I grew up in Israel and Mediterranean is part of my cooking style by default, I come from a house where food was a main subject. My father is Polish and my mother is Romanian. My mother taught me cooking within an Eastern European tradition. As a family we were fortunate to be able to travel and try flavors from around the world, a privilege I'm grateful to be able to continue today.
Estee Raviv. Photo Courtesy of Oy Vey Vegan
I wrote the cookbook Oy Vey Vegan both for those who are already using plant-based recipes and for people who want to make a positive change in their life and have a healthy diet but do not know how. I think of food as preventative medicine.
I wasn't always a vegan chef. When I lived in Israel, I had a high-end custom jewelry business, but I was always attracted to the kitchen. Now I live with my husband and three children in Portland, Oregon. They've taste-tested all of the recipes in Oy Vey Vegan for me. I taught my family the value of good, healthy meals, and exposed them to as much variety as possible. Developing recipes with them is a lot of fun.[thb_image full_width="true" alignment="center" image="9774" img_size="full"]
Making the change to a plant-based diet made me feel a lot better. It completely changed my life. First of all, my energy levels increased. For the first time in my life my digestive system was working as designed. People don't like to talk about their digestive problems but it is so important to keep your body balanced. When I stopped eating dairy, my skin became so much healthier, smoother. After completing my research, I discovered for sure that dairy is what caused my acne. I want to tell the world that if you have skin problems, stop eating dairy; your skin will get better in no time.
Becoming vegan opened my eyes to a whole new, fascinating world. I learned so much about ingredients and how foods can heal.
Here are ten misconceptions people have about being vegan.
1. Eating vegan food is not satisfying or filling.
If you eat whole grains, a vegan diet is very filling. Eating enough plant-based protein such as tempeh, tofu, and legumes combined with vegetables will leave you satisfied.
2. Vegans don't get enough calcium in their diet because they don't drink cow milk.
The truth is that calcium exists in larger amounts in a lot of the green veggies—such as broccoli, bok choy, kale, collard greens, okra—and also in almonds, black beans, and many other plants, than in cow milk
3. Vegans don't eat enough protein because protein comes mainly from meat.
The truth is that there are high levels of protein in soybeans, and soy products, such as tempeh and tofu. You can also find high levels of protein in black lentils, nuts, peanut butter, and, in general, all the legumes.
4. Vegans don't get enough iron.
Vegans can eat a lot of iron in high levels, which exists in spinach, parsley, and raisins. Sometimes iron will not absorb in the body like with animal products and therefore vegans need to take supplements. However, if you combine iron with citrus it will help absorption in your body.
5. Vegan food is expensive.
I always say that vegan food is not only cheaper, but if you invest in fruits and vegetables, you may not need to spend so much money in the future on medicine. Being mindful about what you eat may prevent sicknesses in the future. Preventative medicine is definitely the future.
6. Vegans eat only lettuce and seeds.
Vegan food can be so versatile, rich and complex, much more so than just eating meat and potatoes.
7. Vegans are weak.
There are marathon runners and weightlifters that eat a plant-based diet. If you eat a healthy whole grain diet; there is no reason to be weak. You can eat vegan and eat really unhealthy. If you eat chips and salsa all day, cookies, and sugar, and vegan processed food, it might bring you down. Eating a healthy plant-based diet is key.
8. Only hippies are vegans.
Vegans can be anyone who thinks that this is the best way for them to live, for different reasons: animal rights, health benefits, allergies, etc. Do I look like a hippie?
9. A vegan lifestyle is hard to keep.
The truth is that being vegan is a state of mind, and it's not hard at all. Like any other diet, planning your meals will help you eat the right things. Plan your meals in the beginning of your week. Being prepared ahead of time is key. Making tempeh instead of chicken, takes the same amount of time and effort.
10. Vegans get sick a lot more.
When you eat vegan food and your body is balanced, your immune system gets stronger and you don't get sick as often—or definitely not more than meat eaters. Studies show that eating a plant-based diet can help prevent major cancers and disease. Don't wait to be sick to change your diet.
Oy vey can be translated to “Oh no!" Too many people shy away from vegan foods because they think of them as bland or difficult to make. Having a plant-based diet can be easy and incredibly rewarding and it can do wonders for one's health. I want people to feel good about themselves and reflect that positive outlook on the world. So I became a chef. My wish is to teach others that you shouldn't be afraid to try new things and explore in the kitchen. I want to give my students a culinary fearlessness.
Eat whole foods, grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts—everything that is close to its original form. Also, try to eliminate processed food completely. When you start reading the ingredients on any package that you get in the store, you'll be surprised by the amount of preservatives, chemicals, and oils that they contain, and all kinds of things that you can't even pronounce. If you can't pronounce them, don't eat them—they are possibly not good for you. Most of the recipes in Oy Vey Vegan are gluten-free, and the few that aren't can be modified easily.
It is a lot easier than you think to eat plant-based food from scratch. For new vegans, I recommend my roasted vegetable quinoa-crust pizza. It is great for dinner It includes a balanced meal—quinoa protein, good oils, colorful vegetables. It is filling, delicious, and healthy. Pizza doesn't need to have cheese. All of my patties are great additions to any salad or side dish. I have a large section of patties and they are all good choices to start with.
Being a cookbook author, food blogger, and chef is a lot of work. I do all my own food photography. I teach cooking classes, and am a public speaker. I'm a regular guest on the most popular morning show in Oregon, AMNorthwest on KATU (channel 2), doing vegan cooking segments. I believe that preventative medicine is the future, and it's never too late to make the change. It is my dream to spread the love for healthy, creative food through my own cooking show one day.
When their frustration with current fabric care options had fashionistas Gwen Whiting and Lindsey Boyd worn out, the two entrepreneurs made it their mission to start a new niche and launch their very own at-home, eco-friendly laundry detergent line.
With a mission of turning an everyday domestic chore into a luxurious experience, these entrepreneurs not only conjured up an idea for an unconventional product line, but they successfully built their business while turning down the offer of every venture capitalist to knock on their door.
Gwen Whiting and Lindsey Boyd co-founded The Laundress in 2004 after dealing with their own personal frustrations with limited clothing care options. Whiting, having worked at Ralph Lauren in design and Boyd having worked at Chanel in corporate sales, soon accumulated a stylish wardrobe of designer pieces as perks of their jobs in the fashion industry. However, the duo quickly realized that the maintenance required for upkeeping these items were far from adequate. Laundry products on the market at the time did not cater to delicate textures and fabrics such as tweed blazers, cable-knit cashmere and silk blouses. Taking their clothing to the dry cleaners also proved hopeless as their clothing would often come back with stains or even be ruined despite the overload of chemicals used to clean them. With nowhere left to turn, Whiting and Boyd were determined to create their own laundry solutions designed for specific fabrics.
Not only did the entrepreneurs develop the business expertise needed to finally begin their own company, but they also shared the same educational background that equipped them to pursue their unconventional business venture. Whiting and Boyd met in college as students at Cornell University majoring in Fiber Science, Textile, and Apparel Management and Design. The pair was introduced by a mutual friend and instantly knew they would become business partners. "It was inevitable that we were going to have a business together. We are both extremely entrepreneurial by nature, and it was one of the connections that we instantly shared" said Whiting. After focusing on pursuing their own individual careers for a while, Whiting and Boyd quickly discovered a void in the fabric care marketplace when their clients would continuously inquire about the upkeep of their designer pieces.
The entrepreneurial duo was committed to researching and developing their own eco-friendly laundry products and soon launched their own at-home solutions for specific fabrics like silk, wool and denim, which ultimately eliminated the need for dry cleaning for those particular items. Despite their products filling a necessary void in the market, it quickly became challenging for the founders to persuade people to shift their focus away from traditional laundry care options in order to try their products. However, Whiting and Boyd believed in their mission for the Laundress and bootstrapped from the very beginning, refusing all venture capital funding with the goal of growing organically. In order to be successful, they had to get creative in fundraising. "In the very early days, we funded business development by hosting a 'for profit' party at a New York City restaurant and inviting friends, family, co-workers, etc. to support our new venture. That was pre-Kickstarter and an inventive way to make everyone feel a big part of our decision to be entrepreneurs," said Whiting.
While turning down VC funding as new entrepreneurs seems unimaginable, it is as equally unfathomable to consider how these women gained national traction without social media, all the while hustling to fund their business. For Whiting and Boyd, who started their business before social media existed, it was imperative that they promote their brand by leveraging the resources they had available to them. The CEO's were one of the first to sell consumer goods, let alone detergent, online with the goal of reaching a national audience. Despite having limited retail distribution, they leveraged the power of their website and became featured in publications on both a national and international scale. "Before social media platforms existed, we nurtured our own Laundress community with engaging content on our website, step-by-step tutorials on our blog, and one-on-one communication through our Ask The Laundress email," Whiting explained. With technology evolving and the birth of social media platforms, the founders expanded the conversation about their products from website, blog and email to platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
As female entrepreneurs, Whiting and Boyd faced additional hardships as misconceptions about their mission ultimately proved to disappoint more than it encouraged them. As women selling luxury detergent, there existed a preconceived notion that funding would be more easily attainable based upon their gender.
"Everyone thought it was easy to access capital as female entrepreneurs, but it was actually very challenging. We had this unique and disruptive idea within a very traditional space and it was hard to get people on board at first. It's been a continuous journey to educate people in fabric care and home cleaning," said Boyd.
Reflecting on their journey as entrepreneurs, the founders express no regrets about refusing to accept venture capital throughout the process. "Over the years, we could never quantify the cost benefit of VC funding so we continued to grow organically and remain independent by funding ourselves with credit cards and loans," explained Boyd. While their decision proved fruitful, the duo expressed their consideration towards other entrepreneurs who may not be able to fully fund their business as they grow. Because funding is a situational experience, entrepreneurs must ultimately do what is best for their business as no one path is optimal for every entrepreneur or every business.
With an increasing amount of women entering entrepreneurship with their own unique set of products or services, the CEO's offer up one piece of advice on how female entrepreneurs can be successful in their endeavors.
Whiting: "Our advice to anyone looking to build their brands: Have a strong business plan and vision. If you are not disciplined to write a business plan first then you are not disciplined to start a business. Get your ideas down so you ask yourself the right questions; it helps you get organized and plan next steps."
Boyd: "Create quality products without sacrificing the ingredients—no cutting corners. What you create should be the most important piece. Stay passionate, and trust your instincts and follow your gut—something woman are awesome at!"