Enlightened Eating: A Vegan Celebration at the James Beard Foundation
January 17, 2011

IMG_4526 (500x333) IMG_4552 (500x333)

On Thursday, I had the privilege of attending a special event at the James Beard Foundation in Manhattan. My friend Brendan—ironman triathlete, vegan spokesperson, author of the Thrive books, and the maker of Vega—was speaking as a part of a series called “Enlightened Eaters.” The event, titled “Pig Out on Plants,” featured the incredible cuisine of Angel Ramos of Candle 79, and was a celebration of both the tastes and the ethics of vegan eating.

This may sound like a standard (if swanky) vegan event to you, but in fact it was far more significant than that. The Beard Foundation, a nonprofit devoted to American culinary culture, has historically been a home to the most discerning of food critics, food lovers, and food makers. The Foundation is situated in the stunning townhouse that once belonged to food critic James Beard, dubbed the “Dean of American Cookery” in 1954, and best known as one of the people who distilled French cooking into American gourmet food. The Foundation is also famous for its annual awards, given to cookbooks, chefs, and food critics.

This award has never before been given to a vegan chef, and this is hardly surprising. The fine dining world tends to turn its nose up at veganism. Professional chefs smirk at us, as if to say that we couldn’t possibly know what it is to savor fine food because we don’t eat flesh, while amateur foodies tend to roll their eyes at vegan friends. How many vegans and vegetarians reading this post have been snickered at by friends who considered themselves real “food lovers?” I personally can’t count the number of times I’ve heard the words “The thing is, I really love good food. I could never be vegan.”

Newsflash, Food & Wine subscribers: vegans love good food, too. Our choice not to contribute to animal suffering doesn’t mean we have meager appetites, or that we lack good taste. The existence of such remarkable restaurants as Millennium, Candle 79, Pure, and Horizons, the growing number of vegan cookbooks written by dynamic chefs, the sudden explosion of vegan bakeries, ice cream shops, and chocolatiers, and of course the power of vegan food blogs all go to show that vegans will no longer be marginalized and pushed aside by the foodie establishment.

Thursday night’s event signaled—at least to me—a shift in the way that the fine dining world has come to regard non-meat eaters. To watch vegan cuisine be celebrated in the home of American taste-makers was nothing short of exhilarating, and I know that every vegan in the room with me felt the same shiver of pride.

IMG_4526 (500x333)

As I entered the famous Beard House kitchen to snap photos, only to be greeted by the friendly faces of Joy Pierson and Benay Vynerib from Candle Cafe, I thought “our time has come.”

Of course, the Candle Cafe/Candle 79 masterminds were churning out plate after plate of incredible food.

IMG_4516 (500x333)

First to catch my attention were the arancini,with mushrooms and cashew cream:

IMG_4517 (500x333)

They were crispy, light, and delicious. I also paused to sample 79’s famous seitan chimichuris. I’m truly not a seitan fan, but I could gobble these up any day:

IMG_4519 (500x333)

Ditto for 79’s seitan cakes with cashew creme fraiche, which are to die for:

IMG_4548 (500x333)

Inside the cocktail party, I found Brendan chatting with various guests, and we all took a moment to appreciate what was my favorite appetizer of the night: Jerusalem artichoke soup with crispy sage leaves.

IMG_4520 (500x333) IMG_4527 (500x333)

I helped myself to a few of these before the night was done. The soup was creamy yet light, and the sage was a perfect addition to the subtle and delicate flavor. Delicious.

Also on the menu were ravioli with tofu cheese, a vegan classic:

IMG_4529 (500x333)

The amazing and talented Joy Pierson of Candle Cafe, standing with the equally amazing Angel Ramos:

IMG_4540 (333x500)

IMG_4537 (500x333)

Brendan gave an inspiring chat about his path to plant based eating. I love how he always emphasizes in speaking engagements that the road was a little twisting and turning. Brendan’s first stab at veganism was really a foray into “carbitarianism.” He was fueling on a lot of bread and a lot of carbs, and not enough plants, greens, nuts, seeds, and psuedograins. As a result, he was always hungry and tired. When he tweaked his diet to be slightly more raw and alkaline, his health and performance immediately shot up. An important lesson for anyone who’s ever tried veganism briefly, without bothering to adjust the diet for his or her body, and given up in frustration: veganism is like any way of eating in that it takes time to find a healthy balance. Keep experimenting!

IMG_4534 (333x500)

Also in the audience was my good friend Kris Carr, who’s new book, Crazy Sexy Diet, hits the shelves today! I’m proud to say that I was a consultant for the book, and that my recipes are featured in its pages. I’ll be writing more on it this week, but for now I should mention that Kris will appear on Good Morning America tomorrow morning. Tune in!

Here are Kris and I as we gleefully gossip and catch up. I’m making a weird face:

IMG_4550 (500x333)

Now I’m not making a weird face:

IMG_4551 (500x333)

Kris and Brendan, chit chatting:

IMG_4544 (500x333)

And the three of us. I believe Kris and Brendan are attempting to feed me seitan cakes from each flank:

IMG_4552 (500x333)

It was so wonderful to be in the company of two good friends that night, and to celebrate plant based eating. Every time Brendan and I hang out, I leave our conversation with renewed energy and a sense of purpose. We’re both excited about all of the things we hope to do for veganism, for the environment, and for human health.

As I left to put on my coat, Kris and I chuckled at the irony that the Beard House’s next event would be a meatball night. But that hardly detracted from our sense of gladness for the event. Entering the food blog community was the first time I felt as though my veganism was celebrated by fellow food lovers, rather than scorned. I’m so grateful to my fellow bloggers—vegan and omni—for making me feel like a true chef, when others had made me feel like a second class food citizen. With any luck, the fine dining world will follow in the food blog world’s footsteps, and will continue to learn about and embrace veganism. Given our current crisis in food production, and more conscious and compassionate attitudes growing nationwide, it’s hard to believe it won’t. I’m excited to see the day when veganism and haute cuisine will no longer be thought of as antagonists. And I give the Beard Foundation true applause for taking an important first step.

What are your thoughts? Do my vegan readers ever feel condescension from foodies? What about my omni readers—have you ever struggled to reconcile your food love with the idea of veganism? Curious to hear your thoughts!

xo

Categories: Uncategorized

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    59 Comments
  1. I’m horribly behind on blog reading…live has been crazy with a sick, sicker, sick again child , deployed on and off husband, and potential nother international move on the horizon. But so glad I came back and saw this…I’m in the process of reading Crazy Sexy Diet right now and am SO INTRIGUED! Kris’ wit makes all the science of it much easier to understand (for a slow gal like me) and of course I hear so much of what I learned from you resonating. I’m reading it on the kindle which, I’m told, makes the recipes unreadable. But at least the bulk of the info is accessible. And I already use your recipe arsenal often! (in fact, the maple cinnamon vinaigrette is sitting in my fridge now, after having dressed last nights colorful salad supper)

  2. Gena,

    Hi. I just purchase Carr’s book “Crazy Sexy Diet”. Looks good and looking for your recipes!

    Howard

  3. I grew up in fine dining restaurants and my favorite foods were filet mignon and shrimp as a child. In high school and again in college, I used vegetarianism and veganism as a way of restricting my intake of foods that I love in fairly disordered way. As I’ve grown away in fits and starts from disordered eating patterns, I’ve learned that I can’t restrict myself from eating anything and have a healthy attitude about food. At the same time, wanting to be healthy, I eat an 80% plant-based diet and find just as much satisfaction from my vegan meals as I do from my offal-soaked foodie feasts. This is partially because I was taught technique by really good chefs and because there are a lot more tasty and creative ideas out there surrounding vegan food. I think that in the past there wasn’t as much attention paid to the flavor and presentation of vegan food as there was to flesh-based meals, probably because there weren’t as many vegans who cared just as much about flavor as the did about compassion and health. So, there’s a perception that you have to give up a lot of flavor when you eat a vegan diet. As plant-based diets become more mainstream, that perception will shift.

  4. It was a fabulous evening – love the blog, Gena! I’d like to add that all of the wines served that evening were vegan. I find that many people (including a large number of committed, long-time vegans) don’t realize that most wine is NOT vegan. I discovered that fact [that most wine is not vegan] many years after I became vegan. People are simply unaware of the processing involved in making wine, particularly large-production wines.

    Animal products are generally used in the clarification process. Gelatin (bull’s blood), isinglass (fish gelatin) and egg whites are common. They help bind particles in preparation for filtering, during which many pieces of sediment would otherwise pass through the filter.

    In contrast, the wines served at the James Beard House event were selected specifically because either no animal products were used during the wine-making process. The vintners either used bentonite (a clay-like substance from the earth) or did not clarify the wines, and used microfilters for sediment or didn’t even need that since the wines are hand-crafted so that it’s easier to keep down the level of sedimentation. All were certified organic and a few were made at vineyards employing biodynamic principles (kind of like homeopathic for the earth – keeping the vines strong naturally so they can ward off disease).

    Thank you for letting people know about this event — hopefully this is the beginning of many more to come!

  5. What an amazing event! My only comment is that sometimes I feel a little lost in the black and white distinction began “vegan” and “omni.” I am neither, and there are times when I’ve felt condescension from both directions. I’m doing the best I can to combine my ethics with my food preferences, eating history, and my physiology. That doesn’t make me a failed vegan or less worthy person than a vegan, and it also doesn’t mean I’m a crazy hippie or masochistic disordered eater. Granted, most of society accepts vegetarianism more than veganism, but in the world of vegan ethics and vegan preferences (which I share in) there can be that message. There is also often an assumption that vegetarians simply find flesh offensive. I find flesh offensive but I also find any animal or environmental suffering offensive, and this guides my choice (more often than not) in the non-vegan products I do consume.

  6. Hi Gena! I’ve definitely encountered some foodie friends that are appalled at the idea of a vegan diet and some that are too married to the idea of meat=delicious to even consider veganism. On the flip side I’ve met other foodie meat lovers, including my sister’s fiance who happens to be a chef at a steak house, that are inspired by the idea of veganism and are happy to include my preferences at dinner parties and get togethers. I’ll take the bad with the good and just keep setting my example of healthy & delicious vegan food!

    On a funny note, a friend at school asked me if I was a vegan today. Apparently I “look like a vegan”, and hell yes I’m taking that as a compliment!!

  7. Wow – what fun! I’m a huge fan of Brendan’s and his books were a big part of my intro to this way of life. I figured if a professional Ironman could “Thrive” this way, then that was enough evidence for me! I went from omni to high-raw vegan this past Easter (also my 35th b-day) and haven’t looked back.

    I guess I’m fortunate that nobody in my life has given me a hard time at all about my choice. I think they can see that I’m fitter and healthier than I’ve ever been, so the results speak for themselves. I definitely don’t try to convert anyone, and am happy to accommodate my omni family and friends so we all live peacefully together 🙂

  8. Gena, I see your recipes in Kris Carr’s new book, “Crazy Sexy Diet!” That’s awesome! I’ve asked you before and will ask you again now, when is YOUR cookbook coming out??? :O)

  9. Every. Single. Person. Every single person I know (except for you and my friend Cindy, obvi) looks at me as though I have completely lost my mind when I tell them I am a vegan. No, seriously, everyone. Usually it’s because of the following:

    1. Everyone in D.C. who has so much as microwaved a lean cuisine thinks that they are a “foodie,” and that this clearly necessitates eating EVERYTHING. Somehow, this is considered more sophisticated. IDK.

    2. They want me to share some of whatever they’re eating so that they don’t eat it all. I’m like, clearly you know it’s going to make you miserable, and yet, I’m supposed to want to join this party? Not so much.

    3. This is another one that’s popular in D.C.: “There are starving children in Africa, so you have to eat everything available to you.” Wait, What? So you’re telling me that if I consume more things there will also be more things for other people? Um, no.

    4. They think I’m on a diet, and want to lecture me about eating disorders. Part of me wants to look at them and go “Guuuuuurrl, you don’t know from eating disorders.” But seriously, a lot of my friends associate the abstention from any kind of food with a hatred of your body. Anyway, instead of lecturing THEM on eating disorders, which really is tempting, I let them know that I love my body, which is why I’m so nice to it. Yay.

    Sorry that turned into a little rant.

      • True – we don’t have much in the way of vegan or raw in DC, but it’s getting better. New on the block: Elizabeth’s Gone Raw! http://elizabethsgoneraw.com/ Amazing raw fantastic prix fixe dinners that started a few months back and are being held just about weekly now in a wonderful townhouse at 1341 L Street, NW in DC. Incredible meals — all raw, vegan, gorgeous, delicious and amazing!!

        Also check out Sunflower (NoVa – Vienna & Falls Church), and Bread & Brew on 20th St (not all vegan but selections across the menu — from appetizers, soups, entrees and desserts, and Java Green on 19th St. (lots of raw options there).

        Also check out vegdc.com for more suggestions. Enjoy!

  10. All though I am no longer a vegan, I can totally relate to everything in this post! My time as a vegan led me to a newfound love for food that I had never had before. My culinary skills improved greatly and I found myself daydreaming about new recipes I could try. However, when I would try to tell my friends and family about my new found love for food and veganism, they just… didn’t get it to say the least. My switch back to a diet including animal products was not because of cravings for “good” food but as a desire, because of my past with eating disorders, to make no foods off limit.

    Cheers to yummy plant based foods and foodies!

  11. I love this post- it looks like such an amazing evening!! Candle 79 is my all-time favorite restaurant.

    I’ve found that my lack of meat is a bigger problem to most foodies than my lack of dairy and eggs. But I LOVE vegan food, and I think that cultivating a palate for tofu, tempeh, seitan, leafy greens, nut cheeses and the like is a benefit to ANY foodie, vegan or not. It’s taken awhile, but I have proved to my parents that gourmet doesn’t have to mean meat-and-cream laden. They’ve been great sports at helping me discover vegan restaurants!

  12. Nice post; I really enjoyed “going there with you!” I have to say that I actually found that being vegan made me MORE of a foodie, more of an educated one I guess. I was actually in a culinary program when I decided to switch to veganism (4ish years ago) and my chef laughed in my face! It still humours me, because all of my other chefs in school laughed at me too. I never felt too torn though. If a claimed “foodie” mocked me or said something along the lines of “I like food too much,” or “I like to enjoy ‘good food’ so I would never go vegan,” I usually just acknowledge the fact that they may enjoy food, but they are sort of showing that they don’t know all that much about it. Veganism opened up a whole new world of creativity, methodologies, and ingredients to me. And I LOVE food. There are just so many new interesting things my eyes have been opened up to and when people criticize, I just have to think that they just don’t have the knowledge behind their words.

    I’m so glad every time I hear about an increasing awareness of vegan/plant based diets, and when more and more restaurants cater. Gourmet vegan restaurants are a statement that things are changing in the right direction toward less cruelty, and more healthy nights out!

    The time I felt most pressured was the 1 year I was with my ex who used to criticize veganism….let’s just say I compromised a bit too much for that year and I decided I would not let other people’s criticisms influence my personal choices again after that.

    I’ve always looked up to you, Gena, for your ability to be so steadfast, and unabashedly honest about your veganism and preferences. I’m back on that track now thank goodness, and your blog honestly helped remind me why I agree with and love veganism.

    Cheers!

  13. holy crap i just died and went to foodie heaven! james.beard. zomg. wow what an honor to be able to attend! i def think that often foodies and/or chic eateries that have interesting offal or meat dishes have a snide comment for those with food allergies or choose not to indulge in certain foods. even though i’m not vegan, i often feel “bad” at a swanky place to ask the chef to de-glutenize a dish for me. i respect their creations so much and i have every day to cook for myself so i want to allow them the opportunity to prepare something special. however, i don’t want to leave the joint with hives! we all make adjustments as necessary and i for one am not in the position who thinks vegan food isn’t equally tasty. i make tons of your recipes!

  14. Ooh la la! What a great event–I’m so glad to hear of it, even as a non-vegan. James Beard is probably one of the last names I would have associated with ANYthing vegan, so you’re right, this truly marks a shift, and now thousands of Beard-o’s will see that too. 🙂

    Thank you also for the snack bar idea from your last post–now that I’ll be teaching group fitness in the evenings, I’ve got my eye out for inexpensive yet nutrition-dense snack ideas to get me through til I have a chance for a proper dinner.

    xxoo

  15. That looks like an amazing event, with amazing and influential people (yourself included). I was so excited to be in borders and see all your recipes in the book, I was actually upstate and telling everyone in a three aisle radius–I know her!!!! Hope school is going well, stay out of the slush as much as possible.

  16. I’m an omni and I see vegan (raw and cooked) restaurants as extremely impressive examples of culinary creativity. I think it’s probably pretty easy to make something that tastes decadent from heavy cream, butter, sugar and cocoa powder, but to make something decadent from nuts and fruit is far more impressive (to me, at least). I just ate at Candle 79 this weekend for the first time, having decided I must try it based on reading your blog, and it did not disappoint. We shared the seitan and shitake steamed potstickers, and hubby had the harvest platter with roasted root veggies and other goodies, while I shared the b’nut squash risotto (the star of the meal in my eyes) and the seitan BBQ sandwhich with polenta fries (which were also phenomenal) with my mom. Thank you for the awesome recommendation, I’m looking forward to eating at Pure, Bonobos and Horizons ASAP! 🙂

  17. Having worked in the business, often the mere mention of Vegetarianism ( not even veganism ) is enough to get chef SWEARING and snickering. It’s so weird. I’ve been shocked at the downright HOSTILE reactions I get. I worked with one chef who told me he felt that vegetarians lacked culinary knowledge, that our full spectrum of abilities lacked basic culinary foundations that any cook needs to know.

    It’s interesting, because of course I learned a lot from him, but I also taught HIM things.. I was using agar and irish moss ( thanks to Bryanna Clark Grogan ) years ago before it became trendy.

    When I was the chef at a Maine wine bar, one of my desserts was vegan and I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone that ( unless they asked ).. My boss ( the owner ) was serious about that. He forbid me from telling people there was tofu in it. He wanted NOTHING to do with vegan or vegetarian .. it was really irritating.
    Actually, part of the reason I no longer work in kitchens is because I can’t find a job that utilizes my vegan skills in this area that is worth my while and I do not want to cook meat.

  18. Outstanding!

    I never feel inferior, but that’s probably due to my overly optimistic outlook on things.

    Sometimes it gets a little contentious with the meat eating foodies (I went head to head with Michael Symon recently and it was a draw; at least I learned that he eats kale every day so I sent him an “Eat More Kale” shirt).

    I’m so proud to be almost 100% vegan it’s contageous! So many of my friends have been inspired to change the way they view food. I feel like there is a groundswell . . . only time will tell.

    XOXO

  19. Ah! I was offered tickets to the event but I had another engagement. So sad to have missed it! I do think it’s incredibly meaningful to have vegan food high-lighted in such an auspicious location!

    The omnivores that I hang around (including the one I’m married to) realize that vegan food is delicious food. I’ve made a point to take them to Candle 79 and Pure Food and Wine so they can be as dazzled as I am by the chefs’ creations!

  20. I had a long argument with my mom’s friend once that gourmet does not have to mean butter.

    I see the same thing going on in fashion – it drives me crazy that people associate “quality” with animal products. But I hope/think it’s changing… slowly.

  21. I love this post!!!! Makes me feel proud too, even though I’m not vegan, but knowing I’m vegetarian my friends always are like “what in the world do you eat?!” seriously? I eat way more variety than you do!!
    Kris Carr and you together..my heroes!
    xoxo
    Lola

  22. sounds like a great event with tasty food! some of the BEST food i’ve tasted is raw vegan. we have a place in vancouver, Organic Lives, that serves the most incredible living food EVER. preet is making change..improving our health and the planets. its so nice to have talented chefs like this.

    a big congrats on following your dreams for med. school. the mainstream health industry needs someone like you..you will make a difference and offer patients so much more with your background. also congrats for being in crazy sexy diet! got it today and love it.

    all the best

  23. Yes, I definitely feel the tension between vegans and the greater foodie community. It may sound crazy, but I like to think about it like sexuality.

    There are people who are secure in their own sexuality, and they are open and accepting of all others. Then there are the ones who are sexually insecure and drive themselves to become crazy homophobes.

    Therefore, maybe those bacon-cupcake-with-foie-gras-frosting-types–who are the most anti-vegan–are too vegi-curious for their own comfort!

    I participated in this pie cookoff once, and this guy came up to the girls next to me and said “Awesome! Lard Crust! Way to stick it to the vegans!” By the end of the night, I was good friends with the girls, who had no alternate agenda besides making pie and having fun, and I just felt bad for that dude (who never got to try my awesome vegan pie). My sentiment was that he had nothing to stand for, so he decided to stand against something in the hopes that it would validate him as a foodie.

  24. I can say that I’ve taken a lot of criticism from non-vegan friends, family and co-workers for going vegan. Hard to take when I know they do not enjoy and savor the spectrum of plant food I do, most couldn’t tell me what a jicama is. 🙂

    Wow Gena, what a wonderful event with amazing food. Gorgeous pictures, it all looks like art. So awesome that you’re friends with Brendan, I would like to see him, and you, in person. And it’s just amazing that you got to be a part of Kris’ new book, I can’t wait for it.

  25. I’m not vegan, but I never once said anything bad about vegan cuisine. I know that it can be just as good as omni food. It is a personal choice for me to eat as sustainably as possible by not purchasing factory farmed meat and only eating meat a few times a month. Vegans still might not agree with my choices, and that is fine. I love coming to your site for great vegan foods. Thanks for providing these great recipes!

  26. Umm congrats on being in a a book 🙂 So silly blogger question- but how do you get the pictures to stay side by side in your post? I use WLW and I can’t figure it out!
    Thanks!
    I hope school is going well!

  27. I actually rarely feel scorn from omnis nowadays. I used to but I am so filled with joy and fulfillment with my choice that I think it bubbles over and people leave me to my love affair with my food choices :). Plus I never try to suggest that what others are eating doesn;t taste good to them…if I don’t do it, they are less likely to do it back.

    Looks like a great event! Love Kris’ book!

  28. What an amazing event you were able to attend…and rubbing elbows with some pretty amazing people in the process isn’t too shabby, either!

    Love this:

    “Thursday night’s event signaled—at least to me—a shift in the way that the fine dining world has come to regard non-meat eaters. To watch vegan cuisine be celebrated in the home of American taste-makers was nothing short of exhilarating,”

    That is awesome that you feel that way!

    Here in So Cal, yes, I feel that way too. But outside of LA and San Fran, I dont feel that CA options are as good as NY or the east coast, but better than a million other places, no doubt. I can’t complain 🙂

    But I would love to go to Pure or Candle, and wouldn’t complain if they opened So Cal locations 🙂

    To answer your question–Do my vegan readers ever feel condescension from foodies?
    I have stopped using the word vegan and replaced it with plant-based, in many cases. I feel that reduces condescension and raised eyebrows and misunderstandings. I just try to focus on plants and that word choice.

    People seem to be more tolerant or understanding. Just my little observance.

    Fantastic post, Gena! 🙂

    • True, Averie, but I sometimes wonder if “plant based” doesn’t quite suggest to others (as I’d like it to) that my veganism is born not just of dietary preference, but also of compassion. I like the term because I think it’s palatable to mainstream eaters, sure, but I also wonder how wholly it represents ME and my choices. I don’t fear condescension or raised eyebrows, but I do fear using language that doesn’t do justice to my views.

      However, I think all words used to account for a vegan lifestyle are inherently limited, and have different shortcomings and strengths! Six of one, half dozen of another.

  29. what a fun event! i see where you’re coming from with your prompt, as there seems to be a great sense of snobbery in the foodie world that comes with the flexibility and desire to eat anything and everything – vegetarian, vegan or otherwise – when the opportunity arises, and i can’t say i disagree entirely with this sentiment. the freedom that comes with a diet without limitations does expand your taste bud horizons on a certain level, but it doesn’t mean you can’t tell quality food versus crap better than a vegan. it comes down to versatility in tastes, textures and proteins that marks the difference, and there are more foodie events and opportunities for meat eaters. i avoid red meat and still feel somewhat limited! so, any restriction causes some separation, but it only leads to appreciation for different foods and different cooking styles.

  30. Looks like an amazing time. I do love the photo of the kitchen prep with microgreens on the counter…definitely a vegan event, swank as it was 😉

  31. I’m a meat eater, but I totally appreciate and adore vegan food. And I totally think vegan food can be “fine dining.” Millennium is one of my favorite restaurants of all time. What I really appreciate about my favorite vegan restaurants is how creative the chefs are with the food. I mean, I think Eric Tucker is a genius. Vegan restaurants always seem to have such unusual flavor combinations that I don’t find in traditional restaurants. My fave entree – “seared greens, snap peas & smokey tempeh ‘sausage’, orange scented black bean feijoada, aji coconut cream, lime & cilantro soffrito, plantain crisps, coconut cashews.” Um, yes please! And don’t even get me started on the dessert there. lol.

    🙂 Diana

    PS I’m jealous you’re friends with Brendan. I met him when he visited Charlotte with his book and thought he was so cool!

  32. What a wonderful night, and moment in history, to be a part of! While Australia is a few steps behind in this regard, I do believe that there’s a growing awareness that vegetarian food should be more than just grilled veggie stacks and chips. Hopefully, one day, we’ll have a fancy event with vegan food too…

    Until then, I’ll keep going to bed hoping I magically wake up in America 😀

  33. This is such a great post! I have really been struggling with some omni-friends that are not understanding or supportive of veganism and are convinced that I am malnourished and under-fed. It’s extremely sad and frustrating because I feel that – for the first time in my life – I can eat an abundance of satisfying and delicious food and ENJOY it. I wish they would celebrate that with me instead of quizzing me about my every meal or saying “That’s so good – it doesnt even taste vegan” – when I make them something tasty. I think it’s such a beautiful lifestyle with so many exciting opportunities for incredible food, I wish it was celebrated more, and more widely accepted. And that I had a vegan friend or two to enjoy it with 🙂

  34. That event looks so nice-and I’m eyeing the ravioli 🙂

    I can’t wait for Kris Carr’s book-I saw it on Amazon and it looks really good. That’s so great you were involved with the book’s development.

  35. Great post and discussion starter. Just yesterday my mom told me that I’m “not living” because I am a vegetarian and try to make sure that most of my meals are balances and veggie based.
    I don’t like to argue with her, but I feel most alive when I eat that way!

  36. I am beyond jealous that you get to attend that event. I think that i consider myself a foodie first and a vegan second. I wish there were more events like this for all of us to attend.

  37. What a fun night with some famous foodies! I have to admit if I were in that room I’d probably feel star struck and completely awkward because of it.
    I think in the end good food is good food. There’s a science behind flavors but it’s not one that needs meat or has to be exclusively vegan, so I try never to discriminate between cuisines. The one thing I think that gets in the way is language, just because when you tell someone they’re getting a cream puff and it’s filled with cashew and coconut cream and they’re expecting something else it’s always a let down. But if you let the food just talk for itself then good food will stand on its own.