I was an avid baker before I went vegan many years ago, but after removing milk, butter and eggs from my diet, I had no idea how to make cookies, brownies and cupcakes. I hung up my oven mitts and thought about how bleak my pastry-less future would be. As if sensing my despair, Terry Hope Romero and Isa Chandra Moskowitz wrote Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and all seemed right in the world again. Since then, the pair have released Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar and Vegan Pie in the Sky, and my mixer, muffin tins and rubber spatulas are once again being put to good use.
Terry and Isa also wrote Veganomicon, which some might consider a required cookbook for every vegan’s kitchen, and Terry has written two solo books – Viva Vegan and her most recent release Vegan Eats World. Terry has presented informative and lively cooking demonstration and talks to hungry crowds at food festivals and conferences the world over, ranging from Paris, New York City, Boston, Toronto, and many more. Terry also contributes to VegNews (leading vegan lifestyle magazine) her Hot Urban Eats column. She also holds a certificate in Plant Based Nutrition from Cornell University. Terry lives, cooks and eats in NYC.
Without further ado, here’s Terry Hope Romero…
CV – YOU’VE BEEN VEGAN FOR A LONG TIME. WHAT MOTIVATED YOU AND WAS IT AN OVERNIGHT SWITCH OR MORE GRADUAL SHIFT?
THR – I went vegetarian at 16, so the progression to vegan happened years later after high school when I moved to NYC: there I met many more vegans (there were so few in New England in the early 90‘s) and discovered a plethora of shopping and dining out options, even back then.
The transition was gradual, I’m not a person of extremes that that was best for me. There is no correct way to go about it; just use the method that makes the most sense to you.
CV – CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR NEW BOOK VEGAN EATS WORLD! TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT IT AND WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE IT.
THR – Vegan Eats World is my secret vegan love letter to Queens, NYC where I live. It’s one of the most ethnically diverse places in North America, so naturally it’s home to an amazing array of restaurants and markets that cater to the huge Asian, Latin America, Mediterranean populations, just for starters. After writing Viva Vegan! (my collection of vegan Latin American recipes), I wanted to widen my love affair with ethnic foods to reflect all of the great “local” cuisines that inspire me.
CV – IT’S SUCH A HUGE BOOK THAT THE FIRST WORD TO COME TO MY MIND WHEN I SAW IT WAS “EPIC”. HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO WRITE?
THR – My entire life. Well, my entire life from the past 2 years or so. Cookbooks are probably one of the more intense writing experiences you can have out there. Developing recipes, testing them, doing all the other writing, photography, and shopping, always shopping. They literally can eat up your life.
CV – IS THERE A DIFFERENT PROCESS FOR BOOK WRITING WHEN YOU’RE WORKING ON YOUR OWN VERSES WORKING WITH ISA?
THR – Well, writing alone is of course different that writing with a partner. It’s a lot more work! But I only have myself to lean on with deadlines, both a good and stressful thing. Writing with Isa is also lots of fun. Both processes have their advantages.
CV – THE TWO OF YOU PRETTY MUCH CREATED WHAT I CALL “THE VEGAN CUPCAKE REVOLUTION” WITH YOUR AWESOME BOOK VEGAN CUPCAKES TAKE OVER THE WORLD (THEY REALLY HAVE TAKEN OVER THE WORLD!). ARE YOU SICK OF CUPCAKES BY NOW?
THR – I probably eat one cupcake a year now, usually on my birthday. So that’s a yes!
CV – WHEN THAT BOOK CAME OUT, THERE WERE JUST A SMALL NUMBER OF VEGAN COOKBOOKS ON THE MARKET. NOW IT SEEMS THAT A NEW ONE COMES OUT EVERY DAY. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE VEGAN COOKBOOK EXPLOSION? IS THE MARKET TOO SATURATED OR HAVE WE REACHED A COOKBOOK RENAISSANCE?
THR – It’s a saturation and a renaissance in both ways. I’m hoping really that the vegan cookbook market can just push past the vegan “ghetto” into the general cookbook experience. I can only hope that this means that there are just more people in general cooking more meatless meals. The more variety we have in regards to cookbooks, the more chances it has to reach a wider audience.
CV – FROM READING YOUR BLOG, I’VE NOTICED THAT YOU’VE BEEN DOING A LOT OF TRAVELING LATELY. HAVE YOU NOTICED A SHIFT IN THE POPULARITY OF VEGANISM AND THE WAY VEGANS ARE PERCEIVED IN DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE COUNTRY?
THR – More cities are having their first vegetarian food festivals, and from what I’ve seen they’re always well attended. More people than ever want to see what vegan food and the lifestyle around it are about. I’d say it’s a win-win.
CV – WHAT TIPS WOULD YOU GIVE TO NEW COOKS TRYING TO FIND THEIR WAY AROUND THE KITCHEN?
THR – Make food that sounds appealing to you, but try and push yourself out of your comfort zone occasionally. Always expect that a new recipe or cooking technique may take up to 3 times longer than you expect it to, so set aside some extra time to avoiding feeling stressed.
THR – If we’re talking about products (not raw ingredients), I’d say I use a fair amount of Better Than Bouillon vegan broth pastes. I hate making my own vegetable broth most of the time and this greatly reduces my time in the kitchen.
CV – IN YOUR WILDEST DREAMS WHAT WILL YOUR LIFE LOOK LIKE IN 5 YEARS?
THR – Oh, in addition to the cookbooks, some other kind of food or writing related career. Not sure if that means restaurant work in the traditional sense…I’ve done it before and slaving away in the kitchen is kind of brutal, and not where I think I want to be in my mid-40’s. I’ll probably still be in NYC though! The possibilities are endless and the food just keeps on getting better all the time.