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Being vegan around the holidays can be tricky. Aside from endless tofurkey jokes, there’s the simple question of what to eat, serve, or bring to a holiday gathering.
The new, free, e-cookbook, A Vegan Survival Guide for the Holidays tackles the challenge of vegan holiday fare in fine and friendly style. Created by Jerry James Stone, the Founder and Food Pornographer behind Cooking Stoned, and actor, director and environmentalist Ed Begley Jr., the book features 15 recipes created “for vegans, the vegan curious, or even the most dedicated carnivores.” Among the yummy recipes are roasted brussel sprouts mac ‘n’ cheese, no-bake crème brulee, and cranberry & Sriracha veggie “meatloaf.”
“I wanted to create mouth-watering food that everyone would love,” says Stone. “It’s food that celebrates the season with classic dishes. From appetizers, soups and salads to sides, desserts and event cocktails, I’ve got you covered.”
Begley Jr. chatted with Stone about the criteria for a good holiday party, the fun of foraging local food with help from Falling Fruit, eating well on a budget, and celebrating the abundance of eating seasonally.
Ed Begley Jr.: What does eating healthy mean to you?
Jerry James Stone: Healthy eating means good for you, good for me, and good for the planet. We have to get out of this mindset that we have endless resources and that our decisions don't have consequences. That is very, very unhealthy.
I've been a vegetarian for 25 years and I admit, I am not going to tell anyone to stop eating meat. I am not sure that is a reasonable goal. But should we support a large scale meat industry? I think not. You don't need to eat meat with every meal. In fact, it is kinda scary just how much meat Americans consume in comparison.
Being healthy means living a more balanced life.
Is it possible to eat lower on the food chain and still get the nutrition and flavor that omnivores are used to?
Oh, hell yeah! The first question I get as a vegetarian is, "what about getting enough protein?" I hate that question. Unless you are Hans and Franz, you probably need a lot less protein than you consume daily.
And when it comes to protein intake, there are plenty of planet-friendly choices out there that are very tasty!
Personally, I have always found these choices to be much more interesting. Let's consider the cashew. It's tasty on its own for sure. But you can use the cashew to make everything from a vegan mac n cheese to whipped cream to creamsicles. It's so versatile! And the list goes on and on.
Do you see an advantage to buying locally grown food?
Oh yes, for sure. For one, the impact on the environment. The cost of getting food outside of my community just isn't worth it. That said, I am very lucky as I live in California where we can pretty much grow anything anytime of year.
But eating local is also tastier. Who wants food that is truck-ripened from some galaxy far, far away? Not me!
Though, the best part is the community. Knowing your farmer is one of the best relationships you can have. But I'd also like to point out that you can eat rather cheaply this way. Check out websites like Falling Fruit, and see how you can easily forage for food growing in your backyard.
Ed Begley Jr. and Jerry James Stone's ecookbook focuses on gourmet vegan cuisine for any winter holiday
Do you think vegan cooking can be fun?
I do! That's why I wanted to do this book. And it's why I started my blog…though that is not entirely vegan. But it was to showcase that this cuisine isn't just granola and hemp milk. It's vibrant, beautiful, and tasty. We are talking about Earth's bounty here and that, my friend, is tasting the rainbow. Sorry, Skittles!
What are your criteria for a good holiday party?
Other than bourbon and good friends? Honestly, I like to keep it casual. I always encourage my friends to bring a homemade dish. They don't have to be gourmet… preferably something that has some family history to it. Other than that, I'll be whipping up some handcrafted cocktails and we'll probably play some board games.
What are your tips for making the presentation of your cuisine more visually appealing?
Honestly, keep it simple. My recipes are (usually) about using as few ingredients as possible and just letting them shine. Of course, local organic produce does help as it tastes the best! But by keeping it simple, the dishes never looked over-worked or heavy-handed, they are just gorgeous displays of yumminess.
Can you have a tasty and attractive meal on a modest budget?
Yes! This comes back to Fallen Fruit and eating local. If you eat locally, you eat seasonally. And anyone who has ever grown zucchini (or had a neighbor who has), knows just how abundance during that time works.
Your food will be cheap, super tasty, and healthy!