo from the instagram and youtube channel Plant Lovin’ Flo.I met Flo a while back at an event in London and have been inspired with her positive, sensible and down to earth approaches to food and lifestyle. Her main aim is to spread a message of self-love and confidence, especially to young women, very similar to my own. At 18 however, I can’t say my outlook on life was quite as mature so I wanted to get in touch with Flo to find out a little bit more about what she’s up to, her reasons for adopting a vegan lifestyle and of course, her own views on clean eating and the dangers of social media.
So Flo, you’re allowed to invite 4 other people to dinner and they can be absolutely anyone you like – fictional, real, past, present, who is dining with you?
Oh gosh, there are so many people I would want to meet. Off the top of my head, Michelle Obama, Gina Rodriguez, Lea Michele and Demi Lovato. These women all inspire me to have more confidence, love myself, and be a powerful and strong woman in today’s society. I definitely think we’d have a really stimulating conversation.
So Flo you’re younger than most of the previous 5 minute juicers. Can you tell our readers about your age and what you’re up to in daily life?
I’m 18 and currently balancing college and revision for my A Levels, along with photographing and filming for my Instagram and YouTube channel and trying to explore these passions. It’s a little tricky, but I’m enjoying staying busy, and working on myself, whilst trying to get through these last few months of school.
So you’re a vegan. When did you become a vegan and what are the reasons?
I became vegan about a year and a half ago. I recently found out about the lifestyle through my interest in healthy eating and living. I then spent countless months researching veganism, and after finding out about the environmental and ethical reasons, I knew it was for me. I really think veganism saved me in terms of getting through my past eating disorder. It showed me that every meal could be a conscious and compassionate choice, and also nourish my body and soul.
How do you think foodscapes have changed since you went vegan? How has this impacted you?
Even though I have only been vegan for a short period, the movement has definitely grown over the last year. I am constantly discovering new vegan options in chain restaurants and independent vegan food places. This lifestyle has become more prominent, especially due to social media with the increase in food bloggers, fitness influencers, and the ability to spread a message using platforms like Instagram and YouTube. I think it’s wonderful that this message is being put across in a largely positive way and people are becoming more aware of the events taking place in the meat and dairy industry, and how this affects others and the planet.
A lot of people can be very judgemental of vegans. Is this something you come up against and how do you handle it?
I think I’m lucky as I live in the Brighton area, which is incredibly open to veganism and other more, perhaps, controversial movements. Most of my friends are vegan and my family are accepting of it and do try to accommodate. I do face comments but I feel very confident in what I’m doing and it’s second nature to me now. When I first transitioned to this lifestyle, I definitely felt defensive in my actions, and I felt the urge to share veganism with everyone around me and persuade everyone to do what I was doing. Now, I feel as though I take a more laid back, ‘lead by example’ approach. I live my life, I share a positive message and I make veganism fun. I know that not everyone is ready and willing to take this step and I honestly don’t mind. Even if others are willing to cut back on meat or dairy, or make other actions that help the planet, or are open to eating with me; I think every individual action counts and we need to be more tolerant of others and their own journey.
How do you maintain being a vegan at school or in social situations? It is easy?
My school does do vegan options, but I always bring a packed lunch with me, as it’s cheaper and tastier. 😉 As all of my friends are either vegan or supportive of my choice eating out is always a no brainer and it’s never difficult in social situations. If there is ever a shortage of a vegan option chips, bread, salad, or a mixture of vegetable sides is always an easy choice.
I know that occasionally vegans can suffer from B12 or iron deficiency. It’s definitely not a joke to just go vegan for fun. How do you make sure you get all your nutrients in your diet?
I take a B12 vitamin everyday as this is something I think vegans should supplement. I also take a vegan multivitamin but I think everyone, vegan or not, should take a multivitamin daily just to be on the safe side. I find it really easy to get all my vitamins, including iron. It’s definitely a question of doing research into what food sources contain which vitamins. Iron, for example, can be found in legumes, tofu, seeds and grains. Vegan or not, I think healthy eating is all about eating a variety of foods and finding balance in your choices. My plate always contains a grain like brown rice, a source of protein like tofu, a source of fat like avocado, and lots of veggies. But I’m very much open to grabbing a sushi burrito or a slice of vegan cake in Brighton if my friend drops me a text. I try to eat intuitively, listen to my cravings, and make cooking and eating an enjoyable and stress-free activity.
It’s no secret that a lot of people use labels like veganism to hide disordered eating or to restrict. What advice would you give any young girls thinking about perusing veganism?
My main advice would be to take the process of going vegan slowly. At a young age we have all the time in the world to experiment and work on ourselves. Veganism is a choice that needs to be thought about. For me, I knew veganism would help me recover from my eating disorder and improve my relationship with myself and with food, and it did. But health is your top priority. Veganism can wait. What I would recommend to young girls who want to go vegan, but are struggling with an eating disorder, or unsupportive parents, is to simply explore new vegan recipes, foods and do lots of research. That way, in the future, when you’re ready to go vegan, you’ll have all the knowledge under your belt to do it safely and properly. Veganism is an easy and exciting lifestyle and it’s wonderful to make a positive impact on the planet but there’s no immediate rush. Focus on improving your physical and mental health, before jumping into something that requires time.
What do you think of terms like clean eating? Do you think they can be helpful or unhelpful for vegans?
I think clean eating is an incredibly unhelpful concept. Veganism tends to be categorised in the health and fitness community as a ‘diet’ or a ‘clean eating trend’ but it’s important to remember that it’s an ethical movement and it can be done unhealthily or healthily. In my opinion, any way you want to be vegan is fine – whether that’s eating vegan burgers and brownies or whipping up a veggie stew. I think it’s important to show veganism as an all-inclusive movement, where you don’t have to have a cupboard stocked with speciality foods. I want to show that you can make anything you want vegan, mac & cheese, shepherds pie, delicious pancakes, whatever you fancy.
Social media can be amazing for connecting like-minded people, but it’s also a crazy world out there. What advice would you give to younger girls growing up with social media?
Comparison is the thief of joy. Remember that what you see online is not reality and be aware of the people you follow on social media and the content that you view each and every day. Fill your feed with positive influences. Especially as a young woman it’s important for me to follow other women who support each other, and provide a message of body-confidence and self-love.
What are you post school plans and what are your hopes for the future?
I’m looking forward to taking a year out and thinking about what I want to do, working on a few of my own projects and taking some time out for myself. I think it’s really important for me to focus on now, and try not to worry about what’s going to happen over the next few years, as I know great things lie ahead.
What’s your favourite vegan restaurant / café and what should we order?
As I said I’m super lucky to live in Brighton, where’s there a vegan restaurant at just about every corner, so It’s very tricky to pick just one. ‘Infinity Foods’ is a vegetarian/vegan shop that sells the most delicious smoked tofu and tofu scramble sandwiches, and I often pick those up as a quick lunch. I also love ‘The Guarana Company‘ which serves delicious acai bowls, complete with banana, granola, agave syrup and strawberries.