1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Hi, my name is Inca Nolani Reid. I am a 26-year-old, mixed-race, third-culture kid living in Jakarta for the past six years as a fashion model. I grew up in a family who believes in the health benefits of a plant-based diet. We were not vegetarians but we ate plenty of fruits and vegetables and stayed away from animal products as much as possible. I also avoided dairy products as a child since I was lactose intolerant and drank mostly soy milk which was hard to find at that time. The source of protein for our main meals came from chicken, fish, rice, beans, tofu, and tempeh.†

I was underweight during most of my childhood and I remember during my annual medical check-ups how the physicians would always be concerned that I suffered from malnutrition after learning that I didnít eat much meat and didnít drink cow milk. As I got older and became more involved in physical fitness and sports, I began to consume more meat in my diet since I thought that was the best way to gain muscle and endurance. Then, over the past few years, as I educated myself on the health and environmental benefits of a plant-based diet, I began my journey to become a vegan.

2. What made you go vegan?

My interest in veganism began four years ago primarily due to concerns for my own health and for the environment. Unfortunately, my family has a history of breast cancer and high blood pressure. Years ago I witnessed my grandmother overcome breast cancer by changing her lifestyle choices to include becoming a vegan.†

Recently, I had a lump surgically removed from my breast, also known as a lumpectomy, which thankfully was not cancerous. After the procedure, my doctor recommended I decrease my intake of dairy and red meat and also exercise more. I then realized that I needed to make some serious lifestyle changes to lower my risk of breast cancer.†

Following my doctorís advice, I did my own research to explore more effective long-term health solutions. Then I stumbled upon a Netflix documentary, The Game Changers, which showcased success stories of world-renowned athletes who have adopted plant-based diets and highlighted favorable scientific studies. Research also showed me that meat and dairy products are fueling the climate crisis, while plant-based diets - focused on fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans - help protect the planet. All this led me to the conclusion that veganism is the lifestyle solution for me.†

Although I was 100% confident of my decision, I wonít pretend that the first year was an easy transition. My biggest struggle at first was dealing with the low availability of plant-based products and protein substitutes at the time. I started by cutting off dairy and red meats, reducing sugar intake, and by integrating organic foods in my meals. The transition became easier over time as I learned what ingredients to use and eventually got rid of all animal-based food from my diet.

Since becoming a vegan, I feel more energetic and I have had an easier time focusing and concentrating. My medical check-ups results have also greatly improved with no new signs of health concerns. In my opinion, veganism has shown me that although we cannot alter our genetic makeup (unless we use some sort of human genome editing technology), we can certainly change our lifestyle to reduce the risk of getting an inherited disease.

3.†Being vegan in Indonesia, do you find it difficult to find vegan food?

Actually, finding vegan food in Indonesia is easier than I imagined. Indonesiaís tropical habitat offers a wide variety of freshly grown (and affordable) fruits and vegetables. In some countries, it is tough to find tofu, tempeh, and nuts..but Indonesia has plenty of them! However, fresh berries, such as blue and blackberries, are sometimes difficult to find in quantity.† Since there are not many vegans or vegetarians in my line of work, I tend to bring my own snacks and food when working with a group of other models just to avoid any complications.†

4. What are your top 5 vegan restaurants in Jakarta, and tell us why we should try them?

Hereís my list of ďmust tryĒ restaurants in no particular order:

1. Ray's Bottle of Joe

What could possibly be more comforting than a place serving traditional Indonesian dishes, such as Mie Anak Selatan, Nasi Goreng Kambing, Soto Betawi, Nasi Ayam Geprek, and more. They also have delightful signature drinks like various Mylk Latte flavors, pandan bliss, coconut paradise, and tasty desserts, like donuts and croffles!

2. Kyuri

This place is quite the experience. They specialize in premium plant-based burgers. These burgers are large and incredibly delicious. Try their double classic burger, mushroom katsu, beyond meat burger, tempeh katsu curry along with fries, potato wedges, or nuggets on the side.

3. Max's Pizza

I love a good cheesy New York City pizza and I have to say, Maxís pizza has definitely fulfilled that with a vegan version. Pesto Chickín Pizza is one of my favorites..a perfect cheesy pizza outfitted with its own pesto sauce! Try their unique slices from the Truffle Mushroom, Meatball, Margherita, and more. There are so many reasons to try this pizza joint!†

4. Nutsy Bowl

For my rice lovers! If you want to have something simple and nourishing with balanced portions of rice, plant based-protein, and vegetables, then try their rice bowls like spicy mentai, salted egg, dendeng suwir. All bowls come with a side of small sliced fried potatoes and chili sauce.

5. Two Fat Indians

They have amazing vegan curry and rice dish selections with generous portions. Butter Chickín Vegan Biryani alongside Pappadum crackers is my favorite combination. Their samosas are also yummy!

5. What are your tips for those who want to go vegan?

Several tips Iíd like to share, first know your motivation, I think itís important to begin with an understanding of why you are doing it. I shared my reasons, but ultimately, you need to be clear on your motivation since it will be easier to stick to it for the long term. If youíre feeling hungry you should eat more frequently. Your body is going through an adjustment period. We underestimate how big of a caloric difference natural foods have over animal-based substance and should increase your frequency of meals or keep healthy snacks on hand until you find the balance that works for you.

Then go at your own pace, itís your process and vegan journey. Reprogramming your entire diet is a huge change and requires extra thought, planning, patience, and dedication. Also you should learn to meal prep, it sounds like a lot of work but it can help you stick to a vegan diet a whole lot easier especially when you have a busy schedule. Focus on progress, not perfection! When mistakes happen, forgive yourself or your server, learn from it and move on. Changing your lifestyle is a process so allow errors to happen.

You should also listen to your skin. Your skin might get worse before it gets better. Reprogramming your body also includes resetting your skin. Your body is cleansing from the inside out which can cause unwanted breakouts. You need to press reset, listen to your skin and simplify your skin care routine with the basics until you find what works. Also make sure you supplement. Many nutritionists recommend supplementing a vegan diet with B12, iron and calcium. I personally take B12 and D3. As you get better at balancing your plant-based diet your need for supplements will decrease.

Socializing with other vegans also has helped me, itís important to meet and socialize with other vegans as much as possible whether in person or online. Being part of a community and following vegan social media sites will help keep you updated on a regular basis. You should try to use the apps! With veganism going more mainstream, there are plenty of mobile apps and online resources that can make vegan life easier. Abillion is a mobile app, community-sourced review app that helps you discover restaurants and plant-based food products from all around the world.†

This is particularly valuable for new vegans who struggle with choosing new products to try. HappyCow is a website and a mobile app which features a location-based directory of all vegan friendly restaurants in your area. Lastly, continue to learn and grow as an individual and a vegan, gather more knowledge related to the subject and keep advocating for veganism. I highly recommend watching The Game Changers, a Netflix documentary that seeks the truth about meat, plant-based eating, protein, and strength. I also suggest watching, What the Health, and Seaspiracy.

If you are thinking about beginning your vegan journey, please know that I appreciate and admire you for even trying! It has never been easier to go vegan than now, so why not? All the best!†