Interview: Sarah Britton from My New Roots

Sarah Britton is the founder of the blog My New Roots and is publishing her second cookbook entitled Naturally Nourished. We met her for an interview

Sarah Britton is an important expert that I’ve looked to ever since I changed my eating habits and became vegan. Her website My New Roots, her first book of the same name, and her recently published follow-up book Naturally Nourished all share valuable knowledge dealing with the connection between physical health and the influence of what we eat. We were able to sit down with her in Berlin and ask a few questions:

For everyone who doesn’t already know your blog, what is the concept behind My News Roots?

I had just graduated from the Institute of Holistic Nutrition in Toronto and was quite astounded that I had gone my whole life not really knowing how my body worked. I thought everyone deserves to know about that. That’s where My New Roots started. Even though it was more lifestyle-oriented in the beginning, people responded to the recipes even though I have no background in cooking. All the recipes were from different sources and it wasn’t until I went to Denmark that I started cooking myself and making my own recipes. That’s when the whole idea took off.

All the recipes are vegetarian, and mostly vegan and gluten-free. I like to call it “all inclusive” food to not put a label on diets. The most important thing to me is that it tastes really delicious while being really good for the body. It’s not dogmatic in any way.

When did you realize that you have to change something in your diet? And how was it for you in the beginning?

I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 16 – because most of my friends were, but also because I was studying a lot of environmental science at that time and discovered that eating meat has the biggest impact on the environment of any choice you can make on a daily basis. Then when I was 23 I went to do a 5-week workshop in organic farming in a small village that was dedicated to eating what they grew. I ended up staying for a year.

My life changed dramatically within the course of a week: As soon as I started eating what I was growing on a farm – real, fresh food – I felt like I had woken up for the first time. That was when I started to see the effect food can have on the body. I was sleeping better, I had the energy to exercise, and I started practicing yoga every single day. Within two weeks I was a completely different person.

How did you start combining your new found passion with your career?

I started the blog after studying and before blogging was a thing. In fact, my boyfriend at the time suggested I do it because he was sick of hearing me talk about food and health. That’s why My New Roots started, even though no one really read it. It was sort of just for me, a way to keep on top of the research that was coming out – and I’ve always been into journaling and scrapbooking. So it was sort of a digital extension of that. I didn’t even proofread it and the pictures weren’t that great at all. At that time I was teaching high school part-time and working for a private practice. The blogging was just on the side of that. Until it wasn’t anymore.

Book launch at The Store in Berlin | ©Catarina Marques Teles

Do you think food can fix everyone’s health problems?

I do. If you are not experiencing an acute condition, food can help you because while it does work slowly, it is more effective in the long term. That is why I focus on prevention in most of what I do. When you eat healthy and keep a balanced diet, look out for yourself and keep your stress levels down, then there are not a lot of reasons to get ill. Even if you do, you can bounce back easier and faster. Of course there are serious situations in which food is not going to work fast enough, but ultimately, for most people, it will.

Why isn’t this more of a public topic? Do you think we need more nutritional education in schools to change the minds of the majority?

Absolutely! I cannot believe that we don’t grow up knowing how our bodies function or how to look after ourselves when we are sick. At the end of the day, that is what will carry you through your whole life. Wouldn’t it be cool to understand how it all works? I am not a science person per se, and molecular biology can be intimidating, but showing kids what’s happening right now inside their bodies and telling them how exciting it is should be mandatory. So yes, I think we should educate our children early about nutrition and the effects it has on our body.

What is biggest difference between your two cookbooks?

Although the response to the first book was great, the feedback I got was that “the ingredients were too specialized and a little component heavy.” So I thought I needed to challenge myself to improve and make this one better for people. I decided to include ingredients that you can find only in the cheapest grocery stores. It’s very much carrots, beets, and broccoli. It’s very simple.

For the baked goods, I use whole wheat flour instead of buckwheat or spelt (which I would normally use). On one hand that confused a lot of people, but it’s what you get in every grocery store. Of course, if you want to use buckwheat or spelt – go ahead! I just didn’t want to limit anyone who reads my book. I want it to be super accessible. We all deserve to be able to eat healthy and spirulina, for example, is very expensive.

What is your biggest achievement so far?

I think that would be the community that’s grown around it all. To see hundreds of thousands of people responding to the work and to see how their minds are changing. To be even a small part of this movement and witness it is probably the biggest achievement.

Which projects do you want to initiate in the future – aside from any other amazing cookbooks you might be planning already? Is there anything you always wanted to do?

I think I want more mediums to expand the platform. I actually considered getting a Youtube channel and a Q&A (not live). There are so many good questions every day that I want to share, also for people who maybe never felt comfortable asking for themselves. So that’s an idea. I would love to do a cooking show, too. There are so many restrictions with network television. So we will see how that all rolls out.

Then I also do these retreats. We already had one in Bali and I am doing four more this year. Two in Ibiza and two south of Lisbon. I am interested in genuine connections.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

In Canada, with baby number two – I’m not pregnant yet, but I would love that – keeping on building the community, doing more projects, more retreats, having more fun. We will see, I am really intuitive

The “Life Changing Loaf” recipe is super popular. Will there be a similar one in your new publication? If so, can we share it?

The Sunflower Seed Risotto is pretty mind-blowing.

"Naturally Nourished: Healthy, Delicious Meals Made with Everyday Ingredients" by Sarah Britton

If you are looking for further insights and recipes visit Sarah Britton’s Blog, My New Roots, here, follow her journey through Instagram (@mynewroots) here or get her cookbooks, My New Roots here and Naturally Nourished here.

To get all the details about the next retreats that are being planed by Golden Circle Retreats, visit their website here.

Get more information on Bon Bock, the new Berlin based program that is bringing together Culinary and Contemporary Arts with Culture, here.