Hey guys! I’m delighted to post a little Q&A session with one of my favorite bloggers, Lindsay from Happy Herbivore!
(It’s not a hamburger, promise!)
Lindsay is one of the first bloggers I began following and she cooks up a storm of amazing vegan recipes that you’ve got to try out! Here’s my attempt at blogger-to-blogger journalism (I’m the bold text, obvs).
Who is Lindsay aka Happy Herbivore in one sentence? (I know this is a kindergarten ice-breaker of a question, but I like hearing the answers anyway!)
Happy Herbivore is my fat-free wholefoods vegan recipe website and my Internet nickname (or “handle” if you want to be technical). I’m an ex-lawyer turned healthy vegan chef. and apparently, I’m not very good at following directions, seeing as I couldn’t keep this answer to one sentence!
Why and when did you decide to become vegan?
In late 2006; I was motivated by the plight of animals, my health and the environmental benefits. I was a vegetarian for most of my life because I loved animals, so compassion plays a huge part in my veganism, though the health benefits are a constant reminder of why it’s so important to eat this way.
Why did you start your blog, Happy Herbivore (HH)?
Shortly after I went vegan, I read Eat to Live and switched to a low fat, whole foods vegan diet. The only problem was finding recipes that fit my new diet. Sure there were plenty of vegan cookbooks and websites around but most of the recipes used gobs of oil, fats, processed flours and other ingredients I’d just swore off. Blogs were just starting to become cool back then so I created one to log my attempt at my new diet. I started creating recipes along the way and eventually, happyherbivore.com was born.
When and how did you become such a good cook and recipe creator?
Aww thanks for such a nice compliment! I didn’t know how to cook – at all – until I went vegan. My college roommate has horror stories of the times I attempted to cook for us. I used to eat out all the time, but that wasn’t really an option on my new diet. So, I bought a few vegan cookbooks and made the recipes. Once I felt more comfortable in the kitchen, I started trying to “healthify” recipes by omitting the fat and using whole wheat flour. I would also “veganize” recipes using basic substitutions like fake meat or bananas instead of eggs. Eventually it all just sort of clicked for me and I started throwing meals together based on what was on hand. I still do that fairly often — some of my best recipes have been developed that way, but I also like to recreate dishes and try my hand at other cuisines.
Ever have any recipe disasters?
Oh my god yes. It’s funny, anytime a blog reader meets my husband they marvel at how lucky he is that he gets to eat all my food… and he is so quick to say “oh its not always great, she really misses sometimes!” and I do. The first time I made seitan it blew up — blew up and splattered all over the kitchen. I’m still scratching my head on that one. I’ve made stuff that came out bland. I’ve had bread, muffins and cupcakes not rise. I am fortunate that usually everything comes out perfect on the first try, but some recipes are sticklers and take a few tries to get right. and sometimes it’s just a major disaster that shouldn’t be repeated.
What advice would you give someone who wants to be vegan but is afraid of missing out on her favorite foods?
Recreate them! These days there is a vegan substitute out there for every itch — and if there isn’t, make it. I’ve recreated every food my husband and I loved in our pre-vegan days (including she crab soup and cinnamon buns!) and I must say, I like all of the vegan versions better. The commercial meat and dairy substitutes are getting really good too! Some are so similar it’s nuts. I had a Gardenburger BBQ riblet recently and I swear to god, it tastes just like the McRib. I’ve even fed my family fake sausage before and they didn’t miss a beat. Heck! They even have vegan marshmallows now! Life is good.
What entree and dessert dish from your extensive list of recipes would you create for the most vegan-hesitant omnivore out there? why?
The trick to feeding a skeptical omni is to give them something that’s naturally vegetarian — like a veggie laden soup or casserole. It takes a while for most people to warm up to fake meats and tofu. However, I’ve had a lot of success feeding my chickpea tacos to even the most skeptic omnis and who doesn’t like nachos? (those nachos rock). The Cranky One felt compelled to interrupt the interview with food pictures of the dishes mentioned:
If you’re looking for a more complex dish, the pan-seared portobellos are amazing (my Dad says they taste like steak). The cheesecake is a safe bet for dessert but my black bean brownies are hands down the most popular recipe.
I hear your new HH cookbook is coming out later this year! Give us the deets! What can we expect?
The Happy Herbivore Cookbook is AWESOME. It has 200+ recipes — a few recycled from the blog and past e-cookbooks but mostly new stuff. Everything is true to my cooking style of no added fats and wholesome food but the best part: every recipe is super easy to make, whips up fast and uses common, ordinary ingredients you always have on hand. No umeboshi plums, pomegranate molasses or specialty items like that — no way! It’s completely practical for any diet, lifestyle or budget. It’s also going to be full color — so get ready for some food porn.
The cookbook also ventures out into world cuisines like Ethiopian and Indian. But I kept it classic and comforting too — lots of breakfast/brunch foods, sandwiches and wraps, pasta, casseroles, one-pot meals (who doesn’t love those?), fake meat, desserts, veggie & grain side dishes, snacks and other neat stuff like “cheese” recipes! You’ll love it. I’m going to post pictures of some of the recipes on Happy Herbivore soon.
Most of us like to play “cook” every now and then, but what’s it like working on a cook book? Do any of your friends and family like to act as taste-testers or food critics?
Writing the cookbook was a lot of fun! Of course it was stressful at times — particularly as the deadline was rearing it’s ugly head, but for the most part I enjoyed it. It also gave me the chance to really sit down and work on recipes that had been rolling around in my head forever but I never actually tried. It also forced me to move out of my comfort zone and try new things, new cuisines. The only really unpleasant aspect was all the dirty dishes!
I also lost 6 lbs since I started writing the cookbook — so I guess that is a testament that my food is healthy! (and still really delish!)
As for testing, my husband Scott is my biggest critic (and taste-tester) but I also have an entire cookbook tester squad that makes the recipes and critiques them… I really couldn’t have done it without them.
Has anyone or anything inspired you to live this lifestyle, to write a vegan cookbook? Where is all this drive coming from?
My fans and supporters. Every thing I do, I do for them. Anytime someone sends me an email, tweet or comment that they made my food I feel inspired to do more… I wouldn’t be where I was today without them, without their support and encouragement. I want to share healthy, wholesome food with the world and feel so privileged to have that opportunity.
I’m also personally inspired by my fellow vegans, particularly those in the trenches that are out there advocating. A day doesn’t go by where I’m not in complete awe of another vegan and what he or she is doing to help spread veganism. Cooking is my gift, my talent — it’s how I contribute. I believe that every meatless meal matters — that one less meat-filled meal benefits the animals, the earth and my fellow humans… so if I can supply recipes to help make that happen? I’ll do it!
Well, she certainly inspires me. Show Lindsay some love and check out her awesome site, Happy Herbivore!
What favorite food of yours needs a healthy makeover?
The Cranky One