There is nothing that Synergy Nutrition‘s founder Shawna Barker loves more than talking about food and getting down to the details of what we put in our bodies. As a vegan chef, college instructor, and Private Nutrition Coach, she is passionate about working with people to build the knowledge they need to eat plantbased, be healthy and happy, and guide them on ‘green brick road’ to a lifetime of food enjoyment.
Plantbased Passion at Work
Most days of the week, Shawna can be found at her retail store Plant Life Nutrition – Vancouver’s first and only fully vegan nutrition store. The inviting space offers a variety of high-quality supplements, tasty and nutritious snacks, and specialty grocery items. Plant Life carries an incredible range of products, from the established brands like Botanica, MyKind, and Iron Vegan, and product lines extending into lifestyle with body care, hormone and immune support, weight management, and probiotics.
Holder of a BSc (Food, Nutrition, and Health) and a Diploma in Holistic Nutrition, Shawna is a practicing RHN (Registered Holistic Nutritionist) who specializes in digestion, stress management, and increasing energy levels, but it wasn’t always that way! In her teens and early twenties, she experienced low energy, digestive issue, chronic heartburn, and various allergies. Her curiosity about food and an interest in science prompted studies in nutrition at UBC. Her education, combined with a passion for animals and the environment, prompted a transition from being a vegetarian to adopting a vegan lifestyle.
As the founder of Synergy Nutrition, she can teach, inspire, and motivate her clients and students about the benefits of nutrition and natural health. Every day she is busting the tired stereotype of plantbased food being lacklustre in colour, texture, and taste!
Meal Planning for Beginners
In addition to teaching, nutritional coaching, and podcasting, Shawna offers an incredible meal planning service through Synergy Nutrition, that guides even the most indecisive and selective eater, to preparing and enjoying well-balanced, delicious meals. The process begins with a 15-minute telephone consult, followed by a quick survey, the planning and delivery of a Custom 7-Day Meal Plan (recipes, pictures, and grocery shopping lists), and follow-up to answer additional questions.
When working with new mothers, Shawna takes into consideration how to meet their caloric needs based on whether they are breastfeeding or not, and creates recipes that are both delicious and quick and easy to make, as well as incorporating the client’s personal food preferences.
With the increase of activism and advocacy on social media, children are learning more about the world and connection between what they eat and the environmental impacts of these choices. For the parent with a curious child, Shawna advises, “If your teen has been talking about transitioning to a plantbased diet, I can work with you by providing tailored food and supplement recommendations. They can easily meet all of their nutrient needs, as well as offering support and resources for how to transition to a plantbased diet for sustainable, long-term health.”
3-Questions for Shawna
Coconut vs. Olive Oil?
If the person is vegan and does not have high cholesterol, then using coconut oil sparingly should be okay. Olive oil is fine in small amounts. It really depends on the person’s overall fat intake, if they are trying to lose weight, their antioxidant intake, and how they are using the oil. It’s better to get fat from whole plant foods such as avocados, nuts, and seeds, instead of oils.
Oat Mylk vs. Almond?
I prefer oat milk. Most plant-milks are fortified with similar nutrients; however, options like soy and pea have more protein, which can be helpful if someone is not meeting their protein needs from their meals. Growing oats uses less water and resources than almonds, which is one of the reasons I prefer oat.
Agave vs. Maple vs. Demerara?
Dates/date syrup is the most nutrient-dense sweetener. Maple syrup has trace amounts of minerals but nowhere near the number of antioxidants and nutrients as date syrup. Agave syrup is similar to corn syrup in that it is mostly fructose (fruit sugar), but it does not have the fibre or polyphenols found in fruit that protects the body from too much fructose.
Podcasting – A Family Affair with Megan & Shawna
Together with her sister Megan (Megan Media Design), Shawna co-hosts the Vegan Boss Radio podcast, which launched in 2019 and interviews influential persons in fitness, business, wellness, and activism. With over 22 episodes available for streaming, these sisters offer a fresh and engaging perspective on so many subjects. If you are thinking about changing or tweaking your lifestyle, tune in for insight.
What we love about Shawna is that she advocates for her clients to focus on eating a wide variety of plantbased whole foods. To enjoy and celebrate food without deprivation or restriction, to be conscious of and support their digestion by practicing mindful eating habits, and of course, getting enough sleep, exercise, and hydration—sage advice for everyone.
While Shawna is devoted to her businesses, she is also very passionate about activism. She shares, “I am very inspired by everything that the Food Empowerment Project is doing. Their projects look at issues like food deserts, environmental racism, child labour in the chocolate industry, farmworkers’ rights, and they promote veganism in everything they do.”
To book a complimentary 15-Minute Discovery Call with Shawna Barker, click through here!
- This Small Business Spotlight has been generously sponsored by Justin Manning, Vegan Financial Advisor. Dedicated to helping you take care of who you love most with health insurance, ethical investing, and generational impact. Visit Justin’s website at justinmanning.com to learn how you can begin your journey to wealth and wellness. [LLQP 2016, CIFC 2018]