BIPOC Portraits: leeksnbeets (An Interview with Noha Elbadry-Cloud)

BIPOC Portraits is a series in which Best of Vegan contributors Val & Mani Latifi of Plant-Based Passport profile one BIPOC vegan creator each week over the course of 16 weeks, to shed light on the unique challenges BIPOCs face in making the decision to embrace veganism. For BIPOCs, the prevailing narrative that veganism is a white-dominated movement can often mean a perceived loss of cultural identity. The hope of this profile series is to make veganism a little less lonely for BIPOCs and to give courage to vegan-curious BIPOCs out there. In the eighth installment of BIPOC Portraits, Noha Elbadry-Cloud of leeksnbeets shares her journey to veganism as an Egyptian-American. She also provides a delicious recipe for Loaded Mediterranean Salad with Homemade Vegan Halloumi Cheese.

[The acronym BIPOC stands for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color]

BIPOC Portraits: leeksnbeets (An Interview with Noha Elbadry-Cloud)

Noha Elbadry-Cloud is a website accessor and freelance recipe developer/food photographer based in Southern Arkansas. Noha was vegetarian for over a year, before deciding to go vegan in 2020. She made the switch after learning about the detrimental effects of meat and dairy consumption on health, along with the inhumane practices involved in those industries. She believes veganism has made her a far more creative and adventurous eater. It’s also had a positive impact on both her mental and physical health. When she’s not making magic happen in the kitchen, she enjoys writing, working out, hiking, and reading voraciously. She has upcoming publications in two cookbooks and is currently working on her website.

Follow Noha: Instagram | Facebook

Loaded Mediterranean Salad with Homemade Vegan Halloumi Cheese
Loaded Mediterranean Salad with Homemade Vegan Halloumi Cheese. Click on the photo for the full recipe.

When you first went vegan, did you see the vegan community as diverse? Did you see yourself as having a place in the vegan community as a BIPOC?

To be honest, I was more worried about what being vegan excluded me from, especially living in the south where veganism is practically nonexistent.

Did you have any fears or reservations about going vegan? Did you feel like you might lose part of your cultural identity in your transition to veganism? 

I worried that I might have to abandon many of my favorite dishes, especially childhood ones that remind me of home. I was a bit rigid in my way of thinking at first and thought that making vegan substitutions would affect the authenticity and flavors of recipes from home. I’m glad to have learned I was wrong and that I became a far better cook in the process.

I was a bit rigid in my way of thinking at first and thought that making vegan substitutions would affect the authenticity and flavors of recipes from home. I’m glad to have learned I was wrong

Did you worry about how your friends and family would react to your decision to go vegan? And how did they react?

I did to some extent, especially when it came to my mom, with whom I regularly shared new recipes I’ve tried and vice versa. She thought it was an odd decision at first, but has since come to understand it more, especially since I’ve gotten to share more of my reasons with her. As for the rest of friends and family, they do find it a little bit eccentric and frequently wonder where I get my calcium and protein.

Loaded Mediterranean Salad with Homemade Vegan Halloumi Cheese
Loaded Mediterranean Salad with Homemade Vegan Halloumi Cheese. Click on the photo for the full recipe.

Did you have challenges finding vegan substitutes to make your cultural dishes? What substitutes did you make?

Since going vegan I’ve certainly developed a whole new level of appreciation for tahini, cashews, and almonds and their versatility. Becoming vegan has caused me to take a closer look at the food of my culture, and I was happy to discover a number of dishes that are traditionally vegan, such as hummus, baba ganoush, falafel, koshary, and so on. Eggs in particular are used extensively in my culture so learning to make flax eggs was a lifesaver.

Article Val and Mani Latifi. Recipe and photos by Noha Elbadry-Cloud of leeksnbeets.

Val Latifi is a first generation Filipino-American. She runs Plant-Based Passport—a food and travel blog—with her Persian-American husband Mani. They live in Houston, Texas with their crazy rescue pug Mango. She is an attorney by day. In a former life, she was a music journalist for The Village Voice. She has traveled to thirty-three countries and five continents together with her husband. Travel informs and inspires their cooking. The two of them recreate and veganize dishes they’ve sampled abroad, as well as dishes they grew up eating. Through their food blog, they seek to dispel the notion that you have to give up your cultural heritage in going vegan, while spotlighting underrepresented cuisines. 

If you loved this BIPOC Portrait of leeksnbeets, you might also like…

BIPOC Portraits: demeals (An Interview with Waseem Hijazi)

BIPOC Portraits: Rated V (An Interview with Eunice Reyes)

BIPOC Portraits: Plant-Based Passport

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