Meet Avra, the founder of Love Wild Live Free. One visit to her site or Instagram feed, and you’ll be hooked. Love Wild Live Free is a brilliant, slick site dedicated to fresh and healthy vegan recipes, natural beauty, vegan food reviews, healthy living, and travel.
Her photos are bright and gorgeous, and her recipes are simple to follow, with friendly and informative instructions. For example, in a recent thoughtful post that includes a recipe for mock tuna, she gets down to the real deal behind the fishing industry.
A lawyer by trade, she’s committed to spreading knowledge about the health and environmental benefits of a vegan lifestyle. She’s been featured in the National Post’s Gastropost section on many occasions and was listed as one of the Top 15 Instagram Accounts for Toronto Vegans to Follow (which is precisely how I found her!).
I was thrilled that Avra agreed to answer some of my questions about vegan food and other good stuff. Read on!
- What’s the last thing you ate?
A strawberry-banana smoothie, made with frozen strawberries and banana, hemp hearts, chia seeds, spring water and a whole food supplement powder with Maca, Rhodiola and Reshi.
- Which vegan chef do you most admire and why?
Lately, I’ve been very inspired by everything that vegan chef Timothy Pakron of “Mississippi Vegan” posts on Instagram and shares over Snapchat. He is a contemporary artist/freelance photographer, so all of his food photos are basically works of art. Timothy is all about using local produce in his recipes, including wild native and invasive species of plants that he forages in the green spaces throughout New York City. He also hosts pop-up vegan events, including brunch and dinner, and is a vendor at the Vegan Shop Up in Brooklyn. He is definitely someone to check out!
- What’s the one dish you’ve created that’s scored you the most high fives?
My recipe for the ULTIMATE Peanut Sauce . It is simple to make in under 5 minutes and requires no cooking. It is perfect for dipping rice wraps or drizzling over steamed veggies. It also makes for a delicious topping for soba noodle bowls.
- What do you want to be when you grow up?
I am a lawyer by training and I am planning on become more involved in the areas of Food Law and Animal Law through my practice. I am also looking forward to continuing my work in spreading the positive message of veganism. I have a lot of exciting projects in the works through Love Wild Live Free, including collaborations with wonderful companies who have products that are in line with my philosophies on food, style, health and beauty.
- What’s the one ingredient can’t you live without?
Nutritional yeast (“nooch” for short) which is sometimes referred to as hippy dust. It is the secret weapon that vegan chefs use to give a cheesy flavour to dishes that would traditionally use dairy products. It is also a rich vegetarian source of vitamin B-12 and is a complete protein, which means that it provides all 9 amino acids that the human body cannot produce itself. In fact, 2 tablespoons of nooch will give you 9 grams of protein, which is more than 1 oz. of beef (7g) or a large egg (6g)!
- Do vegans have more fun?
Yes, absolutely! There is a misconception that vegan food is limiting, but, in my experience, going vegan really opens up the possibilities of food choices. As a vegan, I incorporate a huge variety of plant-based foods, including an abundance of fruit, vegetables, seeds and legumes. The world of vegan food has come a very long way in the last couple of years and today, there is a vegan version of almost every animal-based product out there! Vegans are also known to indulge in vegan doughnuts, chocolate, cake, cookies, dairy-free ice cream and whipped coconut cream too!
- What kitchen item do you most often buy for wedding gifts?
Spiralizers are a really fun gift to give. You also cannot go wrong with a food processor or high speed blender.
- Where’s the last place you went to on a date? (and what did you order?)
Tori’s Bakeshop is one of my favourite date spots in Toronto and is Canada’s first organic and vegan wine bar. The last time I visited, I ordered the Cheese Slab, which comes with an assortment of house-made vegan cheeses, including air-dried smoked crème, peppercorn chèvre and brie. I also ordered the Gnocchi which is always delicious.
- Did becoming vegan bring out any unexpected character traits in you? i.e. are you funnier now than ever before?
From a young age I have been interested in the environment and health. My conception of the notion of “eating healthy” has evolved over the years. I have been an advocate of eating organic foods since the late 90’s and was vegetarian for a long time before I went completely vegan. I think that going vegan amplified the compassionate side of my personality, as now I am truly able to live in alignment with my passion for protecting the environment, promoting health, and most importantly, being a voice for the animals.
- What’s the one thing you wish more people knew about vegan food?
Eating vegan does not have to be diffcult or expensive (vegan food is generally cheaper than animal-based foods), it just takes a little creativity and dedication to make the shift. Once I made the connection of “why” I was choosing to be vegan, it became so much easier to stay committed. Educating yourself is key when it comes to veganism, as it will help you figure out why you’ve made this choice. You’re also bound to get questions from friends and family that your research will help you answer. There are many excellent resources that have helped inform me on my vegan journey, including books, websites, documentaries and podcasts, that I have linked to on my Resources page. As consumers we truly hold the power to create change within the food system. We have the ability to vote through our dollars by making the choice to educate ourselves about what we consume and by operating from a place of compassion when we decide what to put on our plates.