Meet vegan chef Amy Symington | Vegan Food & Living

Meet vegan chef Amy Symington

Read Time:   |  15th July 2020

Amy isn't just a vegan chef, she was so determined to make a difference that she's now a professor teaching others.

I grew up in South Western Ontario, Canada, on what was once a beef, dairy and turkey farm. While we grew and ate our own veggies, we also had half a cow in our freezer at any given time.

Not what one would describe as a vegan-friendly household. It wasn’t until university, where I met my husband (a lifelong vegetarian), that I began to remove animals from my diet. My dad suggested I’d been “brainwashed”.

At first, it was out of convenience for meals together. But it was also an enjoyable challenge; I’ve always loved my veggies, thoroughly enjoyed cooking/baking with the ladies in my life, and worked in kitchens and restaurants since I was a teenager. Just like our relationship, tofu was new and exciting!

Transition and tragedy

Of course, in a matter of months, I’d found many more reasons to remove animals from my diet completely. 1) I felt amazing and had endless energy eating plants; 2) For many years, I had relentless psoriasis and it cleared up completely; 3) I read The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter by Peter Singer and Jim Mason; and 4) I began experimenting in the kitchen like I never had before.

And then I lost my mom to breast cancer. I knew then that my life’s focus would be making nutritious, disease-preventing, feel-good food.

With my general but keen interest in nutrition, I returned to school to obtain a culinary nutrition diploma at George Brown College in Toronto, and then a Masters of Science in Applied Human Nutrition, with a focus on functional foods, at Oxford Brookes University in the UK.

Today, I am a nutrition professor, research associate and plant-based chef at George Brown College. I develop recipes and write about food for publications in Canada, and I impart my passion for delicious, healthy and plant-based eating to everyone I can, including hundreds of students every year.

Even my dad is now mostly plant-based, cooks amazing vegan food, and is unbelievably supportive of my lifestyle. If you see him, feel free to tell him that he’s been brainwashed.

Community

I also run the culinary nutrition programs at the not-for-profit cancer support community organisation Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto, which provides social, emotional and nutritional support for those touched by cancer. I started there as a volunteer after I lost my mom.

Recently, I published my first cookbook, book, The Long-Table Cookbook: Plant-based Recipes For Optimal Health.

It was born out of a government research grant, and is an evidence-based collection of recipes built on years of research and recipe development related to chronic disease prevention and management. All of my author proceeds go to Gilda’s Club.

Every day since my mom has been gone I have dedicated my life, work and research to ensuring that people diagnosed with cancer get the appropriate psycho-social, nutrition-focused support that they need. This, of course, includes following a whole food, plant focused diet.

I strongly believe in the health, environmental, and compassionate benefits of a vegan lifestyle. It’s how my husband (now a Canadian Member of Parliament) and I are raising our two beautiful boys, and it will always be a big part of my personal and professional life.

As a nutrition professor and researcher, I work to highlight the health benefits of a plant-based diet. As a vegan chef, I make the science accessible through healthy and delicious food.

The science will make people reconsider their habits, and quality cooking will help to change them for good. I like to think that my mom would be pleased.

To try some of Amy’s recipes go to ameliaeats.com

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