I have been so excited to share with you the passion and zest for life that resides within the gorgeous super mama Sina Blanco. If her surname sounds familiar, that's probably because you'd be familiar with her two smashing daughters, Aja and Tia. I was intrigued to learn more about the mother behind these beautiful, energetic bad-ass girls, so I reached out to Sina for an exclusive conversation on raising a vegan family, life, travel and all-round wellness. I know you'll love Sina as much as I do.
Where are you based and how long have you lived in that part of the world?
My husband is in the military so we've lived in several different places including Oregon, Puerto Rico, Hawaii and soon we'll be moving to San Francisco. We currently live in Oceanside, California. We also just built another house to use as an Air Bnb for those that are health conscious and would like a nice, clean, peaceful place to stay. It's equipped with a Ninja Blender for smoothies, along with yoga mats and yoga blocks.
Tell us about your upbringing and when you began your journey into veganism.
In 1964, I was born and raised into a heavy meat eating, Catholic, Filipino family in Palm Springs. Most Filipinos believe eating meat is a great luxury for the rich, so of course every family meal included some kind of dead animal.
Lucky for me, my uncle Manny who is a chiropractor, holistic health provider, and one of the first pioneers living on a meatless, vegetarian diet, was in my life. He and my aunt Virginia were always passionate about not killing or eating animals. That passion inspired my younger sister Cheryl and I to go vegetarian. At that time, I was in the 7th grade (age 12) and my sister was in the 5th grade (age 10). Back in those days (40+ years ago) it was UNHEARD OF to be a vegetarian. People would call us all us all kinds of crazy.
As vegetarians we believed that eating goat cheese (feta) was much healthier than eating cow cheese. We also did not eat eggs or drink milk (if only we knew what we know today about dairy...). I remember my aunt and uncle telling us, "thou shall not kill". That statement was powerful and meant so much to me as a kid. I remember being afraid that I would go to hell if I killed or ate dead animals, particularly being a quote from the Bible itself. My uncle Manny would also recite Genesis 1:29 from the Bible to us. It basically said that God gave us seeds to grow that would bare fruit for our food and that's what we should eat! As kids that made a lot of sense to us. My sister and I also had books that were basically the Bible broken down into children's books. These books had pictures. In one of the pictures it appeared to be Adam in the Garden of Eden with all the animals standing next to him. I loved that picture! I would always stare at it and ponder on it. Today, I don't own a bible nor do I claim a religion, however, I do believe in God and I also believe in love and compassion, and karma.
Looking back 40+ years ago, we didn't have cell phones or the Internet. We relied on the resources we had and we did the best we could with the information given to us.
How did you meet your husband and was he also vegetarian when you met?
I met my husband at a wedding in 1990. He was not vegetarian or vegan when we met but he would always ask me questions and gravitate toward the meatless diet. He would even order the same exact dishes I would when we'd go out to eat. I never had to force him not to eat meat. He pretty much transitioned on his own only after one month of dating. After about a year and fully vegetarian, he decided to join the Coast Guard. Low and behold he broke the record for the two-mile run which hadn't been broken in several years.
How many children do you have and what are their ages?
My husband and I have two daughters. Aja is our oldest, 23 years old. When I was pregnant with her, my doctor said if I didn't eat meat her brain wouldn't grow. 23 years ago there wasn't much research backing a vegetarian or vegan diet. Most people would have listened to their doctor. I, however, did not.
I would love to talk to that doctor today, as Aja grew up to be a beautiful, intelligent young lady. She was the recipient of the Harvard Book Award, accepted into an Ivy League college and graduated from New York University with Honors. Today she works for AUM Films, the producers of Cowspiracy and What The Health documentaries. Aja is the Operations Manager, in charge of planning their events, as well as managing all their social media outlets including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. She is such a great asset to our society. She creates social media posts that inspire lots of people to go vegan on a daily basis.
Our youngest daughter is Tia, 20 years old and a professional surfer. I remember when she was a toddler people used to tell me, "You better feed her meat or she won't grow up to be strong." Since then, she's become a professional athlete. She won two Gold Medals in 2015 and 2016 for the Open Women's divisions at the ISA World Games. She is also an ambassador for Beyond Meat. In addition to that, she has her own vegan nutritional shake called Peaches & Cream by Vegan Smart. She is also featured in the What The Health documentary.
Tia has an Instagram account dedicated for all her vegan recipes. Check it out @tiasvegankitchen.
When did you switch your family to a vegan lifestyle?
Both of our children were conceived and raised as vegetarians up until about five years ago, when our whole family went vegan. Tia, Aja, and I had actually read a couple of books that my aunt Virginia recommended. One was called The China Study and the other was called Eat To Live. We also watched a documentary called Forks Over Knives. After that we were convinced veganism was the way to go. The first year of going vegan was tough, although Tia didn't seem to have a problem with it, she was hardcore vegan. The rest of us took it at a little slower pace. Although we didn't purposely eat, drink, or buy milk, cheese, eggs or butter we did eat Mema's Christmas cookies during the Holidays knowing that they probably contained butter. Today that is not the case. Apparently, we've made an impact on our extended faintly as they now include vegan eats during the holidays.
When our kids were in grade school I used to make their lunches. I would pack sliced apples with cinnamon, carrots and celery with hummus and peanut butter and honey sandwiches on wheat bread (before we learned honey wasn't vegan). The girls would always end up eating their lunches during the car ride home from school, and They would tell me that the other kids would make fun of their lunches so they were embarrassed to eat them. When I asked them what the other kids ate they said either Lunchables or orange cheese (American cheese) with bologna or ham on white bread.
Ironically a lot of those kids have gone vegan now. We've all come a long way. It doesn't matter what path someone else is on because they all lead to the same place.
Can you tell us a bit about your day to day lifestyle?
Every morning when I wake up I drink a huge glass of water. Then I take the Koa Bear (our dog) out to run around while I drink my cup of coffee. I add a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, and baking soda to my coffee to alkalize it. (Side note: cancer thrives in an acidic body so cut out acidic foods.) After I have my coffee, I start work. I'm an IQ SIP Engineer and I work from home programming trunks and doing MAC's for my clients.
For lunch, I'll usually go to a yoga or piyo class and then eat leftovers from the night before. Sometimes I like to snack on nuts and fruit or hummus and rice crackers, and banana ice cream. After work I'll make a vegan dinner, take Koa Bear for a walk and call it a night.
Overall, I'm just like everyone else. I try to be a good human by doing good things on the daily in hopes of ridding my karmatic debt (if that's even a thing). We are all here to learn our life's lesson and I think we are all doing the best we can.
You travel quite a bit with your family…where have you been most recently that sticks to mind as an epic adventure, and how do you sustain your vegan lifestyle when traveling?
I feel really blessed to be able to travel with my family. I'm also very grateful that Tia still likes to bring me along with her when she travels to compete. I consider myself her personal videographer and chef. When we're on trips my job is to video her surfing so she can critique her technique and make adjustments. I also do all the cooking on these trips. So before we travel we go shopping for food to buy beans, rice, pasta, spices, etc. When we arrive at the destination we'll go shopping again for the fresh indigenous produce to incorporate into our meals. I try my best to cook meals according to her needs, so if she's feeling fatigued the night before I'll make her pasta and kale (carbs and iron). If she is feeling bulky or slow I'll feed her salad and beans. If she is feeling dehydrated I'll give her lots of water, coconut juice, and fruit. It's quite amazing how food influences the body and its performance.
Our most recent trip together was to Japan. My favorite part of that trip was visiting a temple. Talk about spiritual vibes, I was feeling them for sure! In Japan we rarely ate out. I did most of the cooking. We ate a lot of rice, veggies, tofu, seaweed and curry. In my opinion, if you are not in Tokyo, I would recommend cooking yourself because vegan food is hard to find.
What advice do you have for mothers raising a vegan family (especially those with athletic kids)?
Don't be afraid!!!
Start them as early as you can. It'll be easier in the long run.
People will tell you you're wrong for doing it, don't listen them.
Feed your child as often as possible. Remember most vegan food is light and very easy to digest so your kids will be hungry more often.
Let your child eat whenever they're hungry! Think about it, if you look at vegan animals, cows and gorillas for instance, they graze all day long.
Most importantly, feed your child foods with a lot of good fats like avocado, and coconut oil. Their brain needs fats to grow.
Make sure to incorporate things like Braggs Amino Acids and Kals Flake Brewers Yeast in their diets. Sprinkle it on everything! It's good stuff and you'll be glad you did.
What is your purpose in life?
My purpose in life first and foremost is to save animals. They need us to protect them, not eat them. I'm also trying to spread the word on how harmful factory farming is effecting our environment. People really need to wake up and start caring about our future generations. I for one want my future great-grandchildren to have a nice place to live. And the only way to do this is to inspire people to go vegan. If they don't, our planet can't survive.
How can we follow your amazing lifestyle? Social Media/Website?
Instagram - @sinablanco
FB - sinablanco