Sureshnie Rider recently participated in Veganuary, and although she has always had a strong element of vegetarian cooking in her home (her daughter is a big fan of vege sausages in particular), her Veganuary journey really highlighted how accessible and delicious plant-based foods can be.
We caught up with her to find out how she is feeling after her Veganuary challenge, and whether her experience will change how she feeds her family going forward.
1. A lot of people feel overwhelmed at the idea of cutting out something like meat because they’re concerned about the health impact of making a change like this. As a working mom did going plant-based for a month affect your daily activities and overall energy when you’re at work or at home?
I think many people’s initial worry is that you won’t be able to access enough energy from a plant-based lifestyle. I can tell you otherwise. I have had enough energy to complete my daily activities, online learning, homework and all of the household chores. I grew up in a home where it was mostly vegetarian, and my parents taught us to harness the goodness and variety from a plant-based diet. It didn’t slow me down at all when it comes to the physical activities I participate in, and to be honest I probably feel more energised now.
2. With schools now open, how are you ensuring your family sticks to eating healthily?
I like to call myself the CEO of Lunchbox portfolios! I’ve been packing lunchboxes ever since I was a kid – first it was my siblings and now I do the same for my husband every day and then of course I have the most fun with my daughter’s box. I think it starts with having an idea of balance and moderation.
My child’s box has to cater for a fussy eater. She’s never ever taken a sandwich to school. For some reason, she doesn’t like them. So, I know for her it’s nuts, cucumbers and pretzels that make her heart sing. I use that combo with fruit and some protein so that she gets a little from every food group. I often pop in some of the Fry’s mini-Chipolatas which are my daughter’s favourites. She loves a meat-free sausage, and these little cuties are perfectly sized for lunchboxes. I love the idea of nourishing my child with plants and I’m so grateful she loves her veggies so much.
My husband loved how I set up her box, and he started to ask for the same. He’s often on the road, so I make sure to pack in enough to sustain him and also prevent him from ‘donating’ my boxes to the doggies (Pro-tip – the Fry’s No-Meatballs are also a winner with a lovely dipping sauce like hummus, or guacamole)
3. What influenced your decision to accept the challenge from @frysfamily to try #Veganuary?
I’ve trusted Fry’s practically my whole life, and they always have interesting ways to enlighten families on their plant-based eating options. I figured that with being home and having a little more time as a family, I would use Veganuary as the perfect New Year opportunity to try something conscious and different.
4. How did #Veganuary influence the way you cook your favourite traditional dishes? Were you able to find and make equally delicious vegan alternatives?
Absolutely! The family at Fry’s actually sent me a bag of goodies to sample and try. The products that I had not tried before, but also some twists to the originals. They also introduced me to the most active community on Facebook – Eat More Plants. It helped me meet people who were taking on the challenge for the first time. I still love reading about their inspiring journeys and what I appreciate the most, is the generosity in sharing recipes and hacks, as well as family traditions.
So, even now, in February, there are options on how to cook the most amazing plant-based meals and it’s also helped me elevate and innovate my menus.
5. Since taking part in #Veganuary, would you recommend trying a plant-based diet and what insights can you share about the benefits that you may have experienced?
I would love for more families to try it. It is a gastronomical experience and the benefits are amazing. There are some family members who were advised to re look at their eating lifestyles for health reasons, and after trying Veganuary, they are celebrating how it has positively impacted their health. For me personally it is always about the enlightenment and being conscious of my food choices and how it impacts the environment and community I live in. I found it so easy to adapt and learn and to also grow from the knowledge from people who have been doing this for many years.
6. What would you say the most fulfilling part of joining #Veganuary was?
For me the most fulfilling part was the excitement of broadening my cooking knowledge and introducing it to my little family. My child was fully involved in the making of her meals and she would often do the menu. To see how easy it was being part of #Veganuary and in many ways I managed to come in under budget and was able to make my meals go a long way. I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and my takeaway from it all, is that ‘Nothing ventured Nothing gained’. The ‘Eat More Plants’ Facebook Group was just one of the exciting platforms I got to engage with and grow from. In fact I am still exploring plant-based eating for myself and my family – we just call it VEGUARY.
7. Which Fry’s Food products would you recommend someone start with if they want to try vegan food?
My child will echo these sentiments…try the Mini chipolatas. These are excellent as lunchbox fillers. They make a pretty plus one at a braai and they’re super easy to cook and taste delicious. We love having them in a Sugar beans curry, or in a spicy Tomato chutney. They’re easy to prep and there are many ways you can enjoy them, another reason to try the Fry’s range