Andrea & family
Photo provided by Andrea
Canadian Andrea grew up in Saskatchewan and moved to Hawaii when she was 18. Mama to two young ones, she works for a number of companies as a health ambassador, supporting the vegan message and plant based lifestyle. Her Instagram account @earthyandy is a gorgeous and radiant space showing the vivid beauty and deliciousness of plant based eating as well as her family’s North Shore Oahu lifestyles and travels. Over at her website Earthy Andy, Andrea shares recipes, daily meal plans, her story on going plant based, her personal health philosophy and soon Hawai’i travel tips too.
Annika: Your IG account is such a bright hot spot!!! How has social media and your @earthyandy account played a role in your journey to a plant based lifestyle?
Andrea: It has been incredibly helpful in my personal journey and transformation. Naturally, I am terrible at sticking to a regime. Journalling every day how I was feeling and what I ate and following likeminded people made a massive massive difference.
I opened it up one night with the hopes to journal 30 days of trying a plant based vegan lifestyle. I didn’t want to tell anyone I knew so I kept it a secret (even from my husband) but used Instagram as a tool to journal. When people started to comment and relate and share their stories it was just that much more motivating that what I was working on could work, and it did work and it was so exciting for me to feel good! I have never felt at such peace in my body before and now I just feel like the only way I can ‘give back’ is to be a constant support and provide information for anyone else out there that might be needing a health change or some sort of support! There is lost of great information out there and I think its so rad that people go out of their way and out of the comfort zone to share their stories… its so helpful to hear real stories and experiences.. very very grateful. I honestly think I would be dealing with the same problems I have my whole life if it weren’t for all the information people have shared out there.
Annika: Your photos are gorgeous and really convey that bright, lush island life as well. Did your relationship with photography grow alongside your vegan path?
Andrea: Thank you! I am no photographer but I like to play around. The world is so beautiful and inspiring and to be able to capture that is fun to do. I love taking pictures of kids, they have the best body language, they are so natural and free! And food.. don’t get me started! Food is fun to photograph! I guess I am surrounded by boys all day long that to make a smoothie bowl or something look sort of pretty is my chance to play dress up!
Annika: What kind of work do you do?
Andrea: My family owns a few restaurants here on the North Shore, but I am most always home with my little ones. I now work for a number of companies as a ‘health ambassador’ who support the vegan and plant based message which is really awesome to be apart of. In return I share recipes with them and do projects in the community and schools to spread health awareness . I’m so grateful for the many opportunities to connect with so many wonderful people and it absolutely melts my heart when I hear someone is feeling excited about their health or interested! Health is so freeing and I have a very soft spot for this subject because it was always a challenging area for me growing up. So basically just doing different projects and stoked to connect with people and companies like you who are all about spreading a good message! Thanks for having me.
Annika: You live on the North Shore which is an amazing place to live as well as a destination in itself! Are you there to stay or have some other places in mind to live?
Andrea: I love Hawaii. Hawaii is home. My husband is from here. I have so much family here and I just am in love with everything about it to be honest. Been here 11 years now. I like to believe I could be happy anywhere but if I have a choice I would love to stay in Hawaii forever. Its an amazing ‘home base’. If we have a chance to Iive short term in other parts of the world I am all for that as well though. We lived in France for 1 year, my youngest was born there and my eldest went to French school, we lived in a French neighborhood and it was an incredible experience for all of us. To have a cultural experience like that again would be a dream.
Annika: Would you say the North Shore is very vegan friendly?
Andrea: The North Shore, Yes! 20 minutes down the road, not so much! The North Shore is very transient therefor eeverything goes. People have the mentality not to judge or be negative, at least this is my experience and there is a lot of push for natural living. Even in the school here has an ‘aina program’ which teaches the kids about natural living, they garden, learn about living plastic free and all sorts of things of this nature. Its incredible. We are spoiled, fruit grows all year round and it seems that one friend has way too many bananas, another too many avocados, another to much rambutan etc and so everyone just exchanges and shares. The North Shore is quite health conscious, yoga and surf is in every corner really.
Annika: Favorite HI island getaway?
Andrea: Kauai is really cool and down to earth, good natural food options and amazing hiking. If you want to get away from buildings and a slow pace of life, beautiful beaches, definitely go here!
Annika: Favorite restaurants on the Hawaiian Islands?
Andrea: I love Haleiwa Bowls! That is a given, but I guess thats not really a restaurant! The Thai Elephant Truck on the North Shore is so bomb, great place to lounge with fast service, tiki torches, and you can watch the sunset over Sharks cove, and our restaurant Seven Brothers, I am always there and will make salads loaded up with fresh Pupukea Greens and local Avocado with a lilikoi vinaigrette and a side of home cut fries. My favorite restaurants is Peace Cafe in Honolulu- best vegan restaurant I have ever been too!
Annika: You share many details of what led you to a plant based lifestyle at your website but in brief can you share when became vegan & why?
Andrea: It was a year and a half ago now. I went vegan for health but its much more than that now. All the benefits for not just myself but the planet are very apparent and I feel at peace with this lifestyle. I went vegan after months and months of research. I have spent years reading books on health, seeing health professionals and nothing has made more sense than going vegan in the end. However if you would have asked me a few years ago if I ever would go vegan, I would have probably said no. I had no idea how much affect it could have on ones health and the health of the planet like I see today.
Annika: Your story about your various health issues, seeking medical advice and help and ultimately adopting a raw till 4 and vegan lifestyle is very powerful. I love how the idea popped into your mind and was compelling enough that you rolled with it. Was there anything challenging about that transition period- physically or psychologically?
Andrea: Oh man, well that night that I decided to do it, I made a rule, 30 days no matter what and I wasn’t allowed to have an opinion about it until the 30 days was up. During that time I wanted to quit so many times! It was fully challenging! Especially because my personality like many is very free, ‘ah who cares,’ ya live once, just enjoy ‘ kinda attitude, but obviously the reality of this mindset wasn’t working out so well for me. I also told myself I would journal every day – thats where @earthyandy came into play. The challenging part was that I was foreign to eating this way. I felt sick and bloated and my skin broke out, I had blasting headaches and I was so moody ( ask my husband). I knew these were signs of detoxing but my husband even asked me, “Are you sure this is working out for you, you don’t look like your doing too good!” Well after I got through that detox phase (a few weeks) everything started to change and I felt like I was floating, it was magical and surreal how much energy I had, how good I felt, how clear my skin was and it just got better and better! It was around 30 days that I started to feel like I got this, this feels good, it feels normal and what seemed foreign now seemed natural and it was an extremely freeing and beautiful moment of time.
Annika: Reading a wonderful interview with you I was interested in the fact that your husband is very supportive, eats plant based a lot but is not vegan himself. I have the same situation in my household and it is something I occasionally grapple with in terms of being such a vocal vegan. At the end of the day I know the changes he has made and am proud of that but I think there is this whole territory of exploring becoming vegan in a supportive household with omnivores, who are of course the current majority. I think these issues could also extend to single vegans who are grappling with whether they would date a non-vegan or not (I say go for it because there is opportunity to affect change). What are your thoughts on vegans in partnership with omnivores and maintaining a sense of supportiveness as we all make changes?
Andrea: What a great question! I think the more compatible people are the easier it is to live with each other for sure but life and marriage and relationships are all about compromise! If my Shem ate vegan all the time that would be so awesome but I would never ever stress over it and respect him as an individual. I just decided that I was going to worry about myself. Then I started to integrate into the families grocery and dinner habits and even though Shem is not ‘vegan’ he is 500 times more healthier than he was when we got married ! Marriage and relationships are about sharing and caring and being their for each other but not to tell each other what to do, unless its about putting away the dishes or sweeping the floor..,. then definitely tell them what to do!!
Annika: Were you vegan through pregnancy?
Andrea: With my first not on purpose, but yes. I didn’t eat any dairy because I am allergic and all meat products fully grossed me out. I craved citrus like crazy and ate very clean durning my pregnancies. Even my mom thought I would always have a hard time getting pregnant so when it happened I made sure I nourished and took really good care of myself for my growing babies. For my second I had a little meat here and there I believe but animal products weree just so undesirable during my pregnancies. We want to have another child soon, so it should be great doing it plant based purposefully!
Annika: Did motherhood have any influence on your vegan outlook?
Andrea: I live for my kids. Its my greatest purpose. They require so much energy. Energy that I want to give them. I feel extremely grateful for the opportunity to be a mother and helping these little personalities develop. I was extremely motivated to feel better and be strong so I could be a better mother! I use to count down the hours of the day, doing the best I could to give my kids a good day, now I wish there was more time of the day and find that instead of waiting for the days to be over I am living in the moment and enjoying each and every day.
Annika: How old are your children & are they vegan?
Andrea: Ira is 3 and Tama is 7! They are not fully vegan but I shop and cook plant based at home. Their father is not vegan and neither are many of their friends. When they are at friends or families they can make their own decisions but i find the healthier they eat at home, and the more they learn about where their food comes from etc, the better choices they make on their own. I feel my job is to teach them, and to build a healthy relationship with food so that they can one day make educated choices for themselves.
Annika: How do you navigate situations like your children attending peer’s birthday parties where there may be predominantly non vegan food?
Andrea: I feed them before we go so they are not looking to eat much. This makes a big difference. They will ask if they can have something and I will just shake my head yes or no. They have gotten quite good and refraining from foods. They have learned what makes them feel good too which is quite amazing and might indulge in some things once in a while but their taste buds have changed and they are not as interested. If they want to have a cupcake once in a while or something like that it’s okay with me. I don’t want to be so strict at this point. I am still learning everything for myself and find it works quite well to focus on what happens in the home. For me with my kids its about a ‘solid base’ of good nourishing foods and educating them so one day they can make their own decisions. I hope this makes sense!
Thank You Andrea!
All photos provided by Andrea
This interview is part of an ongoing interview series by Annika Lundkvist with vegan mothers and fathers around the globe. For more interviews and information please visit this page: Interview Series: Vegan Pregnancy, Parenting & Kids.