I had the privilege of interviewing the amazing vegan YouTuber “More Salt Please”, aka Nicole Rizza Coulter. Her YouTube channel includes awesome vegan recipes, including falafel, butternut squash tacos, and even beer battered “fish” tacos using cauliflower. Nicole is a chef by trade, and the majority of her recipes are items that she invented on her own. What I love about her is that she is super genuine, homegirl keeps it real. But I won’t waste any more time, here’s our interview!
PBG: How long have you been vegan and why did you make the change?
MSP: I’ve been vegan for a little over 2 years now. I was drawn to it for the health aspect. I wasn’t feeling my best. After every meal I would feel lethargic and crappy. I didn’t know what to do. I just happened to start researching about it randomly with the goal of debunking the diet completely. Instead I found out it is the most logical and ethical way to live. I went vegan overnight and never looked back. After doing more research and enveloping myself in the vegan world, I found out more about the environmental benefits. As I continued to eat this way, I naturally felt more compassion towards animals. Once the animal connection clicked, I began switching all of my products to cruelty free versions. That part took me a little longer, but the more research I did, the more it motivated me to do that right thing. I am now fully committed to a healthy, ethical, minimalistic, natural way of living. After going vegan, all those things started intertwining and connecting. I’m a total hippy now, and I love it.
PBG: What does being vegan mean to you?
MSP: Causing the least amount of harm to animals, yourself and the planet. Aligning your beliefs with your actions as best as you can. Showing compassion and empathy to both human and non-human animals alike. Perfection is not possible, but we can always strive to do better.
PBG: What are a few easy substitutes/staples for non-vegan foods? MSP: Everyone has a different vegan diet. I try to stick to whole forms of food as much as possible. I don’t eat too much processed stuff. My staples include: rice, beans, lentils, potatoes, salad greens (romaine, spinach, red leaf lettuce), all types of vegetables, some fruits (mango, bananas, berries) and almond milk. I cook pretty much everything from scratch, but I keep it pretty simple. I like to make fun dressings and sauces to keep things exciting a tasty. There’s a vegan substitution for basically everything. Things have come along way in the last 5 years. There’s vegan mayo, vegan eggs, vegan cheese, mock meats, endless varieties of plant milks, etc. These ready-made processed foods are great for transitioning because they are the closest to “the real thing”, but if you want to do this thing long term, whole foods are the way to go. Nutritional yeast and cashews will be your best friend. Especially if you are a cheese lover. Cashew cheese is so good. Especially if you do it right.
PBG: What tips do you have for vegan college students or people just beginning to transition to veganism?
MSP: Get an Instant Pot! It’s a lifesaver. You can saute, cook rice and beans in a fraction of the time it would normally take on the stove, and you can make big batches of food that you can eat it throughout the week. The other thing I would recommend buying is a blender so you can make smoothies, sauces and blend up soups. If you live in a dorm, try to make breakfast in your room when possible. Breakfast is the hardest thing to eat if you are out a non-vegan restaurant or cafeteria. Oatmeal, avocado toast, fruit and smoothies are great. For lunch and dinner, you can microwave sweet potatoes and put chili or tahini on top. Keep it simple and find staple recipes that are easy to make and taste good. Make sure you’re eating enough food! Another benefit of eating whole foods instead of processed, is that you can more accurately read your hunger signals. You might have to eat a lot more than you’re used to, or you might need to eat less. Listen to you body, eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full, eat lots of greens, move your body everyday, sweat a little and you’ll be fine. Don’t be afraid of protein and whole fats like avocado, coconut, nuts and seeds. If you’re goal is weight loss, ease up on the fats (but please don’t cut them out completely) and cut out processed food. Just because it’s vegan, doesn’t mean it’s a health food. Vegan junk food is so good, and can become a real addiction if you’re not careful. But if you don’t care about health really, go for it! Eat all the Oreos, vegan ice cream, and sweet chili Doritos your heart desires. Just don’t expect to feel good afterwards. Feel free to indulge in those things every once in a while if you’re out with friends, or you just have to have it. Don’t demonize specific foods. Listen to your body and figure out what you feel good eating and what you don’t feel good eating. Limit the things you don’t feel good eating. Don’t overthink it.
PBG: How do you come up with vegan recipes for your YouTube channel?
MSP: It’s pretty simple. I just take my favorite things to eat and turn them vegan: pulled pork, Mac n cheese, cornbread, bacon, cream cheese etc. I recipe test a lot and figure out what methods work and what don’t. It takes a lot of experimenting, trial and error, and not taking things too seriously. It’s just food after all. It’s not brain surgery. Have fun with it and think outside the box. Cooking should be fun, not stressful.
PBG: Your recipe videos and posts are nicely done. Any tips for food photography/videography?
MSP: Good lighting is key! Film on whatever you want…iPhone, DSLR, point and shoot, but make sure you got that lighting on point! Just start doing it. That’s how you find your shooting style and unique perspective. You don’t have to have super fancy equipment these days. Photoshop isn’t necessary. VSCO is a great app to use for editing pictures. Oh and don’t rely on filters! Filters can ruin a perfectly good food picture. Instead focus on adjusting the brightness, contrast, and saturation.