Miss. Remy Park is a New York based recipe developer and food photographer, based in NYC (we dare you to look at her Instagram and not get hungry). She is also a wellness writer, yogi and advocate for healthy, holistic living and self love. Some of her collaborations include videos with Whole Foods Market and a feature in Thoughtfully Magazine. On the side, she is a social media consultant and will be completing her yoga training certification this summer.
Outside of work, Remy can be found hosting wellness and fitness networking events, traveling, and soaking up nature. Lucky for us, she took the time to sit down with the gang here at GUNAS to reflect on how it all started.
We really admire your transparency about your past struggles with food and the way in which you reached an animal free diet. Why do you think veganism contributes to feeling emotionally healthier?
I think that veganism gave me a reason to eat again. During my struggle with anorexia, knowing that the choice to eat a diet that was cruelty free and actually contributing to helping heal the environment, made me feel good about eating. I also think that adopting a vegan lifestyle is equivalent to adopting a more compassionate lifestyle and I learned to be compassionate towards the environment, towards animals, towards others, and to myself which I like to think may have contributed to my healing too.
I actually started my Instagram account as a food accountability log healing my eating disorder with a nutritionist that I was working with at the time. It had only one follower, which was her, and I had accidentally followed all of my friends on Facebook once I connected my accounts. Before that, I had connected with so many incredible individuals on Instagram who were also going through the same struggle and who were so supportive of my recovery, so I didn’t think that I could delete my account. Instead, I continued to photograph my food, and just made the food look a little bit better presentation-wise. I also started to really enjoy the process of food creation so much.
It has been amazing to see the growth and change–tools that I use are used to heal have now become more of a creative outlet for me. Knowing that there is an audience, I do make sure it’s clear that I am vegan, and I do this by making sure that any brand I partner with is vegan friendly, and aligns with my lifestyle and values. However, I don’t talk about veganism as blatantly as other vegan bloggers may, and that’s because my approach is more leading by example. You’ll never see any animal cruelty videos or any kind of language on my blog that screams, “go vegan!!!” because oftentimes, people are resistant to change when you tell them what to do but you can still have an impact on someone just by leading by example.
What tools do you use to stay updated on animal activism and general vegan news? Do they help you come up with your own recipes?
I stay up to date on general vegan news with social media platforms like Instagram, blogs, YouTube and also vegan magazines. I usually get my recipe inspiration by thinking about meals that I used to enjoy as an omnivore, then thinking about how I can modify it or make it in a vegan way. I’m convinced that these days with food science and innovation in cooking and use of ingredients, you can really replicate any dish that isn’t vegan to create a vegan version. I really enjoy recipe testing like that, it’s a lot of fun! I’m also always inspired by colours, superfoods and edible flowers.
Yoga and veganism seem to go hand in hand. As a wellness coach, why do you think that is?
Yoga and veganism tend to go hand-in-hand for a few reasons. First, many yoga teacher training programs actually incorporate a vegetarian diet as part of the practice and course. This is a great gateway into veganism but there is also the tie to the yogic principle of Ahimsa. Ahimsa teaches nonviolence towards all living things. This is one reason why vegetarianism is so common in India and a key historic connection between a plant-based diet and the practice of yoga.
Additionally, the food we put in is directly related to our performance as athletes. Your body, like a machine, will perform best when it is given the best kind of fuel, not low-quality fuel.
We love that you’re also a photographer (as if the gorgeous photos didn’t make it obvious). What is a typical day like on the job and how do you integrate it with veganism?
On most days I try to shoot food photos between the hours of 9AM-12 noon if possible because I love to shoot with natural light. This means I rarely shoot dinners, or I’ll shoot dinner foods in the morning and pop them into the fridge/freezer for later. I often do restaurant food photography for vegan friendly spots in New York and my work is integrated with veganism in that any food photos I shoot are of exclusively vegan food and of course, any recipes I develop for brands will be vegan.
All your dishes look phenomenal. Was it veganism that ultimately got you into food preparation?
I think the main reason I got into food preparation and styling was my healing process, however I definitely think that veganism also contributed to my love for food photography and food styling. There is this common misconception that vegans only eat salad and that all the food is green and brown and un-appetizing. I sort of feel like as a vegan I have a responsibility to make vegan food look really appealing, beautiful and tasty to prove them wrong! I love it when I create a dish without explicitly saying it’s vegan, and someone really find it beautiful, and tantalizing, which grabs their attention and make them want to eat it without questioning if it’s vegan or not! It’s so much fun to play with food and I do believe that many people eat first with their eyes.
What’s your GUNAS bag of choice?
My bag of choice is the Naomi bag in black because it matches almost any outfit and fits so much. I am always out and about so sometimes I’ll bring things with me for the entire day, like my laptop, camera, a salad, water and maybe snacks and everything fits in the bag perfectly. It has great pockets and separators too. I use my Naomi bag so often but I’d say I’m also currently crushing on the new Rotunda bag! The Lilac color is so stunning and the shape is really fun!
Do you practice an animal-free rule with your wardrobe as well? If so, tell us some of your favourite labels.
Yes, I fully believe in cruelty free fashion. I don’t think it makes sense to avoid eating animals, but then wear them! Some of my favorite labels include Reformation, which isn’t branded as a vegan fashion label, but is extremely sustainable and earth friendly, and has vegan friendly pieces. I also really like Free People, which has a dedicated vegan friendly section on their website. I also love Stella McCartney, BC shoes, Veerah and Vaute.
You’ve lived in 4 different countries and 8 cities overseas. Did you find the animal-free diet more or less accessible in these areas?
In Shanghai, I actually found it to be fairly easy because the standard diet focuses more on grains and vegetables versus meat. There were also a few buddhist friendly places which meant no meat. Additionally, dairy is not typically used in Chinese cooking whatsoever so not having to worry about dairy is a great benefit!
In both Thailand and Taiwan, the tropical weather and religions make it really vegan friendly. For example, in Thailand, you can easily get great fresh tropical fruit year round and at a very affordable cost. In Taiwan especially, there are incredible vegan food options because Buddhism is a really prominent religion. In Thailand as well, it’s very common to see Buddhist friendly food.
Korea was a little difficult to navigate as they often use fish stock in a lot of the staple dishes. That being said, they do make some tofu dishes and a lot of the dishes are vegan-izable.
My fellow #GUNASGIRLS would describe me as….
Compassionate, dedicated, evolving.
Tell us some of the best vegan locations you’ve come across.
Some of my favourite spots are Plantmade NYC, Double Zero (can you tell I’m a fan of Matthew Kenney restaurants?), ABCv, The Alchemist’s Kitchen, Erin Mckenna’s Bakery (which is also gluten free!) and Beyond Sushi. Clothing wise, I really love spending time at the Reformation Bond Street location because it’s a completely tech based store in addition to the brand selling sustainable and earth friendly clothing.
Given your multi-ethnic background, has your diet ever been met with family backlash? If so, what has your solution been?
Not so much from my parents but more so from my grandparents. For the most part, they are supportive, however they still think it may be a phase. Now that I am blogging about veganism however, they seem to understand my commitment to it is genuine. I’ve also watched some health based documentaries about plant-based diets ( including Forks Over Knives, What The Health, Cowspiracy, Vegucated) that have really helped them understand from a data and science driven perspective. I am versed in the facts but hearing it from credible doctors and institutions and seeing hard facts on the screen seems to hit harder than I do! My dad actually went mostly vegan following the What The Health documentary that we watched together (despite my months of defending the diet as the healthiest way to eat before we watched it haha!)
What are some of your favorite vegan markets?
I love Westerly Health Market which is like a candy store to me. It stocks the widest variety of health food brands I’ve seen in New York, and even some smaller brands that are hard to find. It’s like a candy shop for me! I also love the Union Square Farmer’s Market, which I am at every week. Orchard Grocer and Haymaker’s are two great little market shops as well carrying 100% vegan products and food!
As a #GUNASGIRL, my ultimate vegan goal is…
To make a tangible impact. I want to do something to give back to the animals or the planet actively–I’m still trying to figure that out but I think I’m on the right track. I currently have a jewelry line that launched and a percentage of profits go to The Animal House Jamacia, an animal welfare group!
Remy managed to overcome her struggles with food and turn the experience into something positive. While she continues to maintain a healthy and active vegan lifetsyle, she also assists others in doing the same. We love Remy’s positive attitude and eagerness to help all living beings become their healthiest self; after all, that’s what being a #GUNASGIRL is all about. Thank you, Remy!