Toronto food blogger, Thea Justein talks about some of her favourite dishes, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and tips on transitioning into a plant based diet.
Q: Where were you born and where do you currently live?
A: I was born and raised in Toronto, and still live here! The only time I’ve lived elsewhere is when i went to university in Kingston, Ontario.
Q: When did you start taking an interest in food?
A: Since about grade 11, I have been obsessed with health and nutrition. This was around the time I started becoming very aware of what I was eating and actively started making better choices. When i was younger up until the middle of high school, I did not care at ALL about what I was putting into my body!
Q: What are some of your favourite dishes to make?
A: Honestly, I make the same food all the time. I am a creature of habit! My usual day consists of a smoothie for breakfast, a salad for lunch and a stir fry or pasta for dinner. However, I do love creating dishes when I have the time and the energy. I would probably say my favourite dish to make is a vegan caesar salad and some sort of fancy pasta, like linguine!
Q: How did the instagram name plated plants evolve?
A: Well, a couple of years ago I had to make an account for a marketing class I was taking in school. At the time I was not vegan, but I still loved food and working out. So, I called the account @brunchesandcrunches and posted the meals I was eating and the workouts I was doing. I only posted about 15 times and had maybe 30 followers. I forgot about the account but never deleted it. About a year into being vegan, I was on vacation in LA and decided to post the pics I had taken that trip of my food on this account. I deleted all the older posts on the @brunchesandcrunches account and made it vegan food only. I changed the name shortly after because I wanted it to be a fresh new account, and represent my new lifestyle. It took a couple days but I landed on plated plants to imply the content would be plant-based food.
Q: You focus on the Vegan eats- how long have you been vegan for?
A: I have been vegan since December, 2015. I went vegan essentially overnight! I watched a bunch of youtube videos and decided I wanted to do it. I then watched Cowspiracy and Earthlings, and the next morning i was officially vegan. Haven’t looked back since that day.
Q: Where are some of your favourite places to eat?
A: Anything Asian style is usually my go-to. I am OBSESSED with Pad Thai, and my favourite restaurant in Toronto to get it is Khao San Road. I also love getting sushi, or going to Pizza Libretto or Terroni for pizza.
Q: How do you maintain a healthy lifestyle?
A: Like I said, I usually eat a variation of the same meals every day, which are all very healthy. I put a lot of my energy into preparing food and grocery shopping so that I can make sure my meals during the week are healthy. I make sure I’m eating a lot of fruit, vegetables and grains, and healthy fats. I definitely don’t eat perfectly all the time. I do go out to eat a lot, and am always eating chocolate or treats because I couldn’t live without those kinds of things! I also work out anywhere between 3 and 6 times a week, depending on how I’m feeling. I truly believe in balance, and doing whatever it is you feel like doing that day. Sometimes my workout is just walking on the treadmill at an incline for 50 minutes watching Youtube videos.
Q: What food tips do you have for someone wanting to start a healthy lifestyle and struggle with food preparation?
A: Try making your breakfast and lunch healthy, or if you want to think of it as two thirds of your day. I believe that everyone is capable of making a smoothie or oatmeal for breakfast, and thats a great way to start your day. For lunch, try to get as many greens as you can, that’s why i try to have a salad most days for lunch. I don’t think having a salad for dinner is satisfying or fun, so I make sure to get greens it at lunch. Now when it comes to dinner, that’s when being vegan or being healthy can get harder. I think it’s hard because sometimes you want to go out to eat, or sometimes your parents are cooking your dinner that you have no say in. Once you're eating healthy for two thirds of your day, you will start feeling way better and have more motivation to continue eating that way. Meal prepping doesn’t need to take 8 hours on a Sunday. I usually just make a salad the night before work every day, mainly because I don’t have enough space in my fridge for Tupperware!
Q: Do you have any tips for other food bloggers?
A: I would say don’t post just to post. Only post things that you’re proud of and that you actually ate or enjoyed. I also highly recommend making stories on Instagram because then people can really learn more about you and see into your life. That’s what people really want to see, not just food pics.
Q: What companies have you done collaborations with?
A: I actually don’t work too much with companies. I work a 9-5 job in television, so I am busy all the time! I wish I had more time to do collaborations, but right now my Instagram is more for fun and to inspire others. I have done some work with brands and restaurants, and hope to do more in the future.
Q: Do you have anything else you want people to know about you?
A: I have my Instagram page to help others and am always looking for feedback! If anyone ever has questions or subjects they want me to touch on, please let me know. Transitioning to a plant-based diet is not easy for everyone, and I want to help make it approachable. Thank you to anyone who has followed me and supported me on my journey!