The Awakening times (TAT): Dear Ivana, thank you for taking the time for this interview. I am glad that today we have the opportunity to talk about your great project.
Ivana Surya (IS): Thank you for taking notice of the Conscious Cooking project. I am grateful for this opportunity to present it.
TAT: To begin with, tell us what inspired you to start Conscious Cooking?
IS: Conscious Cooking is inspired by Mohanji’s teachings of ahimsa, gratefulness and interconnection of everyone in the world. Mohanji said:
‘Whatever nature has created has a reason. Nature’s children, including us, have our positions; all of us have our relevance. Everything is interconnected. We must be aware of it and we must respect it. Just like we should respect our body, we should respect everybody. We must know that all have relevance. All have their right (to live) on earth, just like us. We have no right to kill indiscriminately. We have no right to torture, use or abuse.‘
TAT: Can you tell us a little more about the project itself?
IS: Conscious Cooking is a project for sharing vegan recipes and tips on how to make vegan meals healthier. We are spreading messages of nonviolence and raising awareness of the impact our daily decisions have on the environment, other people and animals. This project is for the Balkan region (in local language) to bring this important topic to non-english speakers.
Ahimsa means ‘non-violence’ in Sanskrit and denotes non-violence towards others as well as towards oneself. Compassion is a key part of ahimsa. One form of living the principle of ahimsa is veganism. If we want to bring more peace and happiness into our own lives, we need to stop causing violence and unhappiness in other people’s lives.
The position of the American Nutritional Association and Nutritionists of Canada is that a properly planned vegan diet is healthy, nutritionally sufficient and provides health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases and is suitable for all stages of life.
It has been scientifically proven that eating plant-based foods reduces:
Farming animals for food causes 15% of the human impact on global warming. In comparison, transportation causes 16% of the human impact on global warming. By choosing a vegan diet, we influence the reduction of harmful gas emissions and consequently reduce the impact on global warming.
TAT: What are the key principles on which Conscious Cooking is based?
TAT: Are people interested in switching to a vegan diet and are they interested in things produced in an ethical and sustainable way? What are your experiences?
IS: More and more people, especially Millennials are aware of the importance of a plant-based diet for the future of the planet and their health. In the last 5 – 10 years we are witnessing the raise of the plant-based products that makes the transition to the plant-based diet easier and smoother. With the higher offer of the plant-based products more people are ready to embrace the change and join the growing number of vegans and vegetarians. People consciousness is rising in frequency constantly and I am positive that the future of our planet is vegan.
TAT: I know you’ve been a vegan for a long time, so I’d like to dispel some prejudices and myths about vegan nutrition with you. “You don’t get enough protein”, “The best proteins are of animal origin”, “What do you eat if you don’t eat meat?”, “vegan food is monotonous, you only eat vegetables”, “I couldn’t be vegan, because I couldn’t give it up ice cream”…
These are just some that came to my mind at the moment, please comment on them.
IS: As I mentioned, today is easiest to switch to a plant-based diet with all the products that are substitutes for the taste, texture and nutrition of the traditional food. Vegan milk, ice cream, cheese, burgers, meatballs, cream, omelette, cakes, pastries, everything is easy to find in the plant-based version. Those myths are busted today, especially about the lack of proteins in the plant-based diet. So many professional sports athletes are switching to a plant-based diet and performing amazing results. Our body is designed to use plant-based proteins easier than animal-based which makes the resting period shorter and leaves more time for training. The best documentary on this subject is ‘The Game Changer’ by James Cameron and I would recommend everybody to take some time to watch it.
TAT: How to bring people closer to the fact that we are all part of the same whole and that by disrupting one part, we are actually harming the entire planet? How to encourage people to live unconditional love equally towards all beings?
IS: Mohanji is teaching us to say a little prayer of gratefulness before we took the first bite of our meal. It is a great practice, to pause for a moment and express gratitude to our Guru, Tradition, ancestors and to everybody who was involved in the production of our meal. If we do this at least three times a day, we will witness our transformation, as we will get humble, modest and aware of the blessings that we’ve been showered daily. In that awareness, remembering that animals went through suffering and death just for the pleasure of our tasting buds results in the change of our perspective of animals as a food source to animals as living beings with a strong desire to live. With more modesty, humbleness and gratefulness come awareness and unconditional love towards all beings which brings motivation to live the principles of ahimsa in our everyday life.
Today we live in the abundance as the products from every part of the world are available in our markets. Bananas, rice, coffee, and chocolate… are produced and transported from different parts of the world. Thanking all of the people who were involved in making this product, from the field to our plate makes us aware of the fact that we are all interconnected. In the Conscious cooking project, we are encouraging people to choose ‘Fair-trade’ products whenever possible. Although these products have a greater price, choosing ‘Fair-trade’ we are aware that someone will get fair compensation for their work and be able to provide for their family.
Awareness that our lifestyle brings harmony to nature, thriving of life and prosperity for many beings, brings us a deep sense of peace and love in our souls.
TAT: Do you have a final message? And could you please share a quick and easy recipe with our readers?
IS: We all have the power of choice that can change the world if our choices are insightful. Making everyday decisions about what we eat we are choosing the world we are living in. Let’s choose the world of love, compassion, peace and abundance for all living beings.
A Buddha bowl is essentially a simple, one-bowl meal, typically vegetarian or vegan. The best Buddha bowls start with a base of rice or whole grains which can be served cold or warm. Top with your favorite plant-based protein (tofu, seitan, beans or legumes), add fresh greens and fresh or roasted veggies. Next, drizzle with flavorful dressing or sauce and sprinkle with seeds or nuts. Top with fresh herbs.
TAT: Thank you for this conversation. It was a pleasure to hear your inspiring story.
IS: Thank you for the great questions. I hope this interview will bring transformation and awareness to the people reading it.
To learn more about Conscious Cooking and get inspiring vegan meal ideas,
please click here.
To learn more about the importance of fair trade, please follow this link.
Documentaries recommended by Conscious Cooking team:
Zoran Milišić is a Bosnian-born Australian photographer. He started his career as a journalist photographer, but his real passion is documenting life as a street and portrait photographer of everyday people.
Zoran explores human life and spirituality through his unique style and regularly exhibits his works on various topics. His style of strong contrasts and large grain give his photographs a timeless feel and stark look, and it leaves the viewer with plenty to contemplate on. National Geographic has published a number of his photographs.
Art is not there to satisfy the person. Instead, it is a language of Creation that transforms the person.
The artist becomes one with the art and disappears in the process.
From introversion in which I find the depth of myself to extroversion and the opening towards manifested and apparent form, I take the photographs as a silent observer of life. The process of creating is followed through my personal and deep contemplation.
Black and white photography is my passion. Whether I work in digital or analog format on 35mm film, I insist on pronounced grain and deep contrasts. This combination gives the photographs a unique look and conveys the energy of the present moment.
The only difference between the apparent outer and the infinite inner is in the size and color of the grain. In some sense, the appearing manifested universe is in contrast to the infinite, unmanifested universe.
The depth of contrast gives the drama of the moment because only in the contrasts of life we recognize ourselves while we only grow in the shadows of life.
Color photos are in digital format but with analog vintage lenses that give today’s modern digital perfection an authentic and vintage look. This combination of techniques gives photographs a timeless dimension that leaves a meditative note about them. I use various cameras and lenses, but my favorite cameras are vintage film cameras. Why? Because they make me slow down and be one with the moment in my silence.
Written by: Lea Kosovac
Like many children, I grew up listening to stories and fairy tales. One of them left a deep impression on me, and only recently, searching the internet, I found that it originates from my part of the world.
It’s a story about a king whose three daughters wanted to express how much the king meant to them through birthday presents.
One daughter brought jewels to the birthday party and said that the king was like the most valuable jewels to her.
Another offered a piece of gold, saying that the king was like dry gold to her. The third daughter brought a lump of salt, and when she said that the king was as valuable to her as salt, the court burst into laughter.
Everyone at the birthday gathering made fun of the young royal, and she got expelled from the kingdom. A few months later, the kingdom ran out of salt. All residents began to fall ill with various diseases.
The daughter, who was in exile, returned to her kingdom bringing salt.
After saving the kingdom, she became the new queen and lived happily ever after.
This is a short interpretation of my favorite story that originates from Rijeka, Croatia.
Visiting the Saltworks Ston, the oldest in Europe, I came back to that story, and through it, I understood why people used to fight wars over salt and why a gram of salt was worth more than gold.
The first records about Saltworks Ston date from 1333. At that time Pelješac peninsula became the property of the Republic of Dubrovnik.
Due to its good location, Mediterranean climate, and high salinity of the sea from the Ston Canal, this locality has become ideal for salt production.
At that time, salt meant life, and whoever had a monopoly over it could do whatever he wanted. Back then, it was the wise Republic of Dubrovnik.
After taking ownership of Pelješac, they first renovated the salt pans and built the Ston Walls in the 14th and 15th centuries to protect this strategically important product. The pools of Saltworks Ston got names after saints, all but one, which got the name Mundo after the Spanish word meaning world. Salt from that pool, by order of the municipality, was used by workers and the poor. The fact that the municipal rulers at that time cared about the workers and the poor is fascinating.
The people of Dubrovnik made good use of their ownership of the Ston salt pan, and because of their neutral position, they traded with the Ottomans and the Mediterranean countries. All healthy men were obliged by the law to help with the harvest.
The production capacity of Saltworks Ston has remained the same today as it was during the Republic of Dubrovnik. On 400,000 square meters, there are seven sea evaporation pools and ten crystallization pools.
The production process has not changed either. And this sets this Saltworks apart from all others in Europe, and perhaps the world.
The salt produced in Saltworks Ston comes from natural sources only, sea, sun, and wind. And the whole process is done manually. What is interesting is that salt is not collected, it is harvested.
The process starts in April, and the picking takes place from July to September.
The final product is pure ecological salt, without additives or supplements, which is a rarity today. For people who care about their health, or deal with energy work, the importance of ecological salt is invaluable.
She is more than jewels and more than gold.
Although today salt is spoken of only in a negative context, at least when it comes to nutrition, the importance of ecologically produced sea salt should not be neglected.
If we learn to value the right things and use them in moderation, they can only be good for us.
The key to a quality life is not in renunciation, it is in moderation.
However, always take everything you read with a grain of salt.
If you plan to spend your vacation in Croatia, we recommend you visit the Saltworks Ston, located close to Dubrovnik.
It is worth visiting the salt museum, taking photos by pools where the salt is stored, and if you have time, you can always lend a hand in picking.
Written by: Pelka Evdenic Kuzelka
I was largely thinking about what I should write, or how, or for whom… Then, the answers came on their own, as the waves in a calm, sunset bathed sea… write about volunteering… keep it simple… you do not have to convince anyone about anything… be authentic sharing your point of view, just that easy….
Volunteering. The dictionary meaning about volunteers is that they are individuals who freely offer their time, labour, and expertise. It is true as a definition’s skeleton, although there is missing a large and beautiful spectrum of small lights and shadows that make volunteering the most fulfilled way of living this three-dimensional experience called life.
Each of us is extremely valuable in the way we have chosen to go through this experience. The moment we recognise this beauty of our existence and begin to value it in its true weight is the life changing moment, forever. We all are unique, and we all are just part of the Whole. We all are connected, and we are enough the way we are, we do not have to show no one that we are better, we can just Be the way we are. Therefore, whatever we did for some other living being, as feeding birds for example, we are getting their beautiful energy and gratitude even if we are not aware of it. It is absolutely stunning how our vibration increase by doing it daily. We are hugely improving our life by such a small change.
Can you imagine what your life would be like if everything you make would be voluntary, without expecting anything in return? Imagine bathing yourself in this unconditional love that you bring to everything you do? and the lovely paradox that the first beneficiary will, always, be you?
In this point, I started writing about frequencies, vibrations, focus and quantum physic explanation and I realised that, as true as it may seem to me, it was no longer serving the purpose of keeping it simple.
Volunteering is about flowing in Here and Now. Each one of us is just a drop in this Whole of all existing and expanding matter, energy, and space. We have no other power except our free will. This is our most appreciate gift and our ticket to gratified life experience. Do not waste it because you are limiting yourself experience of freedom, goodness, love, and acceptance. Do not give someone else the power of taking decision about your life. Do not blame on someone else because of your unfulfilled life. You are free to choose, and you are, indeed, always choosing for yourself. Became aware of this existential law and follow your inner guide, improving life of all living beings meeting you on the way through this dimension.
And please do not just read me, do not just agree with me, and do not just forget me immediately. Find out by yourself this beautiful power hidden in you, discover it, feel it, and share your experiences if you wish so. Thank you for reading me and if you like it, the next month you can read about what was mine foundation stone in becoming volunteer.