Main Street Vegan
If Julia Child had grown up in Brooklyn, stopped eating meat when she was a teenager, and taped podcasts of a cooking show in her tiny apartment accompanied by the music of local punk bands, she might bear a striking resemblance to Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Founder of the Post Punk Kitchen (theppk.com) and author of three bestselling cookbooks, Moskowitz has helped move vegan cooking from the culinary fringe to campuses, health clubs, and even Main streets across the U.S. Newly transported to Portland, Ore., she spoke to us after a recent visit to New York City, where she browsed the farmers' market at Union Square.
How do you make veganism appealing?
Rather than start with what we don't eat—meat, fish, dairy, eggs—I talk about what we do: broccoli, carrots, beans, peppers. Once people realize that we eat a lot of the same foods, it's usually not a big leap.
What advice would you offer to someone who wants to go vegan?
Don't go "cold tofu," as we call it; eliminate animal foods in stages—first cows, then chickens, then go vegetarian. Take time to find the dairy substitutes you like best (I love almond milk). It can take months or even years—I held on to some dairy products for a long time. Food has an emotional hold on us and it doesn't do you any good to go vegan for a week and then give up.
What health boosts can people expect when they become vegan?
People tell me all the time that switching to a vegan diet changed their lives: more energy, clearer skin, lower cholesterol, reversing prediabetes. I also hear from cancer survivors and people with heart conditions who've made huge improvements by eliminating meat and dairy.
Does going vegan make you a more creative cook?
Absolutely. Omnivores can eat lots of grains, legumes, and veggies, but vegans have to. Cooking vegan opens up a whole new world of food.
How are you expanding the audience for your website, the Post Punk Kitchen?
I want vegan cuisine to be taken seriously, and to appeal to nonvegans, too. The new Post Punk Kitchen will be a huge database of vegan recipes where cooks can post recipes and cooking videos. It'll be like the Epicurious of vegan.