plant based chef Monique Vinay: “A plant-based diet includes anyone, whatever their food choice is”
By Fabiola Gálvez

Monique Vinay is a plant-based chef and nutritional coach, founder of the first online school of this movement in Mexico, called “Plant-based Chef”, and also the author of the books “Antojos saludables”, “Una vida sin lácteos” and “Postres saludables”.
In this interview, we talked with her to get an introduction to the plant-based concept, she tells us her story, what ingredients are her clichés, and how we can start in this vegetable world.

Monique was vegan, raw vegan and vegetarian, for many years but she felt that those lifestyles were very strict. Until she got to know the plant-based diet that adapted to what she was pursuing. A diet focused mostly on the food of vegetable origin, which helps to reduce the consumption of food of animal origin, to replace processed food for natural food, and therefore, to improve health.

 

What did you have for breakfast today?

A glass of warm water with a tablespoon of organic apple vinegar and drops of lemon juice. Half an hour later, an apple and cocoa nibs.

 

When we hear plant-based, the first thing we think is plants, vegetables, green. What are we talking about?

Plant-based or based on plants is an inclusive trend as it is not only for vegetarians or raw vegans but for anyone who wants to eat healthier. It’s a lifestyle that promotes the consumption of food given by nature, not by factories or the food industry. The plant-based seeks to consume foods free of toxins, chemicals, additives and colourants, sugars and refined flours. You should always look for a better option where the body is nourished, can digest and assimilate the nutrients that “processed foods” don’t contain.

 

Many times, the term plant-based is confused with being vegan. What is the difference?

Veganism is a strict line where no animal products are consumed, while plant-based diet includes anyone who is vegan, carnivorous, vegetarian, raw vegan, Lacto-ovo-vegetarians, or whatever their food choice is but simply seeks to eat better, healthier, more natural, fresher, local and organic options.

 

How long have you adopted this diet?

I have been on this diet and lifestyle for many years, more than 15, and every day I feel better, with energy, and my body always thanks me when I give it natural and fresh food.

 

What were the reasons for choosing this diet based on plants and then becoming a plant-based chef? What made you change your mind?

After many years of being vegan, raw vegan and vegetarian, I realized that it was something very strict and I didn’t like that. When the plant-based movement started, I was a raw vegan chef and I noticed this new movement adjusted to what I wanted and liked.
Within the plant-based style, vegan, vegetarian and raw vegan are basic parts that I’ve already had for years. It was easy to simply open myself to all kinds of people without putting a name or category to their way of eating, and so, I started promoting the plant-based movement.

Then, the opportunity to create the first school in training for plant-based chefs came up, it is called “Plant-based chef” in Mexico, it’s online and registered with the SEP (Secretary of Public Education). I made this movement bigger and stronger. I have the school for 3 years now and more and more students are graduating as plant-based chefs. It was a difficult process, because it is something new and not highly integrated in Mexico, but it has better acceptance out of necessity, due to many illnesses, and physical health problems. Many people are seeking it.

What plant-based ingredients are your favourites for your dishes, and what is their nutritional contribution?

Well, I use cocoa a lot in desserts, and mostly because it provides a lot of nutrients and it’s not like commercial chocolate, full of dairy products and sugar causing inflammation and addiction.
I use the seasonal green leaves, and preferably, organic, to include in salads, dishes, or as decoration, since green and raw will help maintain an alkaline pH in your body, providing health benefits and a strong immune system.
I really like using nuts and seeds to make vegan cheeses and replace milk cheeses, that nowadays are full of hormones and sugar, causing congestion, migraines, allergies and constipation.
Also make vegan milks, are easy and inexpensive compared to commercial vegan milks, full of flavourings, additives and sugar.
Nutritionally speaking, any natural food not made in a factory or processed is absorbed by the body, while processed food is not absorbed by the body, rather it registers it as something foreign, like toxins, creating malnutrition.
While fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds, legumes and herbs that nature gives us, provide us with vitamins, minerals and all the nutrients our cells need to regenerate, detoxify, and to keep the body well-nourished with a little.

 

Is the plant-based diet in Mexico the same as the plant-based diet in the United States or India? For example, because local customs vary greatly in each part of the world.

Yes, it’s the same in any country, it’s simply using vegetable, natural, fresh, local, organic ingredients and not refined or processed ones. And of course, the variety and type will depend on the location, but the purpose is the same. So, everyone carries it out or applies it according to their customs, traditions and origin.

 

Can you interpret a Mexican dish, for example, a cochinita pibil taco to a plant-based taco? How would you substitute it?

Of course, a typical cochinilla pibil taco can be replaced by grated carrots in achiote, by yaca, or by zetas and mushrooms. There’s always an ingredient to substitute.

If I want to start the plant-based diet tomorrow, where do I start? Can you give us some advice?

The first thing is to substitute processed food for natural ones, such as white flour for vegetable flour, refined sugar for coconut sugar, pure unrefined bee honey, maple honey, homemade stevia concentrate with stevia leaves, white rice for brown rice, animal proteins for vegetable proteins such as lentils, beans, chickpeas and nuts.
I always recommend including a great salad full of green leaves and full of colour to start the meal, dressed with olive oil and lemon juice.
Lots of vegetables and whole fruits. It’s all about going back to eating simple and without complications.

 

Chef Monique is offering a scholarship in her online school www.plantbasedchef.mx
For more information, write to monique_vinay@hotmail.com
The books “Antojos saludables”, “Una vida sin lácteos” and “Postres saludables”, are available on Amazon and Gandhi. All of them follow the philosophy of healthy and natural diet and there are many recipes that are dairy-free, animal-based ingredients that don’t contain egg, sugar and refine flours.

 

Thank you very much for the interview, Monique!