Grecia Parra created the beautiful, sleek blog Salt and Leisure which features vegan recipes, lifestyle posts, dining recommendations from her travels, and more. Beyond the blogging, though, she speaks with us about chasing dreams, becoming vegan, and leading a healthier life! Many love her for her blog, many love following her fabulous Insta, and now we get to know this Los Angeles chef a little more.
You said in 2014 you left the corporate world to pursue your dream of becoming a chef, how has your life changed since then?
Since then, my life has changed immensely! Working in sales wasn’t my passion and it bored me, but I stuck with it for a while because my fear of letting people down by not doing what was expected. Now that I am doing what I’m passionate about I look forward to every step of the journey. It’s helped me truly live in the moment and enjoy every single day.
What is it about cooking that you love?
Everything. From the planning and shopping, to the moment I am able to serve people the food I’ve created. It is also exciting to put my own flare on dishes that I remember eating as a kid.
What would you tell somebody wanting to leave the corporate world to chase a dream but is scared to?
I would tell them to go for it! You are in charge of your own path and journey, risks are necessary for growth. I understand that it is scary, but what is far scarier (in my opinion) is letting time pass you by and finding yourself an old man or woman full of regrets. Make a plan, stick to it, and if you fail, try again with the lessons that failure has taught you.
Other than cooking and blogging, what else takes up your time?
There are several things that I really enjoy to do on my free time, like reading, eating at new restaurants, traveling as much as I can, and I’m obsessed with going to the movies!
Your blog is called Salt and Leisure, why that name?
It was after a long week of trying to come up with a name. I was brainstorming names that would reflect my passion for food, while incorporating my love for travel. That’s when it suddenly hit me, “Salt and Leisure!” Those who know me best will tell you that I definitely don’t skimp on the salt… I love my food flavorful!
What inspired you to take on vegan living?
As I got older I started to be more health conscious. I grew up eating a lot of “not-so-healthy” foods and I was drastically searching for a change. I decided that a vegan lifestyle was the best option for me. In the beginning it was geared more towards health, but it didn’t take me long to learn how horrendous animals are being treated in order to keep people fed. The pain I felt for them was immense and I couldn’t imagine playing a role in that sort of treatment.
What differences have you felt in your body (and mind) since going vegan?
In the beginning I felt tons of energy, which has now began to just feel normal. I’ve long forgotten how I felt while eating tons of meat and cheese, but I’m sure if I ever went back to eating animal products I would notice a huge difference.
I tried going vegetarian once but I gave in after two months because it was so hard resisting all the homemade Mexican food when I’d visit family! How do you resist the urge to give in when you’d have moms cooking right in front of you?
I know the feeling! I was so used to going to my mothers house and eating whatever she was cooking. I love all of her food! But now she understands my lifestyle and she makes alternatives. I realized that meat is not what I loved in her cooking, I love the spices and condiments. So we’ve made it work by making the same dishes, while excluding the meat and dairy add-ons. It’s easier than you may think… all it takes is a little creativity!
What’s your favorite vegan recipe?
I love rice so much that I honestly just love any recipe that incorporates it. Whether it’s curry over rice, rice and bean burritos, or rice with guacamole - I’m obsessed.
When you get the sudden craving for something sugary, what do you satisfy your sweet tooth with?
A little trick I learned a while ago is keeping a bag of dark chocolate chips (dairy-free) in the refrigerator. When I’m craving something sweet, a couple of those does the trick. I also love whole grain organic toast with raspberry preserves… so GOOD!
What advice would you give to somebody wanting to lead a healthier life?
Start by making small changes. A lot of people fail at their attempt to live healthier because they go on these crazy diets, which is only temporary solution to a longterm problem. I recommend start by giving up one bad habit, like things loaded with sugars. For example, sugary drinks, pre-packaged cookies and pastries. Once you accomplish you first “small” goal, you can move on to the next. Eventually these small steps add up and you’ll suddenly find yourself living a completely new lifestyle. One step at a time.
Want some exclusive content from this interview? Sign up for the JRECOGNIZE newsletter!