Interview: Regaining Health through a Plant Based Lifestyle with Julie Van den Kerchove

Julie Van den Kerchove is a certified raw food chef, cookbook author, workshop leader and co founder of raw food company All Good Cuisine.

When did you first come across a raw and vegan diet?

More than 10 years ago while studying to become a professional journalist, I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue. The only way for me to regain my health was to completely change my eating habits. I started by cutting refined sugars, wheat and dairy products from my diet, and gradually transitioned to a primarily plant based lifestyle.

It was during this search for optimal health that I discovered raw and vegan food.

After experimenting with smoothies, green juices and salads for a few weeks, I started to see incredible changes in my energy, weight and overall health. I woke up feeling refreshed, my skin cleared up, I lost 15 stubborn pounds and my immune system got stronger by the day.

The effects on both my body and mind were so overwhelming that I decided to travel to California in order to learn more about raw and vegan cooking. Together with my partner Simon, I enrolled at the Living Light Culinary Institute where we learned all about raw food cooking techniques, flavour balancing and the science of plant based nutrition. It was during this life changing adventure that I started Julie’s Lifestyle as a blog to share my experiences and my love for healthy and delicious food.

What inspired you to start writing recipe books?

It’s truly amazing what you can create with just vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds and that’s exactly what I wanted to show in my books.

I hope people will be pleasantly surprised by how even a small change in their eating habits can have a huge impact on their energy, weight and mood.

I started working on my first cookbook to share my story and recipes with a wider audience. That’s how Vegan & Raw and Vegan & Raw 2 came to be. I feel incredibly happy and grateful that we had the opportunity to present both books in New York and Los Angeles.

What do you hope people gain from them?

Even though vegan is becoming more ‘mainstream’, there are still many prejudices around vegan food; that it’s tasteless, not satisfying, lacking in protein, too much work.

I hope to show that vegan cooking doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming at all.

If you stock your cupboard and fridge with plenty of fruits, vegetables and some basic ingredients like coconut oil, oats, nuts, dates and lots of spices, you can recreate all your favorite comfort foods without the gluten, dairy, refined sugars or processed ingredients. Think black bean burgers, sweet potato fries, cauliflower buffalo wings, sundried tomato pizza, zucchini pasta al pesto, cashew cheese, almond bread, chocolate mousse, berry cheesecake, banana ice cream.

What is your advice for people unsure about the best diet for them?

I don’t advocate an all or nothing lifestyle, every person has different dietary needs and no diet or lifestyle works for everyone. Forget about strict rules or food dogmas, do what feels best for you. Your preferences and dietary needs will change over time so don’t worry about what others do. You are on your own path to optimal health.

What benefits can people expect from eating vegan and raw?

To me, it’s all about fuelling your body with the essential nutrients it needs to perform at its best. That’s why I focus on nutrient dense whole foods that will energise your body and keep your hormones in balance. Fill your plates with plenty of vegetables and healthy fats like avocado, coconut, olives, add a protein source of your choice such as nuts and seeds, legumes, tempeh, seaweed, sprouts, greens, chlorella and spirulina and allow yourself to indulge in healthy treats that are naturally sweetened with fruit. Your body will thank you for it!