Influential Vegan Blogger & Social Media Personality
The debate over the health benefits of Veganism continues worldwide, and while many believe that eating meat is essential for a healthy diet, others are more driven by promoting animal rights and reducing their carbon footprint for a healthier planet. In November’s Cyprus in Style Magazine, we spoke to Liv Unni Sødem (@Dharmalivi), an influential vegan lifestyle blogger and social media personality from Norway, now living in Cyprus.
Liv follows a Whole Food Plant-Based Diet, otherwise known as the WFPB Diet. We asked her to tell us a little more about it and why she chose this diet as a new way of life. She explained in detail, “The WFPB diet is rich in nutrients and can make a big impact when it comes to reducing your risk of today’s top chronic diseases, like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer, obesity, various metabolic health issues and more. For me, it has proven to increase energy levels, improve mood, athletic performance, sleep patterns and aid better digestion. Not only that; a plant-based diet is also beneficial to the environment and saving the lives of animals across the globe.”
VEGAN S.W.A.P TEST
We asked Liv to enlighten us on the various ‘food swaps’ available for meat lovers considering a Vegan lifestyle change.
WHAT KIND OF FOODS ACT AS GOOD REPLACEMENTS FOR MEAT?
Turning vegan does not mean you need to give up juicy burgers or BBQs. There are many meat alternatives that vegans love to eat, including, burgers made with beans, mushroom and/or nuts mixed with different vegetables. Or, if you want the vegan ‘junkfood’ go for a Beyond meat burger or Linda McCartney rosemary sausages. You can find meat substitutes like these in most big supermarkets, but Alphamega is probably the best for vegan choices in Paphos. Mostly, I cook whole food plant-based meals and use meat substitutes such as beans, legumes, lentils, jackfruit, mushrooms and tofu. In Europe, organic tofu is grown for those more conscious about the environment. There are also other, processed meat replacements such as tempeh, seitan, textured vegetable protein (dehydrated soy), Beyond meat, Quorn and more.
Even though some are a healthier option to meat, it´s important to limit the amount of processed food in your diet. I follow the (approximate) 80/20 rule; mostly whole foods and some processed foods.
WHAT DO YOU EAT/DRINK INSTEAD OF DAIRY PRODUCTS SUCH AS CHEESE & MILK?
There are so many plant-based milks to choose from. You can make your own hemp seed milk or opt for the many others, such as Koko dairy-free milk, oat, almond, rice, soy, coconut, cashew or hazelnut milk. Most of the plant milks and vegan yoghurts have added vitamins such as Vitamin B-12, Vitamin D and calcium. There’s also a wide range of vegan cheeses, vegan mayo, vegan ice cream and you can use coconut milk/cream to make whipped cream!
CAN A VEGAN DIET BE RICH IN IRON?
Yes, of course. I tend to use cannellini beans/white kidney beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, red kidney beans, amaranth, dark chocolate/cocoa, spinach, dried apricots, hulled hemp seeds and molasses. Also, if you eat foods that are rich in vitamin C, this helps the absorption of iron in the body. For example, like broccoli, leafy green vegetables, sweet potato and citrus fruits.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE & MOST RECOMMENDED VEGAN SNACK?
I have so many favourite vegan snacks, it is so hard to choose just one. I love everything from homemade oat cookies and oyster mushroom chips to raw cakes, but my most recent favourite is ‘raw protein bars’ – I tasted some at The Vegan Fam Festival in Cyprus, made by Vivolife Cyprus, and decided to get the protein powder and try.
HOW TO MAKE RAW VEGAN PROTEIN BARS
They are great on-the-go and as a snack in between meals. Energy bliss!
- 20 dates
- 1 cup of Koko dairy-free milk
- 1 scoop of VivoLife salted Maca Caramel protein powder (you can make this recipe without protein powder, just use less milk. Another option is peanut butter or anything you like).
- 2 cups of organic oats (I mix 1 cup of porridge oats with 1 cup of rolled oats)
- 1/2 a cup of walnuts
- 1/2 a cup of desiccated coconut (not the super dry white type)
- 1/2 a cup of hulled hemp seeds (to either roll protein balls in or sprinkle on top)
- Optional; chocolate layer with desiccated coconut
- Soak the dates in hot water until soft.
- Put pitted dates together with 1 cup of Koko dairy-free milk in a food processor at high speed.
- Add the protein powder in before adding oats, walnuts & desiccated coconut.
- Transfer the mixture to a baking tray with baking paper.
- Press down to make an even layer & transfer to the freezer for about 15 min.
- Take out and slice into around 10 bars. Or roll into balls.
Chocolate Layer (optional)
You can either use vegan chocolate and melt it together with a little plant milk, or make chocolate from dates, raw cocao powder and plant milk.
- 10 soft dates
- 1 tablespoon of raw cacao
- A little dash of plant milk
- Soak dates, pitt when soft.
- Put in a food processor on high speed with a little dash of plant milk.
- Add one tablespoon of raw cacao poweder.
- You can add a drop of wild orange essential oil/carob syrup/maple syrup for sweetness. Mix.
- You can also add small bits of dried berries like goji for the extra taste and texture.
- Pour the blend over the raw cakes and place in the freezer until ready.