Who is Nisha Melvani?
Nisha Melvani is a registered dietitian nutritionist, content creator, and author of the cookbook ‘Practically Vegan.’
Nisha was born in Jamaica and went to boarding school in England at the age of seven. She lived in England for twelve years and was exposed to a lot of bland and mushy boarding school food. Later, she moved to New York City when a bank hired her to move out there. However, she soon realized that this wasn’t the path for her.
This realization led her to return to school and complete a master’s degree at Columbia in nutrition.
“Then, I had three kids, and it was hard for me to use that knowledge [of food, cooking, and nutrition] in the real world because I was home with them all the time, so that’s why I started my Instagram account as a way to share the nutrition knowledge I had gained from that program.”
Nisha’s Plant-Based Journey
An important part of Nisha’s content is its heavy emphasis on vegetarian and vegan recipes.
She shares, “Being vegetarian or vegan wasn’t as acceptable when I was growing up in boarding school. I definitely knew [early on] that I much preferred eating less meat and erring on the vegetable side, but we weren’t really allowed to make those choices.”
She shares that tofu was beginning to gain popularity at the time. However, meat was a prominent part of the food she was exposed to from a young age due to her Indian heritage.
Nisha notes that she was also exposed to Ital food when she lived in Jamaica. According to The Vegetarian Journal, Jamaican Ital cuisine does not include red meat or meat at all and is used to support and enhance a healthy lifestyle. Popular ingredients in Ital food include peas, callaloo, coconut, lentils, and beans.
“They [Jamaicans] make a cuisine called Ital food, and it’s vegetables and little or no salt and all just plant-based. So, I loved eating their food. There were just little stints of veganism and vegetarianism in my life, and then when I had kids, I just stopped eating meat [altogether.].”
Nisha started her Instagram, cookingforpeanuts, in 2017 as a hobby, thinking she would eventually go back to being a traditional nutrition counselor. However, her Instagram grew and became a significant opportunity for her to share nutrition and plant-based recipes with others.
“What I’ve seen from my audience is they really want very quick, easy, flavorful vegan meals… I also cook like that because I have three kids, so I’m pretty busy, and I definitely am very efficient now because I’ve been doing this for so long.”
Recently, she released a cookbook, ‘Practically Vegan’, which shares over one hundred easy, budget-friendly, vegan dinner recipes.
“My goal in writing that book was to make this really accessible to the masses. It shouldn’t be hard or expensive to eat vegan if that’s what you want to do.”
Nisha’s Cookbook ‘Practically Vegan’
Before her cookbook came out, Nisha shared the book’s upcoming release with her followers. She also collaborated with multiple brands and did giveaways with her book and some of the brand’s products on both her and the company’s feeds.
“I also did some recipes from the book and my story and actually on my feed where I did a reel filming me making the recipe and then linked to the book [and] talked about the book in it. I also did several podcasts talking about the book.”
Instagram Content & Strategy
Nisha shares that it’s hard to predict exactly which posts will do well. Often, she is completely surprised by what content will take off.
Her most popular post recently was an Instagram reel showing how to make pasta from spinach and flour using a food processor.
“I think it’s such a cool idea, and it actually works really well, and it was interesting for people to watch, so that one did pretty well.”
When asked about her creative process, Nisha shares that you can’t always post everything you love.
“You are now doing this for an audience, and they may not be interested in that particular kind of recipe, so I never used to think about it as much when it was a smaller audience and more of a hobby, but all the recipes I post are my dinner. I eat them, but they are definitely geared toward what I’m seeing doing well on Instagram.”
She shares that she doesn’t typically post trending recipes, but she’ll try to post content in popular categories. For example, she may post about summertime salads rather than a specific trending recipe.
Her advice for other creators?
She shares that consistency and pivoting when something isn’t working are key skills. She recommends paying close attention to what works for you and looking at what categories and what kind of food is trending on Instagram.
“I think it’s also creating a niche. I think the more you narrow it down, the better because it’s so competitive in the vegan recipe world. I think it’s the most competitive food world actually… so I would definitely try and narrow it down and find even more of a niche within vegan food recipes.”
Nisha explains that she doesn’t take on many brand partnerships.
However, she notes, “There really are brands that I think make great products, and I use them a lot, and I think it’s good to show your audience what those are so that they can incorporate them and use them.”
For example, she has promoted Ninja Kitchen knives, which come with a sharpener. Not only does she love the product herself, but the built-in sharpener makes cooking easier and less time-consuming.
Her dream collab? Working with companies that make the products she already uses regularly.
In addition to her Instagram account, Nisha has a blog she created around two years ago.
She shares all the recipes she posts on Instagram on her blog, along with photographs at every stage of the recipe, which is a time-consuming but rewarding step.
“I also put a lot of thought into SEO so that Google will show my post because if you’re going to do all that work, you want it to be seen, right?”
Learn more about Nisha and her delicious recipes here.