Food is one of our greatest loves, and one of our worst enemies. It gets us talking and shuts us up. Pulls us together, family. And pulls us apart, homeless and hungry. It has the ability to strengthen us or weaken us. Food is power.

My relationship with food has evolved throughout my years of travel and experiencing different cultures along the way. I began as an orthorexic health fanatic and diehard vegan, obsessing over every ingredient that went into my body.

I was preoccupied with how healthy my meals were, not how they were making me feel. I filled my plates with raw gluten-free salads and cold-pressed juices that left me feeling unsatisfied and craving more. This lifestyle ultimately left me ungrounded and with acne and an absent period for three years. And so my journey of healing and true health began when I stepped out of my boxed way of thinking about food and began living … in Greece.


I stayed in Greece for seven weeks, and during that time found my way around the city, discovering the best organic markets and health food stores. However, this was also my first exposure to the world of markets … markets filled with fresh produce, huge containers of freshly cured olives, and farm fresh eggs, still with the feathers on them. There were juice places on every corner… that’s when I began to bend my organic and cold-pressed labels.

That’s also when I started to buy what was fresh around me, embracing the Mediterranean lifestyle. Even though I didn’t experience the fresh fish from the sea … it was a step in the right direction when I started to eat fresh feta cheese from the market and in some dishes in restaurants (it was hard to avoid cheese in greek salad … as salad was my go-to).

I even had a (gasp) pastry from the local bakery. I started to become food curious and was tired of the restrictions I was placing on myself and realized that I missed having what my body was craving … and it was craving a lot!

I also worked at the center of social welfare and played and worked with kids all day, teaching them English games, painting and baking cookies. I loved seeing how they shared lunch in community together, and ate whatever the moms prepared that day doused in a healthy dose of olive oil. We usually got to take some of the leftovers home, and eating that food … you could taste the love.

I released the reins a bit on my restrictive way of eating, but still had some binging tendencies that were coming up. I slowly started to connect with my body and listen to its needs, as most meals in Greece were cooked and oh so nourishing for my screaming and starving cells.


Oh, Hawaii. A part of my heart is still at the big island, and will forever be there. Hawaii was my ultimate healing place with my relationship with food and my body image.

Hawaii was a year after Greece, and during those two months, I began to practice yoga and tune into my body and become more conscious of my eating habits. I also started to release my vegan label, and ate more healing foods for my hormones, like bone broth, fish and eggs… all foods that I was utterly terrified of but were necessary for restoring my health.

Hawaii was the ultimate confrontation as I lived in a community and did yoga all day. There was nowhere to hide binging behaviours in a shared kitchen space. The meals were mostly gluten-free and always vegan and prepared by an amazing Japanese chef from New York who put so much love and effort into preparing buffet-style meals.

Eating in community after yoga classes allowed me to slow down, gain gratitude for my plates, and enjoy each and every bite. Hawaii is where I basked in the joy of each day, each meal, and each bite.

I ate fresh fish from the sea, munched on macadamia nuts by the handful, slurped down fresh papaya from the trees, and indulged in fresh chocolate from the cacao pods freshly harvested. I also worked for my food and went out harvesting coconuts. The next time you have any kind of coconut (whether that’s water, shredded, canned or milked) be so grateful … because it is a long and hard process to machete those branches down in the beating sun!

I also hung around people that were more relaxed with their food choices, and who ate sugar… that’s right I ate SUGAR and did have the occasional GLUTEN. And when I ate those foods with a grateful and delighted heart, I didn’t feel guilt or shame … but peace … and so did my body! That’s when I knew I was finally out of my orthorexic lens and saw food from a fresh and wholesome perspective.

Also my periods had returned in Hawaii and came every month, which confirmed to me that I was on the right path of healing and showed me that my environment greatly influenced my health. Hawaii was my happy place, where I had no stress and could express myself … allowing my sacral chakra to shine and giving me the spark I needed to keep my internal period fire burning.


After graduating university one year later, I realized the lifestyle I wanted to live … and that included one eating healthy, wholesome meals that gave me life and vitality. I had stopped my binging habits and had to become a teach-what-I-preach kind of girl as the yoga thing was becoming official and I was going to Peru to become a teacher. I was ultra mindful and a complete plant-based yogi … even one that ate sustainability caught fish and eggs from time to time.

Peru was a challenging and heavy energy, one of great healing and spiritual awakening … a stark contrast to the lovey-dovey light happy energy of Hawaii. Living in Peru for three months made me look deep inside and unveiled the controlling nature of my being.

Plant medicines including a tobacco purge, rappee, chunga and huachuma opened my eyes to my intuitive and spiritual nature. I released control of my being and that allowed me to enter into deeper states of meditation, into deep reflection, and into a deeper love for myself and for nature and God all around me.

Peru is also the land of potatoes and rice. I have chosen to stay away from rice but I again was confronted with loosening the reins of my grain-free protocol for hormonal balance and go with the flow of my environment. I ate more potatoes and rice in the three months I was in Peru than I have in my whole life. I was again in awe of the culture of Peru and how they were so connected to the land not only on a physical level, but a spiritual one.

I worked and lived on a construction site for building a home and malocha. The workers gathered together and invited us to eat with them at lunchtime… it brought such warmth to my heart. They would share the pounds of potatoes they brought for lunch, and their gallons of chicha (corn beer, sometimes fruit flavoured or made with purple corn) … always with willing and welcoming smiles.

The language barrier allowed me to learn Spanish quickly but also was a way to connect deeper on an emotional level to others. What we show in our faces, our bodies and our hearts through our actions is sometimes more important than words.


Immediately following Peru, I headed to Guatemala for some community and like-minded yogis. Unlike the Peruvian culture, I found that the Guatemalan culture was much more religion based, but also had a love for music and played it all day long!

Nothing beat the fresh corn tortillas off the grill or the pan-fried plantains. Guatemalans takes life at a slow pace, and takes frequent breaks to eat together … family always came first. Late breakfasts and lunches were frequent … the town didn’t come alive until about noon.

In contrast to Peru, I was reintroduced to my love for macadamia nuts and coconuts with a more light, friendly and tropical energy. I finally had my share of health food stores and beautiful cacao to share. Unlike quinoa in Peru, amaranth was a staple there, and was my go-to when it came to eating what was available and in season.

So I’ve learned some common themes about how to eat and what to eat throughout my travels that I want to share with you in hopes for you to take some lessons and implement them into your life for your own healing and vitality.

Here are my five lessons I’ve learned from Europe and North, South and Central America:

1. No diets required … eat how you feel. 

I have found the true connection to my body and learned to listen to its hunger cues as well as its cravings. I eat until I’m satisfied and eat whole foods that nourish and provide me with fuel and with life.

None of the cultures that I experienced used terms like vegan and paleo and gluten-free. They ate what was available and around them when they were hungry without batting an eye. Simple as that. They love their curves and walked up mountains for exercise (no gyms required). 

2. Eating in community. 

Making meals and eating them together is so much better than eating alone. Sharing and spreading the love through conversation makes us slow down and enjoy each bite and each word we hear and say. Community makes meals an event and allows for our bellies to be happy and our hearts to be full.

Community also made me accountable and aware of the amount of food that I was consuming and allowed me to have healthy portions and a healthy perspective towards what was on my plate. It also reminded me to appreciate and give thanks for the food and the Earth and the many hands that prepared it.

3. Munch on what’s seasonal and local. 

Eating what was available at local markets made me ultra aware of how much better things taste as well as how much more healthy I felt when I eat foods that were at their peak. Fruits and veggies that are shipped and put in bags to your nearest grocery store sometimes aren’t the best option, especially when you’re eating berries in the winter (and are usually more expensive).

Supporting the local farmers and exploring the local fruits and veggies with a curious mind can leave you licking your fingers with a smile on you face. When farmers give you a jacote they just picked from the trees around you (Guatemalan fruit delicacy that tastes like a mini mango) you know the farm to table thing is legit.

4. Work for your food.

Working from farm to table can make you appreciate your food more and connect with your plate on a deeper level than if you picked it up off a shelf of a grocery store. Seeing its progress from seed to plate can be super satisfying and rewarding. Picking herbs from the garden and climbing up coconut trees to harvest them were ways I connected with my food on a physical level. We can appreciate Mother Nature even more when we can connect with how the elements come together to create beautiful fuel for our healthy bodies.

5. Put love into your food.

When food is cooked with good intentions and love, you can taste the difference. Those corn tortillas in Guatemala and the fried yucca and guacamole in Peru made by the mamacitas were some of the best things I’ve tasted and were so simple and grounding. I could feel the healing energy of the foods come alive when they were prepared with love and care and were respected by those who prepare them. If we respect our food … it will respect our bodies and give them the love they deserve.

So I hope I have inspired you to travel and experience other cultures but also to take what you learn about the world and integrate it into how and what you choose to eat.

Food has power … how you choose to use that power can positively influence your life and help you to shine your light in this world.

Peace & Love,

Jill – your veggie villager xx

Hey villagers!!

Every class I have taken in school, I have not gotten below an A-, yet the most knowledge I have gained has not been in the classroom. The reality is, our left-brain memorizes facts before an exam, we answer multiple-choice questions, write a few short answers, then a few months later, we forget the majority of what we learned.

But then I went on an internship to Greece for seven weeks and volunteered at the centre of social welfare in the summer of my first year of university. I met students from all over the world and travelled for the first time in my life outside of North America. I lived on my own. I booked flights and planned trips with new friends and organized different games, events and crafts for the children at the centre. I communicated with others who spoke Greek. I figured out a bus system that was all in Greek. THAT was when I started to really learn something – life skills that couldn’t be taught in school.


Finding myself amongst the trees.

I had time to discover myself through hiking up mountains, jumping off cliffs, meditating, cooking, travelling by myself, talking with others and gaining a global perspective. The information we learn in school should be applied to real life and should help guide us and direct us to finding ourselves, while giving us the tools we need to articulate what we truly believe in.

School should be a place where we can focus on our wellbeing in a positive and encouraging environment. School should set us up for success in our advanced and complex world.

Here is how I would change the school system to improve the health of children and set up their path for success:

  1. Exercise: After completing Grade 9 gym class, students have the decision to continue gym throughout their high school career. This means they have a chance of remaining sedentary for the rest of their lives, leading to long-term health problems. Healthy habits need to start young. With children bringing digital technology to schools, constantly staring at smart boards and sitting the majority of their days to study, they need time to move. Safety concerns from helicopter parents have reduced playgrounds to stones and logs, not letting children be monkeys on playgrounds and imagine a jungle of endless possibilities!

What we need: Adjustable standing desks and periods throughout the day for children to participate in yoga classes, kickboxing, and rock climbing walls. We need a little adventure to be scheduled into children’s days that encourage physical literacy and physical stimulation.

Back to the basics.

  1. Mindfulness: ADHD, depression, anxiety, panic attacks; all issues that children didn’t have nearly as much of in the past, are increasing at alarming rates. Students need time to get away from the stress of school, and learn to manage their emotions and feelings.

What we need: Meditation spaces, both guided meditation and soothing music. With a focus on breathing and freeing minds by living in the present, teenagers would be considerably more focused and less anxious.

Kids naturally live in the moment when they are young. Then comes high school …

  1. Nutrition: Just the fact alone that canned tomato sauce on a slice of pre-heated pizza counts as a serving of vegetables says enough about our lunch programs. Kids are guzzling down bottles of Gatorade and Coca-Cola, without knowing that these sugar filled habits can lead to unhealthy behaviours and consequences to their future health. They can be better students with diets abundant in fruits and veggies!

What we need: Plant-based hot meals prepared with love each day. Fresh salad bars and fruit baskets replacing pre-cooked and preservative filled fried foods can provide children with the brain and mood boosting fuel they need for their school day.

Nectarines and community.

  1. Life skills: It’s sad to see college students getting an A in class, but failing on all accounts of how to cook a pot of oatmeal. Students are not taught the basic life skills of cooking, using social media properly and safely, having an interview and being punctual or discovering their purpose in life in ANY classroom.

What we need: Cooking classes, personal development and media and communication classes need to be mandatory, ensuring children are knowledgeable on how to survive and succeed in the 21st century.

Baking and laughter are the perfect combo.

  1. Right-brained dominance: We put such an emphasis on left-brain thinking, being that most classes are about memorizing and replicating our notes onto an exam. This is an informational way of thinking, and does not serve us in the long run with automation and exporting of repetitive tasks to other countries with cheaper wages. (More info here on right-brained thinking)

What we need: Majority of our time in class should be about seeing the bigger picture. They need to learn to connect information on a micro and macro level, like in biology – not only seeing how a cell functions, but how millions of cells work to create a person’s body as a whole. They should be spending more time in art and music class, which encourage them to create, think critically, problem solve, and innovate. These classes allowing children to strive towards unique and authentic ideas, not repetition and regurgitation.

Dressing up our puppets.

  1. Financial Literacy: Children are never taught in school how to deal with money in terms of what to save, what to spend, and what to give away. Parents are supposed to be their role models, but if they have a pile of debt in their bank accounts, where will they learn how to handle cash?

What we need: Teens need classes teaching them about how to properly manage money, and how to create money through multiple mediums. They need to be exposed to the area of entrepreneurship, as there is a new wave of online businesses through blogging, podcasts, E-books etc.

We need financial flash cards, teenager version.

If our school system taught life skills that children sometimes never learn, our world would be a much more functional and successful world. Children would understand themselves, know where they are going, and would stop switching majors, or taking minimum wage jobs after completing university degrees. If they were inspired to start businesses, gain global perspectives and develop creative and innovative problem-solving minds, they would rule the world.


Peace & Love,

Jill – your veggie villager xx

Hey lovely people!

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how BUSY people are today – including myself. I have three jobs and still am always looking for more to do – and this is my SUMMER OFF!! Recently, I did go camping and found such renewal from my regular routine and wanted to share why it is important to get un-busy.


Looking around me, I’ve found that North Americans are so caught up in our work that we forget to take time off. We are so focused on excelling and success that we lose sight of our health and well being, including our relationships and our physical, mental and spiritual health. We don’t give ourselves permission to take days off and recharge – which actually makes us MORE productive, creative and successful.


We are labelled as a ‘no-vacation nation‘ and we need to change that. I believe we should reconnect on our days off and enjoy exploring new parts of the world. We all have busy seasons in our lives, but vacations throughout the year shouldn’t be an option – they should be MANDATORY.


I found that my trip to Greece for seven weeks gave me not only invaluable volunteering experiences, but allowed me to immerse myself in the culture, understanding the world better and the needs of other countries globally.  Taking global insight and applying it locally is something everyone can do to better their own health and the health of others. I came back happier than ever, given I had time to meditate, explore, get out of my comfort zone, connect with new faces and make a difference.

vacations, greece

Here is why it is so important to take time with your family, your friends and yourself on vacation:

1. Purposeful paths. 

Taking your time to understand the different ways of life around you. Solving global problems might give you some insight into how to better yourself when you get home. I love ‘backpacking with a purpose’ – travelling and volunteering your time to make your vacation that much more meaningful.

2. Rest, reset and reconnect.

Give your mind and body a break. Relax on a beach, or go for a leisurely hike. Disconnect from your work and electronics, and reconnect with your family members, friends and even yourself while enjoying the beauty around you.

3. Sparking curiosity and courage.

Exploring new trails, new yoga studios, new juice bars and plant-based restaurants, and meeting new people, pushes you out of your comfort zone and allows you to be a child again and let your spirit run wild.

4. Smiling and sunshine. 

Let your soul smile and hang out in the sun, soaking up some much needed Vitamin D while trapped inside of your air-conditioned office. I prefer going somewhere where I can sweat it out – detoxing my mind, body and soul.

5. Forget finances.

Money will always be there, but experiences won’t be unless they are planned and sought out. Time is invaluable, and spending it with those you love, not the THINGS you love is far more important. A change of scenery can give you the opportunity to share laughs, wisdom, and stories with those that matter most.


So I encourage you to start planning your next getaway, especially with the summer season upon us. Take time out of your busy routine to be with your kids, your parents, your friends, and yourself to indulge in journalling on the beach, snapping photos of your latest finds and helping in global communities where your talents and gifts can shine. Remember that you are so blessed – always be grateful and appreciate all that this beautiful life has to offer.

Peace & Love,

Jill – your veggie villager xx

Hey Villagers!

So when everyone heard that I was travelling to Thessaloniki, Greece for seven weeks to volunteer the first thing I would hear was – WHAT are you going to EAT?

With traditional greek meals consisting of souvlaki, gyros, and seafood, it seemed like a daunting task trying to find plant-based foods that I could survive on. But I knew that Greece was by the MEDITERRANEAN sea – so it was also KNOWN for its mediterranean diet – filled with grilled veggies, feta cheese and OLIVES! So I set off, knowing that I would locate a market and health food store the minute I landed.

greece greece greece

Every week I would go to this market to pick up my veggies, spices, puffed quinoa, dried beans, raw buckwheat kernels, organic free range eggs (with the feathers still on them!), and I even experimented with a little organic goat’s cheese, German dark chocolate and wild rice! I loved how proud people from Greece were about their products – with almost everything directly from Greece – very little imports compared to Canada.


The cherries, honeydew and peaches were in season – best fruit I’ve ever tasted and available just about everywhere (even on hiking trails!).

I loved how kind the people from Greece were … always offering to help! I was living with students and let me tell you – no one knew what a cutting board and good knife was!! I was living with my Greek student host and a bunch of interns from around the world – and we all shared the set that I bought! Teaching the girls to cook beans and add flavour to their meals with a little parsley, some spices and lemon really inspired me to continue my creativity in cooking!!


Now on to the amazing restaurants ……

Everywhere I went I could at least find a greek lentil salad or grilled veggies on the menu and you knew they were using WHOLE foods and good olive oils. I loved the purity of their foods, and their attention to good spring drinking water with glass bottles on tables of every restaurant I went to.


Also loves Mama’s Tapas in the centre of town, they had great vegan and vegetarian greek entrees! Every restaurant offered SEASONAL and LOCAL foods, definitely something Canada needs to adopt! Santorini was incredible always FEEDING my soul with some of the best things to do in Greece like hiking, cliff jumping, sailing, swimming in hot springs (natural MUD facials!), ATVing and watching the sunset on top of a CASTLE!


Don’t let your love of living a holistic, healthy diet keep you from travelling and experiencing all the world has to offer.  I think I opened the eyes of those from around the world about how to feel alive when you feed your soul with the colours from the Earth.


Here are the three greek things I learned about eating: 

Sit and ENJOY your food.

Food is supposed to be an EVENT SHARED with friends and family, not fast and convenient while driving in your car – I saw not ONE Greek eating on the bus.


Eat WHOLE ingredients.

Processed and fast food is not nearly as embraced as in North America. All the students – even though they didn’t cook – were most likely eating their parent’s home cooked food and bringing home fruits and veggies from their family gardens. Let’s just say …. few students knew what Cheetos were.



Restaurants only served what was in season, and mostly what was around them. Santorini was full of seafood, because that was what was available and sustainable. I adhered to the fruits that were season and local – they are more nutritious and delicious that way. I ditched the soft bananas and mushy apples and opted for cherries, kiwis and peaches. Also, greens were hard to keep alive in the heat – so romaine, cucumbers and tomatoes were my staples in Greece.

So enjoy all that Greece has to offer!

I will never forget the juicy cherries of Greece, or how juicy I felt in the Mediterranean heat.


Peace & Love,

Jill – Your veggie villager xx

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