Meet Tracy, our nutrition intern! Tracy is in the process of completing her Masters of Applied Nutrition degree at the University of Guelph with the goal of becoming a registered dietitian. Just like Mother Raw, Tracy loves to encourage others to eat more plants. She has a love for food and cooking, and is also a proud plant-based foodie with a passion for cooking up delicious vegan recipes. Make sure to follow Tracy on instagram at @tracysnutritiontips!
Can you tell us when your plant-based journey began?
I transitioned to a vegan diet when I was entering grade 12 of high school. My best friend had been vegan for a few years and we both recently started working at a health food store. You know when people say you have to hear a message seven times before taking action? To me it really felt like all signs were pointing me towards a vegan diet. At the peak of my veg-curiosity, a YouTube video popped up on my recommended page explaining the ins and outs of a vegan diet and the benefits it can bring and I believe that was the tipping point. I’ve been vegan for more than 5 years and am so glad I made the transition!
There are many reasons why people chose to live a more plant-based life. Can you tell us what drove you to veganism?
Although there are many reasons to choose to live a plant-based lifestyle, the main driving factor for me is sustainability and food security. Growing plants for food uses significantly less resources than growing livestock and has less of an environmental impact. Instead of growing animal feed, the land and resources could be used towards growing more food for humans, which could then improve food security.
Have you noticed any changes in your body since going vegan?
Since I’ve been vegan for more than five years, it’s difficult to remember how I used to feel when I ate animal products, however I do notice that my hair grows a lot faster than it used to!
What was the hardest part about your journey?
The hardest part about my vegan journey was eating with my family. I’m Chinese and a lot of our meals include animal products. At meals oftentimes my parents would say “well, just have a little bit” or “no one will know”, and that made me feel like they didn’t respect my choice to follow a vegan diet. For me, getting more involved in cooking for my family helped show my parents that there are plant-based meals that taste just as good as the ones they were used to eating, and showed that I was dedicated to living a plant-based lifestyle, rather than it being a “phase”.
Do you have any tips for dining out?
My biggest tips for dining out are to check the menu online before going to a new restaurant – most restaurants now have vegan options clearly labelled. Second, I recommend asking your server as many questions as you need to feel informed and comfortable and to never feel like you’re being a burden. And finally, I recommend making substitutions. If a pasta dish has chicken in it, ask for tofu or extra veggies instead, or if the bread comes with parmesan on top, ask for it to be made without.
What advice could you give to people who are interested in trying out veganism?
My biggest tip is to approach veganism with an open mind and to avoid having an all-or-nothing mentality. I found that when I became vegan, I was more likely to try foods I had previously disliked and found that I actually loved them! For example, mushrooms. I loathed them when I was younger but now, I can’t get enough! And remember: You are your toughest critic. You don’t have to go from 0 to 100 in a day and ditch your previous lifestyle altogether. Gradually transitioning to veganism by incorporating one plant-based meal a day and working your way up is much more realistic.
What is your favourite plant-based dish to make?
My favourite plant-based dish to make is tofu nuggets! All you have to do is cut a block of extra-firm tofu into bite-sized pieces, marinate it in concentrated vegetable broth and then coat it in a mixture of panko, garlic powder, onion powder, dried parsley, salt and pepper and then toss it in the air fryer. They come out crispy and are the perfect complement to the Mother Raw Ketchup or BBQ sauce.
What is your favourite Mother Raw product?
I love the Greek dressing! It was the first Mother Raw product I tried, and I find myself gravitating towards it for my salads and pasta dishes. A close second is the Caesar, which I love drizzling on top of shredded kale and carrots.
When you aren’t studying or working, what do you like to do on your time off?
I love movement, whether that’s weightlifting, resistance training, running, or yoga. In fact, I’m a certified TRX suspension coach and am in the process of becoming a certified cycle instructor. I also love cooking and baking. On my 22nd birthday I launched @tracysnutritiontips on Instagram, where I share my love for all things health and wellness. I also love to read and spend time with friends and family.
Can you share the most interesting nutrition fact you learned at the University of Guelph?
I learned that at different degrees of ripeness, bananas contain varying amounts of sugar and that an unripe banana will have a different effect on your blood sugar and insulin levels compared to a ripe banana! A green, unripe banana contains starches that are indigestible in the human digestive tract and are considered dietary fibres. As a banana ripens and becomes yellow, these starches are converted to simple sugars. Therefore, an unripe banana scores low on the glycemic index and will not raise your blood sugar as much compared to a ripe banana, which scores moderately on the glycemic index.
Make sure to follow Tracy on instagram at @tracysnutritiontips for, you guessed it, nutrition tips – and lots more!