Being in a long-term relationships has its ups and downs. You can develop habits and routines which aren't really supportive of your overall health and wellbeing. When you realize this one day and want to change, you have to make one decision: it's either creating a healthier lifestyle together or step away from your partner.
Fortunately, Natasha and Luca, an Australian couple who met at just 10 years old and started a relationship 8 years later, decided to do some serious soul searching and personal development which ultimately led them towards a very healthy, sustainable lifestyle, fulfillment and a happy relationship.
But this huge change didn't just happen to them. Being unhappy with their busy lives, fed up on poor quality foods, smoking and drinking, they started seeing several health problems as well as serious personal issues. Taking a huge leap and turning their whole lives around was what truly saved them.
It was back in 2007 that they decided to start making some changes. Ever since, they lived in many countries around the world and learned different ways of thinking and living. Being minimalists and health enthusiasts has enabled them to travel many countries where they would teach Yoga and English, practise Reiki, work on organic farms and with abused and disabled children.
Within the last months, their YouTube channel has grown tremendously and their kind, funny and educational videos reach over 22 thousand subscribers. Having enjoyed their work for quite a while, it was an honor to be talking with this inspirational couple about their lives, health, minimalism and much more.
1. What inspired you to go vegan and what expectations did you have?
We started eating a more plant-based diet for health reasons, but we made the vegan connection after watching a YouTube video called The Best Speech Ever from Gary Yourofsky.
It was important for us to make the ethical connection and understand that veganism was not about our health, it was about causing the least amount of harm to animals, which in turn helps people and the planet.
We didn’t know all the details behind the animal agriculture industry, so it was unexpected to learn of such terror, destruction, and injustice inflicted upon animals, the environment, and starving people, all for our convenient animal products.
2. Could you describe your vegan diet and give an example of your daily meals? Has this changed or evolved over time?
When we first became vegan, we were eating mostly whole-foods, but our diet was high in fat. We ate a lot of oil (all kinds), nuts, seeds, avocado and coconut meat.
As a result, the health problems we experienced as meat eaters and vegetarians continued when we went vegan. It was only once we discovered the high carb, low fat vegan diet that we started experiencing all the health benefits that a vegan diet can offer.
A typical day of food for us now looks like: fruit in the morning - we eat as much as we care for, followed by oatmeal topped with bananas and sometimes berries, lunch is usually rice with a side of lentils, beans, corn, vegetables, and lettuce, and dinner is usually a potato based dish or pasta with lettuce.
Nowadays we eat very simply and our bodies love the consistency of our meals, but of course we also enjoy a range of soups, curries, noodles, burgers, pizza and many other high carb, low fat vegan options.
3. What kind of health benefits (mind & body) have you experienced while being vegan?
Since coming to the high carb, low fat, mostly whole-foods, vegan lifestyle, between us we’ve healed a host of health problems such as candida, asthma, allergies, constipation, fatigue, digestive problems, hyperhidrosis, and severe menstrual pain.
This has been absolutely incredible because we feel like we are getting younger in our bodies as our age gets older! It’s like we are experiencing things for the first time… we’ve never had fitness and energy like we do now.
4. What other areas of your life has the vegan diet touched?
Once we started eating a high carb, low fat vegan diet, we healed our health issues and then we were finally able to work on our fitness. We never expected this diet to lead to fitness, so we were very happy about that.
The ethical side of veganism completely changed our views on the world and we ended up changing our career path as a result.
5. What's the single most important and profound thing people should start doing for better health?
Simply put, cutting out all animal products. Some people like to take small steps and cut out one thing at a time, but we have found that this can draw out the transition and actually make it more difficult.
If you still have the taste of animal products in your body, it’s hard to give it up. So the easiest way is to just replace all those disease forming animal products with healthier plant-based substitutes.
6. What role does yoga play in your overall wellbeing?
Yoga is a great tool for relaxation and connection. It’s definitely a practice that everyone can and should do.
It certainly doesn’t have to be a high intensity or advanced practice to have profound benefits. In fact a slow and gentle yoga practice is often what people need to counter the fast paced world we live in.
7. Have you changed some of your old bad habits while on your journey?
We used to smoke cigarettes, drink a lot of alcohol, eat animal products at every meal, go to bed late, do no exercise, and be consumed by materialism. We were the exact opposite to who we are now.
8. Where do veganism and minimalism come together?
Minimalism is the idea that we don’t have to complicate life, or get bogged down by our possessions, nor do we need to feel overwhelmed by consumer culture.
Minimalism is about simple living and we like how Mahatma Gandhi put it “live simply so that others may simply live”. Only having what you really need instead of accumulating what you think you need.
Perhaps the two main reasons people become interested in a minimalist lifestyle is because a) they want to simplify their life, and b) they want to have a smaller environmental footprint.
While these are great intentions, it’s important to realize that sorting through your stuff, cleaning out your workspace, and reducing your waste is only the tip of the iceberg.
The reality is that the food we eat actually has a much greater impact on our lives and the environment, than all the minimalizing we could ever imagine doing.
We started our minimalist journey before even knowing what the word vegan was! But over the years, we have learned how perfectly the two complement each other.
A high carb, low fat, predominantly whole-foods plant-based diet makes life very simple because it’s the cheapest, easiest and healthiest way to eat. So it eliminates a lot of stress, high foods costs, and health problems.
In terms of wanting to leave a smaller environmental footprint, animal agriculture produces 51% of all greenhouse gases - that’s more than all transport combined!
Animal agriculture is also the biggest consumer and polluter of fresh water, and is the leading cause of deforestation. The list of environmental destruction due to animal agriculture goes on and on.
So eating a plant based diet is the best way for us to reduce our environmental footprint, in addition to being conscious consumers of all items.
9. Has veganism, yoga or
minimalism given you some kind of purpose or direction in life that you feel is very valuable?
Absolutely! We started with minimalism, then discovered yoga and that all led us to veganism - the 3 work beautifully together.
Many years ago we worked corporate jobs (Luca in banking and Natasha in media/ corporate communications), we ate a standard western diet of animal products, we smoked and drank alcohol, over consumed, and were unhealthy and unhappy.
Minimalism, yoga and veganism changed our lives - they transformed us into healthy people who started caring more about what we were contributing to this world and how we could help others.
Someone once said to us “you used to be takers and now you’re givers” and it feels good to have made that transition. Our purpose now is to continue our online work (YouTube channel, health coaching, ebooks, social media) spreading awareness and education to help people, animals, and the planet.
Thank you again Natasha and Luca for these wonderful answers, I am sure it resonated with a lot of our readers here. Your focus on helping people, animals, and the environment is truly admirable and everyone knows now how much more is possible.
If you like to connect with That Vegan Couple, you can hop over to their website where you can find their eBooks and online coaching offering. You can also follow them around on Facebook, Instagram or Tumblr, watch their YouTube videos or even become a Patreon to further support them.
What part of their story inspired you the most? And what was your experience like when you wanted to change your life completely? Let us know in the comments below.
About the Author
Alena has been eating a plant-based diet for 6 years and is passionate about sharing her learnings in the fields of nutrition, wellbeing, and vegan ethics. She is the co-creator of nutriciously and loves music, reading, nature, traveling, yoga & good food. Alena received training in the fields of nutrition, music therapy, and social work.