It is a known fact that eating clean in the Philippines is a tough choice—and often an expensive one at that. But in the case of Chip Lopez, the woman behind Kairos by The Lazy Chef, it’s an issue that goes beyond convenience or budget. It’s about the quality of food you put into your body, and the choices that you make to protect it. “Wellness is living the healthiest life that you actually enjoy,” she says.
Since returning from the US about four years ago, Chip was faced with the challenge of few vegetarian and vegan options in Cebu. “I made the switch when I was in the US, where everything was accessible,” she recalled. Suffering from several ailments as a child, Chip’s education had prompted her to change her diet. “The restaurant scene in Cebu back in 2013 is nothing like it is today. Going out to dinner as a vegetarian was exhausting, and healthy food like quinoa, chia and the like were so expensive or constantly out of stock because there was only one store carrying it.”
This didn’t mean Chip was ready to give up on her lifestyle. She started her vegetarian-only lunch delivery business called The Lazy Chef, but knew she wanted to do more than just serve food. She wanted to inspire people to develop the lifestyle of healthy, plant-based eating—what came about was Kairos by The Lazy Chef, which she opened on the rooftop of a building in Mandaue. It was more than just the reservations-only vegetarian restaurant people assume it was. Kairos became Chip’s venue for cooking classes, which she feels is the only way to truly sustain a healthy lifestyle. Besides classes at Kairos, Chip also travels regularly to give seminars and classes around the country.
“It’s a different Cebu today,” Chip says, although we note that she might have played a hand in changing the common Cebuano mindset and eating habits. “Not only is the vegetarian dining scene booming, there are also more farmer’s markets in the city, more varieties in organically grown vegetables and more healthy products available.”
Being on a plant-based, whole foods diet for almost five years now, Chip can attest to the stark difference eating clean has done to her body. “It’s allowed me to be stronger physically,” she shares. “When I was eating unhealthy food, I was very sickly and weak. Since changing my diet, I have been able to do things I never thought possible, like running a marathon, lifting heavy weights and becoming an HIIT instructor.”
Of course, Chip admits to having her off days as well—you know, the ones where laying on the couch all day seems like the best option. She, however, combats this with a different mindset. “I think more than motivation, we should focus on discipline. You can’t always rely on feelings like motivation or inspiration to make you work out,” she explains. “Discipline is the conscious ability to get things done, even when you don’t feel like doing it. A simple way to develop discipline is to focus on your ‘why.’ Your ‘why’ is what gets you out of the bed in the morning. Your ‘why’ keeps you going, even when all you want to do is give up.”
More than just vegetarianism and fitness, Chip has become a model for living life in the healthiest and best way possible. Alongside her efforts at Kairos, she is an instructor at Zink and Fitness Studio. “I believe fitness and wellness is really trending in Cebu,” she admits. “But the bigger question is, are people really changing their habits or is this just a phase? We have come so far, but we all need to work together and care about each other to really make a difference.”