WELCOME TO A NEW REGULAR FEATURE WHERE RACHEL WALKER PROFILES FASCINATING VEGANS AND VEGETARIANS BASED IN NZ OR ABROAD, AND LOOKS AT THEIR VARYING BACKGROUNDS, LIFESTYLE CHOICES AND MORE.
Kirstin Devens is a native German, currently based in Wellington, New Zealand. She has been a vegetarian since a young age, currently works as a short haul flight attendant for one of the trans-tasman’s biggest airlines, and is a very talented hobbyist photographer in her spare time. Here she chats to Doctor Feelgood about meals up in the air, her thoughts on being a vegetarian and where to get the best nosh in windy Wellington.
Doctor Feelgood: Kirstin, how long have you been vegetarian for and what inspired you to make the change?
I have been a vegetarian through my parents since the age of 11. The whole family made the shift to vegetarianism and I had no problem adapting. I didn’t fully understand the concept of it, but growing older I started to become more aware and informed about what it means to be a vegetarian.
Doctor Feelgood: Have you faced any big misconceptions about it and how have you dealt with that?
A big misconception is that there is not much for us vegetarians to eat, when there is a wide palate and meat is in fact only a small addition to most meals to begin with! I try to deal with any misconceptions in a light and explaining manner.
Doctor Feelgood: What has the reaction been from your family, friends and work colleagues?
My family is vegetarian, my friends are accepting of it with a dose of curiosity. Colleagues were surprised at first but accepting, and I’ve experienced no prejudice.
I make sure to vary my diet and include a lot of mineral and vitamin rich foods, so I don’t see a need to take any supplements. With the exception of vitamin B12 which I make sure I get from fortified soy milks or yeast products. If I feel a need to top up, I find juicing vegetables is a great way to do it.
Doctor Feelgood: Being originally from Germany, what are the main differences that you’ve noticed in dietary choices opposed to here in NZ?
Moving to New Zealand has introduced me to Asian cuisine and now I’m enjoying and making Indian and Thai curries, Chinese stir-fries, etc!
Doctor Feelgood: Working as an international flight attendant, what’s an average day of meals for you on-board, and have they been easy to get?
My shifts vary from 6-12 hours and because there are no vegetarian meals on-board, I bring my own food from home – veggies and hummus, muesli, salads and fruit. Breakfast flights are easy because I can eat the continental breakfast on-board, lunch and evening flights I mix my own foods with what is left over on-board such as salads and soup.
Italy is not only one of my favorite travel destinations but also food-wise! Authentic pasta and pizza dishes, the salads are mouthwatering and many vegetarian options are available.
Doctor Feelgood: Back in your hometown of Wellington, where would you direct vegetarian and vegan eaters to for a great meal?I quite enjoy going to the Hare Krishna Higher Taste restaurant in central Wellington. It has many options for vegans also, and consists of a buffet with delicious Indian curries. Another great place that caters to vegetarians and vegans is Aunty Mina on Cuba St, which has a variety of Asian-inspired dishes.
Doctor Feelgood: What are your top three cupboard ingredients that are essential for you?
Avocados. They go with everything: smoothies, salads, pasta sauces, sandwiches. Olive oil, which I use for cooking and juicing. Nuts and seeds – to crunch up my muesli and smoothies.
Doctor Feelgood: Do you have a health drink that you absolutely love? Tell us about it.
My chocolate protein smoothie with avocado, banana, cocoa powder, protein powder and coconut milk – tastes best after a good work-out!Doctor Feelgood: You mentioned prior to this interview that you were interested in becoming a vegan. What’s the biggest motivator for that for you?
While I have no health problems with dairy that I’m aware of, I think going vegan would mean just taking that bit of extra care of my health.
Doctor Feelgood: If you someone you knew was heavily considering making the meat free jump, what would you say to them?
The only way to find out if this lifestyle is for you is to give it a try and see for yourself what changes happen!
Doctor Feelgood: Do you have a favourite veg blog or website that you really like?
I follow the Vegan Society of Aotearoa and I’m open for more suggestions of blogs and websites!Doctor Feelgood: Funnily enough we do know a pretty good one… Last but not least, what’s your go-to quick fix meal, and how do we make it?
Most of my meals are a quick-fix as I’m busy and spend little time in the kitchen! My favorite dish to make is pasta with a homemade tomato-sauce. I add TVP, chilli, Italian herbs and vegetables – e.g. eggplant or courgette. Garnished with avocado, voila!
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