You may recognize Candice from our latest Spring/Summer lookbook. Contrary to her glowing physique, the Southern belle grew up in what she recalls as “the deep fried south” and admittedly never paid much attention to her health. In her early twenties however, she took it upon herself to learn more about nutrition and began a regular exercise routine. Her self-discipline gave Candice the motivation to gradually eliminate unhealthy foods from her diet and adapt to a mostly vegetarian lifestyle. Just four years ago, she took a shot at veganism and never looked back. “It is the single best decision I have made for my health,” Candice explains. “Though that was my initial motivation, I evolved quickly into an ethical vegan as well. I find much happiness and satisfaction in knowing my choices are positive for the world around me. My current lifestyle is a far cry from my upbringing, but my vegan diet coupled with a passion for fitness has led me to feel the best I’ve ever felt!” Candice’s sense of well-being often serves as motivation to help others take an interest in their own health as well. Rather than simply preaching about the perks, she displays the benefits (and beauty) of physical activity and a plant-based lifestyle through her own social media platforms. Needless to say, we were pretty psyched to hear more about Candice’s endeavours.
When did a vegetarian (and later vegan) lifestyle actually begin for you? Was there an “aha!” moment involved?
I went mostly vegetarian in 2012 and then fully vegan in 2013. I had moved from the States to the Caribbean and wasn’t comfortable eating the animal products available. I also started following vegan accounts on Instagram (such as @Plantbasedblonde, @Frommybowl and @Veggiekins) and felt inspired by their lifestyle. I further educated myself and decided it would be a good move for my overall health.
You’ve become a huge social influencer in the vegan community yourself, with nearly 74k followers on Instagram. Did you join social media with the hopes of making an impact on animal activism? If so, what strategies have you used to grow your Instagram?
I actually started my Instagram just before becoming vegan. It was a way to hold myself accountable for healthy eating and share my passion for food and fitness. I never expected others would be interested in my journey! It’s been a good surprise! Instagram is not my job nor am I trying to make it such. I simply hope to help others see how easy it can be to live a healthy lifestyle while maintaining a busy schedule. I’m not a photographer or chef. I just enjoy being in the kitchen and creating delicious food.
It’s incredible that you offered a contribution to the “Vegan Bowls for Vegan Souls” cookbook! How do you stay updated on recipes and general animal free nutrition?
Instagram is my number one resource because it links me with a huge community and shares so much. Pinterest is great too for finding plant based recipes. YouTube Vloggers (such Ellen Fisher, Caitlin Shoemaker, High Carb Hannah, and Naturally Stefanie) and documentaries present a lot of educational information for those who are or who are seeking to become plant based.
Can you let us in on any future projects or publications you have in the works?
Nothing to share. My collaborations just happen as opportunities come up. My growth is organic and I’m just maintaining the account as a fun hobby.
What is a typical day like for you and how do you integrate it with veganism?
I am busy between 8-5 focusing on other pursuits. As far as my physical health is concerned, I start each morning with a later of lemon water, a probiotic, and B12 supplement. When I get hungry, I have a healthy breakfast, most often my soaked oats. Lunch is usually when I workout each day and then make a smoothie to eat on the go. Dinner is when I cook most, trying to make use of whatever is in season and available to me. As for my workouts, I incorporate HIIT, strength training, calisthenics, and time on the mat to ensure I’m all kinds of strong.
Your dishes look absolutely amazing. Were you always a kitchen guru?
No! My mom didn’t enjoy cooking so she didn’t inculcate that in me. Honestly, The Food Network taught me to cook! I also read a lot of cookbooks and online recipes until I got a better knowledge of cooking.
Candice sporting the Gunas New York JANE Satchel and vegan strap timewear by Votch.
Your photoshoot with us here at GUNAS came out beautifully. What are your favourite GUNAS bags & the best outfits to wear with them?
I love my Cougar backpack! It’s so well made and beautiful! I appreciate the functionality of its design as well. It is neutral and goes with the majority of my wardrobe.
Do you incorporate an animal-free rule with your wardrobe as well? If so, what are your favourite brands?
Yes! It is my goal to only buy cruelty-free clothing and accessories. Anything I wear that isn’t cruelty-free has been in my closet a long time and will be replaced as it wears out with a vegan alternative. I shop around and just read labels.
While vegan fashion is continuing to catch on, it’s still maturing slowly. Where do you see vegan fashion going over the next few years?
I see it continuing to become more mainstream and available as alternative fabrics and materials improve in quality. It’s exciting!
As we know, veganism in modern times isn’t easy. What words of wisdom or icons keep you going?
I am a very self-motivated person. When I set mind to something I maintain a strong determination. I feel it is easy for me. I’m not a perfect vegan—no one is in my opinion—but I find peace in knowing I’m doing my best, controlling what I can to make a positive impact on my health and the world at large.
Has being here in New York made access to vegan options easier than where you grew up?
Yes! I love how vegan-friendly NY is! Not just in the city but throughout the state!
Name your favourite animal-free references and go-tos.
I always recommend “Forks Over Knives” and “What the Health” to newbies. Books like The China Study, The Starch Solution, and How Not To Die are also great. In the city, I love Modern Love, Beyond Sushi, Little Choc Apothecary, Pressed Juicery, and so many more! I love vegan friendly beauty products too! Some of my fav brands are Osea Malibu, Pacifica, and Tarte.
It’s been suggested that veganism is the only “real” diet option in terms of helping animal welfare. Having been a vegetarian yourself at one point, do you believe this idea is valid?
Yes, for me it is because the dairy industry is super scary and inhumane. I think once the veil has been lifted on it as well as factory farming, you just have to agree. But any move towards a more plant based lifestyle is a win for the animals so I would never say it’s an all or nothing thing to others. Baby steps!
What are some of your favorite animal sanctuaries?
Farm Sanctuary! I had such a fun, positive experience there! The interaction with the animals and the guides’ non-aggressive approach to explaining things made it an endearing experience for vegans and non-vegans alike.
Tell us some of your go-to vegan events.
I haven’t been to many but I love a good veg fest! Bring on the vegan food and other vendors!
What do you ultimately hope to accomplish with veganism?
Improve my health, have a positive impact on the environment as far as it depends on me, and help others find success in doing the same.
My #gunasgirls would describe me as…
Recently a friend commented on a personal post that I am kind, generous, and supportive. I can only hope others view me in the same way.
We’re in awe of Candice having been able to break into a plant based lifestyle without the advantage of any vegan resources. Her diligence made it possible and continues to give others the confidence to do the same. Be sure to keep up with this #GUNASGIRL and all the cruelty-free adventures she has ahead.
Follow Candice on Social Media.