Lakapati Basa is the founder of Kusina ni Lakapati, a raw vegan kitchen here in the Philippines, with simplicity and genuine sustainability at its core. Lakapati talks with The Superfood Grocer about raw food, diabetes in her family, and her dream to help the poor through raw food.
Hi Lakapati ! Can you tell us about what you do, who you are and what is Kusina ni Lakapati?
I am basically a simple person with a very big passion for empowering people in the truth that they can heal themselves, starting with reconnecting with our beautiful design and what we put in our mouths (humans are designed to eat plants, mostly in their natural state (raw). I love sharing how to prepare simple and sustainable plant-based meals (both raw and cooked) and teaching people how to sustain this lifestyle.
KNL simply put is my kitchen—I cannot take all the credit, my husband is a big part of it as much as I am. KNL is a pop-up kitchen (we bring it to other places for lectures and workshops when people do not fit in our humble kitchen) where we hold intimate raw food and transition to plant-based lifestyle workshops and lectures, produce living food snacks and sell coconut products. I put great focus on local, organic and sustainable plant-based food, mostly raw which translates to easy preparation which guarantees great taste and maximum nutrition.
A lot of people ask me why, especially after taking the time and resources to be a certified gourmet raw vegan chef, and I always respond with, “If it’s not simple, easy and fast enough, no one will stay on it for long.” Aside from being a chef, I am also a full-time HR professional and I practice energy healing work, and this lifestyle of eating really helps to sustain my daily needs.
These days are very demanding, everyone always has a million things to do which is why it is highly important to teach and ground people in the precepts of our natural way of eating with the least amount of effort and time. Simplicity is the key to great success in sustainability.
What inspired you to shift towards a plant-based diet? Please tell us your story.
I started going plant-based early 2011 after another bout with GERD (Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease) when I found myself in the hospital. Prodded to make a quick reassessment due to that incident, I looked back on the lifestyle changes I made. Since 2009, I made a conscious choice to eat mostly organic food and this included meats. However, my GERD did not go away so I decided to dig my elbows deeper into research. What I found out is this: If I continue to regularly take my medication for 5 years, it will increase my risk of developing digestive cancers to 65%. This was unacceptable, so I pushed forward and found that high raw, low-fat plant-based is the way to go.
I was so sick of being sick that it inspired me to do whatever it takes to understand and embody what it means to be truly and completely healthy. I feel incredibly happy that I also have a number of people who held my hand to give support and guidance as I embarked on this journey. I am very blessed.
How do you feel eating more raw food benefits you?
Raw food (provided it is fresh and simply made) makes me feel stronger and lighter as it requires very little energy to digest, leaving me with more energy for other things I love doing. When I do not feel so good, raw food allows me to heal and get back to top condition much faster.
We know you mentioned your family has a history of diabetics? (correct me if I’m wrong) can you talk about that and how going plant based has positive effects on it?
Yes. My family has a four-generation battle with diabetes. Coming from a family who is also conservative, with a good number of traditional and allopathic medicine professionals, it is quite a journey. However, these days my family is making better choices for themselves which led to lower sugar levels in the register. My grandmother and uncle eat a plant-based diet and my cousin bought his mom a juicer and he’s a medical doctor. Just a week ago I introduced them to kefir and they responded positively.
Any social difficulties when you shifted your diet?
Oh yes, definitely! I was ridiculed in the beginning, particularly by my own family because they felt it was ridiculous to restrict myself from eating foods we traditionally enjoy especially when I am relatively younger and have no medical condition. There was a time I would bring my “survival kit” –which contained green smoothies and a meal—all the time because I won’t have anything to eat. And how can I forget one Christmas where I was invited to go out of town with family and was asked to bring food for myself and my husband because all they have was meat.
It became more challenging to eat out simply because there are very limited places you can eat without checking out what dishes and drinks are made of and how they’re made. Choosing this lifestyle sometimes come with a title, and that is “maarte”. Sure, it can be plenty annoying. However,
“I cannot expect people to understand why this is the only choice. All I can do is act with kindness and compassion and let the example of my life do the talking.”
We know you have an advocacy to help Filipinos achieve the gift of health specifically the urban/rural poor. Can you talk about this?
One of my biggest dreams is to make plant-based nutrition available to everyone particularly the poor and show them that a lot of what they need is grown in their backyard. Most people think that in order to be healthy, you have to have a lot of money that translates to the ability to buy meat to be served at the table—which research and studies now disprove. I work with a lot of people who open their eyes to the superior nutrition of fruits and vegetables through lectures and workshops with focus on simple, raw food and transition techniques.
Favorite raw/cooked vegan food and superfoods?
I love anything that is sprouted (mung bean, clover, quinoa, rice, etc.). Sprouted grains, I love cooked and served with simple vegetable stews or stir-fry. Anything with cilantro and basil is a favourite. I also adore Indian and Mexican cuisine. As for superfoods, I love maca, chia, spirulina, and malunggay. These incredible four, I always have in my pantry because they give me sustenance and a great boost whenever I am up for long days or if I am not feeling so great.
What does a sample meal day look like for you?
Breakfast and AM Snack 1 liter green smoothie + big bowl of mixed fresh fruit
Lunch 1 big salad with some flax crackers or green chips + grilled vegetable sandwich
PM Snack Chocolate Shake (I usually use older raw ice cream in the freezer and blitz it with ice and some nut or seed milk)
Dinner 1 big salad + vegetable soup (Or unpolished rice with stir fried veggies. I like one pot meals with fresh salads.)
Any advice for someone starting out on a plant- based diet?
The best advice I can give to anyone starting out on a plant-based diet is to be kind to yourself.
“Being more compassionate to animals and other earthlings is all for naught if you forget to be kind to the very person who need it first, you.”
If you have been eating less desirable food for so long, understand that most of the time, it does not take overnight. Identify and respect your rhythms and the body’s inner wisdom. Second, study, study, and study some more. Do not ever stop because people will always come to you and ask why and along the way, you will ask yourself why you’re doing this so you have to arm yourself with answers. Third, be patient and persevere. In this culture, a lot of people will shake their heads and rub their temples upon hearing the words “vegan” and “vegetarian”. Good news is, it does not last. It stops after they see how you change for the better over time.
For more information about Lakapati’s classes, check out http://www.kusinanilakapati.com/