Food blogger Bekah Carpio went vegan and gluten-free three years ago—and she hasn't looked back since. She's documented her food journey on her blog and Instagram, including: a delicious green goodness smoothie bowl, this easy one-pot vegan lentil soup, and a yummy vegan banana cake recipe.
We recently talked to her about her passion for music, what it's like living in London, and how she became a plant-based food blogger over the past several years. Read on to learn more about Bekah and her journey!
Tell us a bit about your story.
I was born in Los Angeles, but we moved when I was about a year old and I grew up on the east coast in Northern Virginia (close to Washington DC). I spent four years in upstate New York studying at a music conservatoire for my undergraduate degree. Then five years ago I came to London, UK on a one-year Fulbright grant to pursue my masters in clarinet and orchestral performance. I feel super blessed that I was able to stay for the second year of my masters program, and then embark on my doctoral studies where I am now going into the 4th year of my PhD.
You’re a musician! Can you share more about that part of your life?
I am! I started playing the clarinet (and the violin) in 4th grade through my school's music program. I was very fortunate to go to a school that really emphasized and celebrated the arts. After a couple years of playing both the clarinet and violin my parents had me pick one to focus on, so I went with the clarinet (even though I think I was doing better at the violin at the time). I have three sisters as well who all play instruments and we ended up becoming quite a musical family, to my parents' surprise—they have been incredibly supportive of us all.
When did you know that you wanted to pursue music as a course of study and potential career path?
I always loved playing, but never applied myself that much to practicing until my sophomore year in high school. That year I got it in my head I wanted to do well at the Virginia All-State auditions (perhaps because I'd had a bad audition the year before). So I spent a month buckling down and practicing for that audition, and ended up getting first chair—which was a real shock and pretty much a miracle! It meant that I got to play first chair in the VA All-State Orchestra, which was the first time I'd ever played principal of an orchestra, let alone one of that calibre.
I had an amazing experience over the VA All-State weekend, rehearsing and performing with the orchestra. That's when I realized how much I loved it, and the first time I considered doing music as a career.
Music then became a much bigger focus for me ever since. I even started homeschooling my final two years of high school to practice more. All in all, I feel like music has been a real gift in my life, and God has given me so many amazing opportunities through it.
What is expat life like in London? What do you love? What has been challenging? How was the transition from life in America to life abroad?
I love living in London so much. It was my first experience abroad, and the first time I took an international flight. I think like many Americans, I love anything British. London has very much come to feel like my home. It can be a strange combination of feelings at times, being torn between two countries—but I try to think of it as having two homes now.
When I moved here, I dove straight in wanting to embrace all things British. I went in thinking it wouldn't be that different from America, but there actually are lots of little things that can slowly build up over time. I absolutely love it, but sometimes it can be strange to find those differences—even British English can feel like a whole different language from American English at times.
My favorite thing has been getting stuck into my local church and finding an amazing church family. That has really made London feel like home. And there's also just so much going on, to see and to do and to explore, so that keeps it constantly exciting. As a vegan foodie, there are so many food spots and events to go to as well!
How’d you get into this plant-based journey you’re on and begin sharing that with the world through your Instagram and blog?
About two and a half years ago, I decided to go vegan/gluten-free literally overnight, focusing my diet around whole plant foods. I wasn't very well at the time—nothing super serious, but I was in bed a lot and getting tests done. So I decided to do my own research into health and nutrition, read about plant-based diets, and decided it couldn't hurt to give it a try. I remember my family was pretty shocked when I told them. But I did a lot of research so I could back up the food choices I was making and assure them I was doing it in a healthy way.
I immediately fell in love with this way of eating and all of the vibrant plant foods. Lots of people tell me they think my diet is restrictive, but I honestly feel like I have expanded and experimented so much more with food since going vegan. I had never known how to cook, but changing my diet pretty much forced me to, and I now love cooking so much.
I began taking so many pictures of my food and sending them to my family and posting it on my personal instagram account. My sisters told me I really ought to just start a foodie Instagram handle (and stop sending them so many pictures!). So I did, and Bites by Bekah was born. I'd been wanting to start a blog for ages as well, but finally just got that going (after months of planning) a couple of months ago. It's definitely my passion side project, and I have been incredibly grateful for the friends I have made and the opportunities that have come through Instagram.
What’s your personal approach to wellness?
Taking things one step at a time. I feel like I'm on a constant journey of learning, growing, and incorporate healthier habits into my life day by day.
What does good health mean to you?
Right now to me it's all about balance. It's about feeling healthy and happy and strong, and having a good balance between all the different components of my life and keeping things in the right perspective.
What’s your favorite breakfast?
Porridge bowls. It has been for years and it never gets old! You can customize them in so many different ways and I honestly look forward to them every day.
Where would you most like to visit?
New Zealand!! This is my absolute dream. I am a massive Lord of the Rings fan and to me New Zealand would be my equivalent of walking into Middle Earth.
If you could have breakfast with anyone in history, alive or not, who would it be and why?
Since I am a huge Lord of the Rings and Tolkien fan, I'd have to say J.R.R. Tolkien. I have so many questions I would love to ask him, and I could pick his brain about the world he created in Middle Earth for ages.
If you had a full day off to do whatever you want, what would you spend it doing?
Part of me would love to go somewhere warm and sunny, and lie on the beach reading a good book all day long. On the other hand, I also would equally love to spend a day in the kitchen (my happy place!) experimenting with recipes, cooking up a storm, and then styling and shooting it all.
What’s the best advice you ever got?
Just start now! This is something I am constantly working on, as I am the kind of person who will plan and prepare for ages. But sometimes you just need to jump in and get started.