A Vegan Blogger Talks the Future of Faux Cheese
In this installment, Groupon’s food correspondent the Picky Panda talks to Kristy Turner, author of the vegan blog Keepin’ it Kind. Her cookbook, But I Could Never Go Vegan!, creatively chips away at the reasons why some people say they’re incapable of a vegan lifestyle. (The book is available on Goods for a few more days!)
The The Guide previously spoke to Kristy in an effort to save tofu’s much-maligned reputation; here, the Panda delves deeper into her meat-free philosophy.
PICKY PANDA: Even though I have what looks like a carnivore’s digestive system, I’m also vegan! It’s great to meet someone with similar sensibilities. Why did you become vegan?
KRISTY TURNER: I saw an interview with Ellen Degeneres and Katie Couric. Ellen said something like, “there is no such thing as pain-free torture and humane murder.” I didn’t know that there was torture and death in the egg and dairy industry. When I learned that, I began to do some research and turned up a lot of stuff. I was a fromagier and a huge cheese nut … But I found that dairy could no longer satisfy my taste buds.
That’s some heavy stuff. Can I ask how your cookbook come about?
I started [Keepin’ It Kind] and my husband did the photography for it. I had so much fun cooking dishes and decided to document [them], and it took off. Then I got an email from a publisher with a concept they thought I would be good for. I had always been that person, saying I could never go vegan, and you hear so many excuses from people why they couldn’t go vegan.
Tell me about it. My coworkers are always like, “I don’t have the specialized microbes in my gut that will allow me to digest the cellulose in bamboo.” And I’m like, “Dude, just try it!” What’s the most common excuse for not going vegan that you hear, and how do you address it?
“I could never give up cheese!” I had that excuse as well. In my book, I provide a lot of recipes that can satisfy that craving. There are a lot of options out there. I thought I could never find a [vegan substitute for] aged cheddar, but I did. I wanted to have quick and easy recipes, so you can make macaroni and cheese, and tofu chevre.
I’ve never had a cheese craving myself, but congrats on defeating yours in a vegan-friendly way. How do you see veganism growing as a movement? What’s your preferred way of spreading the word?
I do see it becoming more popular. It is not as unheard of anymore, which I love. You don’t have to explain what veganism is to every person you come in contact with.
I try not to be a preacher. Instead, I hope to provide a healthy, happy example of veganism. If someone asks, I explain it simply, calmly, and politely so they feel [that] veganism is approachable and not something to be overwhelmed by.
That’s great. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by how little I know about any food besides bamboo, but you seem like an excellent resource. What do you think the future holds for veganism? What advancements do you look forward to?
[My husband] Chris and I talk about this all the time. We think our grandkids will be shocked that people used to eat animals. There are already lots of amazing faux cheeses and meats out there—there’s even a new LA vegan cheese shop called Vromage. It will just keep becoming more available and mainstream.
Sounds like there’s a lot in store. Last question, and I’m especially excited to hear your answer: how would you put your own spin on bamboo?
I heard that bamboo tartar is going to be really big. Pureeing it and serving it raw with some seasoning would be amazing!
About the Picky Panda:
As a giant panda, I eat up to 30 pounds of bamboo a day. But after I got a job writing for the The Guide, I found out that not everyone eats bamboo exclusively. (And that not everyone is a giant panda! Geeze!) Now, I’m on a mission to learn all I can about the world of food, cooking, and restaurants by talking to some of the greatest culinary minds of our time.
Previous Picky Panda Talks:
- Dan Raskin, co-owner of Chicago’s iconic Manny’s Deli
- David Lebovitz, the bon vivant and author of several food books, most recently My Paris Kitchen