Feature Interview: A Canadian Olympian who inspires us to get Hooked on Plants!

Meet Julia Murray, Canadian ski-cross Olympian, vegan holistic nutritionist, chef, business owner (Jules Fuel), and founder of hookedonplants.ca (an awesome vegan food blog). She is also the daughter of two ski legends: Dave Murray (of Crazy Canuck fame) and Stephanie Sloan (a well-decorated freestyle skier).

We were interested in learning more about plant-based eating due to its environmental and health benefits, so it seemed natural to chat with Julia to learn more.

NNV: Julia, let’s start with the obvious… How long have you been a vegan, and what made you become one?

JM: I’ve been vegan for almost 3 years now. It took about a year to transition, and I never told myself or anyone around me ‘I’m going 100% vegan next week.’ It was a slow transition, because I was still learning all about the WHY. The more information I absorbed, the harder it was to support those industries (meat, dairy, leather, fur, down, wool) or put any animal products in my body.  Now, the ‘vegan thing’ feels more normal to me than being non-vegan. I used to look at veganism as an ‘extreme’ thing before I dabbled in it. Now, I can’t think of anything more extreme than eating animals.

Once the perspective shifts, it’s way easier to eat plants than animals! Before, I would look into me dog’s eyes and love him so much, yet eat animals that were just as sentient, smart, cute and emotional as he was. We, as humans are brought up this way. Now, I see no difference between a dog, cat, cow, pig, lamb, or chicken. They all have individual personalities and value their own lives as much as we do. An interesting way to understand the perspective shift is to understand ‘Carnism’ – a term created by Melanie Joy (look up her Ted X talk on You Tube).

Also, I’ve always considered myself a tree hugger. I love nature and the adventures we create in it. Now, I see the glaciers melting at an alarming rate, rainforest deforestation, ocean dead zones, and extreme weather systems with the temperature of the earth rising. I thought I was doing everything to help this crisis before (reduce, reuse, recycle, bike, carpool) but I never realized that the #1 contributor to all of the major issues is Animal Agriculture. If we care about our environment, the least we can do is simply eat more plants and less animals.

NNV: While I am not a vegan, I do try to prepare at least one dinner a week that is meatless! Let’s take a minute to talk about your impressive resume! I’ll bet our readers would love to hear about a day-in-the-life of Julia Murray?

JM: I guess you could say I have my hands in a few pots! A day in my life changes weekly. I love the days I do get at home to work in my home office and kitchen on my Hooked On Plants recipes, blog posts, collaborations, and planning the next move for Jules Fuel (my breakfast cereal). A lot of my days are filled with delivering Jules Fuel, skiing with clients, hosting on TV (Ski TV and the Shopping Channel!), and getting out into the mountains to adventure whenever I can! Right now I’m working on a Hooked On Plants EBook and T-Shirt line! Stay tuned for that ☺.

NNV: Ooooh, can’t wait for those! I know that you love adventures, do you have any big trips planned?

JM: Life is an adventure isn’t it!? But, yes I love exploring the big world, and my backyard. We’re always planning the next backcountry mission in the winter, or next mountain bike ride or paddle boarding mission down the river, or hiking/camping in the summer. I see a backcountry spring skiing cabin trip in the near future! We’re also getting into Kite Boarding. St. Kitt’s is calling our name in April!

NNV: When you travel, how do you sustain your vegan lifestyle?

JM: Funny you ask. I just returned from China, and I have to say that was the first time it was a challenge. We were in rural China in a ski town, and the main event there is meat. But I got away with rice, veggies, tofu and noodle bowls! Usually, it’s easier than people think!

Julia’s Pro tips for travel:

  • Use the app Happy Cow to find veg restaurants around you.
  • Use the google translate app to communicate! (‘I’m vegan, no meat, no dairy etc.)
  • If I’m on the road, ethnic restaurants always have good vegan options (think Thai, Mexican, Indian, Japanese)
  • Starbucks has almond milk or soy milk anywhere you are for those Matcha Lattés all day everyday.
  • Grocery stores are a great place to find new veg products I’ve never heard of.
  • I always bring Jules Fuel overnight buckwheat oats for breakfast just in case (it saved me in China).
  • I make date balls to bring with me where ever I am.
  • Fruit is fast food.
  • Popcorn is life (I like bringing my own on road trips with Bragg’s liquid aminos and nutritional yeast).
  • Apples (and other fruit…) always.
  • Veggies and hummus is always a go-to.
  • A lot of the snacks I love are vegan already (dark chocolate, Larabars, baked chips, baked chickpeas)

NNV: Where did your love of cooking come from?

JM: Growing up, my Mom always cooked amazing food (even better now that she’s plant-based too!) I think just being around her and her love for organic produce and cooking rubbed off on me. But, I only really got into cooking a few years ago once I retired from Ski Cross and got into Holistic Nutrition. I now see food as fuel for energy, health and vitality (not just something to put in your mouth when you’re hungry). There is so much to the way our body is fuelled from the food and nutrients we give it. It feels so good to know that what I put in my body will benefit my body at the cell level, prevent disease, energize me, and taste good all at the same time. Having that in the back of my mind when I’m creating in the kitchen, gives me a new-found passion and excitement for cookin’! (Not to mention the benefits plant-based eating has on the environment and of course the animals).

NNV: Here, here! I think about food all day long, but when it comes to preparing it, I’m kind of a mess… What are your best tips for food preparation?

JM: Make it easy on yourself. Leftovers are key. When you actually do get into the kitchen to cook a dish, triple it! Glory bowls are a great go-to. Just make a lot of each ingredient, and switch up the sauces.

Julia’s Food Prep Tips!

  • Cook up a lot of legumes and grains (soak and rinse them first).
  • Make a huge batch of hummus.
  • Have miso tahini glory bowl dressing in fridge at all times. Find the recipe here.
  • Have washed greens ready to throw into a salad.
  • Make a big batch of breakfast overnight oats or oatmeal (the whole reasoning behind Jules Fuel).
  • Always have a full bowl of fruit to snack on.
  • Make a HUGE smoothie packed with greens in the AM, so your afternoon snack attack will be super healthy and satisfy your cravings by supplying your body with nutrients!
  • Follow vegan blogs for inspiration!

NNV: Yes! I love following your blog and trying your recipes! What’s your advice to someone who is looking to switch to a more plant-based diet?

JM: I’m writing a whole EBook on this! I also have a PDF on my website that is free. ‘Get Hooked in 7 Steps – How to Add More Plants to your Life’. You can get that on the ‘Sign up page!’

NNV: Is there anything else you’d love for our readers to know?

JM: Think of eating more plants as a fun lifestyle packed with colour, nutrients and new things that will soon become the norm’. It’s not a DIE-et, it’s an amazing way to live your long life full of vitality ☺

Connect with me on instagram @hookedonplants! Ask me anything!

NNV: Thank you so much for connecting with us!

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Check out Julia’s hookedonplants.ca blog for delicious recipes and vegan tips. If you haven’t tried Jules Fuel yet, you can get it here! We’re also giving away a bag of Jules Fuel to 2 of our lucky readers! Hop on over to Instagram to enter the contest!

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