It’s a Friday sunny morning in mid January (I know, seriously) and we’re lucky enough to bagsy an interview with vegan model, beauty and food writer Nancy Elza who’s been a Maple customer since the early days of 2016.
How long have you been vegan for and why did you choose to transition?
I’ve been vegan for about 5 years. I learnt more about the dairy industry and how corrupt it was. I was also ill at the time and thought I would try go vegan. It was a lot of moral reasons really, and the more I learnt how about it, the more it just seemed to make sense.
If you don’t mind me asking, what were the health problems?
I had glandular fever, which basically meant my immune system was always really shit. I would pick up anything whenever someone else was ill. I was also tired all the time and swollen – Just not great really.
Oh no, that’s awful and what was your diet like then?
When I was a teenager I was not healthy. I was trying to eat healthy (or what I thought was healthy) but just failing really. I was not modelling at the time but I had it in my head that I wanted to loose weight, which didn’t help with my obsessive characteristics. I was eating loads of meat, protein, processed foods and no carbs. This all went on whilst at the same time I had Glandular fever.
Oh wow, so many people fall into that don’t they?
Certainly, I was having McDonald’s milkshakes as that would fill me up, but would just make me swollen. Cereals as well – I lived on those. I mean I was veggie beforehand for a good year, so I started eating healthier after that.
Ah okay, so you eased yourself into it. What was the hardest thing about the transition?
Well I was living with my parents at the time and the options weren’t great. I’d want almond milk for instance and my parents would go “What are you doing for yourself?”. My mum was pescatarian so she kind of got it and was a bit more open. It’s funny now though because the whole family is on almond milk – my mum, dad, sis, the lot. My brother is into health now too – he’s still a meat eater but more conscious about his options. He was a bit like me, when he was a child he was a bit chubby and then didn’t want to be when he was older.
Small changes that make the biggest difference isn’t it? As for Veganuary, it’s almost the norm now – how do you find the market and all these new products?
Oh it’s saving, it really is. With the amount of vegan launches I get invited to – I would have never ever thought there would be launches like this – even places like Bill’s for instance are doing it. I used to just have a pathetic little salad and now there are all these incredible options.
Do you still model? How does being a vegan affect you as a model?
People would think they provide models with healthy food but you would be surprised, it’s not uncommon to get Pizza. It’s cheap. They’re not always expected to eat it but there might not be another option. I mean there are exceptions to every rule, and some brands are great like ASOS. But best thing to do is to bring your own lunch. That’s what I end up doing. You actually burn a lot of calories when you’re on set, and definitely need something.
Of course! I mean everyone needs to eat something, no matter who you are. Do you supplement with anything?
Oh I try. I take a Vegan multi vit and B12. I used to have low iron so I try to supplement with that. Since how I look and appearance isn’t as important anymore (as I’m doing a lot less modelling) I’m now getting more into health, vitamins and just looking after myself. I love a good Berocca. It’s like a healthy fizzy drink. I used to work with Vitl which is this vitamin company that customise your daily vitamins for you, so I have enough to last me a lifetime. I now go off how I’m feeling really.
Are there any favourite products or brands you like? food wise.
I like Miss Organic – it’s a normal little company who just sell nice ketchups, mayonnaise. Pulisn is a good one too which I use for protein. Pea protein is what I take.
What does a typical meal look like for you? Breakfast for instance?
I usually have a nice carby breakfast, and then in summer I get into smoothie bowls, with a bit of protein and some green powder. Kellogs have brought a new healthy cereal out actually. Plant power something. Like I said, I love cereals – of course I try go for low sugar etc. As for lunches, I might just get something quick from tossed when I’m out.
Finally last question, what are your favourite restaurants?
Maple & Fitz, and all their other chains – their salads are always great, I love them. Their flavours are always strong and a key to a good salad is strong flavour. I also like Fed by water in Dalstons – which is a Italian vegan and Just.Fab which is this really cool double decker bus.