Thursday, April 17, 2014

Juicing, Raw, Vegan - A Samoan Story, tuff!!

If you are, or know Pacific people, you will also know we love our meat a little too much, too often. 
Our waistlines and our lifestyle related problems mirror this. 
Then I came across a Samoan in Sydney making the changes we so so need. And I have had the pleasure of asking the beautiful Ymania a few questions. 
Thank you for sharing your amazing story and arduous journey as a girl, a former boy, an intellect, a mother, a Diva, a Lau (above all else) and so on and so forth. Ua lava ga! 
I hope that more Pacific people will rethink their unhealthy choices and be inspired to change!


Je vous prĂ©sente Tuisina Lealaitagomoa Muliagatele Ymania Brown-Gabriel: 


Name?

Born Peter Brown of Mulinuu (oka se fia keige sole hahahahaha ish)
Transitioned at 13 (yes my mum took me to the Psychiatric Nurse in Apia and got prescribed female hormones hahaha lol)
Gender marker reassigned in Sydney to plastic female (so my laus keep telling me, the bitches) hahahaha at 23 - still the youngest Samoan I think to go through Gender reassignment.


Village/Affiliation?

Born in Mulinuu, my Mum's dad, Luafatasaga Kalapu (the first speaker of the independent state of Samoa)  is from Tuana'i and some city in the Black Forest region of Germany (the Cordtz family at Maagiagi are relatives apparently), I hold the tulafale title of Tuisina from Tuana'i which incidentally is my legal name because I always thought it was a beautiful name and the story behind it....and also I saw myself as the White King bwahahahahaha (jokes don't print that))(TOO LATE - PRINTED LOL), Falelatai (I hold the Lealaitagomoa title there), my mum's adopted mother is from Saanapu (she is a Leaana there and I hold the Muliagatele title)....my birth father, the late Joseph Kuka Brown was from Fagaloa and Taufusi. His mother was from Vailoa Aleipata (Toomalatai family), and my stepfather, Phillip Conrad Gabriel who is actually my dad because he raised me, is from the village of Lepea

Why did you start juicing in the first place?

June 2012 - I went to get my son from Samoa and saw the pics. OMG. FAT. From being a healthy model size to a supermodel supersize. Leai la Malia. February 2013 - went interstate for work, came back and was sick all weekend - bleeding in my stools, bleeding from the nose, I was a not happy. I went looking for answers and found a documentary called Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. Downloaded, watched and cried like a baby. 
First time ever food was depicted the way it was. And how I saw myself dying if I didn't change. And I started that day. 
My first ever Juice (attached) was my Sunshine Juice (ingredients are in the pic). 
And my first ever smoothie had Tahini (attached)
- 1 handful of parsley
- 2 handfuls of spinach & rocket
- one small lebanese cucumber
- 1 green apple
- juice of 1 green lime
- 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of Mayvers Tahini
- 2 pinches of pink Himalayan rock salt
- Filtered water to suit


What are your biggest challenges?

Not finding raw turmeric root - its VERY hard to find in Sydney, but in Samoa, its easy - its called ago and grows wild by the streams and river banks..
Not being able to have too many substitutes for my Samoans in Samoa - if I decide to use Chia Seeds, they are not readily available in Samoa!
Not knowing (people lie all the time) if my "organic" products really are organic - I use a vegie wash to wash all produce to remove any traces of bacteria and chemicals
Not being able to tell my viewers that there there are NO shortcuts - it took years to put on the weight and just because you drink one apple and carrot doesnt make it skinny! Persistence in fruit and vegetable juices, diet high in plants and some movement (20 minute walk a 3 or more days a week) is all you need.

When you're feeling down and feeling like sinking your teeth into a pork bun, what so you do to distract yourself?
I watch videos of chemo patients.
Then I let my Mum tell me about how my hair fell out!
Sobering thoughts, activate! Lol

I read somewhere that certain greens increases one's libido, is this myth or fagogo I made up?
My top 4 are:
Olives (hey the Italians and Greeks eat a lot of this fruit - when in Rome!!), avocados (high in folic acid, vitamin b6 and potassium - great for the female libido), asparagus (rich in vitamin E so great for sex hormones), and celery (for men mostly, contains an androsterone, an odourless male hormone released during perspiration that turns women on) -

I have only met 1 Samoan who was a full on vegetarian, what do you think - what would it take for more Samoans to eat food that wasn't a pig, chicken or cow before?

Its a change of mindset, a change of culture. If we knew how dangerous the pa'umu and the imported vaemoa and mamoe and soda drinks are for our health, trust me we would all run back to fresh nius, Koko Samoa, limu and laupele.
The thing is, the danger at the moment appears passive - a few hundred or thousand  people contract diabetes, cancer, heart disease and we just write it off as lack of exercise. But the Ministry of Health and WHO can in no uncertain terms now say that we have an epidemic on our hands. And would it kill us to try something different? The anecdotal evidence is, plant eaters live longer. I was a big meat eater as well being Samoan born and bred. But for me, the only thing was making sure that my stomach was full, or that I was ma'ona.
And filling it up with juices and smoothies and salads, what harm am I doing to myself? other than having fabulous skin at 50yo, and no heart medication, cancer abated, how can I NOT keep eating plants?


In Samoa, every now and then, I get sick and vow to eat healthy, but when I go into the market to buy veges/fruit, it is bloody expensive, what do you recommend that should help people? 

Very expensive in NZ and of course in Samoa, we don't have the variety that overseas based Samoans have (so no excuse you guys) 
In Sydney, I go weekly to the Flemington Markets. 
My tips are:
1. Buy in season - in season = cheapest = savings - don't eat an avocado when they are $3.98 each - wait until they are $2 a kilo (in season) 
2. If in season, buy in bulk, clean and freeze. For smoothies - especially bananas and avocados and mangoes - you save a fortune - at one time, bananas in Sydney were over $10 a kilo
3. When you go to your local Fruit and Vegie shop, I head straight to the bargain bin - still alot of fresh produce that they get rid off because its disposable, but I can stretch that produce a few days with my juices, my smoothies. Greens a usually good for that. $0.50 for a bunch of silverbeet? Yes please.
4. Buy local - go to your farmers markets - for NZ, go here to check them out:
http://www.organicexplorer.co.nz/Events/Farmers+Market+locations+throughout+New+Zealand.html5. Grow your own, if you have time!


Many of our beloved family members have died of diabetes and other lifestyle related illnesses, does this worry you? 

Of course it does. My mum is diabetic. She has stopped her medication based on regularly juicing ginger, bitter melon, and red cabbage - she mixes them with green apples, lemons and oranges to palatise the taste, she loves it.
Heart disease is something I know about - I was born with 2 holes in my heart - and I continue to love mulipipi throughout my teens and twenties....what an idiot I was!
Cancer. Been there, I swear never ever to go there.
Plus hypertension, high blood pressure, stress, smoking (the disease of the stupid - "for more information on Cancer, please keep smoking"), and so many more.

Can you give 3 of your favourite juicing combinations? (Ps, I hate beetroot, celery and ginger. but everything else, ok:)  

1. Juice - Apple, Carrot, Cucumber + 1 lemon or lime (without the skin)
2. Smoothie - Niu (water and aano or flesh), green leaves, banana - top it off with some Koko Samoa
3. Smoothie - Blend bananas, Koko Samoa, any nut you are not allergic to - use less liquid so its thicker!
4. Juice - Cabbage, Apples, + Lemon

Any parting comments you wish to make? 
Go the Aivao Community and Juice On! 


Faafetai lava Ymania, Love your work! Tuff!

2 comments:

evotia said...

Thank you for sharing this beautiful Samoan sista's journey to better health. It is encouraging and appreciated.

Emily Tomlinson said...

This is so cool and you are amazing. I actually stumbled across your blog because I'm researching my family tree. My great great grandfather is Luafetasaga Kalapu, great grandfather is Morgantani, grandmother is Uila. Guess we are related. Thanks for sharing your great story!

--Emily