Through meal plans, recipes, education and community, Bailey Rae is helping people embrace a love for veggies. She is fighting the misconception that vegan food is boring, bland and unsatisfying by introducing mouthwatering recipes and new ways to cook vegetables. “People do things they love, and that same philosophy applies to food,” she tells us. More often than not, she can be found in the kitchen testing new recipes and shooting videos and photos to share with her loyal followers. It was her early days and upbringing on her family farm that instilled her love for vegetables and informed her views on food and eating. Today, she takes the time to share her secrets on being vegan, being practical and, of course, loving veggies. Welcome Bailey Rae of The Local Vegan as our FACE of Nashville!
Why do you think it is important to create a community through The Local Vegan? How has The Local Vegan evolved?
The Local Vegan has undergone a huge makeover! I started it as a simple blog to share a few recipes, and now it has grown into a full website. Knowledge is power, especially power over your taste buds, so I have launched three educational components to the new site. I teach you how to cook plant-based through videos. Seeing how to create a recipe will give you the confidence to get in your kitchen and do it yourself. I offer weekly meal plans, taking the stress out of your week and teaching you how to eat a balanced diet that’s plant-based. Lastly, the community — to succeed you have to have cheerleaders and someone you can go to when questions or doubts arise. You can schedule a 101 session with me or post to the group to get other members’ ideas and feedback.
At what point did you decide to go vegan, and why?
My journey to plant-based started five years ago. At first, it was a gradual lean for me. I started by eliminating items that upset my stomach, which were all things dairy. A few months later I decided to try being a weekday vegan, but when Monday came around I would feel bloated and sick. That is when I decided to completely eliminate all animal products from my diet. It has been a long journey for me, with slip-ups along the way. I am all about being practical with yourself and doing your best. If you slip, simply restart the next day.
When did you start cooking?
I can’t even remember! I grew up in my grandmother’s kitchen, watching her cook. She always let me help, although I am sure I was more of a nuisance as I was quiet a messy little chef. I do remember in elementary school, I started making lunches for my parents in the summer. One day, I fixed burgers and picked fresh lettuce straight from the garden to top them with. That is when I learned my lesson that it’s important to wash what you pick or you may end up with bugs in your dish!
What are three of your favorite recipes?
I am obsessed with soup. My curried coconut cauliflower soup is definitely a favorite. Also, my whole roasted cauliflower is irresistible, and I just created a jackfruit gyro recipe that is definitely going to become a go-to.
What are the health benefits of a plant-based diet?
There are many health benefits to a well-planned plant-based diet. In the last 20 years, there has been a significant amount of research into plant-based diets. Recent research has demonstrated the ability of plant-based diets to reduce or reverse the incidence of many chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes and more.
What advice do you have for those adopting a vegan lifestyle?
If you are even slightly considering going vegetarian or vegan, don’t be afraid to try! No one is perfect; we all mess up. It’s most important to do what you can, so you feel your best and love your body!
Where do you go for your favorite vegan dishes in Nashville?
Oh, it is so hard to pick! City House, Josephine and Moto are my favorite date spots. If they don’t have something on the menu that’s vegan, the chefs are always willing to whip up something delicious! Vui’s Kitchen has endless fresh options for lunch, and it’s just down the road from my house.
What is one item we can always find in your pantry?
Cashews. I use them all the time. As a topping for a salad or buddha bowl, or for making “milk, cream and cheese.”
We find it so hard to keep up with health food trends (kale, fermented foods, plant-based proteins). What are a few key ingredients we need to add to our diet ASAP?
It’s impossible to keep up, and you can go broke buying them all! I’ve heard kale is out and broccoli rabe is in, but who knows!
I am a big fan of chia seeds. Sprinkle them on everything, like you would salt. They deliver a massive amount of nutrients with little calories, and are loaded with antioxidants. I also love making chia seed pudding for breakfast or a mid-day snack. Avocados are important for everyone to eat. They contain lots of fiber and are rich in vitamins and minerals, such as B-vitamins, vitamin K, potassium, copper, vitamin E and vitamin C. I enjoy avo toast almost every morning, sprinkled with chia seeds of course!
Where can we find you hanging out around town?
I try to make it to Shakti Yoga on Music Row a few times a week. You can also spot me at Whole Foods or grabbing a bite around the neighborhood, 12South.
What is the best piece of advice you have received and who offered it?
Whatever you do, find your “why” behind it. I heard this once in a podcast, and I think it can apply to so many different aspects to your life. When you find your reason for doing something it helps to motivate and keep you accountable.
Do you have any good book recommendations?
I am a serious bookworm, so I have tons! In the plant-based world, Kathy Freston has two books I’m always recommending: Veganist and The Lean. They both take a soft approach that inspire you to want to go plant-based. If you want a more nutritional-based/factual book, Becoming Vegan: The Complete Reference to Plant-Based Nutrition by Brenda Davis is great!
Name three things you can’t live without, excluding faith, family and friends.
Since I have a serious food addiction, I have to say pistachios, clementines and good bread! I get hungry just thinking of those items.
A special thanks to Ashley Hylbert for today’s gorgeous photos!
Debra Philpot, this month’s FACE of TriStar, was touched by neurological disease at the age of 8 years old, when she lost her father to a brain tumor. Today, that experience and her passion for helping others drives her work and benefits patients across the Southeast. Read her inspiring story!