Emilie Hebert is the blogger behind Emilie Eats, the super popular plant-based food blog that brings delicious recipes, beautiful food photos, cooking demonstrations, and enough southern charm to make the most ardent carnivore consider at least trying plant-based food. And that’s OK by Emilie - a non-judging vegan who set out two years ago (while still a college student!) to share her love of plant-based eating and cooking with the world. She grew up in Louisiana, bayou country, home of barbeque and crawfish boils…so how did she become a plant-based blogging phenomenon?
MamaSezz sat down with Emilie to learn more about her and share some of her passion for plant-based living.
How did you get started eating a plant-based diet?
My mom was a great cook – not the kind of mom the sent us out the door with a granola bar. She always made us breakfast and loved fruits and veggies, She is also very connected to the environment (she has a recycle tattoo!) so I grew up appreciating healthy foods, cooking, as well as being surrounded by that strong message of protecting the environment.
When I got to college a LSU, it was kind of a natural progression, I began reading about nutrition and plant-based or vegan diets naturally comes up. Then I found the Oh She Glows blog, and was inspired!
I never thought I could be vegan, but when I bought the Oh She Glows cookbook, things just took off from there.
Around the same time, I watched the documentary, Cowspiracy. The next day I was vegan and I’ve never looked back.
For Emilie, eating plant-based isn’t about willpower.
I don’t crave meat or dairy, they just went by the wayside. Once you know about the benefits of eating this way, you don’t want it anymore. You feel so good not eating that stuff, there are no cravings.
I think a lot of people misunderstand this and think you have to restrict yourself or use willpower to eat plant-based. I don’t come from a place of restriction. It’s always been more natural for me. I made a decision and it’s not about willpower; it’s about moving towards what I want, which is plant-based food.
Do you have challenges?
I’m not a picky person and I never really liked having foods that didn’t make me feel good, so moving towards eating this way wasn’t as big of a challenge for me as maybe it’s been for others.
That said, sometimes social settings can be difficult. This is especially true in the deep south where everything is celebrated with food or a crawfish boil. While this is a beautiful part of our culture, it can be difficult. I don’t receive many negative comments, but sometimes you just want to sit down like anyone else without having to answer a bunch of questions. Most people are really curious though and I’m happy to answer their questions, and occasionally there are people who are not as accepting. I’ve learned how to deal with that though.
How did you start your blog?
I started the blog two months after I went vegan! I wanted to start a blog and be a part of the real food movement. I was thrilled because I found a group of people who were excited about what I was excited about! At the time, I was a summer intern for a blogger and while I was learning things about social media (I am a mass communications major), I was also building my own blog because I knew I wanted to launch in August.
You seem to combine your passion with a real grit and strong work ethic. Were you surprised by the success of Emilie Eats?
Yes! No matter how much work I put into something I’m still surprised by what comes out of it. But I’m a really determined person, and once I know I want to do something, I want to do it very well. It wasn’t about money, but I was so excited about sharing everything I learned. Plus, it was very creative and that was very exciting to me because I could share so many things -- photography and cooking. The blog was like my baby!
What's next for Emilie? Goals and dreams?
My college major is mass communication and I’m going to graduate school to become a registered dietitian. Dietitians need to be able to communicate with people on a big scale and that’s the platform I am creating.
Any advice for those considering transitioning to a plant-based diet?
Be realistic and down to earth with your expectations about going plant-based because everyone is not going to have the same background as I did (with loving fruits and veggies). Don’t judge yourself! Just begin where you are and don’t worry about doing it perfectly.
The secret to Emilie’s success?
If you ask us, it all comes down to her passion, determination, a spirit of service oh…and don’t forget dessert!
From Emilie Eats:
My goal with this blog is to inspire you to respect and love your body by nourishing it with whole foods and finding something active that you enjoy. I want you (especially you college kids!) to have fun in the kitchen, love the food you eat, and get excited about working out. Most importantly, I want to show you that you don’t need crazy diets and obsessive calculating to be healthy; that you can have a social life and eat right; that eating plant-based does NOT mean plain lettuce and skipping out on dessert. ‘Cause this girl needs dessert sometimes.