JANUARY 23, 2022
Loving Vegan, Living Mindfully: Food, Compassion, and More Food!
How would you describe your relationship with food?
For me, food isn’t just about nourishment—it’s a form of self-care, connection, and gathering. I didn’t really get into food until after college, when I was working at a creative agency that specializes in wine and spirits. When I moved to New York City in 2011, I started a food blog. For many years, it was just for fun. I wasn’t vegan or vegetarian at the time. Since going vegan, my blog and brand have grown into something bigger. There’s more of a mission behind what I’m doing. It’s not just a foodie account sharing food porn for the ‘gram.
Why did you become vegan?
I initially went vegan for the animals, then I learned about the environmental and social justice aspects of veganism. I wouldn’t really say I’m vegan for health reasons, but the benefits from that are a nice bonus. I’ve noticed positive changes to my health and well-being since I quit eating meat and dairy, especially when I eat more plant-based whole foods.
Everything’s better with a vegan burger!
Vegan version of favorites - these photos are a feast to the eyes!
Your feed is appetizing! How do you find these amazing vegan restaurants?
Thank you! I enjoy exploring and celebrating the local food scene, especially places that people may not know about. As exhausting as social media can be sometimes, I really love the discovery element of Instagram. That’s mostly where I find restaurants, often through other bloggers or restaurants. I try to keep up with local food news, and sometimes people will send me recommendations.
Falling in love with these delicious bowls!
Where are you most excited to travel and try vegan cuisines?
Before the pandemic hit, I took a trip back to Singapore to visit family, then I visited Ubud, Bali for a week-long yoga retreat. It was my first time in Bali, and I’d love to go back to explore more. The scenery and food were so beautiful. I also want to take a multi-city trip to Europe. Back in college, I visited London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Berlin before arriving in Copenhagen for a summer study abroad program. I’d love to go back and experience the vegan food there. My creative background started in architecture and design, so it appeals to my other interests too.
WHAT IS A VEGAN RECIPE YOU KNOW BY HEART?
My single-serving vegan mac and cheese recipe.
Making mac and cheese is almost like a love language for me. It brings me a lot of joy and comfort to make it and share it. I have many different variations of mac and cheese, using some combination of nuts, seeds, vegetables, and vegan cheeses. The single-serving vegan mac and cheese is the easiest.
Can you tell us about your work at Veganizer PDX and Eater PDX?
Veganizer is a concept that started in NYC, and I launched the Portland chapter in 2017. We work with omnivore restaurants to host vegan pop-ups and promote that to the vegan community. The idea is once restaurants have gone through the process of developing vegan items, and they see that there’s a demand for vegan food, they’ll continue serving vegan dishes. Nowadays, places are taking the initiative to add vegan options on their own. I feel like maybe part of my work with Veganizer is done, but there’s still the challenge of connecting the omnivore restaurant with the vegan customer.
I’ve been a freelance writer for Eater PDX for two years, and I still have moments where I’m like, “Wait, I get to contribute vegan stories to Eater?” It feels special—I used to look to Eater NY for restaurant recommendations when I first stopped eating meat as I didn’t have any veg friends back then. I see it as an opportunity to amplify vegan voices from different backgrounds and showcase vegan food across cuisines. I feel that many vegan businesses prefer to share their stories with a vegan writer, and vegan consumers prefer a map of restaurants that was put together by a vegan writer.
With both Eater and Veganizer, my goal is for veganism to go mainstream; that’s where real change and influence happens, rather than only staying within vegan spaces.
When it comes to fashion, how would you describe your style?
My style is minimalist casual chic with a touch of athleisure, I think. Most of my closet is a moody palette of black, blues, grays, and white. My everyday look is leggings or skinny jeans with a comfy t-shirt, flowy button-down, or oversized sweater. I wear a lot of rompers and jumpsuits. A friend told me my signature look was my cobalt blue jumpsuit with my black faux leather jacket. I like adding a pop of color, like my VEERAH Maya heels in blue, to my looks. (See Waz’s review here)! When I wear dresses, I often style them with a faux leather jacket and boots for an edgier look.
Fresh, free, and easy - Waz living it mindfully.
For you, what does it mean to live compassionately?
A tote bag I saw once said, “Being vegan means I’m trying to suck less.” Compassionate living is about doing your best to consume—whether it’s food, fashion, or even the accounts you follow on social media—in a more thoughtful way. Part of it is acknowledging that it’s about progress, not perfection. And it extends to being kind to yourself, as well as other people.