Real Vegans: Clara Bell
This week's Real Vegans Interview comes from Clara Bell! Clara is 29 and living in California. She has been vegan for just about 10 years and is currently completing her master's degree in counseling psychology! Her go-to meal would be a tofu and veggie rice bowl that she makes. Her favorite way to start the day is with a nice big cup of coffee with a splash of Oatly barista milk! Keep reading to learn more about Clara's story!
How long ago did you become vegan?
I was on and off for the first 3 years of my journey but the last 7 years I've consistently been vegan. During those first 3 years I was struggling a lot with being under weight and my doctor was saying I need to eat x, y and z foods to gain weight. So, back then it was all about putting on weight really fast. I also didn't know how to make a fully vegan meal and I didn't have the energy to try. It was more about how can I quickly take in a bunch of food in order to put on this weight.
What were your emotions/thoughts during those 3 years?
To me I was just going through the motions. I wasn't enjoying my meals but it was what I had to do to put weight on. There was totally some disspointment and boredom when it came to my eating.
Why did you become vegan?
It was very much about animal liberation and politics aroud how animals are treated and marketed! That was all just so wrong to me. I also feel better physcially being vegan. But my main motivators were for animals' welfare and environmental purposes.
Was it difficult transitioning?
It wasn't so much of a transition for me, I just made the immediate change. I was really fortunate though because one of my good friends had been vegan for a long time and he would send me recipes and teach me how to cook. He was really supportful and helpful! We would go to Native Co together, which was the only place to go at the time that had vegan options but it was an hour away so it was a special treat. He made food very exciting for me!
What are some resources you use for vegan eating?
Luckily up here there is a lot of acess to produce and I use the internet for recipes. The Vegetarian Flavor Bible is also a really great book to see what foods go together and how to create meals around that! I also go to a lot of natural food stores or co-ops. I've been cooking for myself for so long now that I can go anywhere and find items to put together to make a good meal.
Is it difficult finding vegan foods?
For the most part I know what meals I like to make so I can go pick up those ingredients. But if I want cookies I'll grab some vegan cookies. Some weeks I'll grab bagels and cream cheese and that will be my breakfast for the week. It just depends on my mood! I really love Kite Hill's chive cream cheese for my bagels and their plain flavor for making pastries.
Favorite guilty vegan food pleasure?
Probably depends on my mood but I like the Ben & Jerry's vegan half-baked ice cream! Ice cream in general I love. I never feel guilty about it though!
What are some of your favorite Mylk Guys items?
I love the JUST Egg and the So Delicious oat milk ice cream is so good! I also love making nachos and tacos with Cena Vegan meat. Recenly I've been getting some of the candy bars, specifically the Jokerz bar with carmel, I really like that one!
Is there any food you miss that you can't find now that you're vegan?
No, with all of the expansions that have been going on it's really easy to find vegan alternatives. It's weird because I would have said yes a while ago, like I used to miss cream cheese but as soon as I tried Kite Hill I was like yay I can have bagels again! There's also this bakery in Portland called Sweetpea Baking Company that has really great danishes and I didn't realize I missed danishes until having those!
Favorite celebrity vegan?
I don't think I have one, maybe Ellen Page!
What did you have last night for dinner or what is your go-to meal?
So I've been making this rice bowl lately where I'll roast sweet potatoes, broccoli and brussel sprouts in oil and pepper. Then I'll pan fry tofu with oil, garlic, and chili powder until it browns. Once the tofu browns I'll coat it with a soy sauce and maple syrup combination. Then I'll steam or chop some greens and put it all together with rice. Finally I'll take some sirracha and veganaise to make a sauce to pour on top and finish it off with some cilantro. It's so good!
What can the vegan community be doing to make it easier for others to transition to a vegan diet?
There's all of these sterotypes about being vegan that need to change. People put their smoothie bowls and fresh produce on Instagram while saying they feel great being vegan. Usually you just see that same type of vegan all over social media and it makes people feel guilty that they're not doing that exact routine. It can be really intimating when you see all of that. I think we need to acknowledge that that are more people in the vegan community than those that go to yoga and can buy organic produce. And also sometimes the food you make isn't aesthtically pleasing but it tastes so good, but you don't see that content on social media, you see kiwi cut up in the shape of a heart. So I think the expectation from what we see on social media isn't always realsitic. We just have a lack of diverse representation in the vegan community that we need to change.
That's all for this week's Real Vegans Interview! Thanks Clara!