When we need new food ideas, there’s one person we ask: Radhi Devlukia-Shetty. The chef committed to a plant-based diet knows sometimes, all we want is spaghetti, and she makes hers with lemons, pistachios, coconut milk, and over a million followers tuning into her kitchen.
Radhi also advocates for vegan food and food justice as a Wild Advocate partnered with Farm Urban. They’re a UK-based pioneer in hydroponic farming that’s working to grow clean, green food in cities and help others around the world to do the same.
In this interview with Radhi Devlukia-Shetty, we talk about nourishing yourself, nourishing the planet, and the most magical fruit she’s ever met.
How do you describe yourself?I am a conscious chef!
Okay. Uh… what does that mean?Good question! So, it starts with the principles of Ayurveda, which is the practice of mindful and conscious self-care. I believe that intention and energy are as much a part of nourishing oneself as actual food… When I learned about that concept, I just thought it was so beautiful, and I said, “I’m going to make that my mission, to spread great energy and compassion and care through food.” You know, even just slowing down and being very intentional with what you’re cooking can be a really beautiful way to adjust mood, and to re-channel your energy into something positive.
You talk a lot about plant-based cuisine and its impact on the planet. Do you consider plant-based food to be a kind of activism?
Yeah, I feel like when it comes to the environment, and also in terms of my own spiritual journey, protecting nature is such an important part of how we nourish ourselves! I mean, we wouldn't be alive without nature. All of our food comes from nature! So I really feel that we owe so much to nature, in terms of looking after it just as it looks after us, and giving back in that way.
How do you keep your commitment to nature from getting overwhelming?I think we can always be on the lookout for little changes—they don’t have to be major, you know—but really, if you can show how grateful you are to nature and give back a little bit, whether with plant-based meals or living with less waste, we should do it!
There’s so much talk about “clean eating,” but if you’re new to that concept, what small step would you recommend taking first?Go to a farmer’s market! When I moved to America [from London], I could not believe how accessible farm produce was. You can actually meet the people growing the food, and speak to them about what’s in season, how things have been grown, all of it. But if you don’t live near a farmer’s market, I’d say start Googling what fruits and vegetables are in season in your area.
Because the freshest ingredients are going to be local ones, so they’ll have the most possible nutrition and be better for you. They’ll probably taste better, too! Plus, it takes a lot less energy to eat local food than to eat something shipped from overseas, which is good for the planet. So I’d say, if you live somewhere cold, check out what your region is growing right now, instead of buying a mango in the middle of winter.
What places in nature are nourishing to you?Okay, it’s hard to choose between being around greenery and being at the sea. Because I love the sound of water, and feeling water, and the ocean makes you realize how small you are compared to the rest of the world! You always feel like you’re a part of something much bigger than you when you go into the sea. There’s such deep energy there. But when I feel tired or sad, I find that greenery, like grass or trees, always fuels me. If I’m lethargic or bummed out, I go into the woods. I think trees can give you back so much good energy.
What’s your favorite food fact?Oh! That every single part of a coconut is useable. I think that’s so cool. And you know, in Ayurveda, coconut is such a key nourisher. It’s like this golden fruit that’s so full of nourishment, no part of it has to be wasted. I think that’s amazing.
At Wild Elements, our motto is ‘let good grow wild.’ What does that mean to you?Sometimes, I think we as people can be so cynical. And I think, you know, optimism is something that's really needed in the world today. So if we let good grow wild, the first step is to look for the positive. There’s always one good thing you can identify, and nourish, and grow. I like to say, where your attention goes, that’s what grows. So if we’re focused on looking for the good in the world, ultimately, we’ll get more good in the world.