Thank you for making your way to my blog! Whether you’re interested in taking a plant-based cooking course, are vegan-curious, or just looking for a little recipe inspo – I’m so glad you’re here.
Before we dig into my course chronicling and recipe sharing, I wanted to share a bit about my path to going vegan, my lifelong passion for food, and what emboldened me to take this rather large leap into enrolling in Future Food Institute’s culinary academy (it’s going to take me about a year, so it was actually a fairly big decision)! But, I’m here for it.
Like most of us, I grew up eating meat and dairy every day. My mom’s cooking, albeit simple, can be characterized by lots of chilis, pot pies, and enchilada casseroles. My dad’s cooking was a bit more unique, being Portuguese and heavily influenced by my Grandmother’s phenomenal cooking and the surrounding Meditteranean; we ate many traditional dishes such as bacalhau (cod fish), feijoada (a chorizo and bean dish), and lombo de porco (roasted pork loin).
My parents split at an early age, so I experienced more traditional Americana with my mom, and a very distinct Portuguese fare at my dad’s and whenever we visited Portugal in the summers – and with my varied experience brought an early appreciation for food, flavor, the culture behind it all. And though being an only child growing up in two households had its challenges, there was certainly a silver lining in being able to experience two very distinct types of food and culture that shaped me into the person I am today.
All of this food, the memories it brings, and love for the people who made it hold such a special place in my heart, and are the impetus for my natural draw toward the culinary world – and yes, I characterize myself as a vegan now and no longer consume animal products, but I wouldn’t trade those years for anything. It’s a part of what’s made me, me.
As for my shift to plant-forward eating, the conduit actually lied within a job I took a few years ago for what was then a newly-formed franchise division of MUSE School, in that their education model teaches children to be environmentally attuned and understand how their choices have a direct impact on the planet. As an adult, I’d felt this was information I’d lacked in my education, and the more I learned about animal agriculture’s role in climate change, the more I felt compelled to reduce my footprint by consuming more consciously in all areas of my life, particularly with respect to what I put on my plate.
And this change didn’t happen overnight, and I think everyone’s journey should and will look very different. I went in at about 75% plant-based around June of 2019, then over the next couple of months I eventually cut out all animal products. I’ll dedicate future posts to sharing more about that shift, but in summary, I did it my way. And, it completely changed my life.
The next year, the world was confronted with Covid-19. In March 2020 I went home to Sonoma County to be with my mom and stepdad, who sadly passed from cancer in May 2021. I’ll share more about him in future posts, but I wanted to highlight that during such challenging times, the moments that stand out to me are the ones in which I was cooking for my parents and enjoying a plant-based meal with them in the evenings. It was one of the few simple pleasures during those uncertain weeks and months, and despite the fact that they weren’t vegan, those shared evenings together brought me so much joy, and it brought people – my people – together.
I was cooking up a storm as a way to stay creatively engaged and was experimenting with new ways to make incredible vegan food, and realized how much I wanted to share how vibrant this way of cooking and living could be – and how much fun you could have with it. Vegan food can be decadent, sumptuous, comforting, and nourishing all at once. It’s colorful and full of life. It’s brought me so much purpose to create recipes I loved, share them with people I loved, and all without harming the planet, animals, or my health.
Once I returned to LA last summer, I continued cooking. As my career situation fluctuated, my attention was pulled elsewhere for a few months. But as I got busier and less connected to my food, I realized how much this disconnect impacted me. And I think that’s something we can all be guilty of – eating and living for convenience. But if this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s the importance of slowing down and making time for what fills you up – physically, emotionally, and intellectually.
When I realized I’d been straying from my passion, I decided to take a leap and enroll in Future Food Institute’s culinary academy (my next post goes into why I chose this particular course – there are quite a few of them out there)! I wanted to really refine my skills and deepen my knowledge of the culinary world – all through the lens of plant-based cooking.
So that’s what brings me here today. Thank you so much for taking the time to read a bit more about my “why,” and I hope you continue to following along.