An Interview with a Vegetarian Naturopath
Posted on 19 January 2015 by Marie Hunter
I have known principal naturopath at Sundala Health Centre Leonie for several years now and I know of her passion for food and nutrition, however I have never taken the time to question her thoroughly on her philosophy as a vegetarian.
Looking at Leonie, you wouldn’t know that she has been vegetarian for over 20 years (maybe that’s just my perception of how a vegetarian should look – The Young Ones has a lot to answer for). I decided to track down Leonie for a chat about being a vegetarian naturopath and how this has influenced her way of treating clients in her clinic.
How did your vegetarianism come about?
As a child I was a bit of a fussy eater and had aversions to several different kinds of meat, as I grew into my teens my dislike of eating animals grew stronger and I looked for new ways to cut flesh foods out of my diet. But it wasn’t until I left home in my late teens and became a young adult that I had the opportunity to cut flesh foods out of my diet entirely.
Have you always been this healthy?
Well, no, not really (laughs). It took me some years to become more aware of what my body required and it was a quite a bit of study and then trial and error for me to learn what works best for me. In my teens and early twenties I suffered from a respiratory complaint that affected my everyday life, and fortunately I have managed to completely turn this condition around with correct food choices for myself (and of course using herbs and natural remedies).
Do you find it difficult to eat out or travel as a vegetarian?
When I first went vegetarian I did have some difficulty, mainly because I was not as strong with my convictions as I am now, and obviously because there were fewer options for vegetarians twenty odd years ago. In recent years I have done a fair bit of international travel and I tend to know where to track down healthy vegetarian food, I have a few techniques for staying healthy while out on the road, and of course I make best use of Happy Cow!
How does your vegetarianism affect your treatment of clients in your naturopathic clinic?
Well, I have all sorts of people that visit my centre and I tend to adapt treatment therapies and dietary suggestions to the individual. I do not try to convert people to a vegetarian diet if that is what you are asking, but I am passionate about healthy eating, so I encourage people to make best use of their resources and eat food that is within their budget, that is readily available, delicious and nutritious. For most people increasing their intake of fresh vegetables is the first step to a healthy diet. I do enjoy seeing people becoming healthy and taking more control of their own health with making healthier food choices – if that is with vegetarian foods, then great, if not that is fine too.
What would you suggest to someone who is considering becoming a vegetarian?
Firstly, to do some reading and research on healthy vegetarian eating, I have found that some people will cut meat out of their diet and simply introduce more bread and pasta. Having a balanced vegetarian diet takes a little practice, but it certainly doesn’t need to be difficult or complicated. I will generally guide new vegetarians with making healthy food choices and emphasise not labeling themselves too strictly based on how they want others to perceive them. While I will often emphasise that ‘food is your first medicine’, the joy of eating delicious food should not be overlooked as an important aspect of a healthy lifestyle.
Leonie is a consulting naturopath with over a decade of experience working in health and healing and takes a down-to-earth approach of helping people reach their health goals with natural therapies. Contact Sundala Health Centre in Lismore NSW to discuss your health with Medical Herbalist and Naturopath Leonie.