As a raw plant-based food chef onboard a racer cruiser, the best thing I can do for my crew is to make sure they eat the best wholefoods possible. I try to keep the food healthy and interesting for them, working around any allergies.
In this industry, there are no yachts or crew who want only raw, plant-based foods. However, serving a few raw and/or plant-based meals during the week gives the crew the opportunity to not only taste some delicious plant-based foods, but also to obtain vital nutrients that we all need to function at our healthiest.
Healthy foods, healthy crew
As the chef onboard these amazing machines, I feel it is my duty to produce good, healthy food for the crew members, who are working long hours and who need to have their bodies replenished with healthy, flavourful and nutrient dense foods, which they can benefit from.
This is not an easy task because many people have their own ideas of what they should eat without any knowledge as to what is good or bad for them. They also have their own addictions, mainly to sugar, which is a battle in itself to stop.
I feel that my position on the yacht is to take in hand what I know, what I have learnt and what I am continuing to learn through my training in plant-based food and cooking, whether it is raw or not, and to use this knowledge to teach the crew about the health benefits of a good diet and how it will help them not only now, but also in the future.
The Western world has so many diseases which are becoming more and more prevalent. If I could just change a few people’s outlook on food and health, what an achievement that would be! However, it is not as simple as just serving good, wholesome, plant-based foods to the crew because they want big steaks, platters of cheese, ice cream after dinner, and sodas and sports drinks.
My aim is to encourage a healthy lifestyle in which the crew can enjoy healthy, nutritious foods whether they are on the yacht or ashore.
Memorable Meatless Mondays
‘Meatless Mondays’ is a theme we have taken onboard here. On Mondays, I make sure there are plenty of plant-based dishes with different flavours, textures and colours. This not only helps to introduce plant-based foods to those who are not interested but it also helps to introduce a variety of foods, all with their own individual nutritional value that is so beneficial for us.
I hope that the crew remember those meatless days when they move onto other yachts and start to think twice about always having to eat some form of animal product each day, eating more greens, vegetables and fruit instead.
Reducing meat consumption
When I make 75 sandwiches or wraps each day for our race crew or cook ashore for other race crew, I make sure that the sandwiches and wraps are packed with plant-based foods, cashew mayonnaise, vegetable dips and plenty of mixed greens, with just a small amount of meat or fish.
In the evenings at dinner, there are more platters of vegetables, salads and grains than there are pieces of meat. This is noticed by the race crew who comment that the vegetables actually taste really good! So, I am encouraging some of the meat-eating males in this industry to enjoy even the most basic vegetables.
After a race, I am always expected to serve something sweet with coffee. Quite often, a raw dessert will appear on deck unbeknown to anyone else. It is always eaten quickly! It is great to watch the guys enjoy raw desserts and tell them afterwards that they have eaten an avocado chocolate tart, a sweet potato brownie or a raw mint slice made using pure essential oils.
This certainly opens up their minds to the alternatives that are available and shows them that their taste buds can be stimulated by healthy foods.
Healthy breakfast rawnola
We all work hard on these yachts. We work long hours because the hospitality industry doesn’t stop at 5pm, so it is important to make sure that everyone is getting high nutrient gain foods and enough fluids to keep their stamina up during those long working hours.
Therefore, I make sure we have healthy meals and snacks available. As I am writing this, I have a rawnola made from cashews, buckinis, quinoa, oat, various seeds and grated apple in the dehydrator. Later on, coconut yogurt will be added, so that for breakfast there will be fresh rawnola and coconut yogurt for the crew, with the chopped fruit I give them every morning.
It is a slow process to wean the crew off the sugary cereals that are on offer in supermarkets. However, with the rawnola, I think I have paved the way to the guys eating a healthy breakfast.
Reducing sugar intake
Probably my biggest challenge is encouraging the crew to eat fewer bad sugars and trying to help them to eat more fruit by chopping it up daily for them to eat for breakfast and after lunch. . I hammer home the fact that there are 50-plus different names for sugars, and teach them about the false sugars, so that they are made aware of what is good and what is best avoided.
As for stopping the sodas and soft drinks, we are slowly getting there. However, it is too easy for them to grab one from the crew mess because I have to buy them for regattas and we have a surplus that the crew is going through. It is a continuous battle to try to stop the sugar habit, but it is working slowly.
Detox with green juice or a smoothie
Every day, the crew sees me making a green juice for myself, eating huge bowls of rainbow-coloured salads, and snacking on home-made raw energy bars or fruit. Occasionally, someone will ask to have a smoothie or juice but they never want the green juice I tend to drink. I have, however, managed to persuade the race crew to drink green juices.
Now, it is a matter of getting more people to drink a green juice or smoothie each day because their benefits are huge in this world of toxins that we breathe in or absorb through our skin. By drinking a green juice, we can detox every day and boost our bodies with the nutrients we need.
‘Eat green plant-based food, sail clean’ describes the lifestyle I encourage others to embrace. Even if it is just about getting more vegetables onto the crew’s plates every day, then that is the first step in the right direction.
Written by Polly Baptist
About the author
Working as a private yacht chef on racer cruiser sailing yachts for the past 25 plus years, Polly has seen a massive change in the industry and in the health of the crew on board! She has been a vegetarian chef since she started cooking and is now a plant based chef. She feels very strongly about food and its immense importance in our lives, and how our lifestyles dictate our health. Trained in plant based cuisine, nutrition and sports nutrition and she continues to study in these fields. Her training and experiences is as a private chef and she now also works counseling and teaching people how to have healthier lifestyles to gain health and longevity.