We connected with our friend Dexter McQueen, an uber talented Toronto-based vegan home chef and food photographer to learn more about plant-based cooking. Known for the stunning photography of artistically composed vegan dishes, baked goods and desserts, he talks with us about transitioning to a vegan lifestyle, mindful cooking, and the health benefits & nutritional values of his favourite ingredients.
Transitioning into a Vegan Lifestyle
When we first came across Dexter’s instagram page, we were curious to learn more about his journey and how it all began...
"I knew of the vegan diet, but didn't really research much about it. There is one video in particular by Gary Yourofsky speaking to a West Virginia university class about veganism that just clicked with me and made sense. I made a decision that moment and I challenged myself to go vegan for two weeks. In those two weeks I tracked my calorie intake and macros [protein, fat, carbs, vitamins and minerals], then I evaluated how I felt and more importantly how my body felt. I haven't looked back since."
For those who are new to the vegan way of life or who want to eat more plant-based food, it’s a good idea to begin by learning about the health benefits and nutritional value of various ingredients as it's important to ensure you’re getting the essential nutrients your body needs to function. Knowing how different ingredients can improve your health can inspire your menu selection.
Preparing and consuming with intention can help boost your health, prevent or manage disease, and maintain wellness. Learning more about the benefits of the foods we consume can inspire the intention behind the ingredient and menu selection process. "A source of inspiration behind my mindful cooking habits began in Australia when I started exploring Ayurvedic healing", he shares. Originating from a Hindu system of medicine, an Ayurvedic diet instructs one to eat according to a dominant energy type. It focuses on whole unprocessed, unrefined foods and mindful eating. Examples of whole foods include whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables. A great source of information on the Ayurvedic diet is the book The Ayurveda Bible: The Definitive Guide to Ayurvedic Healing.
Health Benefits & Nutritional Value
If you live in a city, you may know that sourcing quality and organic ingredients can be challenging. What do you look for when sourceing ingredients in Toronto? "I prefer to buy ingredients from bulk food stores in Toronto that have a Bring your Own Container (BYOC) program. When it comes to organics, I have been exploring growing my own sprouts & microgreens since they can be pricey and are not as easily accessible in the city." he shares.
Sourcing quality whole foods and ingredients is key to gaining the essential nutrients your body needs. There are some essential vitamins that can be challenging to acquire while on a plant-based diet. Featured below are a few ingredients and supplements to consider:
- Two vitamins that are difficult to obtain with a plant-based diet are B12 and Omega. There are supplements available, such as; chia seeds, hemp hearts, walnuts and seaweed.
- Protein is another essential nutrient, which can be found in dried chickpeas, beans, lentils, and grains like oats & quinoa. Additionally, fermented foods are great for gut health — they contain beneficial bacteria that help support the collection of bacteria, yeast, viruses and fungi that live in your gut. They can be found in kombucha, sauerkraut, and coconut probiotic yogurt to name a few.
- Purblack Shilajit provides a great source of selenium, minerals, and fulvic acid. The fulvic acid is known for its properties such as antioxidants, anti inflammatory, and memory enhancing. It is a known substance that the Ayurvedics used and has been using for many years.
These nutrients and vitamins are just to name a few. To learn more about nutrition and plant-based diets, the Pick Up Limes is a great Youtube channel to explore. Strengthen the connection between mind, body and soul through conscious consumption.
Follow @dextosterone on Instagram to view his work!
About Alternative Thinking
What started off as a small used bookstore in Toronto has evolved into an all encompassing alternative lifestyle boutique. Alternative Thinking is a fusion of a holistic lifestyle and metaphysical store, offering a wide range of alternative lifestyle products like ethically sourced organic bulk foods and nutrients, healing crystals, essential oils, eco-ware household essentials and hand-curated books to support knowledge absent in general institutions.