Tell us a little about yourself. Where you live, what you do for a living.
My name is Maya Novak and I’m an Injury Recovery Expert and Health Coach passionate in helping others. I was born and raised in Slovenia, then in 2012 we moved to New Zealand and at the end of last year, we moved to Mexico. We’re not sure for how long we’ll stay here, but there’s a big possibility that this is not our final destination.
I started with coaching in 2014, two years after the biggest turn in my life. I broke my right ankle while rock climbing – neck/body fracture with dislocation of my right talus bone. And yes, the recovery is just as complicated and long as the diagnosis.
I was no weight bearing for the first 12 weeks (that means I was more or less 24/7 in bed for the first 3 months). Then I was allowed to start putting some weight on my foot for the next 6, 7 weeks and then slowly, slowly came full weight bearing. It took me 6 months to get rid of the crutches and 13 months to run a bit more than 10 seconds. The journey was long, exhausting, painful, lonely, frustrating and sometimes I really felt that this would never ever end. That that was it!
Fast forward a few years – 2 years and almost 4 months after the fracture I finished my first long-distance triathlon, and a year later the second one.
Because of this accident, I dove even deeper into nutrition, recovery process, learned about the importance of diet and mindset, gathered the tools, and developed the systems that now help others with injuries and health problems.
What was the moment you realize that you wanted to go vegan?
I became vegetarian when I was 15 – I didn’t want anyone suffering for my meals. Little did I know that dairy industry is as cruel as meat industry and it took me another 12, 13 years to realize that.
I’m a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine by the degree, so I saw a lot of horrible things that people are just talking about with my own eyes. The most horrifying were definitely slaughterhouses and watching the process of killing the animals. Back then I was still vegetarian and it not even once occurred to me that my food choices contributed to these events as well.
A few years later I watched Gary Yourofsky’s lecture and a few days later the documentary Earthlings. That was the last straw and there was no turning back for me. I’ve been vegan since then.
How long have you been Vegan?
I have been vegan for the last 6 years, since 2011.
Why is being Vegan important to you?
For me, it’s a no-brainer. My main reason for the switch were animals, but the more I read about it, the more I started realizing that it’s a win-win situation for everyone and everything. I take care of the animals, my health, and the environment.
Do you have a blog or favorite vegan blog you read?
I read mostly about health related topics and the latest studies on how food and our mind affects our bodies. So no blogs, but I love following the work of Dr. Michael Greger, Dr. Neal Barnard, Dr. Garth Davis, Lissa Rankin and others.
Any recommended Vegan books?
88 Kitchen Tales is a vegan cookbook that my husband Jerry and I published a few years ago – first in Slovenia, our home country and 2 years ago we translated it to English and it’s now available on Amazon as well.
Note: 88 Kitchen Tales is not your usual cookbook. If you’re looking for a regular cookbook with recipes without much personality, then you’re not gonna enjoy it. I promise you that! But if you think that cooking can be fun and if you like to read stories and you’re interested in what was happening in our kitchen when we were making this cookbook, then bingo, you just found your new favorite!
Connect with this Vegan Being online here:
Instagram (personal): https://www.instagram.com/maya.novak
88 Kitchen Tales: Click here.
Any recommended social sites, Facebook Groups or other?
There are a lot of great Facebook Groups. These are mostly focused on the health aspect of plant-based eating:
– McDougall Friends
– Love Chard Community
– How Not To Die – Dr. Michael Greger
Do you have a favorite movie or videos or your own media that you want to share?
The last straw for me was the documentary “Earthlings” but it’s a hard watch since there’s no sugar coating. I love ″Cowspiracy″ and can’t wait for their next documentary ″What The Health″ that Is coming out this year.
Do you actively promote veganism? How? Please share any stories you would like.
I promote it through my work. I write articles, books, coaching people one-on-one or through different courses, supporting my husband with his plant-based podcast: The Plant-Based Entrepreneur Show etc.
Do you miss any non-Vegan foods?
No, never. I became vegan overnight and never ever had any kind of cravings – might be my stubborn nature and once I decide to do something it is final.
What’s your favorite recipe? Please share it.
I really love Chilli Con Lentils from our cookbook 88 Kitchen Tales.
This was prepared by accident while looking for new stuffings for our tortillas (page 42). We were both a bit worried about the outcome – one felt that more chili flakes were needed to get that authentic Mexican flavor, while the other was afraid her taste buds couldn’t possibly handle the amount of chili that had already gone in. Luckily, the dish turned out so amazing we could have eaten it by itself and not even bothered with the tortillas.
Ingredients (makes 1 large serving):
• 1 cup lentils (soaked overnight)
• 2 spring onions
• 1 clove garlic
• 1 handful sun-dried tomatoes
• 1 cup tomato sauce
• chilli flakes
• last carrot from the fridge
• 1 tbsp coconut or olive oil
Soak the lentils for at least 8 hours and rinse/drain well before cooking. Finely chop the onions and garlic and sauté in oil over the lowest flame for about 10 minutes. Once they turn glassy (they shouldn’t go brown if you’re cooking on minimum), add the sliced sun-dried tomatoes. Cook for a minute or three, then stir in the chopped carrot you’ve just pulled from the fridge.
Add the lentils after about 2 minutes and top up with tomato sauce: 3⁄4 cup if you’re making a thick chili to stuff the tortillas or up to 11⁄2 cup if you’re going to eat it alone.
Oh, and don’t forget about the chili flakes – add these just before the sauce. Half a teaspoon to make the dish just moderately hot, or more, added earlier if you’re going for a flaming taste. Just make sure it’s palatable to everyone. Cover the pot, wait until the contents are bubbling, then simply stir occasionally and check the lentils every once in a while. Once it seems soft enough (this can take anywhere between 15 to 60 minutes), your chili is ready.″
Are you a cruelty-free vegan?
What is your favorite Vegan stereotype? If someone asks you a question about it, how do you respond?
I choose my battles wisely and don’t respond to every single thing that people ask me. Some are just provoking and I don’t engage and spend my energy on them anymore. But those who are genuinely interested in the topic, we discuss things and I often ask them back ″Why do you think that? Where did you hear this? Do you think this is true?″ and similar. It’s better when people come to the bottom of things on their own.
Some encouraging words for new Vegans?
It gets easier the longer you do this. Just don’t lose sight of the big picture and know that you’re in for the long haul – we’re on the right side of history, after all.