Vevolution Interviews The Mastermind Behind Shiso Delicious - Sara Kiyo Popowa

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“I believe that eating a plant-based diet is a really simple, and essential, way of reducing our crazy carbon emissions – more important to do now than ever.”

Sara Kiyo Popowa is the cook, author and photographer behind the colourful, plant based Instagram account Shiso Delicious @shisodelicious. Double author and stylist of An Opinionated Guide to Vegan London and Bento Power: Brilliantly Balanced Lunchbox Recipes, Sara is a low waste queen.

We can’t wait to welcome her to the stage at Vevolution Festival in November!

How did Shiso Delicious come about?

I was stuck creatively, working from home as a freelance graphic designer then started uploading pictures of my meals and the bento packed lunches I made for my love A on my Instagram account @shisodelicious. I very quickly realised this was what I’d been waiting for, that magic amalgam of everything I’ve done my life coming together. Now, over 4 years on, communicating and living my message, ideas and vision though imagery, words and real life events is what I do full time – I couldn’t be more grateful.

When did you go vegan, and why?

I believe that eating a plant-based diet is a really simple, and essential, way of reducing our crazy carbon emissions – more important to do now than ever. Being vegan may not be for everyone, but VEGAN FOOD certainly is for everyone! It makes me very happy to get people excited about it. I stopped eating meat as a young adult and I would say eat 98% plant based now. The rest is there because personally I prefer a broader, more inclusive approach to everything in life, for the good of my own mental health.

What is your favourite part about what you do? (if you can't pick one thing, pick a couple!) 

That I get to meet and connect and work with so many brilliant people, who's work inspire me and push me to develop. That I for the first time in my life feel recognised for my work in a community I’m proud to be part of. I feel very grateful!

You seem to be brilliant at doing so many different things at once: books, photography, cooking, and somehow living a low waste life! What advice do you have for fellow busy humans?

I try to strike a balance between the ‘free work’ that is very much part of running your own business, and the paid. I choose carefully, to what makes me really excited and is in line with my own direction and ethos. Those ‘free’ things would be helping and supporting friends through collaboration and promotion, and other ways of strengthening my network and developing relationships. Payment in energy not money :) When I’m really busy I sometimes decide to say no to everything free for a limited amount of time. 

Also, I turn my phone, and sometimes our wifi router off for hours!

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“I try to strike a balance between the ‘free work’ that is very much part of running your own business, and the paid. I choose carefully, to what makes me really excited and is in line with my own direction and ethos.”

What was the toughest part about creating “An Opinionated Guide To Vegan London’? 

Eating so many burgers haha. Whilst I was over the moon to try so many new dishes, eating out 5-6 times a week is not something I normally do (and I often asked for the most popular dish on the menu – which tend to be burgers and chips). I tested over 50 places for the guide, got to chat to some amazing, inspiring business owners, connect with the London scene AND catch up with my friends who many of the restaurants kindly let me drag along to the meal :) 

And how do you feel now that it's finished?

I feel very proud of the book and the team effort that brought it into being. I did the research (eating!) and the words of course, but the book would be nothing without the brilliant photography by Sam A Harris, who worked around the clock to photograph all the places. The publisher team were a dream to work with – paying attention to every little detail, making it a really well rounded, cool little book. I’m very proud to be part of that.

Do you have plans to work on more books in the future?

Maybe…!

What book are you currently reading?

I just finished two books, both page-turners: ‘Harmless Like You’ by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan which is amazing, a contemporary book and a must for everyone who’s grown up with mixed cultural roots. Second is ‘Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children's Crusade’  by Kurt Vonnegut. Heavy duty name I know but it deals with the experience of having been in war, as a very young adult. It’s written in the sixties. in a style that I absolutely adore, stripped down, emotional, dry humour, with a mind-boggling insight into human nature. 

“It’s an honour to be invited to be part of what will be a really inspiring event, along so many incredible speakers and entrepreneurs.”

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Vevolution Festival has finally launched, woo! How are you feeling about being involved? Are you excited?

Super excited! Since I attended my first ever Vevolution event (which was the launch of Wicked Healthy’s range in Tesco, Wicked Kitchen) and then some of the talks I’ve been a big fan of what you guys are doing. It’s an honour to be invited to be part of what will be a really inspiring event, along so many incredible speakers and entrepreneurs.

This or That?

Bento or Buddha Bowl? Bento!

Coffee or Tea? High quality Japanese green tea.

Cinema or Concert? Concert! I love live music, everything from experimental electronic to opera.

Smart Phone Camera or DSLR? Smart phone for lighthearted snaps for my IG stories and documenting things in general, DLSR for work that I want to last.


SARA IS ON THE VEVOLUTION FESTIVAL 2019 LINE-UP

Are you ready for the UK's leading plant-powered positive change festival? On Saturday 16th of November, join us at Vevolution Festival 2019 for one action-packed day of inspiring talks, thought-provoking panels, engaging workshops, and some of the best vegan food in the country!