Veganly Delicious

Julie-Juliaing one cookbook at a time.

Interview with Allyson Kramer

on November 2, 2012

Allyson was so sweet to agree to interview with me! I contacted her last week, and she got back to me today. She got “Sandy-ed” and was apologetic for holding me up, which was clearly okay under the circumstances 🙂
(I am really hoping that these continue. If anyone ever has questions they want me to ask, shoot and I’ll put it in my transcript notes!). 🙂

 

And now.. Me & Allyson!

 

So how long have you been a vegan? What inspired you to be a vegan?

 

I first became vegan 17 years ago, but I had a few instances towards the end of high school and during college where I “fell off the wagon”. I guess it was around 6 years ago when I realized there would be no more slip-ups due to peer pressure, and that veganism was a lifelong commitment for me.

 

 

And the next big question – why Gluten Free as well as vegan?

 

I have celiac disease, so gluten-free unfortunately is a diet I must follow in order to stay healthy. I was diagnosed in 2009, only a few monthsafter I started my blog Manifest Vegan. I like to say I’m a vegan by choice, and gluten-free by necessity.

 

What inspired you to start your blog Manifest Vegan?

 

I had just begun my career in the arts (after graduating with a BFA in both Painting and Sculpture) and once I starting working in the museum and gallery atmosphere fulltime, I realized quickly that the art scene just wasn’t for me. I wanted to choose a career path that would give back a little—to the animals and the environment. I had been enamored with cooking and recipe development since I was a little girl, and I had seriously considered majoring in English (Journalism) in college rather than Fine Arts, so I thought I could use the skills I gained in my art training to launch some sort of career as a cookbook author/food writer. I learned about blogging, and decided that it would be a good thing to do for practice–to more or less develop my own voice with writing. Lauren Ulm of Vegan Yum Yum was a huge inspiration for me. I watched her go from blogger to cookbook author in just a few short years, and I liked her approach. And, I figured if the author thing never took off, I would still be doing something meaningful (and satisfying!) by sharing vegan recipes with others.

 

Why thatname, “Manifest Vegan?”

 

Basically it’s a play on “Manifest Destiny”… sort of my belief that veganism is destined to expand across the world (or at least the United States). It’s certainly a romantic idea, but one I do believe in wholeheartedly. 

 

What prompted you to write your cookbook? Tell us about the process?

 

Honestly, writing a cookbook has been on my bucket list since I was achild. Cookbooks (and poring over them like novels daily/nightly) are such a strong part of my identity; it felt very natural for me to try and create one of my own. Plus, I have always wanted to be a writer… and often I regretted not getting that English degree in college along with my Art degree.

When I got the idea to finally write a vegan cookbook, I started to do my research on what it would take to get a cookbook published. I had hundreds of recipes to share (I’d been cooking daily for years since I was 8 years old, and recipe developing on my own since I was 14), so I just started with a simple list in a Word document. And then it turned into a rough draft …and, my to-do list grew from there.

 

It went a little like this:

Create Book Proposal, Make a Ton of Connections, Query Agents, Get Agent, Sell Book, Secure Cookbook Testers, Sign Contract, Complete and Test Recipes, Write, Write, Write, Take Photos for the Book, Write More, Edit, Turn In Manuscript, and once my editor (and a whole team of wonderful people, honestly) was finished with it, Do Final Edits to the Manuscript. Then I waited a few months for my publishing house to work their magic and eventually the book hit the shelves.

 

It’s pretty fun actually. And a lot of hard work! I wouldn’t trade in the experience for the world.

 

What did you want to accomplish with this book?

 

I want to show skeptics that eating a vegan and gluten-free diet does not have to be restrictive—that you can enjoy many of the same foods that omnivores enjoy, such as cupcakes, pizza, ravioli and donuts! That’s one of the main reasons I include photos with every recipe—more proof of the final product, if you will.

 

This hasdeclared the “The year of the Vegan Cookbook” Why do you think vegan cookbooks are so bountiful now?

 

I think the Internet and the current ease of sharing information has a lot to do with it. Veganism is a powerful movement because much of the time a person’s decision to become vegan is based on compassion—not weight loss or other dietary motives. When the word gets around about how our foodstuffs are produced and the unfortunate realities behind the food industry come to light, it’s sometimes harder to ignore the facts than to simply adopt a more compassionate diet. It’s an easy change that almost anybody can make instantly, and it has a huge impact. I believe the demand for vegan cookbooks (and vegan food in restaurants, etc.) is just echoing the new awareness that people have for how our food is produced.

 

There isalso a big explosion of gluten free cookbooks (both vegan (aka xgfx!) and non-vegan). Why do you think that is?

 

Again, Ithink the sharing of information, and the newfound knowledge of wheat intolerance or celiac disease has a lot to do with it. I believe many doctors nowadays know a lot more about how diet impacts health than they did several years ago.

I had suffered multiple health problems from a lack of diagnosis for over 5 years, even though I had been routinely getting examined by a number of doctors trying to figure out what was causing my issues. At the time, none of them even knew about celiac disease; I was actually diagnosed by a final year med student who was specializing in autoimmune disorders. He recognized it right away, did the bloodtests and shared the info with my physician. So, I think awareness is key.

 

What were your favourite recipes in Great Gluten Free Vegan Eats?

 

The Butterscotch Amaretti and The Spinach Artichoke Dip are my top faves; but, the entire book is a collection of my favorite recipes, so all of them!

(y’all: go to youtube – search the name, and then just make yourself a batch. You’ll love the both of us for it).

 

What’s your inspiration? (to come up with all these yummy things) 

 

Every single cookbook author, chef, home-cook and food writer I’ve ever had the pleasure of either meeting or reading about has been a huge inspiration to me, from my mother to Martha Stewart. In a way, you could say the simple pleasure of eating drives me to do what I do every day. I live for food, and creating recipes is my passion.

 

Whose your favourite chef (vegan or otherwise?)

 

Goodness, that’s a tricky question! I wouldn’t say I have a favorite, per se, but a few chefs who inspire me are Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, David Chang, Wolfgang Puck, Nancy Silverton …and countless others.

 

For those who can’t find specific flours. (as of this date Superfine Sorgum, White & Brown Rice flours aren’t available internationally/Canada), would there be a significant difference in some recipes? (Bisquik, Pasta, Strawberry Shortcake comes to mind right away). 

 

I think you could get away with subbing regular sorghum or brown riceflour in a few of the baked goods, but the texture will be different than the recipe intends. Superfine brown rice flour has really changed the game as far as gluten-free vegan baking and cooking goes—it’s really a huge difference from the flour that is regularly milled. For the pasta dishes and pie crust superfine is a must. I do hope that it will be more readily available internationally soon—it’s such a great ingredient for us gluten-free folks!

 

For those reading and wondering if veganism (or at least very strict vegetarian) is for them, what would you suggest for them?

 

I’d say do your research (everywhere from the library to google) and see how a plant based diet compares to the diet you are currently following. I think once people understand where their food is coming from, veganism really doesn’t seem so odd (or unhealthy) compared to the standard diets most people enjoy on a daily basis–especially diets that contain a ton of processed foods that have only been introduced within the past 60 years or so.

 

Would you say your book are for the newly veganist?

 

I’d like to think so, yes. But I also would like to think that anyone could benefit from my book, even if it’s just a place for inspiration or further enlightenment about vegan eating.

 

 You have a new book coming out next year, tell us about it.

 

My next book “Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats Gone Global” is a lot like the first book but instead of featuring my favorite recipes, the recipes in the next book are a celebration of foods from around the world—with traditional recipes as well as recipes I like to call “global fusion”. The chapters are divided by continent and almost every recipe has a corresponding photo. I had a blast creating this book and look forward to its release in the Spring of 2013.

 

Thanks Allyson! 🙂

See? isn’t she so cool and sweet?

She even suggested to me to try milling it in the food processor (which I didn’t do), I just couldn’t be bothered. I tried seeing how much it would cost for me to get a 3lb bag of brown, white and sorgum superfine sent to me, and it was over 100.00. (And Amazon just won’t do it). But I am going to try my bestest to get this, write letters or something!

I really enjoyed cooking with Allyson’s book 🙂 I do stand behind my suggestion of “Try” but this is a darn good book. 🙂 (and if you make the cookies first, y’all know it’s going to be bumped up to buy!).

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