• Jens Hannibal

Discover a happier way of healthy

Updated: Jun 8

Good food and good eating shouldn’t be about diets, deprivation or turning foods into enemies. Food is joy and should never induce feelings of guilt and shame. We should respect each other’s choices whether it’s vegetarian, vegan, or omnivore. Let’s bring the notion of ‘healthy’ back down-to-earth and let’s unite around the pleasure of eating well.

My journey with food

I was blessed to grow up in Danish family that cooked. Every day we’d gather around the dinner table and enjoy good food together. I don’t recall anyone ever talking about diets or ‘eating healthy’. That was just something we did without being fanatic about it. At age 12 I began cooking myself and have been doing so ever since. I’m hooked on food. I love eating it and I love cooking it.

Me (Jens) in the kitchen with my step-dad and cooking mentor since childhood.

Bringing healthy down-to-earth

What does it mean to ‘eat healthy’? The relentless barrage of diverging information has left many people confused and social media hasn’t made it any better. Influential clean eating and wellness food bloggers offer up glorified ideals that promote a view on food that’s unattainable, when you live a busy life, have a tight budget and maybe have a family to take care of. The stress that comes with trying to live up to such ideals is, in fact, supremely unhealthy.

Well, here’s the good news: you don’t need diet fads, clean eating and wellness to be healthy. I guarantee you. You don’t have to own a soul cycle, sip cold-pressed green juice, do Ashtanga yoga and shop at Whole Foods either. Obsession is not the answer. Relax my friends. There’s a happier way to healthy.

Eat like a bear

Our approach to ‘healthy’ is not so much about healthy itself as it is about having a healthy relationship with food. Our philosophy is simple: eat like a bear. Why bears, you might ask? Well, because our furry friend, although she has no concept of local or seasonal ingredients, eats nothing else. She munches mostly plants and treats herself occasionally to good quality fish and meat. And she’s never heard of a factory farm.

Eat like a bear is but a gentle guideline that allows for flexibility around individual preferences. It’s a fun, friendly and memorable idea that doesn’t ask you to ditch entire food groups, and which can help break down the elitist connotations associated with eating healthy. It’s about respecting each other choices and bringing people together rather than causing divide.

A home-cooked meal shared with family is one of life's great (forgotten) joys.

To eat or not to eat meat

Eating meat or not eating meat is often viewed as a binary choice. At The Bear Kitchen we don’t see it that way. If it’s your choice to do so, our mantra is: less but better. NEVER from factory farms. It’s is better for you and better for the planet. We want to get away from the prejudice, shame and guilt that have become the unfortunate bi-products of the sharp division between various diet trends and isms. Having the freedom to choose without feeling judged is vital for a healthy and enjoyable relationship with food that doesn’t compromise the pleasure of what a good meal means to you.

Meat for flavour, beans for filler

The trick is to revamp the way you think about meat. Instead of being the main part of a meal, look at meat and animal ingredients in general as flavour rather than filler. This is not a new phenomenon. If fact, it's how cooking was done for eons until the advent of industrialised, and heavily subsidised crop agriculture that has created artificially low prices for the primary input for factory farmed meat in the form of primarily soy and corn, most of which is not eaten by humans, but turned into meat by feeding it to animals. Currently over half the amount of grains grown are used for animal feed. That's incredibly inefficient, as it takes up a lot of arable land that could otherwise be returned for forests and meadows that are vital for absorbing all the excess carbon in the atmosphere.

Everyone has the right to eat well. Health isn’t about perfection and stressing over every single meal. Trust me, it’s a lot more fun this way and by giving yourself a break makes it much easier to stick with eating well overall. So yeah, have that bowl of pasta, eat that dessert, and have a bunch of veggies too.


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