Meet Remy Morimoto Park of Veggiekins
Behind the creative food blog and Instagram Veggiekins, is the inspiring Remy Morimoto Park. Remy shares incredible vegan and gluten-free recipes, while also encouraging self love and positivity. It was through her own recovery with an eating disorder that Remy started her blog. Now, Remy continues to use her platform to uplift and support others. Qi Alchemy founder, Grace Yoon was fortunate to sit down to hear and share Remy’s story.
I’d love to know more about how you started Veggiekins and your own journey.
It was actually by accident. I started my Instagram account in college - about four years ago. At the time, I was using it with my therapist while we were working on my eating disorder recovery. I would post pictures to show what the food I was making and eating.
Facebook and Instagram were connected, so all of a sudden my friends found my account, which was supposed to be a secret. It was embarrassing because I was so open with my feelings because I was talking to my therapist. Instagram had become a food diary and healing diary. If I had a bad day, I would share that this food was particularly hard to eat and document the feelings that came up with every meal. It was a lot for people that I didn’t really know on Facebook.
However, I had also connected with people on Instagram that were using it for the same reasons. I didn’t want to delete my account because it was so helpful. Around the same time, veganism was becoming more normal. People were more open and curious about what I was eating. So from there, I continued to post.
Then, I graduated college and began working in midtown. Around the three-month mark I decided it wasn’t right for me. I wasn’t sleeping, so a lot of my behaviors were coming back. Before having an eating disorder, a large mental health challenge I faced was addiction to drugs and alcohol. Urges began to come back because I wasn’t sleeping, and that was something that had never happened. I was really surprised and realized I needed to quit because I wasn’t happy.
I put a pause on the job and took a leave. I did a short rehab program and daily therapy, which was my full time job. I thought I would return to work, but my Instagram account was financially supporting me. I thought I’d keep doing this and see how it goes. It’s been close to three years since I’ve been doing this as a full time job.
So what made you switch to becoming vegan?
I went vegan when I was working on my eating disorder. Some people have this idea that veganism is super restrictive. It can be restrictive for certain people but for me, I found it was actually helpful. I felt this connection to food that I didn’t have before. I was excited to cook new recipes. I also felt really good about making food choices, knowing it was compassionate for animals and the environment. So for the first time in a really long time, I was excited to be around food. That’s also part of what keeps me vegan - it's a feel good loop.
What recommendations do you have for someone considering becoming vegan?
Definitely doing research and maybe making a slow transition. For me, it was a sudden transition. I watched a documentary and went, “Oh my God, I’m going vegan.”
People should know it’s super doable and I also think there are so many ways to be vegan, or do any type of diet. If you’re thinking of going vegan, just understand that you can still be eating pizza or you could be eating real food. It’s important to focus on eating real food as the main part of your diet. Vegan food is usually a little healthier but it can still be junk food.
Also testing it out and seeing how you feel. If it’s not for you, make little substitutions or have a mostly plant-based diet, which also works. A lot of people are afraid to commit 100 percent. It’s awesome if you eat one meatless meal a day because it does make a huge impact for your body and the environment.
What are your thoughts on honey?
By definition, it isn’t vegan. If you’re going to eat it, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. Honey has been proven to be very good for your health.
What are common misconceptions about being vegan?
I feel like the biggest misconception is about protein intake. People are so worried about it, but by eating the right foods, anyone can receive their daily protein.
Another concern is that veganism is a very expensive diet. I think it can be, but that’s if you choose to eat the process, fancy foods. Some of the cheapest foods in the world are beans and rice, which are also the most nutrient dense. So if you stick to whole food plants, it’s very approachable for anyone. You can also find them anywhere in the world.
So culturally your Japanese, Korean and Taiwanese. Could you tell me about your mother and father?
My mom is Japanese and Taiwanese, and my dad is Korean. I also have two younger sisters. One is China with my mom and dad, and the other is in boarding school in New Jersey. I attended school in Shanghai and then went to Barnard College.
With your Asian heritage, how has it influenced your recipes?
My dad went vegan for almost a year. He was on blood pressure medication and he was able to get off of it through a vegan diet. Initially he hated the vegan diet, but we bonded over trying to make meals together. He used to say, “You don’t want to be Korean, that’s why you eat vegan.” We were able to build a better connection, while creating vegan recipes.
What are your favorite dishes to prepare for friends and family?
Recreating foods is a lot of fun. When I’m preparing food for people who aren’t vegan, I like to make things that are a little less healthy to show that vegan food can still taste good. So I enjoy baking because I can hide that dishes are vegan. Also, Kale Caesar salad is a foolproof recipe. A lot of people can’t tell it has a vegan dressing.
Where do you search for inspiration for recipes as well as in life?
Inspiration for recipes usually come from things I used to eat. That’s so fun because I think there’s an unlimited amount of foods you can veganize. I also think a lot about Japanese, Korean and Taiwanese food. Inspiration also comes from my travels. When I go to new countries, I search for new ingredients and see what’s naturally vegan.
As far as content and photos, I get most of my inspiration when I’m off Instagram. It’s so refreshing to not be on Instagram.
How do you remain positive on a tough day?
My baseline now is so much higher than it used to be when I have a hard day. When I used to struggle with mental health, it was very hard to find little moments that would bring me joy. It’s something I’ve had to practice but it’s become a lot easier.
Just one thing a day that you can look forward to really helps. Create a plan that you know will make a feel-good moment to get you out of a crappy mood. Now, I always plan little things like a phone call or lunch date to look forward to.
How do you maintain balance in your life and manage stress?
It’s a work in progress for me. I really love the work I do, so it’s very easy for me to overwork myself without realizing it. I have to physically put my phone away. I also try to take a half day off on Fridays, when I’m not posting at all. I used to be really intense about having to post at least once a day but now I’m more relaxed. If I miss a day, I don’t stress out.
So what’s your favorite method of self-care?
For me traveling is a form of selfcare. It forces you to disconnect from who you are in your home city, in terms of work and the people around you. I travel alone, so I get to be selfish. I love flying because I don’t use my phone at all and I won’t get internet. It forces me to be really present.
I also get a sense of guilt when I’m not out when I’m somewhere new. I can do all that computer work at home, so I find I’m much better about doing things when I travel.
As you travel quite a bit, what do you always take on the plane?
During long flights I always bring food. I always have hydrating fruits like strawberries and cucumbers. I also bring essential oils to help with stomach digestion because I get bloated when flying. I also bring a water bottle, peppermint tea, hand sanitizer, sunblock, hand cream and compression socks.
What tips do you have for staying healthy while traveling?
My favorite tip is make one of your meals green. Whether it’s eating out or preparing it yourself, making it green is really important. Also stay on top of your supplements and drink a ton of water. I also try to get in some sort of movement. It could be walking, hiking or a workout class.
As a graduate from Barnard, what do you hope to inspire in other women?
To encourage women to be comfortable with taking risks, whether that’s in business or your personal life. Also that it’s okay to be selfish. It’s in our nature to not be selfish, but sometimes we really should be. Similarly, find other women who will lift you up and then pass that on yourself. Be a resource to other women and always be open to supporting others.
What is your favorite motto or mantra?
I like the saying “Let your past make you better, not bitter.” I used to be very angry about things that happened when I was younger, but that’s a waste of energy. I’m so glad of my past because I wouldn’t be doing this now. It’s important to rechannel energy in positive ways.
Last by not least, why do you love Qi Alchemy herbal pearls?
The herbal pearls feel very nostalgic for me...like the medicine my grandma would always tell me I needed except now I'm the one willingly taking it. I personally prefer it in non tea form.