Ryoya’s cookery videos are some of the most stunning on YouTube and are all vegan or raw vegan. Ryoya’s recipes are absolutely delicious and are low in fat and sugar.
Can you tell us a little about your background and your experience as a vegan chef?
I was born in Japan in 1983, and had a very ‘normal’ upbringing. When I was 20 I went to Australia to study English on a working holiday visa. After going to English School for a few months I started to work at a café as a chef assistant. I learnt a lot of cooking skills and techniques from head chefs who came to teach from all over the country. I cooked animal foods at that time.
I then went to New Zealand for another year, and once I got back to Japan, one of my friends offered me a position as a chef at a macrobiotic café that was due to open in Yamanashi prefecture. I worked there for about 2 years. It was a really small café so the owner and I had to do everything ourselves. I think working in that environment really helped me to hone the skills I needed to improve as a chef.
I then moved to Tokyo and started teaching vegan and raw vegan cooking class. During this time I started to shoot vegan recipe videos to upload onto YouTube.
I went to macrobiotic cookery school (Kushi Macrobiotic) when I lived in Yamanashi. And then got interested in raw food so I went to Living Light Culinary Art Institute in California for 3 weeks.
Can you share with us some of your greatest culinary heroes?
To be honest, I don’t have any culinary heroes in mind. But, I would like to be a vegan version of Jamie Oliver. I love his cookery programs and his approach to educating people about food. I’m really interested in doing something similar in Japan.
From my point of view, it is obvious that people are eating too much animal foods, which is having an effect on their health and wellbeing. I never say ‘don’t eat animal foods’, but I just want to let people know that there is always a fun, joyful and easy way of eating that can lead to a healthier life.
Can you recommend any excellent vegan cookbooks?
I can’t recommend any particular cookbooks. All cookbooks are beautiful and helpful.
The following are not cookbooks but I highly recommend them for anyone interested in diet and nutrition as well as spirituality and personal development:
“Diet for a New America” by John Robbins
“Conversations with God” by Neale Donald Walsch
Why did you want to become vegan?
When I was 23, I read two books that I recommended above. As I continued to read, I couldn’t help but becoming a vegan. When I was reading, all of a sudden, I became determined to become vegan. That was seven and a half years ago.
The first reason really is the environmental issues caused by producing animal products. Producing animal foods really need lots and lots of energy. To make 100g of beef, you’ll need 1000g of plants to feed the cow. Instead, we could be eating those plants! Cows should only eat grass but nowadays they are fed beans and millet to make them fat. I just think this ill-use of resources is absolutely ridiculous.
The second reason is animal welfare. I learnt how animals are treated in farms. Mass production, mass consumption and mass food waste. Animals are treated like Industrial products.
Whereas in reality they feel everything in the same way as we do. I really don’t mind if some people who need to eat animal foods in order to survive such as for people who live in places where it is hard to grow crops and get enough food. But I strongly hope that people become aware that we actually don’t need ‘animal food factory’ products that can often lead people to become unhealthy and waste huge amounts of plant and animal life.
The third reason is for the health benefits, which I have found immediately obvious.
What difficulties have you experienced since becoming vegan?
Actually I’ve never had any difficulties since I became vegan. I was utterly determined to become vegan. My mind was completely changed in my 20s and I can say that I will never go back to animal products.
Since becoming vegan I’ve never thought ‘uhh I want to eat meat! (or fish, egg and dairy)’. I just think that animal foods are no longer the food for me.
I do try not to push my viewpoint on others. Forcing someone to your way of thinking never leads to good results. Instead I like to just show people through my YouTube channel as well as from my vegan cookery classes, that I eat only plant foods and I am healthy enough.
People can choose their own relationship with food. It is entirely their own choice. We all have freedom to choose how we live. It is okay if you choose to eat animal foods your entire life. It is your choice.
But it is important to take responsibility for your own health. Blaming other people for your own choices is not a smart idea. So I have decided that I will simply show others my vegan diet and hope that more and more people will follow my way of cooking. After all it is really fun and joyful to cook vegan.
Can you share with us one of your staple everyday vegan recipes?
My California Rolls are a delicious and healthy everyday meal.
Are you working on any exciting upcoming projects you would like to share?
I’ve been really focusing on creating beautiful vegan recipes on YouTube so I would be really happy if you would visit my channel!