As part of my semester long investigation into plant-based eating and a healthier lifestyle I had a lovely Skype interview with an amazing plant-based lifestyle blogger. Aley Dawson is the founder of, In My Bowl. She’s super inspiring and her recipes are always insanely delicious! Enjoy.
Aley Dawson, plant-based blogger of In My Bowl, embraces the clean eating lifestyle.
Aley Dawson sits cross-legged on her D.C. apartment’s living room floor. Moses, her English bulldog, trots back and forth on the ivory colored couch behind her. Dawson’s wild brown hair partially blocks the words “SYSTEME RESPIRATOIRE” on a framed map of the human respiratory system.
“This is my respiratory map!” she exclaims when I inquire about the gold-framed print.
Antique anatomy maps, it turns out, are not easy to come by. Dawson’s quest to find a digestive system map took three years she explains. The map, hand-painted in the 1800s, Dawson and her husband, Andrew, found at a flea market in Paris.
Dawson’s enthusiasm for the inner-workings of our body’s systems extends beyond antique maps. A self-proclaimed “wellness warrior, passionate vegan, and anatomy nerd” Dawson’s life revolves around treating her body with kindness through the preventative medicine of a plant-based diet.
Plant-based, clean eating, and green eating have been buzzwords throughout various platforms of media lately. Beyonce even made recent headlines for going vegan for a whopping 22 days. Aley’s blog, In My Bowl, is one of many green eating enthused websites out there. But Aley is one of the original. She’s the girl who liked the band before they were even on the radio, if you know what I mean. Today, In My Bowl gets between 1,500-2,000 views daily. Her instagram, @tallulahalexandra has over 31,500 followers.
Dawson graduated from American University in 2011 with a degree in neuropsychology and a concentration in eating disorders and obesity. In May, she will graduate from Kansas State University’s post baccalaureate distance dietetics program. She is working toward a Bachelor of Science in nutrition and dietetics and a future masters in holistic nutrition. It’s safe to say that she, quite literally, eats, sleeps, and breathes plant-based eating. “It just sort of happened,” explains Dawson of her decision to go vegan. “I was having a lot of digestive issues…I wanted to see if it would make me feel better.” This was five years ago. Since then, Dawson explains her diet has evolved into something much more than that.
Knowing she wanted a future career as a registered dietician and to do plant-based counseling, Dawson started a blog called In My Bowl simply as “a resource for future me.” Even if her clients weren’t vegan, she knew her plant-based recipes would be of use. “I firmly believe that incorporating plant based food into any diet is essential for health, so it was just meant to be future Aley resource and then the whole world sort of found it,” she says.
Dawson credits Instagram with helping the world find her. Instagram allows Dawson to build relationships with the followers whose lives she is changing. Lucy Litman, a digital marketing associate at sweetgreen, a fast-growing D.C. based fast-casual restaurant that specializes in organic and eco-friendly salads, is one of the followers Instagram has helped Dawson build a friendship with. Dawson habitually posted pictures of her sweetgreen salads that caught Litman’s eye and when Dawson posted about an upcoming oral surgery Litman sent her some sweetgreen app credit so she could get some juice as a gift from the company.
“I think Instagram is the most appealing of all networks because it really lets the pictures (often of food) speak for themselves,” explains Litman. “[the pictures] are the star, not the text or words that go along with them. It’s also a community, you can see other people post pictures from the same restaurant, or other people can share a recipe they made that was inspired by you – which is cool!”
Dawson’s husband, Andrew, a senior account executive at a D.C. based strategic communications firm, credits Dawson with being one of the first vegans he had ever met who instead of forcefully trying to convince him to go vegan, simply shared knowledge of the benefits plant eating.
Andrew believes that Dawson’s easygoing persona both in person, and on social media, takes the intimidation factor out of veganism and makes it accessible for a larger audience. “It’s her life. It’s not a social construct of what people think her life should be. Honestly, if we wanted to give this as much time as anyone else is we could work with the yoga studios, we could photograph her in lotus pose under a waterfall,” says Andrew, “but that’s totally unrealistic and just not the way life works.”
This social media community is what Dawson credits to be the most rewarding part of her company. “It is the weirdest thing in the world to me that over 30,000 people have found my account…it is so bizarre, but really cool,” Dawson says.
Just last weekend, Aley was spotted at the Georgetown Apple store. A follower approached her excitedly gasping, “‘Oh my God I can’t believe it’s you…every time I reach for something I think of you and…I make a healthy choice.’”
“I was…almost crying because it was so touching,” says Dawson, “just the fact that these are real people that have found some inspiration to put wellness in their lives and I am part of that.”
In response to requests from In My Bowl devotees to meet Dawson, Dawson hosted the first of (an intended) seasonal event series founded on the premise of “positive thinking, holistic and natural living, and the communal table“, The 52nd Gathering, last October. The first of the 52nd Gatherings was a dinner with Dawson’s close friends, family, and followers. Mary Kate Nevin was in attendance. “For Aley I think it’s about bringing that intentionality to the every day. Not just making healthful choices, or being part of a one-time thing or a forced resolution, but to be a part of every choice that you make every single day. The event was about taking the time to recognize the beauty in those everyday choices,” explains Nevin. “It makes it feel a lot less daunting than if you are just putting pressure on yourself in a certain time frame. It’s about appreciating where you are in each day.
Toward the end of our conversation Dawson tells me of her respiratory map’s partner.
Andrew found a digestive map and surprised her with it as an early Valentine’s Day gift.
“My husband found the digestive system map on Etsy, it’s from the early 1900s,” Dawson laughs, “It’s actually a very sick digestive system though…It has lots of arterial plaque.”
But despite its plaque, the map hangs, as a reminder of a daily celebration of love and health, in their bedroom.