Hometown: Tallahassee, FL
Current Home: Miami, FL
Graduation Year: 2012
Major at Rhodes: International Studies
Profession: Founder, Carolina Sanchez Food & Lifestyle Consulting
You have stated that you are passionate about leading a “plant-based lifestyle.” What does such a lifestyle look like, and how do you hope that your lifestyle will affect others?
A plant-based lifestyle is one hundred percent vegan – no meat, no animal products, no oils, no sugars, and all “whole” (meaning unprocessed) foods. I hope that my lifestyle and the work I am doing will inspire and empower other people to take health into their own hands. My dad is a great example. He hasn’t eaten meat in three years, and his cholesterol dropped fifty points within a month of not eating meat or dairy.
What sparked your interest in veganism?
The documentary Forks over Knives inspired me to get into a vegan lifestyle, but for me, as is the case with most people who successfully pursue a plant-based lifestyle, the transition to veganism was a process that took a few years. My freshman year at Rhodes I took a history class with Professor Ceccoli, who first taught me about genetically modified organisms (GMOs). I approached him after class one day to learn more about what GMOs are and how they affect our bodies, and he recommended a couple of books. One of those was a book called Fast Food Nation, which gave me a glimpse into how foods are processed in America. Food safety became very important to me after that, and I started reading as much as I could about food politics in America.
I believe it is fair to say that you are a great proponent of studying abroad in college. How did your education abroad inform you about your career interests?
My sophomore year I started looking into internships abroad that would allow me to study food culture, and I became very interested in Slow Food. It is an international non-profit organization that was founded in Italy in 1985, and its members are committed to the idea that we should slow down, enjoy each meal, and nourish our bodies with good, clean, and fair food.
I understand that you are fluent in several languages and work with clients of varying nationalities. How do you believe that your International Studies degree and study abroad experiences improved your intercultural skills and primed you for the client base that you work with today?
Translation is a big part of what I do, and it is incredibly rewarding in my business to be able to interact with a broad range of clients by using my languages. Spanish and English are my native languages. I decided to learn Italian at Rhodes, where I fell in love with the language and culture, and since college I have also become fluent in Portuguese and moderately proficient in Russian. I knew that I was passionate about languages and International Studies before I got involved with food causes, but after interning in Rome my junior year I returned to Rhodes with a much firmer grasp of what I wanted to do with my future.
Following your time at Rhodes, you pursued a Master of Arts degree in Food Studies at New York University, with a concentration in Food Systems. How did your time at Rhodes and your experiences in Memphis create a foundation for your interest in Food Studies?
After I returned from Italy, I worked with Slow Food Memphis for a while, and through that involvement I organized a traditional Slow Food dinner at Bari Ristorante. The dinner was a tribute to local farmers and local produce, and tied in nicely with my Slow Food experience in Italy. I also organized the first Rhodes Food Day and a film series highlighting a variety of food issues, including overfishing, food production, and a plant-based lifestyle.
Rhodes was always so supportive of my initiatives. The college gave me a platform, and an outlet to pursue the food issues that were and still are important to me. Unlike bigger undergraduate schools, Rhodes gives so much individual attention and support to their students, and that is something that I value most about my time there. I can’t thank the college enough for supporting me and all of my pursuits.
Today, you manage your own food and lifestyle consulting company. How did your liberal arts education prepare you to take such a great entrepreneurial step?
Rhodes prepared me to be an entrepreneur by encouraging me to seek out opportunities that could expose me to deeper facets of my passion, and by allowing me to take a variety of courses in a variety of subjects. Along with International Studies, I was able to learn about personal business finance, environmental issues, and Italian language – all of which have benefitted me professionally. In my job today I feel like I make a difference and really affect people’s lives, and I believe that I owe a lot of thanks to Rhodes for that. I started my website while I was in college, but I didn’t develop it as much as I wanted to. My final thesis project at NYU was to launch my business, so I did that in May of this year.
As a food and lifestyle consultant and Rhodes College tennis alumna, what “clean eating” advice do you have for the current student athletes of the college?
I would advise the athletes of Rhodes College to eat to live, and to eat foods that will love their bodies back. If you put foods into your body that are good for you, you will see good results – on the field, on the court, and in life in general. My senior year, when I adopted my one hundred percent plant-based diet, I saw the best tennis season in my career. I had more energy on the court, I didn’t get tired as easily, my recovery times were a lot better, and I didn’t get sore after long practices or matches.
Article by Isabelle Campbell, Rhodes College ′15
For more information about Carolina Sanchez Food & Lifestyle Consulting, please visit www.carolina-sanchez.com