A simple and no nonsense guide to going vegan.
Thinking about committing to a 100% plant-based diet? Going vegan isn’t for everyone, but it’s actually a lot easier than some might think. In his new digital cookbook Eat Awesome: A regular person’s guide to plant-based, whole foods, author, web designer and touring musician Paul Jarvis shows us how simple and fulfilling eating a plant-based diet can be.
A total foodie (if you like food porn you should be sure to follow Jarvis on Instagram), his cookbook is a straightforward account of the benefits of a plant-based diet, full of recipes that focus on simple, whole foods, from Chickpea Curry to Raw Cheesecake (hint: it’s made with cashews). For anyone that has felt intimidated by going vegan, it’s an easy-to-use guide that makes transitioning to a diet that is more plant-based seem less daunting.
We caught up with Jarvis to learn more about the book – which since it’s digital, is paper-free and you can score for a mere $5 – and his passion for food, and he gave us his favorite recipe for Deviled Potatoes.
- Mustard seed
- Nutritional yeast
- Cashew cream (recipe below)
Halve about 20 egg-sized potatoes and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet, flat side down.
Bake at 375F for 30-45 minutes, or until tender.
Scoop out the middles and place in a mixing bowl.
Mash the scooped out potato middles with a bit of mustard seed, 2-4 scoops of nutritional yeast, cashew cream (or any vegan mayonnaise) and turmeric.
Spoon mixture back into the middle of the potatoes, and sprinkle with paprika.
- Nutritional yeast (optional)
1. Soak 2 cups of cashews for an hour, then drain and rinse.
2. Put cashews in a blender with the juice of 1 to 2 lemons, salt to taste, and a couple spoonfuls of nutritional yeast.
3. Blend until mixture is creamy and smooth.
EcoSalon: How did you get into food?
Paul Jarvis: I’ve been eating since birth and have grown rather fond of it. It’s also been something I’ve cared (see: obsessed) about for as long as I can remember. I need to know how every dish I encounter is made, what the whole ingredients are that dishes are comprised of, and what techniques are required to cook or prepare it. This led me to spending most of my time playing with whole ingredients — I’d rather make something from scratch, even if it takes longer, than buy it already prepackaged or pre-prepared. Even vegan butter, mayonnaise or kale chips (which can take hours to make and literally seconds to eat).
What led you to veganism?
I was vegetarian for years and constantly experimenting with what I was eating to see how eating (or not eating) certain foods affected my moods, energy levels and physical endurance. I happened upon veganism by accident after realizing I had been vegan for a year or so without making a conscious choice to do so. Eliminating milk, cheese and eggs from my already vegetarian diet was making me feel better (and resulted in getting sick far less), which is also what happened when I stopped eating meat. I didn’t wake up one day and shout, “Hey world, I’m vegan!” It was actually based more on observations on how what I ate affected my body.
What inspired you to write a book?
My book Eat Awesome actually wrote itself before I knew what was happening. I was always getting the same sorts of questions from friends, family and co-workers about why I was vegan, what I ate, and the usual… “How do you get your protein?” So all the information and recipes in the book were written out in emails dozens of times. Then I realized, that I could be a little lazy with things (little did I know that putting together a book was anything but “being lazy”) and write the same answers and recipes for people in a single sweep. The recipes are meals I make on a weekly basis, so I didn’t need to figure out what to include, I just wrote out a list of what I had made for meals in the last couple weeks and that became the recipes included.
Your approach to this book is pretty simple — “Eating vegan is a good time” — why do you think so many people knock veganism?
There are a few reasons for this. The first is that veganism challenges the mainstream way of eating, also known as SAD (a Standard American Diet — it’s not just me being sassy). Most adults weren’t raised vegan, so it’s a bit of a paradigm shift on a plate and some folks would rather not challenge how they think about food or what’s in food they eat.
There’s also a shit-ton (I forget the actual Imperial unit of measurement for this since I’m Canadian) of misinformation out there condemning veganism as an unhealthy, hippie, uninformed way of eating. The meat and dairy industries don’t need to be right or factual, they just need to have bigger budgets than that of an organic kale farmer.
There’s also an often unspoken thought that veganism isn’t very manly since Real Men(tm) eat steak. To that I’d say that real men take care of their bodies and want to decrease their risk of things like prostate cancer, diabetes and heart problems (all of which have been shown to worsen due to the consumption of meat and dairy). I’d also tell any dude who thinks veganism isn’t manly to tell it to the face of winning UFC fighter and long-time vegan, Mac Danzig.
When someone says to you, “Oh, I could never be vegan” what is your response?
I thought the same thing until I was one. I’ve never said going vegan was easy — but it gets easy as you learn more. Compared to 10 years ago, it’s easier than ever that adopt a plant-based diet. There’s a ton of great books out about vegan lifestyle, fitness and recipes. There is also support through things like online message boards, vegan meet-ups, creature-free potlucks, there are even iPhone apps that give you directions to the nearest vegan restaurant in any city.
There are some great products on the market that simulate meat and cheeses too. They may not be as awesome as whole, organic foods — but they’re quick, tasty and much more nutritious than their conventional counterparts. I think of faux-meats as the “gateway drug” to veganism. They’re good to start since they look and taste meaty, and they can be enough to get you hooked on plant-based living. But over time and with their help, you can transition to harder vegan drugs — like kale and quinoa.
The other thing is that I wouldn’t ever say that you have to go vegan cold-turkey (why are so many colloquialisms rooted in meat? I sense a conspiracy). Becoming completely vegan can be a goal over time, as you learn more about it. If you slip up or have a moment of weakness, it doesn’t mean being vegan isn’t right for you, it just means you’re human (so congratulations on that!). The vegan police won’t be beating down anyone’s door, since they don’t exist. Simply eating consciously and compassionately is a move in the right direction. You don’t have to become a 100% total absolute vegan instantly — just try a single plant-based meal and take it from there.
If someone is looking to incorporate more vegan foods in their diet, what would be your 5 recommendations of foods to start with?
1. Kale. Kale is the superhero of a plant-based diet. High in fibre, beta-carotene, antioxidants, calcium, vitamin C, folic acid, potassium… the list could go on forever. If eating a green vegetable makes you want to throw up a little in your mouth — try it in a smoothie with some bananas or eat a kale chip or have it cooked up as perfect southern collard greens.
2. Hemp. I don’t mean smoking marijuana. Eating hemp hearts is awesome for good fats, protein and a whack of other nutritive properties. It’s not just for hippies in ponchos!
3. Lentils. These are packed with fibre, iron and protein. They taste great cooked simply in some salted water with a bit of hummus on top. Throw some asparagus on top of that, and you’ve got yourself a meal!
4. Cashews. Most importantly, there are nut jokes. Nut milk. Nut sack. My nuts. Warm nuts. Salty nuts… Nuts are funny, don’t even pretend they’re not. They’re also great as snacks or used in things like making your own cashew milk, raw cheesecakes or even vegan cream sauce for that alfredo pasta you always secretly wanted to veganize.
5. Nutritional Yeast. Known in the vegan world as “nooch,” this inactive yeast comes in flaky form and tastes a little cheesy. It’s a source of B12, folic acid and some other good stuff — but mostly, it tastes amazing on popcorn with coconut oil and salt.
So, tell us more about these deviled potatoes.
You can’t really go wrong with a baked potato and fixin’s, whether you’re a vegan or an omnivore. They look like a deviled egg, but have all the awesomeness and comfort feel of a baked potato. So they go over great at parties, BBQs or even for after attending a 30 Seconds to Mars concert (fyi: the whole band is vegan).
Want your own digital copy of Eat Awesome? We’re giving 5 away. Tell us how you incorporate more plant-based foods into your diet in the comments below!
Images: Eat Awesome