It's easy to roll your eyes at the guy at the table next to you lurking over his food, phone in hand. I once considered foodstagramming to be a cliché, and certainly think spending much of our time with our faces planted in our phones is not a great evolutionary turn. Then I started my own foodstagram.
I don't snap pics of my lunch @plantbowls to brag about what I’ve made or ordered. I do it to take stock of what I’m about to eat, to appreciate it, and to build community around it—something I’m in the habit of doing as a coordinator for IDEO U.
Four years ago, I shifted to a plant-based diet. Going vegan turned out to be an easy move with the help of Instagram. Because I made it a habit to capture food in the best light, it started to look gorgeous. Focusing on plants might seem bland, or limited, but documenting them made me realize the glory of spices, vegetables, fruits, beans—the sheer variety of it all! I began to revere colorful jewels of fruit, to inhale the aroma of a tahini sauce before I dug in. I really noticed what was on my plate. I would take an extra beat to slice an avocado onto a bowl of veggies or drizzle nut butter on top of steaming oatmeal, both to make them look more appealing and add to their deliciousness.
Not long after I started foodstagramming, I read an article that explained why. It turns out that by taking pictures and waiting a little longer before we pick up our forks, we delay gratification, which makes the food seem more delectable. By holding off on eating for a beat or two, I was actually making it taste better.
And when I posted these dishes on Instagram later, I got to experience them again while trying to think up a clever caption or hashtag. Initially, it was just about sharing a beautiful image. But seeing others be surprised by the diversity of plant-based foods, and having them ask about recipes meant a lot to me. Maybe they'd get inspired to shift to a healthier diet, too.
We eat at least three times a day. Why not bring more joy to a basic necessity? It feels good, it smells good, it looks good… and it gets a lot of likes.
Here are some accounts I follow to get inspired:
And here’s mine: instagram.com/plantbowls