Nafsika Antypas is the host, producer and creator of the world’s first and only vegan lifestyle TV series Plant-Based by Nafsika. Her focus on a plant-based lifestyle includes food, fashion, beauty, health and innovations.

Nafsika’s entrepreneurial background came from the many years of working in her father’s Mediterranean importing company, Pilaros Inc. She went on to found The Struggling Vegan Inc, an organization with the mission to help people transition to a vegan lifestyle while strengthening the vegan community. Being a mother of two, Nafsika loves to cook and experiment at home. Her passion is to educate about the health benefits of moving to a plant-based diet and Veganism. The world is moving toward a plant-based diet and Nafsika, a vegan herself, soon came to realize that not only would this be considered a diet, but a lifestyle as well.

Your culinary background and training is amazing. Talk to us about olive oil. What should you look for? Do you favor any particular countries or regions?
Let’s forget the fact that I’m a proud Greek for a minute…Greece produces the best tasting and quality of olive oil due to its soil and climatic conditions, which is ideal for healthy olive trees. Different regions of Greece offer different characteristics or tastes. I prefer the fruitier taste of the Laconia (or Sparta) region where there’s a combination of seaside sun and rich, hilly terrain. Some countries, like Italy, use Greek olive oil to flavour their own oils. And that says a lot.

I grew up eating EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) with my bread (never butter) and use it in all of my cooking. To Greeks, olive oil is “liquid gold,” as Homer put it.

What motivated you personally to take up a plant based diet?
A true Greek or Mediterranean diet, is actually very plant-based. It includes generous quantities of olive oil, fruits, vegetables, nuts and fish, and limited portions of red meat and processed foods. And this is how I grew up.

So when I went vegan a few years ago, it wasn’t as big of a change…except for the fact that I used to enjoy my chocolate and cheese. But that all changed after I watched just one film documentary, which opened my eyes about animal agriculture and I just couldn’t look at food the same (or chocolate and cheese). And not eating dairy meant no more unnecessary congestion or colds.

And for my first son, who essentially went dairy-free at the age of two, it meant no more chronic ear infections (or high fever, febrile seizures and a year and a half of antibiotics). So, both of my kids drink almond milk instead (and avoid meat of any kind) and we are healthier today because of this lifestyle decision.

Having a TV show is a major accomplishment! How did “Plant-based By Nafsika,” evolve?
It started with the idea of changing the world through food. I had already been working on some innovative projects with the mission to help people on a global scale and came to realize that if I could help more people be vegan, we could save our planet and live in a more compassionate place.

I had already been involved in various TV food segments through my family’s olive oil business and really enjoyed the creative side of things. I created the show concept, sourced the guests and sponsors myself, and my co-producers (who I was lucky to find) helped pitch the show to some networks, whom all loved the idea.

We decided to go with A&E because it was a good fit for us. So, not only is having a TV show a major accomplishment for me but also the fact that it’s the first vegan lifestyle show on a major network. That’s never been done before. And honored to have been the one to plant the seed.

Do you see a growing trend towards plant based diets? What are some of the hurdles people face in making such a change?
I definitely see it growing, and very rapidly. While it appears to be a growing “trend,” plant-based or veganism is here to stay because it’s a long-term solution to many environmental problems we face and will face if we do not change our ways. Furthermore, more people are becoming educated about animal exploitation and about the fact that there isn’t really such thing as, “humane meat.”

I didn’t really face too many hurdles. You don’t need to live somewhere that has tons of vegan or plant-based options; you could find ways to make anything vegan. There is so much information online to help guide you and provide you with moral support. I have a site like that actually called, The Struggling Vegan. We provide meal plans and recipes, health tips and advice, and even direct access to our plant-based doctors. Going plant-based today is easy as pie. (Vegan pie.)

Do your children like to cook? How do you keep their choices healthy when they are way from home?
My kids love to cook, especially my younger one. I am constantly talking to them about healthy food choices. My 6-year old can read a nutrition table and understand it, for example. My 3-year will let you know that cow’s milk is for baby cows if you offer it to him.I cook my sons’ lunches and packed them in thermal containers for school so that they’re always getting a warm meal. We mainly eat at home and my husband also cooks plant-based meals. I showed him how to make a mean vegan meat-sauce and he makes it better than me now!

What’s in your future? Another TV series? A book? A movie?
I like to think of myself as a “realistic dreamer,” if that makes sense. I love to dream but plan it in a way that it might actually happen. I have a lot of ideas and projects I am already working on so for now, my goal is to finish Season 2, which will air in the Spring, continue with my other companies/projects such as my vegan consultation site, The Struggling Vegan, my personal safety app Ualert and my non-profit People Against Violence. Then I want to start writing, or finish writing rather, a book, plus I may have a completely new TV show in the not so distant future. My motto is “If You Plant It, It Will Grow,” and that’s basically how I see myself right now. 🙂