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Walking the talk for holistic wellbeing

Le Va’s Cultural and Relationship Manager, Saveatama Eroni Clarke, became a vegan for the month of October to kindle a healthier lifestyle.  Family has always been important to Eroni, and so he has evolved his own patterns of behaviour, for better health, and has shared his personal journey of change with us.  

I’ve been thinking lately, about my family. In particular, my children: my daughter Shekynah (22yrs) and sons EJ (19yrs), Caleb (18yrs), Jireh (8yrs) and Zion (6yrs). It was through them I realised the state of my health. At almost 150kgs I was in fact potentially adding to the negative health statistics that are so prevalent in Pasifika communities – Obesity, diabetes, cardio vascular disease…I needed to change – My WHY? = My Family!

I engaged with Apollo Taito, Le Va’s new Mental Health Lead. Apollo’s been with Le Va now for a few months and has fitted in well, and he’s also vegan!

After a couple of serious conversations with Apollo I found myself joining the Eat Kind 100% Vegetarian Challenge run by SAFE. This meant a month living on a plant based diet, so guess what, Eroni Clarke was going vegan for a month! 

The news of a former All Black going vegan soon gained public attention! Radio interviews, then live on the AM Show on TV3, and more. I felt the attention quite overwhelming given the simplicity of the intention. 

My health; and the reasons why I wanted to do this challenge, are simple. My family; I need to provide for my young family, I want to participate in their lives and their ages are quite varied. My goal; longevity. 

It’s innate for us as Pasifika and as parents to prioritise the needs of our children and wider family above our own; and at times to our own detriment, until something very serious, health related, happens to us.

The last few weeks have been a huge learning curve for me. I haven’t starved or found myself sneaking into the pantry in the middle of the night and transgressing! Instead I discovered a whole new world of healthy plant based eating, and the menus and vegan recipes have been amazing. My wife Siala and I attended a ‘Vegan Cooking Class’ run by 2013 winner of NZ Master Chef Aaron Brunet, and there I found a whole new love for beans and salads and different ways of preparing rice. I came away feeling full… and hopeful!

Amidst all of this plant based vegan eating, in just 3½ weeks on the challenge, I’ve lost almost 10kgs! A huge thanks to a nutritionist friend who designed my food plan.  I’m feeling a lot more energetic, I’ve started exercising regularly, and more importantly, my children are hugely supportive of mum and dad’s new-found lifestyle. 

As the month end draws near, thoughts and conversations have been around what to do following the months challenge. I do know one thing, I’m very grateful to have been shown a way that is perhaps unfamiliar to our Pasifika communities, given the accessibility to fast foods, instant noodles, processed foods and more in Auckland. Perhaps thinking more about the impact on the environment, our health, and how animals are treated – perhaps l the vegan lifestyle is a better way of living for us all!

Visit this website for more information about how to go vegan.

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From time to time general news is published within Le Va
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