A popular Instagram account has managed to do what some would call the impossible: making healthy vegan food look gorgeous, mouth-watering, and delicious — even to non-vegans.
But that’s not even the most surprising part. The real shocker is that the account — which boasts over half a million followers — is run by a 16-year-old.
Jose, a teenager from Lima, Peru, is the talented cook and food stylist behind Naturally.Jo, the vegan Instagram page that proclaims: ‘Life is too short to eat boring food.’
Vegan masterpiece! Jose, a 16-year-old from Lima, Peru, is the artist and cook behind Naturally.Jo
So pretty: The Instagram account is packed with pictures of vegan food
And it’s good for you, too! Jose cooks and styles the dishes himself, favoring colorful fruit and healthy ingredients
Yum! His favorite recipe is for cheesecake (pictured), because it’s very customizable
A toast! Jose has over half a million followers who drool over his beautiful food
Sweet tooth: Some of his go-to recipes are desserts, like cakes, brownies, and popsicles
All about the picture: He said that he works hard to make sure everything is aesthetically pleasing
Non-dairy: He’s a big fan of chocolate, but sticks to the vegan kind, which isn’t made with milk
Jose’s page is packed with incredible photos of his creations, which he cooks himself. He’s partial to fruit-and-veggie-topped toasts, breakfast smoothie bowls — a trendy favorite of health food fanatics — and, of course, dessert.
To satisfy his sweet tooth, he bakes cakes, brownies, and doughnuts and freezes up ice cream and popsicles — all made using entirely vegan ingredients.
That means he subs in things like ‘flax eggs’ (which are made with flax seeds and water) for real eggs, straight cacao powder for chocolate made with milk, oils for butter and almond milk and yogurt.
For cheesecakes, he whips up a mix of cashews, frozen banana, agave nectar, and coconut oil, while ice cream is also made with frozen bananas.
He also keeps things healthy by swapping processed cane sugar for coconut sugar, agave nectar, and the natural sugars that occur in fruit.
And he’s managed to teach himself how to do all this in just a year and a half, since he became a vegan at age 14.
Starting young: Jose first became a vegan when he was 14, just a year and a half ago
Give us a slice! Previously, he loved meat, but was struggling with eating disorders and looking for a way to be healthy
Animal lover: He soon became attached to the animal cruelty-avoiding aspect of veganism
Berry pretty: He loves working with berries, not just because they are tasty, but because they are so colorful
A real skill: He started to learn to cook immediately after deciding to become a vegan
Expert level! Now he no longer needs the help of recipes since he knows the basics
Happy to help! Sometimes he shares recipes for his creations in the photo captions
‘I ate animal products for 90 per cent of my life, and meat was my favorite thing in the world,’ he told Daily Mail Online. ‘[But] I was struggling with eating disorders and an unhealthy low-weight.
‘I searched for lots of diets online and then the vegan diet popped up. I saw how lots of vegans ate a lot and followed a high-carb diet but still had a perfect fit body, so I started eating less animal products and decided to inform myself about veganism.
‘That is when everything changed and I learned that veganism is a lot more than a diet, it is a lifestyle,’ he went on. ‘Soon after, I made the decision to become vegan. I was no longer looking to lose more weight, but to stop supporting all forms of animal cruelty.’
But making that decision came with some work. His family wasn’t vegan, so Jose needed to start preparing his own food to stick to his plan.
We all scream! Even his ice cream — and the cookies on top — are totally vegan
All natural: He works with ingredients like chia, flax, almond milk, coconut oil, and raw sugar
When he started out, ‘I tried out all kinds of recipes online and was blown away to find out how easy it was to make’
All in the family: His mother and sister are proud of him, and now they are transitioning to veganism, too
Big change: Jose noted that you don’t have to be raised vegan to decide to eat that way
‘The things I post on my Instagram are tasty but I really try to focus on presenting it in a way that it looks aesthetically pleasing,’ he said
Spoonable: Smoothie bowls like these are especially trendy on Instagram
Nom nom: These pancakes are topped with fruit, vegan chocolate, and vegan chocolate syrup
Too pretty to eat! Many of his dishes are multicolor and pastel
‘I started learning to cook as soon as I became vegan,’ he said. ‘I tried out all kinds of recipes online and was blown away to find out how easy it was to make and how delicious some vegan desserts and snacks can be.’
These days, he is very familiar with the basics of vegan cooking, so he doesn’t need to research recipes online. That frees up more time for him to decorate and style is food, making it perfect for Instagram.
‘The things I post on my Instagram are tasty but I really try to focus on presenting it in a way that it looks aesthetically pleasing, even if it’s totally unnecessary — like galaxy ice-cream, unicorn smoothies, or mermaid bowls.’
His favorite recipe ‘by far’ is that vegan cheesecake, which he says is easy to keep healthy and endlessly customizable. He also loves working with any type of berry, since they work so well in smoothies, cakes, and popsicles.
Out of this world: The galaxy treats, like these, are particular favorites online
Big deal: Jose told Daily Mail Online that veganism isn’t a diet but a lifestyle
Chocoholic: ‘I have at least one piece of chocolate every day,’ he said
Conscious: ‘I would never consume something that contains any percentage of animal products or supports animal cruelty in some way,’ he added’
When he grows up: He isn’t sure what kind of career he wants to follow yet
Multi-talented: He said he loves cooking art and what he is doing now but is also a fan of math and languages
He said: ‘Whatever it is that I choose to do, [I want to] inspire people to be healthier and spread tolerance’
Reaching far and wide: He said that his popularity on Instagram has opened up exciting opportunities
Jose’s creations are so inspiring that his mother and sister both decided to transition to veganism, and are in the process of doing so now.
‘My mom is very proud and supportive,’ he said. ‘She says that she loves how passionate I am about it, and my sister loves eating the desserts I make.’
But though it seems like choosing a career as a vegan chef or a professional food stylist would be a natural choice, Jose doesn’t actually know what he wants to do when he grows up.
‘I am very unsure about the career I am going to follow,’ he said. ‘Art is something I have always liked, for sure, but so are math and language. Whatever it is that I choose to do, [I want to] inspire people to be healthier and spread tolerance.’