LIAT SOLOMON: Founder of Down To Earth Bali and The Bali Vegan Festival

She’s a lady with a business sense, vision and above all a healthy frame of mind. The Beat spoke with her about all those things.
Hello Liat, please tell us a little about yourself and how you came to be in Bali?
I was born and raised in Israel, left at a young age and lived in New York for 12 years. I opened my first restaurant at the age of 19 in Tel Aviv and my second one at the age of 22. By the time I was 26 years old I was working and providing food for terminally ill cancer patients and people with all sicknesses – I did this for seven years in New York. I’ve always been a multi-tasker, I started with fashion but quickly got sick of that world and on my first trip to Bali I brought a suitcase full of food, created a food service from home, cooked, packed and delivered food for a year and by 2002 I opened Zula (on Jl. Dhyana Pura). Zula was the first vegetarian restaurant in Bali, it was the full package. I am crazy about what we put in our bodies, from the pots and pans to the water, the oil and all the process from the ground to our stomachs. This is what macrobiotics is all about.
How did you start this journey of healthy eating? Have you always had a healthy outlook on food?
I started with food at the age of 15 and by 17 I was a full-blown vegetarian. I was a food and animal activist at a very young age. I started studying macrobiotics at the age of 18, volunteered for many macrobiotic conventions and workshops in America, from Miami to New York and really got into the community of macrobiotics. I became known for my cooking skills in macrobiotics, even cooking for the Dalai Lama when he visited Bali. I found my calling and I knew that this life was for me.
Can you inform us about macrobiotics?
Macro – Big. Bio – Life. Living with respect to everything in nature, the universe, humans, everything. Making yourself adapt to the climates, the seasons, helping you understand yourself better. In terms of consuming macrobiotics, you are basically eating in the most natural way possible. The goal is to eat directly from the earth to your mouth, getting rid of all the technological mechanisms for food preparation and using old traditions to keep the impurities of modern day techniques behind. For example, never using a microwave. You will never find a Microwave in one of my kitchens. Cooking with as much natural material as possible, using stainless steel pots, clean water, natural salts, etc. Watch out for the dolphin salt in a blue and white bottle which is provided at nearly every restaurant in Bali as it contains Monosodium glutamate (MSG). It’s about choosing to not eat processed food, following the motto – you are what you eat.
It seems like in our modern culture, we see cooking and even eating as another burden to endure in our busy lives. Can you please talk a little about the gift of self-nourishment and its effect on our physical, emotional and spiritual levels?
There is a really interesting book that touches on this subject. It’s called Crime & Diet. Written in the 70’s and full of true stories. A group of scientists conducted an experiment in jails around the world with a group of about 100 hardcore prisoners, murderers and all. They fed them clean, organic food for 14 years and with-in this time they all had changed their state of mind and personality, felt remorse for their crimes and changed for the better. Which begs the question, what do criminals usually eat? A mix of junk food and meat. The vibrations of the food we eat resonate entirely with our body and our state of mind. One should always cook three meals a week for themselves. The energy and cycle centered on the creation of your food is really good for you. Compassion starts at home.
Tell us a bit about the Bali Vegan Festival.
I’m a party girl and I love to dance. But I like to create my own parties. The festival is about awareness. You can say it is V for Vegan, V for Vendetta, V for Victory. I want to call on people with anything to contribute so we can reach as many people and work together.  Kip Andersen will be joining the line-up of inspiring speakers from around the world who are passionate about animal rights, healthy lifestyles and saving the planet. Intrepid filmmaker Kip will discuss his new documentary ‘What the Health’ which will also be screened during the festival. Joining him will be veteran raw vegan runners Alan Murray and Janette Murray-Wakelin, who together ran around Australia (15,782km in 366 consecutive days) on a raw vegan diet to raise awareness for a sustainable future and conscious lifestyle choices. Representatives from the Humane Society International as well as the Indonesian Vegetarian Society and BAWA will take to the stage, plus renowned speaker James Aspey, for a talk on ‘How to be an Effective Activist’. Many more speakers and entertainment is yet to be announced.
What is yoga to you? Have you found a style that you particularly enjoy?
I have done a lot of yoga, I started doing it 27 years ago. I practice Jivamukti because it is what works best with my body. I think it’s a great form of exercise and body awareness. I wish people would realize that it all goes hand in hand, it comes with the food, being conscious of the environment. It’s about awareness, but yoga first of all is a massage for the internal organs, and of course a spiritual connection.
What’s your opinion on Bali’s current health orientated movement?
I am very happy that people are opening their minds but once something hits the mainstream, people lose perspective. All of a sudden all of these “vegan” restaurants are opening and you find lamb and pork on the menu? This is something that really bothers me. People come to Earth Café and then write review of us as being unfairly overpriced. Quality comes with a price and we make no compromises towards the quality and cleanliness of our food. For me it’s not only about the business or raising awareness, which is the bigger picture. For me it’s about nutrition, it’s about what your food is cooked in, where the grain for your bread comes from, where the water for your rice comes from. All these restaurants opening left and right, they can try and follow the trend but sooner or later they will be caught out.

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