[Sings] "In the garden of vegan honey…"

In the garden of Eden, honey,
Don't you know that I lo-ove yo-ou?
In the garden of Eden, baby,
Don't you know that I'll always be tru-ue?
[Bart chuckles] Homer: [quietly] Hey Marge, remember when we used to make out to this hymn?


What ? Sorry…? it isn’t…?


What is it then..?

» An article in the Guardian, plus a couple of recipes from Sarah Kramer, a Vegan author from Canada. I’ve read a couple of her books. Recommended.

The garden of vegan
Wednesday February 6, 2008
The Guardian

Kitsch, lively and glamorous, Canadian food writer Sarah Kramer bucks all the vegan stereotypes. She tells Leonie Cooper why an animal-free diet is cool

Sarah Kramer
Veganism has rarely been associated with glamour; until now. Sarah Kramer not only produces gloriously kitsch vegan cookbooks, but also runs a tattoo shop with her husband, takes photographs, and appears in the occasional zombie flick. If ever a person was needed to dispel the notion of a vegan as a pale, insipid creature, Kramer is the woman to do it.

She has been a vegetarian from birth. “My dad is a hardcore meat eater, but my mum was head of the kitchen and she was vegetarian. She passed away when I was 10, so I didn’t get to have a long intellectual conversation about it, but she loved animals, and thought that eating them was wrong and passed that down to me.” Kramer was raised on typical 70s veggie fare of mostly lentils and beans, although she “did a little experimenting in high school” with meat.

She fell upon veganism in her 20s, when bedridden with chronic fatigue syndrome. Her doctor encouraged her to drink homogenised milk and eat liver, but Kramer did some research at the local library. “Everything leaned towards a plant-based diet,” she says. So she switched from her “lazy vegetarian diet” of pasta, pasta and more pasta, to whole grains and fresh vegetables. “Once I changed my diet, my illness took a turn and now I’m 100%.”

She readily admits, though, that being a vegan can be overwhelming at times. “The list of what we can’t do is quite long and I think that’s why sometimes people fall off the vegan wagon.” But the thought of turning to meat is anathema to Kramer: “To me it would be like drinking a glass of blood.”

A celebrity chef in her native Canada, she began to spread the vegan gospel in the late 90s, when, with her friend Tanya Barnard, she made a photocopied zine packed with the pair’s favourite recipes to give to friends and family as a Christmas present. “Everybody fell in love with it, so we made another run of 1,000. The internet was a new and wild and exciting place then, so I started selling them on the web and at punk-rock shows and we sold out almost right away.” A book deal followed, and How It All Vegan!, published in 1999, featured recipes from the original zine alongside dishes Kramer’s mother cooked for her as a child, such as Big Ben’s Lentil Burgers, named after Kramer’s brother, and a baked-bean and potato casserole. The award-winning 1950s-style book also featured a house-and-home section, with a list of 45 things to do with vinegar, recipes for lipgloss, dog biscuits and vegan flea spray. Two more books followed – The Garden of Vegan and La Dolce Vegan!, her first solo endeavour.

Kramer is currently hard at work on the fourth in the series, Vegan-A-Gogo, a travel-sized compilation of the best bits from the first three books. As she explains: “People get in a panic because they want to make miso gravy but don’t have their cookbooks with them.”

Last year, Victoria Beckham was spotted carrying a vegan diet book, Skinny Bitch, by former model agent Rory Freedman and former model Kim Barnouin. It became a bestseller. But, as Kramer points out, the book advocates veganism for weight-loss rather than for compassionate reasons. “I get a lot of letters from young girls who want to get skinny, and it scares me,” she says. “Restricting food so you can lose weight is not healthy. Diets are for suckers. If you only eat certain foods to lose weight, it’s gonna come back and bite you in the butt.”

She prefers to lead by example by serving “non-believers” magnificent dishes of vegan food and then “hearing them moan in ecstasy over something they didn’t think could possibly taste delicious.” Her favourite dish as such is an apricot cheesecake made with tofu. “Even my step-mum, who doesn’t like tofu, loves that recipe. It’s one of my favourites, especially when I go to one of my friends’ houses for a party – you see people eating it and loving it, and then when they find out there’s tofu in it, they freak out. And then they have another piece.”

» Click to read the full article and to see her recipes for Portobello mushroom bake, Brainless banana pancakes and Sarah’s blueberry dilip (a crumble, of sorts).

Extra links:

Sarah’s website: http://govegan.net

Peta2.com feature on Sarah: http://www.peta2.com/stuff/s-sarahkramer.asp

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