Lauren Toyota is hot for food (as long as it’s vegan).
She moved from being a MuchMusic VJ to starting her own YouTube channel in 2015. Since then she’s grown to 473,000 subscribers and over 36 million channel views. Her debut cookbook, “Vegan Comfort Classics: 101 Recipes To Feed Your Face” is officially a best seller! Not only is she an incredible chef with an awesome personality, but she’s authentic and so relatable.
She’s on a bit of a spiritual journey as well, and has a beautiful perspective on life. So let’s get to know Lauren a little bit more …
Photo credit: Vanessa Heins
Hooked on Plants: But first: what’s Snickles doing right NOW?
Lauren Toyota: Sleeping and dreaming of the next time he will be eating!
HOP: Do you remember the day you decided to switch from MuchMusic gigs to YouTube? What’s one tip you can give someone jumping into a new scary change or challenge?
LT: Well I sort of didn’t decide this. I was part of a company wide restructuring and lost my job at Bell Media in 2014. By that time I had launched the new incarnation of hotforfoodblog.com in February 2014 about 6 months before this happened. It had gained some momentum and I had already built a good following on @hotforfood IG as well since 2013 so when I was left without a full time job I figured I would just blog and create social content full time since I felt I had something to work with. That was as far as I thought. I didn’t even think about going on to YouTube until a couple months after the layoffs. If you find yourself in a similar situation or you’re trying to decide if you should make a career leap my advice is you probably should and NEED to. Life is calling you, but that’s just fear whispering to you about all the reasons why it won’t work. You have to try and work with it but kind of push it out the way. Push through the fear if you can and take the risk. The reward is always much better when you put yourself in these uncomfortable situations. It’s how you grow and expand as a human. You need to push beyond your comfort and safety zone.
HOP: Let’s chat meditation for a sec.
For those who haven’t dabbled at all… what’s your tip for starting?
LT: Just start. Again it’s kind of the same annoying voice trying to convince you that you don’t NEED this practice or that it’s BS or silly. It’s that ego self, the small self, trying to keep you small and protect you. But it’s not serving the higher version of you that you desire to expand into. Meditation WILL allow this process to unfold. It will help ease that resistance and allow you to flow. There are many many ways to meditate and many practices and so I get that it’s intimidating but you might as well start with something, see if you like it, and you can always keep exploring until you find something that resonates. I always recommend going on YouTube and just search meditations or you can get a free app called Insight Timer. There is SO much content out there and you’re bound to find something that lights you up and resonates, but you have to take the leap or step in that direction and then it’s just a personal intuitive exploration from there. You’ll start seeing the momentum behind it and you’ll be guided to new things to try or you’ll read something or you’ll end up meeting someone. As you notice all these signs and synchronicities being revealed you’ll feel like you’re aligned to something higher. But you did it for yourself just by starting a new habit or practice. It really starts to take on it’s own life and you flow with it, discovering more and more about who you really are.
HOP: As for manifesting your reality: this is something I try to practice daily by focusing on the things I’m grateful for, rather than the things I lack.
But, for someone who may feel this is ‘woo woo’, what’s the best tip you can give to them that will help them open up to this powerful perspective on life?
LT: Well I’m finding more and more that the idea of these practices is becoming less taboo or ‘woo woo’ so that’s a nice shift. I feel like I’m noticing people from all walks of life speaking this language and identifying their own power. Gratitude is a powerful practice and can help shift perspective from victim stance to creator stance. A couple of small things one can do to open up is writing down 5 things each day that you appreciate and are grateful for. It can start making dramatic shifts in how you see the world. I think spending time in nature is also key. Nature is so abundant but we don’t always see it that way if we focus on problems like climate change and the negative effects of fossil fuels, but if you can walk in nature or spend time in grass even. You can see how abundant it is. There are infinite blades of grass just in your immediate vicinity or what appears like thousands of trees, leaves, and insects if you’re walking through a forest, say. Notice that. Appreciate that. It’s very powerful to see the world with those eyes.
HOP: You’re one of the first recipe bloggers I started following when I was exploring veganism, so THANK YOU for the ongoing inspiration.
How long have you been vegan now?
LT: Thank you. That’s so cool! I have been vegan since January 1, 2010. I started transitioning in the fall of 2009 but set the start of a new year as my “no going back” date!
HOP: What was it that inspired you to make the switch to veganism in the first place? And what is it that makes it easy for you to stick with it?
LT: It was really how I felt that sparked the change. I was pretty good at ignoring my body for years, but eventually enough was enough. I didn’t feel good physically, mentally or emotionally eating animals and animal by-products. But it’s conditioning that makes us good at ignoring things. I remember watching Food Inc. and then reading Omnivore’s Dilemma and that’s what changed my mind. The fact that I got so INTO my new way of life that I started blogging my transition from the beginning as hot for food, helped me stick with it. I was really excited by trying so many new foods and cooking techniques so that’s what made it stick. Once I saw how delicious it could be and I was really in control now of how I could feel, it just made sense and I never even considered switching back.
HOP: Would you tell people to go vegan overnight? Or take their time?
LT: I think everyone is different. I’ve heard many vegans tell me they just did it overnight. But I always recommend to take it at your own pace. You have to do what feels right for you. For some people, like me, if you force yourself to do something before you catch up mentally then it doesn’t’ work. So don’t worry about what anyone else is doing or telling you to do. You gotta do you!
HOP: When will your new book be out?
LT: I’m hoping February 2021. The exact date isn’t set yet.
HOP: People can check out your YouTube channels (Hot for Food and Lauren Toyota) for TONS of What I Eat in A Day Videos… but short n’ sweet, what is a day in quarantine in food language sound like for you?
LT: Breakfast: coffee
Lunch: salad with roasted potatoes and a creamy dressing
Snacks: homemade cookies, salt & vinegar chips, oranges
Dinner: pasta with veggies and sometimes beyond meat sausage
Dessert: more homemade cookies
Fave Quarantine Recipe?
Excerpted from hot for food Vegan Comfort Classics. Copyright © 2018 by Lauren Toyota. Published by Penguin Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.
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