Nina Olsson: “Not eating meat is one thing I know will lessen the impact on the environment”
We’ve asked some of our favorite foodies to answer 10 questions about clean, green and healthy eating. This time we picked the brain of Nina Olsson, a plant based cookbook author and food blogger living in the Netherlands.
What’s your food philosophy?
– Eat a variety of foods and choose products that come from fair and good origins.
How much effort do you put into making greener choices in your everyday life?
– Not eating meat is one thing I know will lessen the impact on the environment. I also buy a big part of my groceries in biodynamic shops, sort my waste, and generally support green businesses when I can.
What would you say are the benefits of skipping meat and going plant based?
– Besides the feeling of doing the right thing, the health benefits of following a plant based diet shown in large-scale studies all point to decreased risks of serious diseases. Personally, I feel much better and more vital eating this way. It boosts my skin and keeps my weight in check—which might sound pretty superficial—but it’s one of those things that add quality and a feeling of general wellness to my life.
What’s your current “food obsession”?
– I’m currently tempering spices and filling my fridge with curry pastes and chutneys. There’re also plenty of experiments with pickles and flavored oils on the shelves. I use these flavor makers to add unexpected twists and surprise elements to my everyday food. Another obsession is testing new recipes for the ultimate “mature” vegan cheese.
What would you define as sustainable food consumption?
– I like to think in line with a “biodynamic idea” that takes several factors into account. This mainly means getting farmed produce that is GMO and pesticide free. I support local food businesses, but I also buy food that has traveled the world. In a biodynamic shop that often means the food is fair trade, and if it has traveled by boat it can sometimes have an even smaller environmental impact than local foods. But what I’m really missing, and look forward to, is more packaging-free grocery stores, and I believe these are slowly on the rise. Just imagine how much less waste there’ll be when that’s the standard.
What are the biggest food/health myths that you’d like to bust once and for all?
– You don’t need to eat meat for proteins; there are many vegan athletes proving that. But, it’s important to be realistic and recognize that keeping a strictly vegan diet isn’t realistic. We also need a small but essential amount of B-Complex to stay healthy. I know many brilliant foodies that mainly keep to a plant-based diet, but with the occasional egg, fish or a little diary to keep the balance.
What was your most recent “aha-moment” when it comes to sustainability?
– I recently read a big feature in a Dutch newspaper about how digital communications are also producing a lot of energy waste. I know it sounds crazy, but all unnecessary two-worded messages and emails are using up a lot of energy. Spam emails are not just annoying, they’re adding to the climate change too.
Do you have any advise on how to avoid throwing away food?
– If you don’t have much time, simply freeze your food. It’s so practical! And I often take vegetables that are reaching their end dates and place them on an oven tray to roast. That way, I have ready-made bits to put in salads, stews and soups later in the week.
How do you relate to the concept of cooking with in-season produce?
– I often feel it comes naturally, choosing winter vegetables during the colder season and vice versa. I’m also happy to freeze fruit and veggies in the summer to use later in the year. But I don’t think there’s something wrong with using off-season ingredients that has been transported by boat—compared to by plane—for instance.
What’s your recipe for a healthy, happy life?
– A positive attitude. Trying is more rewarding than a perfect win. Be kind to yourself and your surroundings. Seek beauty in the simple and honest things. Focus on what makes you feel good and say no to things you don’t believe in. Believe in an upward evolution rather than a downward spiral for yourself and the world. A positive attitude makes a big difference!
Pictures courtesy of Nina Olsson.
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