She is our Hackney neighbour, cookbook author and our all-time favourite veggie inspo account on instagram - As we're deep into Veganuary it seemed the perfect time to introduce to you one of KANKAN's first customers and friend Rachel Boyett. She gives us her Veganuary tips and a peak into her home..
Thank you for taking the time to participate Rachel. We obviously know you as a neighbour but also online with your fantastic resource of an instagram account and now a book!
Can you tell us what your story is and the ambition behind it all?
Little Veggie Eats started as my hobby. I love cooking, and as a lifetime veggie, I love showing people how easy it is to cook simple veggie meals for their family.
I think lots more people are looking at vegetarian or plant based diets to be more sustainable so naturally they start thinking about making these changes as a family. That’s where I step in! I want to give parents the confidence to know that their babies and children can get everything they need from a vegetarian diet. So when Ebury contacted me about making a vegetarian weaning book I obviously jumped at the chance!
What is the background of veggies and kids - what made you start recording your baby hacks?
I set Little Veggie Eats on Instagram up when I was starting my eldest (now 6) on solid food and wanted to connect with other parents and swap recipes. It was a little bit of a creative outlet for me, when to be honest, I’d found the rest of parenting so far a little monotonous! I started by documenting what I’d fed him and then gradually included more recipes.
I was raised vegetarian so to me it’s completely normal to have vegetables as the focus of the meal. Kids can sometimes be a bit hesitant about trying new things (and eating vegetables generally) so I enjoy the challenge of finding new and fun ways to incorporate them into a meal.
If you could give one tip to get kids to eat more veg - what would it be?
Keep mealtimes relaxed! I find setting out a selection of different bowls of food really helps more hesitant eaters to explore and is not too intimidating.
Also use veggies to add colour (OK sorry this is two tips!) - spinach, kale etc for green, beetroot for bright pink (lollies, pancakes, waffles - lots of fun food!). Help your kids to be confident around colour and variety.
You’ve got 3 kids, and a full life - can you give us a picture of how one of your typical days go?
Our days start pretty early - my kids have always been early risers so generally one of them is up between 6 and 6:30. My husband and I run on alternate days, so if it’s my run day I’ll be out the house at around 7 for a run around Hackney marshes. Although I still dread every single run, once I’m out it’s a brilliant start to the day and great for clearing your head. Then it’s home for coffee, getting everyone dressed and ready and out the door for school. So pretty frantic!
My children are 6, 4 and 1.5. The older two are at school, but I have the toddler for 3 days, and 2 days she goes to a wonderful childminder. On the days I have her I try to spend time outside - we go to the park or explore the marshes. The days when she’s at the childminder I spend 5 hours frantically trying to catch up on emails, cook recipes, write recipes down etc - and always run out of time!
You’ve got a strong sustainability message that is very much felt on your account...
I’m very mindful that having three children produces a lot of waste! So sustainability is a way for us to try and mitigate that. A big part of that for me is food waste and what we eat. I try to be creative about using up leftovers. I use a really brilliant local veg scheme (Growing Communites) so we eat veg in season, and try and reduce animal products where we can (the kids and I are veggie, but I like to reduce our dairy intake too).
We also try to use refillable products where possible (we love KanKan!). Although the pandemic has made that slightly harder as I’ve been buying more products in our online shop, rather than refilling at bulk stores.
Where do you find inspiration for your collaborations and work?
I get inspiration from eating lots of different food (especially eating out - COVID has made this harder), reading food columns and Instagram.
I’m pretty strict about who I work with. I don’t just look at the product, but also the company, its ethics, farming practices etc. That’s not always easy though - once you start doing digging on brands it makes you realise that a few big brands basically own everything!
Any businesses/ folks to shout about?
Reuse Reuse: For beautiful, practical things which are made to last. They stock a great range of my favorite bento-style lunchboxes - Yumboxes.
Nom Nom Kids: Reusable pouches that are perfect for school run snacks!
Growing Communities: Organic and in season veg from a local Hackney collective.
Lele's Cafe: amazing vegan cafe in Hackney, but they've also pivoted during the pandemic to offer super easy and yummy make at home kits.
And for those who may be vegan curious but didn't take Veganuary plunge. Any top tips for embracing more of a plant based lifestyle?
I totally agree with dropping the labels and just doing what you can! Switching cow's milk for a plant based milk is a good easy switch (I like oat milk) if you are looking to reduce dairy. But I think the key thing is getting acquainted with what fruit and veg is in season. Eating veg in season is generally cheaper and tastier, plus the natural variety as the year goes on makes it fun to experiment with new dishes that put vegetables centre stage. And get some good recipe books to browse and get excited. You can't go wrong with anything by Anna Jones, Meera Sodha or Bosch.