Community Member Spotlight: Rachael

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A Florida native, Rachael Jacome lives in Evanston, IL with her husband and their dog Comet. After the couple transitioned to veganism, Rachael decided to start her blog, Cultivator Kitchen, to share low-waste, plant-based recipes and easy staple foods.

Inspired by a few documentaries about health and animal products, and wanting to find a cure for some of their health problems, Rachael and her husband made the switch to a whole food plant-based diet overnight, and eventually decided to make the full transition to veganism. The transition wasn't as tough as she thought it would be and Rachael stresses that it doesn't have to be difficult if it's something you personally want to do. "I think the biggest myth is that it is hard to transition to a vegan diet. The first thing you need is the desire, it has to be your decision and you have to have your reasons in your heart, whether it’s your health, the animals, the environment or all of the above." She also recognizes the environmental impact of meat and dairy on our planet and for her, a vegan diet is the biggest way she can contribute reducing her footprint.

Rachael says her blog focuses on ‘cultivating’ health, sustainability and resiliency. "I’m Eastern-band Cherokee so as I’ve gotten more into permaculture and gardening I’ve tried to grow more traditional pre-colonialism foods. This year I grew a ‘three sisters’ garden where you grow squash, beans & corn in symbiosis. So much of my food is simpler than people might think and I really like it that way." 

When it comes to reducing waste with groceries and cooking, Rachael recommends shopping in bulk for staple items and finding simple recipes that use these ingredients. Her favorite Chicago store for food shopping? Sugar Beet Food Co-op! "They have the best bulk section and encourage your own containers. The staff is friendly and helpful and there are tons of vegan options. I can even get vegan mini chocolate chips in bulk and nutritional yeast!" Her family also composts and replaced paper towels with reusable cotton towels in the kitchen.

Underlying all of this is her interest in and passion for environmental justice and indigenous rights. "As an indigenous person I was raised to respect and protect the Earth...many native cultures focus on using every part of something and self-reliance with minimal impact on the natural world, so for me this personal journey through veganism and zero waste has fit in with both my culture and my values." She also has hopes for better representation of people of color in the vegan and zero waste communities. "Environmental issues disproportionately affect communities of color and impoverished communities. I would like to see both the vegan and zero waste communities grow in diversity and inclusion, making them accessible and affordable to everyone."

If you'd like to read last month's Community Member Spotlight about the Cool family's biking adventures, please click here!