The blogger working to reconnect us all through food

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The blogger working to reconnect us all through food

Plant-based writer and blogger Parusha Naidoo is someone to follow whether you’re into veganism, health, heritage, African food, or just want to get to know more foodies. She talks to us about the food chats she founded during lockdown and how she travelled around Africa without ever leaving her house.

1. Now that we’re coming out of lockdown, what does life look like for you at the moment? What’s been keeping you busy?

I’ve been spending more time in nature, especially in the water. Enjoying my solitude. In terms of food, I’m learning how to improve my photography skills and create better food content. I’m also doing evening classes to learn Zulu, Spanish and how to draw.

2. Can you talk about your “food chats”? You seem to tackle a lot of difficult topics such as race, appropriation and representation all viewed through the lens of food. Where did the idea for these chats come from and why is it so important to you have these serious conversations?

These are the types of conversations that I have in general so it happened quite organically. I was missing dinner chats with friends and family so started this series. Each conversation is a little different and follows a natural theme of what I’d talk about with the other person in real life. Since everyone eats, everyone has stories around food so I decided to chat to everyone I know, whether they’re an official “foodie” or not. My idea initially was to look at the theme of ethics beyond veganism and how different people in my life make the choices they do with their different perspectives and priorities.


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3. What have been some of the biggest takeaways for you through these chats?

Everyone can chat about life through the lens of food for an hour, no matter whether they identify as a “foodie”  or a “storyteller” or not. Food is one of the best tools for all people to connect through.

4. You’re well-known for your hearty vegan/plant-based content. Can you tell us about your journey to a plant-based diet? What are some misconceptions you’d like to dispel?

Thank you! The main myth is that you need to do it 100% in order to reap the rewards. And that it’s boring or expensive or needs fancy ingredients. You can be flexible and still get the benefits. You don’t need to be an extremist. Try a few delicious recipes. Eat more whole foods (vegetables, fruit, grains, nuts and seeds) and less processed foods and animal products, and you will reduce your chances of getting heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes and cancer. My journey has taken place over the last 10 years and I have learnt a lot about nutrition and about creating tasty plant-based foods that satisfy me. I am more focused on health and heritage foods now, whereas in the beginning I was more concerned with having a cruelty-free diet. I still aim for a vegan diet, but sometimes I sin.

5. I’ve really enjoyed the virtual travel series you’ve developed on Instagram, can you tell us about the story behind this? You also share a lot of recipes and cuisine from other African countries, not just South Africa, can you also share why this is so important to you?

Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it. During the lockdown, living alone, I was getting very bored with my cooking and I missed seeing people and travelling. I realised that I could get a lot of the joy of travelling through doing research online. And I could have virtual dinners with friends and family. It didn’t last long, but for a short time it was fun to find new recipes and cook them with people and pretend we were in different places. Eating new things together over Zoom was a fun way to have shared experiences during lockdown. For some time, I have been inspired by the thinking of David Chang regarding why certain cuisines have more value attached to them and others do not (even though the skill and craft is similar, or the undervalued is actually better), so I decided to travel around this continent.

6. What other projects have you got in the pipeline? What can we look forward to seeing you do next?

I am creating a mini cookbook/zine at the moment. I’ve been inspired by my friends Maia Marie, who launched a poetry book during lockdown, and another friend, Abdul Dube, who is an artist/designer who makes zines and in particular helped facilitate one in Denmark called Decolonise Your Tastebuds. I’m often overwhelmed by big ideas so this is a small idea and a do-able one.

Keep up with Parusha by following her on Instagram, as well as her food chats on @camphorandcoconut.

Jess Spiro Article by: Jess Spiro

Jess Spiro is a freelance food writer, chef and restaurant critic based in Cape Town, who can often be found in search of the next great plate of food. Follow her on Instagram @jess_spiro to see what she's eating.

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