With over half a million Instagram followers, Julia and Stephanie Baessler are among the most successful influencers in the German-speaking world.
On Instagram and their blog, the twins post about topics such as nutrition, fitness and their everyday life. In doing so, the two also want to use their wide reach to draw attention to vegetarian and vegan nutrition and pass on tips to interested readers.
The two discovered their love for weight training about 5 years ago when they were fighting their way out of an eating disorder. Since then, sport and a balanced diet have become an integral part of the twins’ lives and serve as a balance to their often stressful daily work and study routine. But it has also had an effect on the young women on a mental level – last fall, the two launched their first book in all German, Austrian and South Tyrolean bookstores.
Her guidebook ‘Double Power’ is about mental and physical strength and besides tips to become more self-confident, you can also find over 30 vegetarian and vegan recipes in it.
In an interview with THIS IS VEGAN, they show that they are more than just typical influencers.
What made you decide to go vegetarian a few years ago?
The desire to give up meat came a few years ago when we became increasingly concerned with the issue of environmental protection and animal welfare. Eating meat was simply a habit for us and we didn’t know how best to start at first. Little by little, we started to get really disgusted by meat and when we were in New York in December 2016 and ordered chicken sandwiches in a small bar, the disgust for meat was already so great that we couldn’t eat a piece of it. The chicken looked splattered and just plain artificial and that’s exactly how it tasted. What was stuck there between the burger buns was no longer chicken, but simply a product of mass production, where animals are treated like scum. From that moment on, the decision was finally made and since December 2016, no piece of meat has landed on our plates.
February 2019 was the first time you tried vegan for a month. What was your summary?
In short: Top! At first, we thought we would never be able to go that long without cheese. We switched to plant-based milk alternatives a good five years ago, but cream cheese in particular had remained in our diet. To our surprise, however, not eating cheese was not a problem for us at all. We tasted our way through the hummus and spread assortment and found many delicious cream cheese alternatives. Even though February is now over, we still want to avoid cheese.
What did you find most difficult at the beginning of the diet change?
Sweets! As easy as it was for us to give up cheese in the end, as difficult it was for us with sweets. We don’t snack much but after lunch and dinner we always need a little dessert. We didn’t give much thought to the fact that most sweets are not vegan at first, and it took a while to get used to only putting more vegan products in the shopping cart.When you find it hard to give up certain foods, it’s quite helpful to simply not have them at home anymore. Putting a bar of chocolate aside again when you already have it in your hand is more difficult than not having it in front of your eyes in the first place.
What did you notice particularly positive about the vegan diet?
Vegan food is so so delicious and versatile! The prejudice that vegans and vegetarians only eat greens couldn’t be more wrong.
We probably eat a more varied diet than the majority of ‘meat eaters’ and can also claim that no animal had to lose its life because of us 🙂
Not to be topped! 🙂
What are the reactions of your followers to your educational campaigns on the topics of animal welfare, veganism, etc.?
The reactions are always very, very positive! Many people’s eyes are opened by this and this is gratefully accepted. But we also learn a lot through the exchange. I hope we can expand this a lot in the future!
How do your parents, friends and partners deal with it? Are they open to it or do you have to justify yourselves on a regular basis?
Both: We immediately convinced our mom to go vegetarian, too, and she’s been doing it ever since. She has also been meatless for two years now and we often cook vegan together or try new products. 🙂
My boyfriend has always agreed with me when I’ve listed reasons why I like to give up meat and I knew that he would actually like to, but just can’t manage it yet. Today Sandro can also claim not to have eaten meat for over a year and I am very, very proud of him 🙂
Even Sandro’s mom has cut back on her meat consumption and regularly chats with me about new vegetarian/vegan products and meat production.
Also in our circle of friends it is never a problem that we eat vegetarian/vegan and our best friend is vegetarian herself. 🙂
Stephanie: My boyfriend also likes to eat meatless and doesn’t mind having to give up sausage and ham when he’s with me. We only had to justify ourselves sometimes to our grandmother, who couldn’t quite understand why we preferred potato pancakes or spaghetti from her instead of duck or roast pork. But that is and was never a problem 🙂 In short, we found support at every turn and then also supported our loved ones to eat meatless 🙂
You both study law and have your blog, Instagram and various appearances on the side. Thus you are properly utilized. How do you manage to eat healthy in your everyday life?
We think it’s just a matter of getting used to it. If someone is used to always going to Mc Donalds when they are out and about, it is naturally harder for them to change overnight and reach for healthier alternatives.
When we’re out and about, we’d much rather buy fresh whole-grain rolls and a spread at the supermarket or stop at fast food chains.
But there are already so many ways to get healthy food on the go these days. Fresh sandwiches, falafel, couscous variations or various salads can be found on almost every corner – you just have to keep your eyes open.
You both do a lot of sports and in 2018 you published the book "Double Power: The Success Concept for Physical and Mental Strength". How do you counter people who say you can't build muscle on a vegan or vegetarian diet?
To build muscle you should exercise regularly and pay attention to a suitable diet. The number one muscle building block is protein. However, this is found not only in animal products such as meat and milk, but also in very many plant sources such as legumes, beans, lentils, chickpeas, tofu, nuts, pea granules and quinoa. Therefore, it is of course also possible to build muscle with a plant-based diet.
What are your top 3 vegan post-workout foods?
And what should definitely not be missing before a hard workout?
Before training, we usually eat only a snack, for example, a banana or a granola bar.
What are your top 5 nutrition hacks for anyone looking to lose weight vegan?
Losing weight is basically a very logical thing, because all you need is a calorie deficit. This means eating fewer calories than the body burns throughout the day. This calorie deficit can be achieved with vegan products in exactly the same way as with animal products. Here are our best tricks to cut calories:
Recognize hidden fats and sugars: Often, supposedly healthy foods like yogurt hide a lot of calories that remain hidden at first glance. For example, foods with labels such as ‘0% fat’ contain no fat but a lot of sugar and therefore calories. It is therefore better to buy natural yogurt and sweeten it yourself with fruit.
Avoid finished productsNot only yogurt contains a lot of sugar and fat, but also convenience foods often contain a lot of calories and additives. If you don’t have time to cook fresh every day, you can also cook in advance.Quinoa, for example, can be cooked in larger quantities and will keep for a few days in the refrigerator. If you then simply add some fresh vegetables, you’ll have a delicious and healthy meal in no time.
Drink a lot! And no soft drinks! One liter of Coke contains 35 sugar cubes and 370 calories. Better to drink tea and water, which fills the stomach and reduces cravings. The majority of people drink far too little and it is not uncommon for thirst to be mistaken for hunger. Therefore, always consume plenty of fluids and thereby save potential calories.
Tip: We love ginger water! To do this, we simply chop pieces of ginger and pour hot water over them. After some time, the water absorbs the taste of ginger and tastes really delicious. If you do it first thing in the morning, you’ll have delicious ginger tea to drink all day 🙂
The spiciness in ginger water stimulates the circulation, warms and additionally has a positive effect on digestion.
Snack consciously! Chips, crackers and co. are vegan, but contain a lot of fat. If you want to lose weight, it’s better to reach for lower-fat alternatives. We incredibly like to snack on broccoli ‘chips’ that we make in the oven or in the hot air fryer. Simply spread the broccoli florets on a baking sheet and place in the oven until crisp. Season with a little sea salt and the delicious snack is ready.
As a substitute for peanuts or popcorn, we like to snack on quail beans. May now first sound strange but in the hot air fryer these are really crispy and really tasty! Quail beans also contain a lot of protein!
Know when you’re full and stop eating: It can often take a while for our bodies to signal that we are full. Eating slowly and consciously listening to the feeling of fullness can help not to eat too much.
Is there anything else you would like to get off your chest in closing?
Every step counts! If it is perhaps not conceivable for you at the moment to eat a vegan or vegetarian diet permanently, try it with one vegan day a week. There are so many ways to get involved with animal welfare and the environment. If you don’t manage to give up meat, maybe you can save money in other areas by not using plastic bags when shopping and helping to avoid plastic waste, using the bicycle more often instead of the car or buying only animal-free cosmetics. EVERYONE can do something. Don’t go by the motto ‘all or nothing’, because even seemingly small things can have a big effect. It is better to take small steps than not to move at all.