From a meat-eater to being one of the most renowned Vegan experts in the world, Kim-Julie Hansen shared with us how she started Best of Vegan, as well as her Vegan Reset blog and most recently launched a fantastic 28-Day Vegan Plan book!
Tell me a bit about you! Where you’re from, what you studied, where you’ve worked, how you ended up in NYC…
I’m Kim-Julie, I’m 32 years old and originally from Brussels, Belgium, although that’s only partially true. I was actually born in West Berlin (two years before the Berlin Wall fell) and have lived in many places throughout my life.
I studied modern languages and comparative literature (BA and MA) in Brussels and I’ve worked all over the world in tourism and hospitality before starting my own business.
Five years ago I came to New York for an event and stayed with a friend for 5 days. On the fifth day, I knew that I needed to move here.
Luckily, my online business’s audience was located mostly in the US, so I got my Visa thanks to that (and the advice and support of amazing friends who had undergone the process before me!).
You have countless different platforms and social channels. I’d love if you could share a bit about each of them!
Best of Vegan is a digital culinary publication focused on crowd-sourced and crowd-pleasing recipes for every occasion and showcasing the best the vegan culinary scene has to offer.
Vegan Reset is my health conscious blog within Best of Vegan. It’s where I share meal prep and plant-based lifestyle tips, as well as my own quick and easy recipes. It’s also the name of my book and online program.
In addition to those, I also share the things that inspire me on my personal page and blog, @KimJulieHansen and I have two additional vegan Instagram accounts: @VeganChallenge based on the free 7-day vegan challenges I host and @IDontWantSalad, an ode to vegan comfort food, which I created to show that vegans can eat much more than just salad.
How was your journey into the Vegan lifestyle?
Unexpected, overnight and life changing. I was the furthest thing from a vegan you could possibly imagine.
I loved meat, dairy and eggs and had them every day. Then, in 2011, I read two books that made me change my eating and lifestyle habits instantly: Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer and Slaughterhouse by Gail A. Eisnitz.
It was a strictly ethical decision for me at first and I didn’t even know that veganism could be healthy. I ended up researching and trying to find out everything I could for months.
That’s how I ended up learning more about whole foods and cooking with unprocessed ingredients, incorporating more fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds. I had never liked any of these foods, so no one was more surprised than me.
What are some myths about Vegan cuisine that people believe?
That it’s bland, boring, not nutritionally adequate, hard to adapt to and impractical.
I believed all of that too before going vegan myself, so as you can imagine, I wasn’t thrilled to give up so much of what I enjoyed, but I soon found out that you can actually veganize practically anything.
Latte? Make it a soy or oat latte. Sushi? Make it a sweet potato or avocado roll. Pizza? Add some vegan cheese and pepperoni. It obviously doesn’t taste exactly the same, but it’s close enough and, given the ethical implications, definitely worth the sacrifice.
What I at first feared would be restrictive ended up opening the doors to a whole new world for me. I enjoy cooking and eating out so much more now. Vegan cuisine is also neither boring nor deficient. You can get all the same nutrients from plants and whenever they’re harder to get, you can take a vegan supplement for convenience.
I do want to note that vegan foods and products aren’t readily available to everyone equally, so I think that as someone who does have access to the lifestyle, it’s important to simultaneously educate and motivate those who are in the same position while also actively working on making access easier for those who do not without ever judging them.
What are your favorite NYC Vegan spots? Sorry for this tough question, Kim… 🙂
There are far too many to list!
I’m probably forgetting half the list…!
How about your top Vegan brands that are really disrupting the industry, in New York?
I love brands that emphasize quality and/or community and are based right out of New York. Some of them include Egunsi Foods, Raaka Chocolate and Foreal Foods.
Ah! And you have a gorgeous life changing book and I was lucky enough to follow closely it coming to life! So tell our readers what it’s all about and what they can expect.
Thank you for the kind words!
My book, Vegan Reset (called The 28-Day Vegan Plan in the U.K.), is a practical guide, a cookbook and a 28-day meal plan. It’s an introduction to ethical veganism, plant-based living and a holistic approach to health.
It’s not a diet in the sense that the goal is feeling good physically and mentally, not weight loss.
While it teaches you how to incorporate more fresh produce and unprocessed foods, there are no strict guidelines and you can adapt everything as you see fit. The main motivation is ethical rather than dietary.
Do you have any super cool upcoming project you can share? Anything exclusive no one knows yet!? Lol!
I may or may not be planning my second book! 🙂
More about her Book!
“Vegan Reset: The 28-Day Plan to Kickstart Your Healthy Lifestyle” is a 28-day plan for new vegans or anyone looking to get their diet back on track, from the wildly popular creator of Best of Vegan!
No matter what diet you practice, a reset is a way to jump-start or refocus healthy habits and get your body to a state of optimum health. Here, NYC-based blogger and Instagrammer Kim-Julie Hansen of Best of Vegan offers a practical and easy-to-follow program, laid out day by day with meal plans, prep, shopping lists, recipes, and personal tips and inspiration.
If you want to become a vegan and don’t know where to start, this is the ultimate guide. But it’s also invaluable for anyone (vegan or not) looking to kick-start healthier habits, whether to lose weight, become fitter, or simply cultivate a more balanced lifestyle.
Kim-Julie introduces you to the benefits of a reset; guides you through the 28-day meal plan; and finishes with additional recipes to carry you beyond the reset—all brought to life with her gorgeous photography throughout. With its emphasis on satisfying plant-based foods and its achievable 28-day plan, this program is a great way to meet your goals of health and well-being.
Thank you Kim, my dear friend, for sharing your amazing story with everyone and congratulations on all that you have built during these amazing years in New York City!
I’ve had the opportunity of seeing it from close and I couldn’t be more proud of you!
Plus, I can’t wait to see more of your work and continue trying out all of your food (yes, please continue inviting me over for dinner, lol!) and following your tips!
And finally, if you want to uncover more Vegan spots in New York, be sure to explore our website!
Photo Credits: ©Behind the Scenes NYC, Best of Vegan LLC and portraits by Edward Gebel