Conscious cuisine

Spanish version

A couple of days ago a friend of mine asked on FB how much money do we spend in food per month. It took me some minutes to answer and my surprise was that although I do have to live on a budget, when it comes to food, my choices don’t really depend on the price alone. organicHaving mostly a plant-based diet, cooking at home and living in a tropical country where plenty of fresh food is available all year long, makes my budget pretty reasonable when it comes to buying groceries. I have been a vegetarian for almost 18 years now and my diet has evolved over time towards a diet where my values get more and more involved in my food choices.
As consumers, I believe we have the power and the responsibility of deciding which initiatives we support and which ones we don’t. In the case of food production and consumption, our choices can have an enormous impact on the environment and on people. Here are some of the considerations I take before buying my food:

  1. Organic: choosing pesticides and chemical fertilisers free products has a direct benefit on our health and ensure that soils and water sources  don’t get poisoned.
  2. Local: choosing local products reduce your carbon footprint, benefit agro-biodiversity and supports local economies.
  3. Seasonal: seasonal products are usually cheaper and taste better. In fact these products have more vitamins and nutrients that non-seasonal ones.
  4. Fair Price: I prefer buying directly from the producer avoiding intermediaries when possible and I paid them what is fair.   Another option is choosing certified products that ensure that the producers are getting paid a fair price for their products.Vayu blog 2
  5. Biodiversity friendly: I choose products coming from agro-ecology and permaculture practices that are compatible with biodiversity. Intensive agriculture even if it is organic and local can be detrimental for most species.
  6. Good preparation: once I have all my bag of “goodies”, I spend some time exploring recipes for good preparation and storage of food so I can make the most out of what I buy in terms of nutrition and waste reduction.

I try to consider all 6 points before buying my food but it is not always easy. In occasions I have to choose one over another and price does play a role in here, but I do my best and feel it is good to think about this before buying.

Vayu blog 1Now imagine a place that takes care of all these details for you and offers you delicious dishes consciously prepared.  Looking into the quality and origine of the products and cooked in a manner that gives you the best out of each ingredient.  That is VAYÚ- Alimentación Consciente, located in Quito’s valley Cumbaya in Ecuador. A cosy place that offers  vegetarian, vegan, raw, sugar free options and more.  With green spaces, suitable for children,  pet friendly, great weather, homie attention…a true conscious cuisine. VAYÚ also has a small shop with delicious and healthy products for you to buy. It is definitely a place to visit and enjoy with family and friends. Really recommended!

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Our #foodchoices have an enormous impact on the #environment and on #people. Choose #organic #local #seasonal #fairprice #biodiversityfriendly#consciouscuisine 


The courage to go at your own pace…

Life goes soooo fast sometimes, that I decided to take some time off  and explore… Not a holiday, not a break from work but an opportunity to find the courage to go at my own pace. My journey started with some homie adventures with my brothers. Biking, hiking and moutainering in the Andes of Ecuador just set the tone for a great adventure. Funny enough all 3 in our own sabbaticals and explorations shared a beautiful Shamanic drum meditation before leaving <3.


Quilotoa Volcano – Ecuador




Rumiñahui Volcano-Ecuador







I then spent some good time doing yoga, volunteering, biking and walking at the beach in Portugal, went skiing and beer/wine testing in Czech Republic (yes! white wine is pretty good in CZ) and finished helping prepare soil in a lovely permaculture project in the UK.


Jablonec-Czech Republic

I am back in Ecuador now, full of energy and  joy and want to share the 5 things I learned from my 4 months Sabbatical ..

  1. You are not the only one wanting to slow down and take life easier, and more important you are not crazy or irresponsible for wanting to do it. The more you travel and meet people the more you realise that a LOT of people in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s… from all over, with all sort of motivations and life journeys use a sabbatical to slow down and bounce back better in whichever their path is.
  2.  A sabbatical allows you to crystallise and put your ideas together. Depending on how you plan your activities, you might end up having a lot of time with and for yourself, thinking maybe,  or NOT thinking at all.

    Praia São Julião-Portugal

    In my case, having a lot of time outdoors, hands-on activities, looong deep silent moments helped me be honest with myself and reminded me that nature, sports, healthy food and people is pretty much all I need to feel happy, creative and energetic. … as easy as that.


3. Volunteer volunteer and volunteer! Travel with a purpose if you can, it is incredible how reguarding “selfless jobs”  can be and how important is to leave a positive impact wherever we go.  Your skills are valued, needed and maybe can’t be afforded by some the most inspiring people and initiatives. In some cases you can exchange your expertise for food and accommodation which could make your journey more affordable as well.


“Behind every successful woman there is a tribe of other successful woman having her back”

4. Meet Like-minded people doing what you love!  It might seem obvious and intuitive but if you go to places  and engage in activities that make you smile… you will meet people with your same interests and ideals.  Surround yourself with people that inspire you, support you, respect you and nourish your life…find those whose weirdness is compatible with yours!

5. Visit and grow your global community as often as you can– Finally, it was overwhelming for me to realise how big, welcoming and loving is my global network of new and old friends, family, colleagues everywhere I went. So many laughs, hugs, walks, wines, talks, silences, adventures…so much love! THANK YOU to all who made my trip  an unforgettable experience  and from now on I will take life just as it is, live it at my own pace and keep exploring! 😉






Bugs, glaciers and climate change

Antisana 2

Antisana Volcano-Ecuador

Have you ever wonder how do scientist study/monitor glaciers?

I was lucky enough to join a field trip with my friends from Catholic University in Quito.

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The fresh water team has been studying the Antisana glacier in Ecuador, rivers and all the little bugs that live there for about a decade!!! yes! they know exactly who live in those glacier rivers and what is every bug doing there.  Who is visiting, who is a resident in the site and who is dispersing. They visit remote sites, pick some water samples, measure various characteristics of the streams  and study the macro invertebrate communities in each site. They also look for little holes  called “cryoconites” in the glacier where some microbes live. With that information they can monitor changes over time. This is especially  relevant for understanding  the biodiversity of the area, the quality of water and how climate change is affecting the glacier. This is how they do it! this was my day at a biologist’s office 😉 Because, science matters!

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Antisana Reserve-Ecuador



Pollinators, food security and rural development

I am back to my (BUG) roots 😉 Check out my latest article about “Pollinators, Food security, and Rural Development”. caro bug 1My love for bugs, biodiversity,  sustainable agriculture and good/healthy food combined in a document that will support the discussions at the first-ever IPBES Trialogue in Sarajevo. The Trialogue will bring together around 50 scientists, policy-makers and beekeepers/farmers to discuss about the situation in Montenegro, Albania, Moldova, Bosnia&Herzegovina and Georgia.

Download the full article here.

Key messages:

“Why are pollinators important?

  • Globally, nearly 90 per cent of wild flowering plant species depend, at least in part, on the transfer of pollen by animals. Plants are critical for the continued functioning of ecosystems as they provide food, form habitats and provide other resources for a wide range of other species (IPBES, 2016a).[…]
  • […] Pollinator-dependent food products are important contributors to healthy human diets and nutrition. Pollinator- dependent species encompass many fruit, vegetable, seed, nut and oil crops, which supply major proportions of micronutrients, vitamins and minerals in the human diet (IPBES, 2016a). […]
  • […] pollinators provide multiple benefits beyond food production. Their value has as well an important cultural and social component. Many livelihoods and cultural practices depend on pollinators, their products and multiple benefits such as medicine, fibres, materials for musical instruments, source of inspirations for arts, literature to name a few (IPBES, 2016a).[…]

What is the problem?

  • […] Globally, there is a well-documented decline in some species of wild pollinators, and an important lack of data on the status of most wild species. Concerning managed species, honey bee numbers are generally increasing with local declines and important seasonal colony loss registered in several countries. As a result, there are losses of genetic diversity and local adaptations in honey bee populations. Populations of pollinators face multiple threats and there is a wide range of response options drawing from Indigenous and local knowledge and science (IPBES, 2016a).[…]
  • […]Multiple causes are linked to the decline in pollinators such as land use change, intensive agricultural management, risks associated with pesticides and particular inputs (insecticides and herbicides) associated with Genetically Modified (GM) crops, pathogens, pests and predators, climate change, invasive alien species and the various interactions among these threats.” […]

Photo by Robert Bensted-Smith




The effects of climate change on a mega-diverse country: predicted shifts in mammalian species richness and turnover in continental Ecuador

Would you like to learn more about the effects of climate change in Ecuador? check this article out! My good friend Paula Iturralde- Polit and her team found on their study that in Ecuador “all scenarios predicted that climate change will have effects on species richness distribution patterns” and that “some species may not be able to shift their ranges fast enough to track their suitable climates.” Really interesting evidence to take into consideration when designing resilient conservation  and adaptation strategies…

Read the full study here: Iturralde-Pólit_et_al-2017-Biotropica


Happy reading!


Advice for getting your dream job in conservation science

A great post! check it out!

people management

A few weeks ago I heard from an early-career researcher in the U.S. who had some intelligent things to say about getting jobs in conservation science based on a recent Conservation Biology paper she co-wrote. Of course, for all the PhDs universities are pumping out into the workforce, there will never be enough positions in academia for them all. Thus, many find their way into non-academic positions. But – does a PhD in science prepare you well enough for the non-academic world? Apparently not.

Many post-graduate students don’t start looking at job advertisements until we are actually ready to apply for a job. How often do we gleam the list of required skills and say, “If only I had done something to acquire project management skills or fundraising skills, then I could apply for this position…”? Many of us start post-graduate degrees assuming that our disciplinary training for that higher degree will…

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Acción sobre la vulnerabilidad climática: Lecciones de Quito

English version: here

Les comparto mi último artículo: historias-por-dentro-quito….

Mensajes clave

● La ciudad de Quito es un buen ejemplo de cómo la información sobre la vulnerabilidad, puede generar conocimiento en el desarrollo de políticas e implementación de acciones concretas sobre el terreno. Quito ha demostrado que desarrollar indicadores a escala de ciudad y preguntas clave relativas a las políticas de una manera participativa, involucrando a las autoridades locales, expertos locales y apoyo externo, puede construir confianza y facilitar la apropiación institucional de la información generada.

● La evidencia de la vulnerabilidad de Quito se ha legitimado y se ha asumido efectivamente dentro del Distrito Metropolitano de Quito por dos razones principales: la metodología y los resultados finales respondieron a la demanda, necesidades y prioridades del Municipio; y sus autoridades técnicas fueron participantes activos en el proceso y no sólo receptores de la información.

● Quito mejoró la aplicación práctica de las soluciones de adaptación al cambio climático in situ, mediante la identificación de opciones que tomen en cuenta la diversidad de opiniones y fuentes de evidencia, así como la comprensión individual tanto de mujeres como de hombres ante la vulnerabilidad al cambio climático.



Urban Agriculture and biodiversity

Did you know that recent studies show that urban ecosystems present a higher richness of species than intensively managed agricultural ecosystems?  This could suggest that the conditions in the cities are giving these species a place to live without the threats of pesticides, disturbance from machinery or clear cuts after harvesting… isn’t that great? our cities are giving biodiversity a home!

With a growing population, the food demand will also increase. And maybe using urban spaces for food production could be an alternative to avoid agricultural intensification and enhance urban biodiversity. Boom! what a combination! 😉Lettuce

Cuba is an example worth mentioning…Evidence shows that the country has 8000 agro-ecological gardens managed without any chemical pesticide or fertiliser. Such gardens promote the diversity of crops and species, recycle and uses local inputs, and produce considerable amounts of food. In the case of La Habana city, these agro-ecological systems provided with 8500 tons of food, including 7, 5 millions of eggs, and 3650 tons of meat in 1996. Not bad right?

In a pot, in a garden or in an allotment close to your place…lets’s do it!



Urban biodiversity conservation

Why bother with urban biodiversity? … I can mention at least four reasons for knowing, caring and doing something to protect  all the species in our cities….

1.- cities offer an enormous niche and an opportunity for biodiversity conservation

2.-  urban settlements are inevitably growing in size and density and are one of the major threats to nature conservation.

3.- cities tend to be located in important biodiversity hotspots

4.- urban ecosystems provide a platform for citizens to understand the natural processes that govern global sustainability and provide them with several different social and psychological benefits.

Wanna do something about it? Get involved in urban planning and development in your home city! There is a lot of room for biologists, ecologist and conservationists in general. For example, green infrastructures such as green roofs and walls for food production, carbon sequestration, regulation of temperature could be the perfect scenario for the restoration of ecosystems, and the reintroduction of some native plants, birds, small mammals, insects that otherwise would not have a chance to co-exist with cities. It is true that many native species won’t resist to urban conditions but such technologies have the potential to restore the ecosystem’s functioning and to reconnect cities with the natural cycles.

How many species live next you? do you know them? Go out and explore!!!!! See below a beauty you can find in the North of Quito-Ecuador  😉




Hope and innovation for conservation

There are great examples of successful conservation and sustainability efforts around the world that give us hope (Balmford, 2012; Bernard, 2010) and demonstrate that things can get better and will get better.IMG_0880 However, it is time to be honest in tackling the root causes of the problem from a conservation perspective.

Waste and our current consumption and production patterns are the major drivers for biodiversity loss, pollution, poverty, climate change (Orr, 1994).

What if we think  out-of the box for substituting something with nothing (Pauli, 2010)? and we create solutions that move away from pollution and waste and that use the resources that we already have?

The Blue Economy (Pauli, 2010) is a great example  showing that it IS possible to do so. In a nutshell, Gunther Pauli proposes the use of the waste produced by the coffee industry to grow mushrooms to feed vulnerable communities. Producers could grow coffee in a way that is compatible with biodiversity and responsible with the producer’s wellbeing. Responsible coffee drinkers could pay a fair price to producers, and in addition, new entrepreneurs could use the coffee waste to grow mushrooms to feed people (Pauli, 2010). The result would be that we wouldn’t need more land to grow more coffee or more resources for the creation of more goods, more jobs and more money. Check out more about this idea here.

With the same reasoning , there are many other examples of innovation in conservation. It is essential that we keep innovating our actions to tackle waste, production and consumption in the Anthropocene era (Steffen et al., 2011).  Keep checking the blog!!! new ideas coming soon… 🙂