A vegan, mother, and entrepreneur, Jeunesse is the owner of the Youthful Vegan, Trinidad’s first vegan-friendly grab-and-go concept located in St. James
In an effort to lose weight, improve my health and frankly to stop my gluttonous ways, I became a vegan. This decision has never stopped being a conversation piece, even four years after the fact with the most popular question at dinner being “How do I feel?”
Typically, I give people my response in two words: Freaking Fantastic!
Not only have I avoided every flu, cold or virus that has fallen many of my friends over the last few years, I also have more energy to churn out a remarkable amount of work and live more fully in the moment. The best sidekick benefit of veganism though is that my skin has never looked better.
My ‘oh-no/ah-ha’ vegan moment happened a few years ago when I went from a BBQ-chicken-wing-lover to a vegan overnight. Cold turkey. I had dabbled in vegetarianism before so the transition was imminent, if not somewhat natural. Luckily, for me, wasn’t so much a health issue as much as it was one of discipline. Armed with the internet’s treasure trove of recipes and a bevy of products I decided to commit.
Finding substitutions was easy and fun, and I spent endless hours trapezing around my kitchen sampling new ingredients and combinations to recreate my favourite comfort foods.
But I did miss the accessibility of a late night fast food run, the comfort of a tub of ice cream, and of course, my beloved wings; those crunchy, greasy nuggets of awesomeness.
You see, four years ago, being a vegan was as revolutionary as wearing a bright pink power suit (guilty as charged). Often, my only option – aside from requesting a horrified wait staff to recreate their restaurant classics without butter or cream – was to settle for a big hearty, heaping bowl of…salad.
Thankfully, these days, it’s gotten a lot easier.
There are gourmet stores, niche groceries, vegan menus at restaurants, raw cafes, and if you’re in Trinidad, you have The Youthful Vegan – a cafe slash grab-and-go spot for vegans looking for frozen goodies, a warm lunch, or just a sweet fix.
Earlier this year, we met up with owner and head recipe developer Jeunesse Pouchet whose creations from cashew cream cheese to tofu palak, eggplant parmesan, and vegan sausages keep me (and undoubtedly many other vegans) going on the days you just don’t feel like cooking.
We challenged her to come up with a complete gamut of recipes – from savoury to sweet, breakfast to dessert – scrumptious enough to convert even the most diehard carnivore.
And boy, did she come through, with a quinoa bowl, tahini coffee cake, and spiced fritter to carry you through the day.