This weeks interview is with the gorgeous Viva La Vegan founder Leigh-Chantelle. Viva La Vegan is one of my favourite sites, when I need some cooking inspiration, this is one of the places I visit most. So grab a cup of herbal infused tea and be inspired by Leigh-Chantelle’s kindness, compassion and knowledge.
Leigh-Chantelle lives mostly in sunny Brisbane, Australia where she runs the online vegan community Viva la Vegan! (vivalavegan.net), the not-for-profit environmental awareness Green Earth Group (greenearthgroup.org), as well as coordinates Online Etiquette Education and Social Media Marketing with Epicentre Equilibrium (epicentreequilibrium.com).
Leigh-Chantelle believes in the rights of all beings, networking, surrounding herself with people on the same life path as her and she is a bit obsessed with quinoa. You can find Leigh-Chantelle, Viva la Vegan!, Green Earth Group & Epicentre Equilibrium on FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and iTunes.
What inspired you to lead a holistic lifestyle?
I have respect for myself, our planet and all the inhabitants within, including our animal friends and our human friends from all corners of the globe.
David Herbert Lawrence says it well: “I am part of the sun as my eye is part of me. That I am part of the earth my feet know perfectly, and my blood is part of the sea.If something hurts our planet, our brothers and sisters or our animal friends, it will sooner or later hurt us. It’s time to make some changes and encourage others to be the change we seek”.
What does a holistic lifestyle mean to you?
Living in balance with oneself and the universe. I studied Naturopathy, Nutrition and Western Herbal medicine and know that physical symptoms come from underlying emotional, mental, spiritual, environmental and sometimes generational symptoms that need to be addressed.
Though I struggle sometimes with getting the balance right, life is all about making time to do the things you love, spend time with the people you like, work in a job that inspires you, participate in exercises you enjoy, have some alone time and sleep soundly.
It means living from off the plants that Nature has given us to all thrive, not participating in killing or abusing other humans or animals and looking after our universe. Making sure your life and health is balanced so you don’t get sick, or if you get sick, treat the actual root cause with natural (Traditional & Eastern) medicines and therapies and not just suppress the symptoms with allopathic (Western) pharmaceuticals.
How do you keep yourself healthy and in balance?
I learned the hard way to take time out for myself. I work pretty hard doing a variety of vegan and environmental activism, running and maintaining websites, working in Social Media Marketing and writing and compiling books and I sometimes forget to take time out and rest properly. This is about the time my body will shut down and actually make me stop. It shouldn’t get to this stage.
Now I take time to sit in the sun for breakfast and lunch, hang out with positive and inspiring friends on the same life path as me, do yoga or laps in the pool. When the AFL (Australian Football League) season is on, I always take time out of my busy schedule to watch my team the Brisbane Lions play each game and even attend some live games. I also love music in all its forms. I’ve taken almost two years away from performing and writing music but am about to get back into it and be more creative musically.
What food principles do you personally embrace?
I eat a well-balanced, plant-based, low-fat, whole foods, nutritious, vegan diet – full of all the essential vitamins and minerals I need and don’t harm any of my animal friends in the process. I’ve been a vegan for over 15 years now and it was the best thing I did to truly connect to myself and everyone else more. I rarely eat wheat, don’t eat deep fried food or soft drinks and try hard not to eat too much sugar, as it can sometimes become an addiction for me.
What is your typical day like and what would you eat?
I wake up around 8am, drink my lemon juice and bicarb soda mix, make a lemon and ginger tea, have a shower and then do some yoga and eat my breakfast in the sun. Most mornings, I have freshly squeezed vegetable juice and chia pudding made from chia seeds and brown rice milk. I have recently been combining the chia pudding with natural vegan coconut yoghurt, which is grand. I normally read a book, magazine or the paper when I eat my breakfast and finish with my lemon and ginger tea.
I start work on the computer around 9am and check my emails and Social Media sites. I normally have lunch around 12-2 depending if I have meetings or have some running around to do. I try to have my lunch outside in the sun if possible, or at least away from my office. Lunch is generally leftovers from the night before as I love leftovers. If I don’t have leftovers, I have rye or sourdough toast with coconut oil, avocado and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper, sometimes with vegan cream cheese. I like a snack in the afternoon around 3-4pm and it’s normally corn chips with vegan cream cheese, kale or vege sticks with homemade hummus or some toast with crunchy peanut butter.
I cook dinner quite early as I like to get it out of the way, or put something on that simmers for awhile, or at the very least I’ll prepare the food for the meal I’ll make later. I like to make easy to prepare meals in bulk so I don’t have to cook every night and can have leftovers. I make stir fries often with whatever vegetables I have in the fridge and whatever legumes I have in the cupboard. There’s nothing better than a simple brown rice and quinoa mix with kale, zucchini and okra with dried chili, coriander, nutritional yeast flakes and maybe a dash of Bragg’s liquid seasoning (soy sauce alternative.) I am also obsessed with quinoa so many of my dishes have red, black and white quinoa featured. I also like chick peas in stir fries and curries.
I normally finish my workday at 7pm, have dinner and take some time out to read a book, catch up with friends on the phone or in person or watch some television. I enjoy courtroom dramas and reality shows.
What are some food staples in your current diet?
My absolute favourite foods are quinoa, chia and kale. I also like zucchini in pretty much every meal I cook. Chili, coriander, ginger and nutritional yeast flakes are my seasonings of choice. Coconut oil is also great on toast and if you need oil to cook, though I rarely cook with oil.
Can you share with us a favorite recipe or dish?
What is something that your grateful for in your life today?
I’m grateful to my friends who are family and my family who are friends. I’m grateful for my health, my successes, my skills, abilities and passions and most of all I’m grateful that I know I can make a difference by leading by example to show that a compassionate lifestyle is the answer to healing our planet.
You can connect with Claire also over at her Google + profile and at her other two other blogs Travelosophy and Work Play Stay Australia. You can read Claire's full profile here.