Interview by Natalie Tabone
Photos by Lidia Bier
Where do you live?
Preston, an inner-ish northern suburb of Melbourne
What do you do?
I’m a naturopath, nutritionist, teacher and an eternal student currently studying for my Masters in Public Health.
What did you have for breakfast?
Bit of a weird one this morning – hommus, edamame beans and mixed grain salad on the way to work!
When and why did you decide to go vegan?
I became extremely passionate about animal rights when I was 14, which soon lead to a very vocal few years of vegetarianism. A few years later, I started a slow but successful transition towards veganism, which was fully achieved in early 2002, and here I am almost 15 years later, very much alive and kicking (in defiance of my family who told me veganism would surely kill me!).
What does veganism mean to you?
It’s a massive part of my life. My veganism has made me a more compassionate person towards both human and non-human animals, it has lead me to my chosen career path and because of it I have formed some pretty amazing friendships with other vegans.
Describe a normal day in the life of Lidia.
This is a tough one! I have four different jobs so there is no typical day for me! I’m very lucky in that a lot of work for me is done from home, which gives me the opportunity to both experiment in the kitchen and also visit vegan friendly cafes without the lines that inevitably appear on weekends! I’ll also try to squeeze in some exercise and time with friends, but my most important daily tasks involve making time to spend with my beloved dog Stumpy and boyfriend Lachie, usually in a three way cuddle 🙂
What food best describes your personality?
Definitely olives, I can be pretty salty at times, but everyone still loves me, and I get along very well with (vegan) cheese platters and pizza!
Sweet or savoury?
My European roots mean I grew up on a steady diet of mustard, olives and pickles – as above, I’m a salty girl through and through!
What is your most memorable dining/eating experience?
Whilst traveling in Istanbul in 2014, we accidentally stumbled upon a tiny restaurant whilst searching desperately for a public toilet! It was a little terrace building, and we were given a table upstairs, looking out over the rooftops of Istanbul whilst the sunset. The meal was homestyle Turkish with a vegan twist, and each table had housemade pickles to compliment the incredible food. We grabbed some walnut and red capsicum dip to take on a long trip with us the next day and were devastated to learn we left it in the fridge at our Airbnb 😦
What is your favourite song/album to listen to in the kitchen while cooking?
I normally listen to true crime podcasts when hanging out in the kitchen (great for ruining my appetite!), but yesterday morning Royal Headache helped me put together about two dozen rice paper rolls!
What is your speciality dish?
I’ve spent a long while perfecting my mac n cheese and I think I have it very much on point these days! The secret is Dijon mustard 😉
Where is your favourite food destination?
I’m actually headed to Japan in three week’s time and, despite never having been there, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be my favourite food destination! I’ve literally spent hours researching where to get the best vegan ramen and okonomiyaki and matcha flavoured everything!
What is your favourite thing to eat on a hot summers day?
Honestly, how can you beat a season fruit salad with LOTS of mint and lime juice chucked in? You cant. And maybe a scoop of really good vanilla ice cream.
On a cold winters night?
I make a mean red lentil, roasted root veggie and coconut soup with stacks of ginger, turmeric, garlic and chilli. Warms you up and wards off all manner of nasty colds and flus!
Describe your perfect day.
Any day where I don’t have to open my laptop, and am free to venture out of town and have an adventure which involves winding paths, swimming, greenery, friends and food (of course)!
You’ve been asked to contribute a recipe to an upcoming cookbook. What is it?
Definitely the aforementioned mac n cheese! It’s a good one 🙂
If you were a vegetable what would you be?
For sure a sweet potato – it’s like a regular potato but better, and so versatile!
How do you think we can each make the world a better place?
Take the time to educate ourselves on issues that matter, and find various ways to make a difference, no matter how small they may seem. Keeping a positive attitude is vital – optimism is activism.
What is your guilty pleasure?
I’ve been known to snack on fried pastry from time to time.
You’re on death row and it’s your last meal. What do you eat?
Every vegan pizza from Shop 225. And then every gelati flavour from Gelato Blue in Sydney.
What are your plans for the new year?
I’m not one for planning, but I think it will be much like the one I’ve just had, which is totally fine! Lots of time with friends, welcoming new and old clients into my naturopathy clinic, tackling my Masters degree, continuing my volunteer work with asylum seekers, and hopefully getting into lecturing as well! I’d love to make more time to experiment in the kitchen, and definitely am already looking into which part of the world I can explore next! I’ve got good feelings about 2017 🙂
Anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you so much, Nat, for giving me the opportunity to have a really good think about my veganism and the motivations behind it, it has really renewed my passions! Aaaaand now I totally need to make my mac n cheese 😉