Britt: Hello. Hello, happy new year and welcome to Souvenir Live! We are joined today by Ysabel, who is a vegan and plant-based creator living in LA. if you guys are just tuning in for the first time, my name is Brittany. I'm the founder of Origin Travels, and this is Souvenir Live a place where we meet every Tuesday evening just to talk about the souvenirs that we brought home from our travels, and I'm not talking about those physical trinkets. We are talking about those really cool conversations you had, the learnings that you took home, how different people live around the world and how those, like, how those new experiences have come to form the way that you make your way through this life. And so today I'm talking to, Ysabel, she is a content creator, who is all about vegan and a plant-based lifestyle. She works out of LA and she she recently returned back from Costa Rica. So we cannot wait to talk to you about it.
If you haven't seen her content yet, she focuses mostly on sharing vegan recipes and the benefits of having a vegan lifestyle and how to eat vegan while traveling, which I have had a number of vegan travellers and it is a little bit of kind of a tough go. So cannot wait. Welcome. So happy.
Ysabel: Yeah, so great to be here. I'm so happy that you reached out to me. I saw, you know, Origin Travels and what you guys are all about. So I’m excited to share a little bit more about my content. I do a lot of vegan content and also just travel as well. So, you know, there's definitely, a way to be able to be vegan while traveling.
Britt: Let’s, let's take it back, how long have you been vegan for? How did you get here today? What got you to kind of come into the space where you wanted to talk, about this lifestyle, give us a little bit of a background on who you are.
Ysabel: Yeah, sure. So I went vegan in 2016, so it's been about five years now. It was my freshman year of college at UCLA, spring quarter and I really just kind of wanted to try out the lifestyle and I feel like not very many people were doing. And at that point I was very curious and wanting to eat a little bit healthier and, and challenge myself in that way. I ended up really loving the lifestyle and, I'm grateful that I was in Los Angeles, it made it a little bit easier with that transition, but I really ended up loving it. And that summer, I also kind of did an internship where it was kind of like how to feed 9 billion people by 2050, which more so focuses on like the sustainability aspect, you know?
So I really learned more about that aspect and like how it helps with the environment. And also that same summer I got really into like my health and fitness. I just really learned more about like what it is that I'm putting into my body. And that was super transformative for me. All of those things combined, like doing my internship, kind of just having that initial curiosity and ending up kind of finding that there's so many different products that are coming out that are so innovative that are just making it so easy to be vegan. Okay. Helped me without transition.
And I became super, super passionate about food, especially, and just kind of like became a, you know, I always loved food, but I became more of a foodie after I went vegan. I got really excited, like, wow, there's these restaurants that have these vegan items that was like, that's so cool. And then just kind of like got like deeper into it always was taking pictures of my food, taking videos of it. I think when I was my second year, I started like an Instagram or just posting about my food. And then eventually it would brought me over to TikTok was. And then just started, started doing recipes, like when my mom in the kitchen and then went from there and it's, it's been fun. I've been able to create content over the past year. And even now doing like my travels, able to like, integrate that.
Britt: Amazing. So can I ask, like, did you go straight vegan or did you kind of tried the vegetarian route first because it seems pretty intimidating.
Ysabel: Totally. I went, I personally went straight vegan, sort of cold Turkey.
Britt: Okay, cool. I feel like that may, might be the way to do it. Cause if you're just like, you know, what I'm dedicated to it. That’s super, super cool. You started on this journey, you started making these changes in your life. Like how are you seeing your life improve? Like mentally, physically, that like kind of kept you going and being like, yeah, you know what, this, this is for me.
Ysabel: Ah, I mean, I think everyone's maybe experiences a little differently, but I felt really good about myself. I felt like, you know, mentally. It just kind of like, it's a really something that can nourish your body. And as I started to eat a little bit healthier and just being more mindful about what I was consuming, like I was, I was feeling a lot better, like probably even like more clarity in whatever I was doing in school. So I think overall it just, it was very helpful with my overall mindset and, and everything.
Britt: Okay, cool. So you're talking to a person who grew up in like an Italian, Eastern European household, lots of meats, lots of curate needs, lots of cheeses. Like this is like how I was brought up. And I feel like, you know, for someone like me, although I eat largely vegetarian, I would say like, there are still certain meat dishes where it feels like its hard to substitute with plant-based options. If you could give advice to somebody looking to start a vegan lifestyle, or even like start exploring it, like what, what type of advice would you give?
Ysabel: I would say for one, it doesn't have to be this all or nothing thing. And I think sometimes people feel like it needs to be and like, yes, that's what I did, but it definitely doesn’t. And I think if anything, it's better to just make small, you know, little changes here and there.
Britt: Yeah. You know, like you said, start eating a little bit more plant-based but you don't have to cut it out completely.
Ysabel: You know, I think if you're at least making those small changes, it's good. And then kind of seeing ways that you can start to replace some of the food items that are maybe a little bit more more and start using more like the plant-based meats. So I actually understand, I grew up with half Mexican and Filipino cuisine and they have, I mean, a lot of it is like based off of meat. And so growing up, you know, my mom was always cooking stuff. But naturally like a lot of cultural cuisines aren't, you know, vegan, but I was able to like find my favorite dishes and make them vegan-friendly.
So I did like this chicken adobo that I made was one of the first videos that I made on TikTok and I use like a plant-based, chicken, and then I recreated that Filipino cuisine, but like completely just veganized it. I've done that with a few other different focuses. And so I still, personally, I actually liked the different plant-based meats, even like, you know, on my Mexican side, like tacos, there's different, like plant-based chorizos or you know, that kind of stuff or plant-based sausages. So I like to kind of create those kinds of things that still remind me of those meals that I can have. And I still really enjoy them. And I feel like I'm able to, you know, still have that experience.
Britt: Amazing. Something that really caught my eye on your feed was your pancakes with like the sauce. Oh my gosh. That is just like, that looks incredible to me. How did you come up with that recipe?
Ysabel: Yeah. I feel like I started doing a lot more just recipes because it was one of my first videos are on TikTok and went a little more viral. I started experimenting a little bit more with different recipes on there. So the pancakes, the three ingredient pancakes is something that I've made for years. Like even since I started going vegan, all you need is like a banana and oats and, almond milk and you blend it and that's your base. And so I was like, great, some ube in there and like, you know, it looks really beautiful with the purple color and then start experimenting with different things like French toast. I made it with ube.
Britt: That sounds amazing. Okay. That's a that's a super, that's a super lovely cuisine combination, Filipino and Mexican, like food from both sides of the corner. Like just incredible. So you probably grew up with some like amazing flavors that helped you have this creative approach to just like these different like recipes and tastes and flavors. So tell us about the first time you went traveling, as you know, as somebody who was committed to a vegan diet. What was that like for you? How did you navigate the restaurant scene? Did you find that you needed to be more flexible? Tell us about that.
Ysabel: Yeah, that's a great question. So my very, very first time, like traveling, being vegan was after my second year of college. And so I went my first year and then second year I did a study abroad experience and I was a little bit nervous, but I actually ended up going to Berlin in Germany and I found that, like if you Google it, they're one of the number one places that have like vegan-friendly options. As in like, if you go there, like I was, which is kinda surprising, like, you know, they have like bratwurst, but they have a vegan bratwurst where they have those different options. So I was actually super excited when I got there.
It just takes a bit of extra time, I'd go to the grocery store and see like the different vegan things that they had. So that's just something I like to do. But then also on that trip, I went to Prague and I went to Italy and Budapest. And so those three places aren't necessarily known to be like vegan, friendly places, but I was able to still make adjustments. I remember when I was in Prague and just like asking the waiter, like, Hey, You know, I'm vegan can what here can order on the menu. And so they brought me out a menu that was English and I had everything like all the ingredients. So I was just going through the menu like oh, it has milk. This one is completely vegetarian, friendly, vegan, friendly. I'm good.
Yeah, so I've been able to easily make adapt adaptations. But it kind of is just become a part of the lifestyle where it's like, okay, if I go to a restaurant one, either ask the server or, you know, If there are certain cuisines that are known to that region, I'll just like Google it and see like, what is vegan and vegetarian friendly.
Britt: Cool. Is there like one dish that stands out to you from across your travels that has been like the most like delicious or the most creative?
Ysabel: Let's see. I think in general, I love Asian food and Thai food. There was a time where I went to Thailand with some friends and they are very feel like you can find a lot of vegetarian and vegan friendly foods. So like, like Pad Thai, like having Pad Thai , but just like making sure that it's vegan, was delicious. The curries that they have is one of my top favorite cuisines that, is already just naturally being vegan friendly.
Britt: Yeah. Yeah. Awesome. Yeah. It's so wild. Like it's, it's like a really beautiful thing with like the movement of people around the world. I feel like in so many places, even just like five, 10 years ago, you wouldn't be able to say like, oh, I don't eat gluten. Like so many people would be like, what are you talking about? Like, what is that? What is gluten? But now it's like, you could, you could like jump on a four-day hike on the Inca trail in Peru and tell your chef that you're vegan, or you have, you have these dietary restrictions. And they're like so amazing at being accommodating. I've seen it so many different times. There's so many places now where a lot of places are, especially on some itineraries that we've traveled to, are so committed to sustainability. And that just naturally ties in with vegan food.
It’s actually like getting to be, I think, a lot easier to travel and like make those special requests. I feel like to kind of put yourself out there on tape to talk and share your experiences and continue to like, explore like the world like you do and explore the different flavors. At some point you need to be studying outside of your comfort zone. I think that that's integral. You put yourself out there, I think you have like 11,000 followers on TikTok, but that's a lot of faces to be out in front. Can you tell us about a time where you were traveling, where you maybe were required to step outside of your comfort zone a bit, and maybe you learned something about yourself that you didn't know that kind of was there before.
Ysabel: Say for example, like I was just in Costa Rica for three weeks, and this was probably one of the most different experiences that I've had, as opposed as being that I went as a content creator. I went to go and film content, and I went to really understand and learn about the culture and immerse myself in it. So I can tell more impactful stories as opposed to, you know, maybe in the pas when I was on vacation as opposed to this trip - I'm trying to really understand the culture. So one of the experiences that I was on for 10 days really focused on like the cultural aspect of Costa Rica and kind of like more of the, I guess, rural and remote sides of the country.
Whereas I think most people, when they think of Costa Rica, it's, you know, the planning is yeah, like the wildlife. You know, the mountains, these cloud forest, but this experience, like I realized, especially coming back, like it really put me like in a different experience that I'm used to. I'm from the United States, it's obviously very different, but this was a focus on the people that live in the farther, farther areas. We went to farms, we visited farms, my friend, he milked a cow. And, they were like creating food that was on their farm. It was very close and connected, like the food that you're creating or that you're farming to what you're eating. So, it was very different.
The experiences are very different from Los Angeles. I remember one of my cameras, I really needed a replacement and we went around to like 10 different places and it was just really hard to find. But just in general I think the entire thing made me step outside my comfort zone a bit because, and also just realizing how different we all live. We all live so incredibly different and I think I'm in the beginnings of my travels. I will be doing more of course, but that's just kind of like the tip of what's out there and what's to be explored and just kind of giving you perspective of even just like the world that we live in.
Britt: Well, where did you go?
Ysabel: Yeah. So I started off kind of in Northern area. I was in a tree house for 24 hours. I actually just posted a YouTube video about that. And then I was in San Jose for one day. And then after that I went to a surfing yoga camp. I then went to a serpent yoga camp for seven days. It's called Bodhi and they're very committed to like sustainability. And that was amazing. Like they have an incredible chef that was totally amazing with like Korean vegan, friendly dishes. And then I was in an airplane overnight for 24 hours.. And then my last 10 days was, in partnership with this company that does attend to experience focusing on the rural or most side of Costa Rica. Yeah. So the people behind it and different like local communities and activities. So I was just kinda like start off in Northern and that was in more of the Southern tip and then went back.
Britt: Can you pinpoint a particular flavor or ingredient that you've taken back with you and like use pretty regularly in your own cooking?
Ysabel: Hmm. Flavor or ingredient. I would say since before this, it was like, maybe after I graduated that I traveled much. I think recently the most recent ones were Costa Rica and Brazil that I would probably definitely take some flavours back from. They incorporate a lot of plantings in their cuisine. Very simple. And so probably for Costa Rica, at least like just a lot more simple stuff: they have a lot of beans and rice that Geico, Pinto, you know, things like that, a lot of fruit and veggies. I already like cooking like that, but I'll probably be doing more of that.
Britt: Costa Rica is one of those incredible places. And it's actually a really special place for, I think, vegans, vegetarians to travel to because, the tap water is actually a drinkable. So you're not, you don't really have that fear that like maybe the water that you're washing your vegetables is might be contaminated. So you can. I like fresh vegetables. They don't all have to be cooked cooked, which provides so much diversity to like what you can eat. It's definitely one of my favorite places to eat. One of the blue zones too. They’re people live the longest just because of, you know, how well they eat. But it was so, so great to talk to you again.
Thank you so much for tuning in for being our first interview of the new year and I wish you great, great success. Where can we find you?
Ysabel: Yes. So on TikTok is my main food account. It's @veganyzzy That's why it's easy. And then for my YouTube videos, which is actually a different platform, that's called global dream team. And that's where it's going to be a lot more travel focused to find all of my Costa Rica videos.
Britt: Amazing. Well, if you're just tuning in, you have to watch this from the beginning, because this is a great chat. If you are a vegan or interested in leading or starting a vegan lifestyle is he is a great wealth of experience. Follow her on TikTok for some incredible, incredible recipes and tune in here next Tuesday for our next chat on souvenir live.
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