Patrizia Saccente by Natureat
The famous vegan blogger and mom based in London
All interviews and meetings start with one word, thinking of you the first word that comes to mind is “well done”: you are the soul of natureatblog, a splendid vegetable cuisine page in constant growth: from the website, facebook page, the open facebook group that follow you and instagram to the magazine you created which is a fantastic container of ideas, articles, interventions and, obviously, recipes.
Personally I’ve been a follower and fan of yours for years, because among the many things that can be found on the web, I appreciate your work a lot which seems to me based on a beautiful, delicious and rewarding cuisine and above all, I appreciate your spontaneous method which is at the same time calm and friendly, and your way of being there with answers and solutions every time your followers need you.
Firstly tell us:
- How you thought to start such a page? And how it has evolved over the years?
Cooking has always been a big passion: I started at the cooker when I was a child, for fun, together with my grandmother and my mother. When I chose to follow a vegetable nutrition however, this love of cooking became even stronger. The idea of uniting the importance of food with the possibility to transmit an etichal message such as that vegan, gave me the idea to create Natureat. When my project started, vegetable nutrition was still little diffused in Italy, so creating a blog of plant-based recipes was a way of helping people to prepare simple dishes, quick, genuine and tasty, without using animal derivatives.
Soon after opening the blog, I became active on my Instagram profile and on Facebook: here I had the chance to create a group where anyone can share vegetable dishes or ask for advice (“Natureat Vegan Recipes). Then recently and together with a marvellous Team, I created the Natureat Magazine: a 100% vegan digital magazine, where the aim is to supply, in each number, a guide to help readers follow a more sustainable style of life, through recipes from starters to dessert with seasonal produce, expert articles, interviews with inspriational people, information and much more on this marvellous reality. So you can find Natureat in all the main digital platforms, including podcast!
- You live in England. How come you ended up overseas?
I was born in Puglia and I carry my country always in my heart. All the same, when I decided to start down this path working on Natureat, I felt the need to move to a place which offered more possibilities and my choice was immediately London. In England I have been able to organize events, prepare private dinners, act as personal chef to interested families and follow a healthy, vegan diet. When I moved to England, the atmosphere was already very vegan-friendly with respect to the situation in Italy, so I found a fertile land in which to cultivate my projects.
- Here you raise your son Noah: we’ve followed his growth (and I send my compliments because he’s amazing!) and you’re the one who looks after his 100% vegetable diet: what advice would you give to a mother who would like to follow the same type of nutritional path for her child? Apart from cooking you manage to transmit the idea of being a calm mother, who spends quality time with her child, despite working and having many commitments. So really, I send my compliments.
Thanks, I’m really happy to transmit all of that!
To a mother who wants to follow my path I would advise first off to reaearch, research and research. We live in an era in which knowledge is to hand, thanks to the internet and social media. Many mothers are discouraged by judgement from people who don’t share their vegan style of life, but there are in existance scientific studies demonstrating how much this diet is suitable to each stage of life and all you have to do is search online to read and discover a wonderful world!
Yes, I personally look after Noahs diet, but I have years of experience in courses and research on same. To mothers who don’t have much experience with childrens diets, I would advise them to consult a pediatrician specialized in vegetable nutrition and to contact other mothers who have chosen this path. Fortunately, the world of social media allows us to get in touch with anyone so we can use this to our advantage!
My secret is organisation: I decide weekly which will be the dishes that I will prepare for the next 7 days, I do a big shop for all the necessary (excluding fruit and veg which I buy more than once a week) and I prepare large quantities of foods such as legumes, so that I can freeze some portions to have always at hand in an emergency.
In my blog, not by chance, I created an address book dedicated to women, which then became an Instagram page (@womanveg), in which I share recipes and advice for mothers, and a section of Natureat Magazine is entirely dedicated to the female voice.
- Noah, the name you chose for him, is the same name of an important Biblical figure who we all recognise for his ark full of animals: how do you think our behaviour to animals is evolving?
I definitely feel the need to save animals through my ark, which in this case is Natureat: all animals, not just a pair per species!
There is definitely more awareness in our behaviour to animals than in the past. Today everyone knows, or can discover, how animal derivatives are produced. We can’t negate though, that in the past the consumption of meat was much lower. For our grandparents, for example, meat was a luxury and they certainly weren’t used to eating it so easily and normally like the new generations do.
So awareness is higher but also violence unfortunately.
- What’s behind your vegan life decision? Do you come from a traditionally omnivorous family?
Vegan, for me, isn’t only a dietary decision and involves many aspects and values important to me, based on ethics and sensitivity. At the base of my decision, there are definitely three main motivations: respect towards animals (innocent creatures, who suffer to satisfy the whims of our taste buds); respect for the Planet (one of the main causes of environmental pollution is, in fact, intensive farming); respect for ourselves (a healthy and balanced diet is the base for physical and mental health). Yes, I do come from an omnivorous tradition, but where consumption of vegetable foods has always been much superior to those of animal products. Not by chance, my sisters and I have long followed a veg diet and my parents have never odjected, on the contrary, they’re always ready to try my recipes and explore vegan cuisine!
- What were the first difficulties you met when you changed your nutritional path? And now?
I never had any particular difficulties, for me it was quite a natural and easy process. Definitely the most complicated part was distancing myself from cheese, for which I could have a real addiction. I first became vegetarian, then shortly afterwards I realised it wasn’t enough and decided to follow a compeltely vegan diet. I think the fundamental thing to understand is what’s behind what we have on our plates, asking ourselves if we’re eating something natural or a product that has caused suffering. When you start to attirbute suffering to certain foods, you can’t consider them tasty anymore. Now I feel healthier and more at peace…I’d never turn back and instead my only regret is not to have made this choice sooner!
- In England, differently to in Italy, there seems to be much more openness and attention towards this type of diet and philosophy of life: can you confirm this? Do you think that also in Italy the time will arrive when steps are taken forward?
Yes I can confirm that England is a very vegan-friendly country, it was already years ago and is increasingly so. In all eateries, or almost all, you can find vegetarian options, lots of restaurants are 100% plant-based and it is very easy to find vegan ingredients and products in the supermarket. In Italy much progress has been made in the last few years, in my opinion. Obviously we’re not on the same level as cities such as London, but there is much more awareness on certain themes. Some years ago people didn’t even know what the word “vegan” meant, but now it’s quite a diffused concept. There are a lot of people who put effort into spreading the vegan philosophy in Italy using social networks, so I think the situation will continually improve!
- To me your recipes inspire deliciousness, passion, love of life. What is – from them all - your favourite recipe, which reminds you of personal memories, and which you have translated to vegan?
I am really very happy to inspire all of this, thank you for your beautiful words.
There are many recipes I love and which I am attached to, but if I have to choose just one it would be the Pugliese focaccia. Focaccia reminds me of my country and my memories, one of which is me as a child with my hands working dough, enjoying playing with the flour. Also, this recipe ties in with my concept of cooking: simplicity, few ingredients and goodness. It demonstrates that a lot of our traditional culinary recipes are already vegan and don’t need to be changed: often the word “vegan” frightens more than it should.
- Do you think happiness passes through food?
Absolutely yes, in fact it is a concept that I always like to reiterate. Food is a fundamental element which can’t be missed during our day, capable of influencing our health and our mood. The ingredients that we put on the plate can tell a story through flavours and aromas, but above all can affect our organism.
The majority of people are convinced that healthy and tasty are two separate concepts, but this is absolutley not true and I always try to demonstrate this with my recipes.
Food makes us that which we are, inside and out. Having a healthy, balanced diet is the first step to living happily and peacefully!
- What do you wish for Noah?
For Noah, as for all the children of the new generations, I wish a splendid future full of serenity. I will make an effort to transmit my values and give him the happiest childhood possible, but I hope that growing up he can meet with a better world, more aware than that of today and a cleaner and more respected Planet. To many this may seem Utopian, but the hope of change is the first step for change itself. It’s our job, mine and everyone elses, to try make this wish come true.
Would you like to cook Patrizia's Filled Potato Cakes? Here you have her tasty recipe
And you can follow Patrizia here:
(credits for Patrizia photo: ph. Assunta Simone)