My Interview with ELLE Magazine in South Africa

1 Mar

Just a quickie to fill you in on what’s been going on. Very excitingly, since returning to Spain I have had an interview published online in the South African ELLE magazine. Here’s the link if you want to see the whole article with pictures of some of the food and places I mention in the interview


Introducing Natalie Ward, food writer, Cook Eat Live blogger, photographer and stylist, who specialises in delicious vegan and vegetarian cuisine. Natalie lives in Andalucia, Spain, but recently visited Cape Town where she compiled a list of the best restaurants for vegetarian and vegan food. We asked:

Why do you prefer a vegetarian lifestyle?

When I was younger the reason I didn’t want to eat meat was because I didn’t want to eat animals. It didn’t make sense to me. Now it is more to do with the health benefits of a meat-free diet. In 2009, aged 36, I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. It made me change my lifestyle completely. I gave up all cow’s milk products, sugar (including fruit), caffeine, alcohol, smoking and all processed foods. By the time I was operated to remove the 2x3cm tumor, it had shrunk to almost nothing.

How would you describe ‘whole foods’ eating?

I see whole foods as real, unprocessed foods – local and organic where possible, and not messed about with. No preservatives, additives or chemicals. It’s just about being more aware of what you put in your body and where it has come from, buying fresh ingredients and cooking them from scratch, rather than buying ready meals and heating them up in a microwave.

Is the whole foods/vegetarian lifestyle a challenge when eating out?

Definitely, but it’s getting better. I moved from England to Spain 11 years ago and it was basically impossible to eat out. The only thing I could eat was tortilla (Spanish omelettes) or a salad. And even that would have tuna in it. The Spanish think fish is vegetarian! I find it a lot easier to eat out here in South Africa.

Have you developed any of your own recipes?

Yes, for my blog, Cook Eat Live Vegetarian. I get inspiration from books, TV programmes and restaurants, but mainly from what I see growing in the fields where we walk the dog in the mornings. I create seasonal vegetarian recipes with a world flavour.

What brought you to South Africa?

My dad lives in Cape Town. We came on holiday here for the first time four years ago and fell in love with it. The food here is amazing. The quality and choice of restaurants and cafes is unbelievable. In Europe we still have a preconceived idea of what Africa is like. I am making it my mission to change that.

How do meat-loving South Africans fare in terms of vegetarian dishes and restaurants?

For a nation of meat eaters you do veggie exceptionally well. Most of the restaurants I have visited or contacted have had a choice of vegetarian options on their menu. A few have even created a vegetarian tasting menu especially for me with wine pairings. I could definitely get used to that!

Which dishes/restaurants/dining experiences have you enjoyed the most?

So far we loved Babel at Babylonstoren. There is a beautiful fruit and vegetable garden that you can have a guided tour of before enjoying a delicious lunch made from the produce you have just seen growing. Planet at The Mount Nelson has a five-course vegan tasting menu, which is unheard of. The Greenhouse prepared a wonderful seven-course vegetarian tasting menu which was a definite highlight. Peter Tempelhoff has made the balance of flavour and texture an art form. Ryan at Haute Cabriere also prepared a special five-course vegetarian tasting with wine pairings for us. Each one of the dishes was created especially to compliment a different one of their gorgeous wines rather than the wine being matched to the food. A real experience. The Franschhoek Kitchen at Holden Manz has a refreshingly modern outlook; the place is absolutely stunning, leading the way in new informal wine farms. It also has a fabulous spa and guesthouse. Ile de Pain in Knysna makes some of the best breads and cakes I have ever tasted. The Portuguese custard tarts (pasteis de nata) are to die for. And finally Reuben’s. We ate at two of his restaurants and I have to say that his flavours stand out for me. His use of fresh herbs and spices is genius.

What makes a restaurant a winner for you?

It’s about the all-round experience for me. It’s a real art to get everything right and to create a positively memorable dining experience.

If you’re interested in the health benefits of eating a whole-foods plant-based diet, Natalie suggests reading The China Study by T. Colin Campbell. Click here to explore Cook Eat Live or follow Natalie on twitter @Foodblogdog

Can you see me smiling and jumping up and down from where you are?


14 Responses to “My Interview with ELLE Magazine in South Africa”

  1. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide March 1, 2012 at 2:56 pm #

    This is wonderful! Way to go.

  2. Sharyn Dimmick March 1, 2012 at 3:24 pm #

    You look pretty happy in the photo.

  3. mythineats March 1, 2012 at 3:58 pm #

    Nice. I do like the Vegetarian lifestyle, I tend to eat 80% vegetarian, but of course since being pregnant I have introduced a little more meat, chicken and fish mostly but I do find that eating purely vegetarian is nice. I did follow the Vegan lifestyle (as you’ll read in my blog) but more than anything I think that it is important to give your body a break from all the animal and processed foods occasionally (atleast 1-2 times a week), if anything for your healthy and the way it really does make you feel. Thankfully this trend is really catching on in the world.
    Here in Italy it has always been easy, but sometimes a couple years back when living in the USA I found it complicated you had to be destined to a specific restaurant to find vegetarian, now I know that it is evolving and I love that.

    Nice post

  4. Chica Andaluza March 1, 2012 at 4:13 pm #

    Oh Natalie, I´m so happy for you! This is a wonderful and well deserved accolade and I am extra happy to hear how your diet helped with your recovery. When´s the book coming out?!

  5. Tes March 1, 2012 at 4:24 pm #

    Natalie, you inspire me to be more healthy. I should definitely introducing more vegetarian dishes to my family 🙂

  6. Kate Abbott - Clifton Kitchen March 1, 2012 at 4:50 pm #

    Well done Natalie, the Elle interview is great and will hopefully spread the interest in vegetarian/vegan foods which you are keen to establish.

    If I have read correctly, you are back in Spain so I trust you had a wonderful trip and happy times with your Dad.

    Keep well,

  7. VogueVegetarian March 1, 2012 at 6:30 pm #

    How incredibly exciting Natalie! You totally deserve this! I had no idea you had breast cancer at 36. I got chills hearing that by changing your diet and some habits, it almost went away on it’s own. I completely believe that a plant based diet can do wonders for your health, be “thy medicine” and cure many of the ailments we experience today. Your story is another example that proves this. Congrats on both accounts!

  8. veggiegrettie March 1, 2012 at 9:23 pm #

    I am so excited for you Natalie! Congrats on the article / interview. I am sure this is just the beginning 🙂

  9. ceciliag March 2, 2012 at 1:58 am #

    Fantastic interview and how wonderful to stay healthy eating good real food! makes me even more determined not to return to processed foods at all.. c

  10. Three Well Beings March 2, 2012 at 7:34 am #

    What an exciting article, Natalie! What a great opportunity to be featured and present your whole foods lifestyle with such broad appeal. I hung on every word. What a lovely picture! We’re used to seeing great photos of your wonderful recipes, but this time we got to see your lovely face! You’re an inspiration! Debra

  11. kellie @ foodtoglow March 2, 2012 at 10:11 am #

    Great interview, Natalie! I was very interested to hear about your pre-surgery tumour shrinkage, that you link to your whole food and sugar-free diet: did you receive chemo pre-surgery as well? Cancer health educator by trade, so I am being professionally nosey! Hope you don’t mind. I mainly see people on treatment so it’s a ‘eat what you can manage’ approach but always encourage whole food/low-sugar/pescatarian diet pre-, post-, and during (if able).

  12. foodblogandthedog March 2, 2012 at 10:27 am #

    Yes I had the chemo as well but I really believe that the diet was key to the amount the tumour shrunk and to how well I felt throughout my treatment. When I went to the hospital for chemo every 3 weeks I used to sit in the waiting room which was full of people looking ill and unhappy. I wanted to tell everyone what I was doing and how well I felt. What really annoyed me was that there was free coffee and biscuits in the waiting room that they all ate to supposedly make themselves feel better. I wanted to shout at them to leave the sugar alone!!

  13. Caroline March 2, 2012 at 8:34 pm #

    This is incredible, Natalie!!! Congrats!!!

  14. Tony Ward March 7, 2012 at 9:58 am #

    Stupendo guapa. Lovely photo too. Miss you . xx

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