Soul Food- Ina Wehleit-Perera
Ina Wehleit-Perera was always passionate about holistic living and natural foods having been a vegetarian since she was thirteen and then choosing to become vegan in 2013 - a choice that she says changed her life! When she moved from Germany to Sri Lanka permanently to join her husband, she found it extremely hard to find vegan food and out of sheer desperation ‘Soul Food’ came to be. First as a means of providing herself with proper gluten-free and vegan food that she enjoyed and then secondly as a business when she realised there were many others who were in the same predicament that she was in.
While there has been an increase in awareness of veganism and demand for gluten-free and vegan food in Sri Lanka, Ina explained that there is still a lot of people who are confused about what it actually means to be vegan and the health benefits associated with it. With this in mind, her goal for ‘Soul Food’ was to not just make healthy vegan food options accessible to everyone, but to also empower people to make the right vegan food choices. For instance, did you know that it’s incorrect to assume that all vegan food is healthy? Ina explained that there is plenty of vegan junk food available that is not a whole lot better for you than a regular meat feast and don’t have any of the health benefits normally associated with a proper vegan diet - so how do you tell the difference?
Ideally a healthy vegan diet should consist of mostly whole plant-based foods which include a variety of vegetables, legumes & beans, nuts, seeds, fruits, superfoods, healthy fats, grains and fermented food. When you choose to incorporate these types of food in your diet you’ll notice an array of health benefits such as :
● Weight loss - clinical studies have shown that vegans tend to be thinner and have a
relatively low BMI (body mass index). A recent controlled study showed that a vegan diet is actually more effective than a calorie restricted diet for weight loss.
● Lowers blood sugar levels & improves kidney function - substituting meat with plant protein is proven to reduce the risk of a poor functioning kidney in the case of diabetics and is also effective in lowering blood sugar levels.
● Protection against certain cancers and heart disease - a whole food based vegan diet may offer protection against prostate, breast and colon cancers!
● Reduced arthritic pain - unlike meat and dairy, fruits and vegetables don’t trigger inflammatory reactions within the body and as such, adopting a vegan diet is believed to ease the symptoms of arthritis.
● Better skin and digestion - these two often go hand in hand and most doctors don’t tell you that animal products and oils can be the cause of your acne-prone skin. Opting to switch to a vegan diet that’s high in fibre helps improve digestion and eliminate toxins collected in your body which, in turn, clears up your skin and gives you a healthy, glowing complexion.
A junk food vegan is typically a vegan who regularly consumes highly processed foods- essentially food made in a science lab! Most new vegans often end up falling into this category since the first transition to becoming vegan can be challenging, especially when you’re not completely aware of what the right choices to make are. It is not unexpected to feel restricted with meat, eggs and diary off the cards, however this is the point where you can choose to incorporate healthy whole foods into your diet or go down the vegan junk food path which is
often more accessible and cheaper with fast food chains like McDonalds and Burger King hopping on the vegan bandwagon with several unhealthy choices that have no health benefits!
Ina understands the challenges of being vegan in Sri Lanka and Soul Food addresses these by letting you have the health benefits of following a proper vegan diet with the convenience of purchasing their affordable products at the Good Market on Saturdays or ordering them via the Just Goodness healthy lifestyle online store and pay cash on delivery.
Focused on vegan drinks, snacks and meals that have no gluten or refined sugar (only natural sweeteners like kithul pani, dates and bananas are used), the Soul Food team which is made up of just Ina, her husband and a helper create a wide variety of truly delicious vegan products that range from energy drinks, almond milk, nut butters and chia pudding to unique items like matcha granola and ketogenic chocolate.
Being environmentally conscious, Ina only uses glass bottles and jars for packaging of all Soul Food products and always reminds customers to return the jars for a refund of ten rupees per jar.