My Vegan Life With Monika Kielczewska
Monika Kielczewska is International Scout at Elite. She is also a passionate vegan, which means she has eliminated any animal-based products from what she consumes, from meat to eggs and milk. She believes that eating purely plant-based food has a profoundly positive impact on our personal health and the overall wellbeing of the earth, be it the treatment of animals or the environment. As a scout, Monika works closely with the models as they take their first steps in the industry, and has inspired some models to start following the vegan nutrition plan. We sat down with Monika to ask her a few questions about how she found herself on this journey, the difference between a diet and a lifestyle and why she chooses plant products over animal every time.
When did you become vegan and what inspired you to do it?
For as long as I can remember, I always ate healthily as both my mother and my aunt (who are also my best friends) were interested in holistic, herbal and natural medicine. We didn’t have a microwave or junk food at home, but luckily we always had a healthy homemade meal on the table! Although, I have to admit, like most of teenagers I enjoyed junk food on Sundays, Red Bull was my best friend during my studies and finally alcohol on the weekends. Eventually, I ended up having some health problems. But my “awakening” started around 8 years ago when my friend showed me the results of her research on dairy. I was shocked! All my life I was thought that milk is the best thing for my bones, teeth and I won’t grow up if I don’t drink it! But it came out that it was poisoning me. So, I decided not follow the masses but to wake up and do my own research. Thankfully, I had my mother and aunt who were the best source of information… moms know best!
What are the benefits of being vegan - on your health and for the planet? Which comes first for you?
Being vegan is not a diet, it’s a lifestyle. First it starts with nutrition, when you realise that everything you eat is basically killing you - I encourage you to read the ingredients of both your foods and cosmetics. If you don’t know what something on the ingredients list is, don’t put it in your mouth or on your skin. Then, you learn that is, I believe, not only killing you, but the animals and environment. There is so much information on veganism and I don’t understand how people can still eat meat after acknowledging that more than 6 million animals are killed for food every hour because you like your bacon and coffee with milk! Did you know that not eating a pound of meat saves more water than not showering for six months? That eggs are so unhealthy that it is illegal in a lot of countries to advertise them as healthy or safe? You can easily stop all this by swapping your animal product for plant one! Start with switching out milk for a non-dairy alternative (almond, rice or oat), chose avocado or hummus instead of butter and read, read, read! Educate yourself. Watch movies and documentaries and then you will realise why hospitals are filled with people who have heart disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer and are not filled with protein-deficient vegans.
What are the challenges of being vegan and how have you overcome them?
The biggest challenge for me is talking to people who do not respect my food choices and constantly attack me for my Instagram activity. I don’t post for the thousands of people, I post for the one person who says “thank you, I really needed that”.
You live in Paris – what is it like to be a vegan there?
Paris has its own charm, but if you are a vegan, you will end up with a not very exciting vegan options which are French fries or dry lettuce and annoyed friends (it is a challenge to explain your food choices to a French waiter!). Although I have to admit that there is some progress, and there are more and more vegan restaurants opening in certain areas. Recently I finally found time to visit one of them, “Jah Jah by Le Tricycle”, and I have to admit that it was totally worth it! The food was mind-blowing! I only wish someone could open at least one vegan restaurant closer to our Elite office!
You have helped some models go vegan – have they noticed an improvement in their health and energy levels?
I am very active with posting information about veganism on my Instagram stories, and the more I was posting the more feedback I was getting. I had young girls messaging me that thanks to veganism they overcame eating disorders. Or a mother who healed her child who had health problems by switching to a vegan diet. The truth is that there are no side effects of a vegan diet - only benefits! You can find so many stories of people who were struggling with a disease and who improved their health successfully by switching to a plant-based diet.
Where in the world have you eaten the best vegan food?
My vegan paradise is in Poland - where I come from! Warsaw is listed as #3 on happycow.net, with over 38 vegan restaurants, and I couldn’t be more proud! My second favourite city is New York. What a relief when I am able to order a delicious meal during my business dinner without annoying anyone at the table, like a cauliflower “steak” - only in NY! I have to admit that nothing will beat the vegan cuisine in Tel-Aviv - the perfect mix of the sun-kissed climate, high quality fruit and vegetables, spiced up with loud and passionate Israeli people, makes you feel like on the cloud nine! But I would never have expected to have my first vegan pizza in Lviv, Ukraine! I am fortunate enough to work with amazing mother agencies who always invite me to their local vegan places - a big thank you to them!
Beyoncé is famously vegan – do you think it’s even more important to be vegan now, in 2018, in a developed industrialised world, than in the past?
There was a “confused” doctor, I would say, in one of many documentaries I saw, admitting that he didn’t know how to fight with child’s obesity because when he was studying medicine no one used to ever think that children might be in a high-risk group and become a regular patient suffering from obesity. These days, doctors don’t know how to deal with sick children who struggle with adult’s diseases. What happened? Why is everyone in trouble now?
I have mentioned before that I encourage everyone to read and seek out information for themselves, but when you bear in mind that most people would rather choose fast food and Netflix over a good book and outside activities, it feels like tilting at windmills. In the era of Instagram and Snapchat, it is no surprise that celebrities have a massive influence on pop culture and people’s health choices. And thankfully, more and more of them are heading towards a meat-free future! Beyoncé, Miley Cyrus, Drake, Zac Efron, Lewis Hamilton, NBA and football leading stars and many more say that a vegan diet has changed their life for better! Studies show that demand for vegan and vegetarian foods increased 987% in 2017 and veganism is expected to be the “biggest food shift of 2018”. The future looks bright! Save the planet - GO VEGAN!