Last night a friend told me she’s helping to organize a Juneteenth celebration at a local community garden. She and I are both vegan and so we talked about how to incorporate vegan food into the event. I suggested that she take a look at Bryant Terry’s cookbook, Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African-American Cuisine.
Little did I know at the time that Terry has come out with another cookbook! Byant Terry’s new cookbook is called Inspired Vegan: Seasonal Ingredients, Creative Recipes, Mouthwatering Menus. Both cookbooks are a delight to the eyes with interesting photos and drawings included. And although I have yet to test any recipes from the latter cookbook, I’m sure it’s just as delightful to the tastebuds.
Back onto the topic of incorporating vegan versions of food that is (or perceived to be) traditionally nonvegan, I have some more ideas:
- Begin with the concept behind the food, rather than the food itself. Veganizing “traditional” foods can be tricky because people are often resistant to change. But remember that all celebrations are essentially about some kind of change or progress. For example, in the Jewish holiday of Passover (which is similar in some ways to Juneteenth because it represents liberation from slavery) some of the foods on a Seder plate are not vegetarian or vegan. But for as long as I can remember there have been articles in magazines about how to celebrate Passover without hurting animals. VegNews has a guide for how it can be done. Check it out >>
- Remember that food is power. Our food choices matter. With each bite of vegan food we choose to support compassion and freedom from suffering. With each bite of nonvegan food we support suffering and needless death. Celebrations are not only recognitions of the past, they can be pathways towards the future. Food is a large part of what kind of future we will see. Do we want a future with clean air, clean water, kind people, and peaceful living? Or do we want a future that clings to the past so tightly that it destroys our health, planet, and our most precious resources: our compassion? See more about this at The Food Empowerment Project >>
- Use good food. For any kind of celebration, you must make sure the food is as tasty as possible. This is especially important for vegan food because a lot of people expect it to taste poorly. And unfortunately, those expectations actually influence how the food tastes to them. The less open-minded someone is to a new food, the less likely they will enjoy that new food. So make sure the vegan food you choose is highly palatable to a wide variety of people. That might mean you’ll need to use more oil and salt than usual. That’s OK. It’s a celebration, afterall, not the first day on a weight loss diet.