Food Revolution Ambassador Sheila Vasconcellos in Brazil shares her Food Revolution journey to inspire and connect people through real food.
“Since becoming a Food Revolution ambassador, I’ve made it my personal mission to educate myself about the wider issues surrounding the food we all eat. I’ve started studying nutrition and expanding my food knowledge so that I can pass information down to younger generations and empower them to make healthy lifestyles choices.
Last year, while on a trip to Portugal, I got to visit the town that my husband grew up in. It’s a small town, and the people living in it grow most of their own produce – grapes, pumpkins and many other varieties of fruit and vegetables – they even make their own wine! The town is a working village full of life, culture and health, and food is such an integral part of the community – witnessing this really inspired me.
Cooking from scratch
During a recent visit to London, I had the opportunity to visit Jamie’s Cookery School, where I watched Dan Batten and Jazzi Curley teach a lovely cooking class. The experience of taking part in a cooking class is such a privilege, it ignites people’s interest in cooking and also empowers them to take those skills home and use them in their own kitchens.
For Food Revolution Day this year, I hosted my own cooking class – an open community class called Learning how to Cook Real Food, during which I taught one of Jamie’s recipes for each meal of the day. These classes are being continued for the rest of the year, adding new recipes and growing the number of participants as we go.
The importance of food education
In September last year, I attended a seminar entitled The Brazil We Want, which focused on how to change Brazil’s education system for the better. A major topic was the possible introduction of nutrition education into the school curriculum – something which, if enforced, could lead to a healthier population that can work more efficiently, cost less in healthcare and live longer.
I recently opened a press office in Brazil and started working with companies and organisations that are fighting for better nutrition and food for children and adults alike. I was featured on a local TV show that took three Brazilian celebrities and gave them the opportunity to showcase their favourite healthy recipes and how they could be adapted to suit children’s taste buds.
Spreading the Food Revolution food message
I suffer from type-1 diabetes. I have had it for over 30 years now and I feel it is important to inform the public about the connection between unhealthy food and disease. I find that people are very receptive to listening to someone who has first-hand experience of diabetes, and has seen the huge improvement that proper nutrition can have on a disease outcome.
There are many deprived areas in Brazil, but food is the one thing we all have in common. I try to promote this as much as possible and strongly believe in leading by example. In order to create change, we need to put one foot in front of the other – the key is to not give up but to keep believing we can make a difference and create a healthier future for everyone.”