5 minutes with Maz Valcorza, Founder of Sadhana Kitchen, Vegan Chef, Author & Social Entrepreneur
How did your journey to becoming an organic, raw, plant-based foodie begin? And how long have you been living a 100% vegan diet?
For me it all started with yoga teacher training. I learnt about the principle of ahimsa which means non-violence and it really resonated with me. I wanted to cause as little harm to myself, the planet and other beings including all the animals. For me, it really made sense to act mindfully and work towards the happiness and freedom of all beings everywhere.
I’ve been vegan now for about 6 years.
What do you love most about a vegan diet?
I love the variety of food, how delicious it all is, how amazing it makes me feel and the fact that I know I’m making mindful and informed choices for my own health and wellbeing and that of our planet.
Do you find it difficult to maintain a vegan diet 100% of the time? What strategies do you have in place to ensure you’re not left in a sticky situation?
These days I don’t, but you know, I own 2 vegan restaurants so I would be the last person to find eating plant-based difficult. Back in the day before Sadhana Kitchen and during my career in the Pharmaceutical industry, I travelled quite a bit and eating vegan could be challenging. So I would always give event organisers notice of my dietary requirements prior to events, have vegan snacks in my bags like superfood bliss balls at all times and I’d know what cuisines were most accommodating for vegans. Try Thai but hold the fish sauce. Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food is also amazing for vegan options.
I just always say, “no dairy, no egg, no meat – so no animals products at all please” and that usually works.
What are your top tips for anyone transitioning to, or new to a vegan diet?
Be informed and do your research. To do it well, you need to learn the best ways. Understand what your nutritional requirements are each day and what foods you need to meet them. There are a bunch of books out there that can help you, like The Naked Vegan which is my latest offering.
Start easy with a green smoothie for breakfast packed with superfoods as an “insurance policy” to get as much goodness into you as possible.
Be kind and gentle with yourself, eating should be a joy, not a burden.
What’s your favourite meal off the menu at Sadhana Kitchen and why?
The Sadhana Cheezeburger, because it is legit the best burger I’ve ever had and it is ACTUALLY good for you. Its buns are made from fermented and sprouted ancient grains so it’s gluten free and the cheddar, pattie and ketchup we use is also made in-house by our amazing chefs.
Do you cook at home often and if so what are your go-to meals?
Rarely these days because I’m so busy, but I like to make epic bowls with sauerkraut, tempeh, shredded kale and quinoa. I love making vegan versions if my favourite traditional Filipino dishes or just party favourites like pulled jackfruit tacos which is so much like pulled pork I challenge you to tell the difference.
What’s your day on a plate?
- Breakfast – Lemon water and cayenne upon waking, then a green smoothie at Sadhana Kitchen – 1 litre of it. Maybe a chia pudding or avo on toast If I’m still hungry.
- Lunch – A big salad bowl like our Bondi Bowl or Super bowl (get the Super bowl recipe here) or the Sadhana Cheezeburger.
- Dinner – If I’m out with friend’s maybe a Pizza from Gigi’s in Newtown. If I’m at home it varies, a huge superfood smoothie or tonic, or an epic zuchinni pasta with “beet” balls.
- Snacks – Coconut yoghurt and fruit, iced or hot tonics and maybe some raw desserts like our killer Caramel Slice.
Do you supplement your vegan diet at all?
I take sublingual B12 and that’s about it. Everything else I get from organic plant-based wholefoods and superfoods.
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Your days are no doubt busy – what else do you do to nourish your body, mind and soul?
Can you tell us a little about your other venture, the ‘I Give A Shit’ project?
I Give A Shit is social enterprise. It is essentially an online platform that provides a way for people to connect with what they really care about and do more of it through tried and tested practices such as yoga, meditation, gratitude and service. I Give A Shit helps you to cultivate your own sense of purpose and empowerment through simple practices for the mind body and spirit, whilst supporting worthy causes.
I Give A Shit’s mindfulness challenge sounds brilliant. When is it launching, what will it involve, is there a cost and how can we get involved?
We are so excited about it, however I’ve been so busy with opening Bondi Beach and launching my new book The Naked Vegan that we have had to put that on hold for a bit. To keep updated, head over to the website and subscribe to our mailing list.
What’s next for you and your healthy, ethical empire?
We want to move forward with the I Give A Shit Project, I’m looking into locations for a Sadhana in Melbourne and I’m really looking forward to doing more talks and demos at events, that’s my favourite part of the job because I get to meet so many awesome change makers.
Now it’s your turn. Do you have a question or message for Maz? Ask or share via the comment section below!
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