Fighting severe food intolerances but determined to eat healthy, Lucy Robinson made vegetables the love of her life and went on to publish her first book, The Grain-free Vegetarian.
By Aisiri Amin
In her 20s, living in the beautiful city of Paris while working on her PhD, Lucy Robinson suffered from severe depression.
“I became increasingly depressed. I could do my research but I couldn’t hold it in my head,” she says. On a friend’s suggestion, she got tested for wheat allergy and she found out she was severely allergic to wheat.
As her condition worsened, another friend suggested that Lucy to consult a naturopath. Diagnosis showed that she is intolerant to meat and all kinds of grain, including sugar derived from sugar cane which is a grain. “He said if I became vegetarian, I would be fine. I haven’t touched grains and meat ever since.”
With the kind of food restrictions Lucy had to live with, it could have easily turned her everyday diet into bland, unappealing food for the rest of her life. But instead, she saw this as an opportunity to be creative. “This might have been a culinary life-sentence but I’ve always been an adventurous eater and saw this as an exciting new challenge to experiment with a palette of tastes,” she says.
Lucy has come a long way ever since. A musician by profession, Lucy Robinson was the Head of Postgraduate Studies and Research in the Royal Welsh School of Music in Cardiff where she now teaches part-time. She plays the viola da gamba and has performed in various places such as Wigmore Hall in London and Sydney Opera House. This year, she released her first book, The Grain-free Vegetarian, which is a repertoire of innovative recipes over the decades.
“I never planned on writing the book. It just happened,” Lucy reminisces. It all started one afternoon when she invited all the international students to her home for lunch. “My students enjoyed my cooking very much. They encouraged me to write the book,” she adds.
Through this fascinating journey, the four most important men in Lucy’s life, her husband, and her three sons, were constantly by her side. “I brought up my sons as vegetarians and everything was grain-free but they could have bread. And it was noticeable how healthy they were,” she explains. An ideal Christmas day special at her home is the Mock Goose which has everything except goose.
Lucy believes in organic food, buys vegetables only from the Farmer’s Market and anything off the shelf is a big no for her. She grows vegetables such as pumpkins, asparagus, herbs and artichokes in her backyard.
By growing her own vegetables, not only is she able to make sure they are fresh and healthy, she also is assured that she is not harming anyone with her consumption.
“Alex (middle son) came home and asked me if I was buying Peruvian asparagus. Well, I wasn’t because of the air miles. And apparently the Westerners grow the asparagus in Peru, damming up the main rivers leaving no water for the local people to grow their crop,” she recalls.
Lucy is adamant in promoting ethical ways in which we consume food. It’s not just about what’s healthy for her, it’s about how her choices affect even a single person halfway across the world. “We should always know the where we are getting our food from. The food we eat shouldn’t have left someone starving.”
Aisiri Amin (she/her) is an independent journalist specializing in gender, culture, and social justice. She is a struggling optimist, trying to understand the world through cinema, books, and travel.