Q&A with Amy Longard, Plant based Chef and Nutritionist

Amy Longard is a registered holistic nutritionist, plant-based chef, renowned speaker and consultant. An advocate of plant-based nutrition, she has made it her life’s work to educate and guide people toward more conscious food and lifestyle choices.

Q: You’re such a role model when it comes to all things healthy living! What inspired you to become a plant based nutritionist?

Thank you! That’s so nice of you to say.  Long story short, I went to culinary school shortly after I became vegan, and while I was doing my chef’s training I knew I wanted to dive a bit deeper into foods and understand how and why food can contribute to good health, or potentially adversely affect our health. Once I finished culinary school I enrolled in nutrition school and now I’m able to combine both cooking and nutrition, which is a lot of fun for me! 

Q: What led you to veganism?

Believe it or not, about 10 years ago somebody dared me to try being vegetarian for a month. At the time I did have a slight hunch that I might be intolerant to dairy.  So, given that I’m usually up for a challenge, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to take dairy out of my diet and decided to double down on this dare and go fully vegan for a month. I never looked back!

Q: Talk to us about protein! I think the number one question vegans get, is where the heck do you get your protein from?! Is this fear of missing protein a misconception or legitimate concern?

Honestly, when you’ve been vegan for any length of time this question almost seems laughable. But, the truth is that in our society the word meat is often synonymous with protein. This just comes down to a lack of nutrition education and really intense marketing from the meat industry. What most people don’t realize is that ALL foods have protein, including plants!  The great thing is that you can easily get enough protein without eating any meat at all.  If you’re going the plant-based route you simply want to include a variety of foods such as lentils, beans, chickpeas, tofu, split peas, nuts, seeds, whole grains, veggies and fruits over the course of the day. Unless you’re a high level athlete you likely won’t even need to keep track. 

Q: On a vegan diet, do you recommend supplements?

Before getting into any supplements I usually recommend speaking with your primary health care practitioner. It never hurts to get a blood panel just to get some basic health benchmarks and make sure you’re supplementing appropriately. That said, most vegans I know tend to take B12 and vitamin D (the latter is especially important for those of us in cold climates) as these are two really important supplements.  I take both of those supplements and I also take omega3 (from algae) and iron.  

Q: What are your top three health tips?

My top 3 tips are very simple: 

Drink lots of water. Eat lots of plants. Get outside every day. 

Q: Do you have advice for those struggling to adopt a plant based lifestyle, simple swaps or suggestions that make the biggest impact?

If you’re new to eating plant-based just do your best.  It might not be perfect, and that is a-ok. Most people don’t make the switch overnight and it does take a period of adjustment.  If you can even start with just one vegan meal per day, that’s fantastic. Or maybe try swapping out milk products and try plant-based milk, cheeses, yogurt and ice creams -- there are so many good alternatives these days!  I also recommend cooking one new recipe each week. That’ll force you to practice cooking and you’ll build up an inventory of recipes that you like and you’ll become more confident over time. 

Q: Based on your experience, education, and research in nutrition, why do you feel that a plant based diet is optimal?

My personal and very positive experience being vegan, being a pregnant vegan, and then having a vegan baby aside,  I have to say there is just so much evidence in support of plant-based eating.  Most experts will agree that more plants and less animal products is optimal for health. While the exact ratio (ie. fully plant-based versus mostly plant-based) is up for debate, mass and mounting evidence is in favour of plant rich diets. I also love that eating plant-based is more sustainable and earth friendly than a diet rich in animal products. It’s pretty great that we can eat delicious and varied plant-based foods while contributing to better health and reducing our environmental footprint.  It’s a win-win! 

Q: How or where can people get in touch to find more help from you as a nutritionist?

I’m still mostly in mom-mode these days and focused on private/corporate clients until the Spring 2021, but you can find me on instagram at @amylongard or check out my recipe index at AmyLongard.com for culinary inspiration. I plan on making a comeback and offering my public cooking lessons and workshops eventually and I will announce those on social media and to my newsletter subscribers.

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