A health scare two years ago made serial entrepreneur Mira Weiner stop to rethink her life. Add in a pandemic and lockdown, and an unexpected new food consulting business was born.
After a health scare in 2018 that landed her in hospital and then in bed for 6 months, she embarked on a journey of self-discovery, transformation, plant-based nourishment and holistic healing.
“I didn’t make time for my wellness and so I was forced to make time for my illness. I thought that my recovery would be quicker but it took much longer than anticipated. It has been a challenging journey but it has taken me down a new path that I am most grateful for. When I was diagnosed with extreme burn out, severe adrenal fatigue and panic disorder I didn’t really understand what it meant. I didn’t know anyone who had experienced this and so I really hope that sharing my journey will help others going through something similar and also to inspire people to prioritise their health and well-being overall.”
Mira, a vegetarian since birth, grew up with both a mom and dad that were creative cooks. Consequently, she was exposed to Indian, ayurvedic, macrobiotic and Asian cooking. “It was very weird when I was a child – it was not a trend! I was the strange kid at school with the unusual vegetarian lunch box. I often swapped my grain, bean and veg bowls for a peanut butter and jam sandwich. I cringe now at the thought.”
“And like a lot of vegetarians you think you’re eating healthily because your diet is animal free but you could be eating highly processed food, dairy and refined carbohydrates still. So, I think for me it was a combination of what was available at restaurants and events as I worked in the hospitality and wine industry. My busy schedule meant that I was always hosting media events and launches so I was grabbing processed high carbs and dairy-heavy meals based on what was on offer. Lots of cheese platters!”
Despite being very aware of nutrition Mira says that she got distracted by the busyness and pressures of life and that it took this wake up call to return to a path of healing and conscious living with a focus on plants and whole foods.
My healing journey was very much sparked by Lifeshine Wellness Centre in Stellenbosch who were an incredible support to me through this process and especially in the beginning with the initial detox phase. A combination of Chinese medicine, acupuncture and holistic therapies, as well as various changes to my lifestyle, were the building blocks that allowed my body to start healing.
In addition to her detox, she got serious about the importance of sleep, stress management and the exposure to EMF/radiation. She switched off all her electrical plugs next to her bed and moved all electrical appliances, salt lamps and charges to more than three metres away from where she slept. She also implemented a night time routine, started drinking pure celery juice every day, meditating and journaling regularly, and included gentle exercise such as yoga and walking in her life.
A new plant-based world – and a new business
After the detox process that was facilitated by the wellness centre, Mira started with vegan keto for 6 months before transitioning into a plant-based whole foods lifestyle. And then the 2020 Covid-19 lockdown happened. With both her businesses in the travel, hospitality and wine industries she suddenly had all the time in the world to experiment in the kitchen.
“I cooked up a storm during lockdown and just started sharing what I was cooking and eating daily. A lot of it was very specific to my nutritional needs and foods that were beneficial for my wellbeing. I loved being in the kitchen which is my absolute happy place but I never thought of it as a fulltime career. The response was amazing and people loved it! I really thought it would just be a passion project but I am so excited to be doing what I love more fulltime now.”
This joy and love for food made public has grown into Mira’s third business, www.miraweiner.com where brands and companies can reach her for consulting services, recipe development and brand collaborations. “The plant based movement is an unstoppable trend and even more so now with the current global pandemic. People are taking their health and immunity so much more seriously.”
She aims to set herself up as the “free from” cook as her point of difference in the market. “I’m doing a lot of work with “allergy friendly foods” and “free from” foods such as gluten, refined sugar, dairy, nuts, oils and grains. I aim to make food nourishing, nutritious, accessible, fun and delicious.”
Mira offers consulting services to companies that want to make a difference and be more inclusive. “I am looking forward to working with various brands, doing recipe development and overseeing product development. So if a brand either has a current product that they’d like to ‘veganise’ or if they want to start a new line of products that are ‘free-from’ all the things, then I would consult with them on that. I am also going to be starting some menu consulting for restaurants as well. A lot of restaurants are adding vegan options or an entire vegan menu. I want to show them that they can have accessible, local, affordable and easy menu items that are cruelty free and also provide for allergies or intolerances as well. I have had so many requests for cooking classes and demos so I hope that when the craziness settles down I’ll start doing cooking classes in McGregor and pop-ups in Cape Town too.”
Plant-based vs. vegan
When asked about her niche Mira explains the difference. “I like to think of my cooking more as plant-based, rather than vegan. Coca-Cola, Oreos and Niknaks are all vegan. And there’s often an assumption that vegan is healthy but it’s not necessarily true because there are many heavily processed vegan food alternatives that are filled with artificial preservatives, sugars and toxic oils.”
She explains that people become vegan for three main reasons: to improve their health, protect animals and to reduce their environmental footprint. “I speak a lot about health, because for me that is a strong theme, but I am vegan for all three of those reasons. I’m not about judging people or forcing them to convert to veganism but I am passionate about inspiring people to eat more plants.
“Whether that is by having one Meat-free Monday a week, or having one meal every day that’s 100% plant based. If we can collectively make small changes they will create big impacts. I believe that by respecting our home, both the body we are born into and the planet we live on, we can truly make a difference. In choosing kindness and compassion we can improve our wellbeing, the lives of other beings and ultimately the life of the planet. If we can individually and collectively open our awareness, shift our consciousness and raise our vibration together we can change the world one meal at a time, one bite at a time and one kitchen at a time.”
Read Mira’s advice on how to include more plant-based meals in your diet here.