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Behind the Scenes
Vegan Cookies from Allison's Gourmet
Personal Development for Smart People
InterviewsSarah Kramer and Tanya Barnard
Authors of How It All Vegan!
Interviewed by Erin Pavlina
How did you two meet?
Sarah: We get that question all the time...but we have yet to come up with a "sound bite" answer. Basically we both had crappy boyfriends who were friends with each other. After hanging out for a while...we ditched the crappy boyfriends and became best friends. We were roommates for about 3 years somewhere in there. It's all a crazy fun blur...Tanya is one of my closest friends.
Tanya: Sarah and I were talking the other day saying that we need to come up with a good answer to this question , cuz we always get asked this one. To tell you the truth, I don't think either of us remember how we met, and when we started hanging out. I do remember that we both had terrible boyfriends that were mutual friends. I think we ditched the boys, and a friendship between us blossomed out of the demise.
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Sarah: Again...a crazy fun blur. I was raised vegetarian since birth. I dabbled in meat a little in high school, but nothing major. I returned to vegetarianism for a number of reasons. I was poor, I didn't know how to cook meat, and it turned my stomach. It wasn't until I was in my mid-20's that I started to look at not eating meat as a political and personal journey. I don't have an exact day when I "went vegan". It was a long journey of starts and stops. For me it was not only a choice of being ethical, but it was also a road to becoming healthy again. I had been sick for many years with CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome). Everything I had read about CFS lead me to believe that a vegan lifestyle was the way to go. I was practically there anyway, except for the cheese. That one is always hard to give up.
Tanya: I decided in 1990 to go vegetarian, then I went vegan 5 years after that. Turning vegan just seemed like the most natural progression after being a vegetarian for so long. My decision to go vegan was a political one. I was/am concerned about animal rights and the environment.
How did your friends and family react to the change in diet?
Sarah: No problem. My Mum raised my brother and I veggie and after she passed away, but Dad continued to raise us vegetarian. At the time that Tanya and I were dabbling with veganism, we had a strong socially active group of friends who were all on the same journey. We would have potlucks and share recipes. It was a really special time.
Tanya: Up until I was 18, I had eaten meat everyday of my life, no joke. My family loves the stuff. I still can't go to a family dinner without some member of my family make a wise crack about veganism. "Meat Tanya?", they ask. My family didn't (and probably still don't) really understand my reasons for eating a vegan diet. They now just accept it, because Sarah and I have this lovely book out . They all think that that's pretty cool. So now they try to be a little more understanding.
Who came up with the idea to write a cookbook?
Sarah: It was Tanya's idea to put some of our recipes down for a home made zine styled cookbook. I had been doing year end zines for years as a way to catch my friends and family up with what I had been doing over the year. That year I had purchased my first computer, so I was very excited to put together a cookbook with my fancy new software. We did the lay out, printed and bound the books ourselves. We gave a few of them away, and started selling them for $4 at punk shows and over the internet. We sold over 400 right away and a light bulb went off in our heads. Hmmm lets try to go legit. The rest is history, as they say!
Tanya: Well, I think I'm going to have to take credit for this one. At the time, 4 years back, my hobby was making cookbooks for friends. Sarah got her computer and the idea that we could store the recipes in her computer and not have to re-write them for every book, seemed liked heaven.
What challenges did you face getting it published?
Sarah: We were very lucky. It was a case of right place, right time. We sent out about 1/2 a dozen book proposals, but Arsenal Pulp Press was the publishing house we wanted to do our book, in fact we even kissed the envelope for luck when we mailed it out. 3 days later Brian phoned us wanting to do the book. From what I understand...it doesn't happen like that all the time. *laugh*
Tanya: We are probably two of the most lucky authors alive. We didn't have any problems finding a publisher. Actually the whole experience has been totally amazing! From what I understand, this doesn't happen all the time!
How have your lives changed since the cookbook came out?
Sarah:Nothing much has changed, except that Tanya and I spent a lot more of our time working and not as much time playing and having fun. But spending time with her is always fun.
Tanya: My life hasn't changed that much...it's just gotten a whole lot busier! Actually, life has been a lot of fun as of late too. Our publishers keep us busy with cooking demos, and other events.
Do you have plans to write another cookbook in the future?
Sarah: We hope to have another cookbook for x-mas 2001. We're still a little worn out from this one. I'm trying to take the summer off and not think cookbook thoughts until Sept. Tanya is moving back to Victoria from Vancouver then, so we'll be able to spend more time together writing and creating the next book.
Tanya: We hope to have another cookbook out by Christmas of 2001. I'm just in the process of moving back to my home town, that's were Sarah lives, and we are going to work on the sequel there.
What sort of feedback have you received from the public regarding How It All Vegan?
Sarah: The feedback has been amazing. Almost every day we receive a e-mail from someone thanking us for writing the book. It's a lovely way to start the day. We have a really active and supportive fan base. My favourite story is from an old university friend of mine. She is vegan, and a non-mutual friend of hers sent her a cookbook as a x-mas book. She wrote her a note saying, "This book looks cool. I hope you like it!". Well the book turned out to be HIAV and she freaked out. Her friend had no idea that we were all connected. What a small world.
Tanya: The feedback has been so amazing! We probably get a e-mail everyday by someone who just loves the book. Never in a million years did I ever think that our book was going to be this popular. We were just at the Vegetarian Congress in Toronto, and within 5 mins of us being there, we got recognized by someone who said they were our biggest fan. It was so funny.
What advice do you have for vegans married to non-vegans?
Sarah: Ugggh. I have no idea. I'm a lucky girl. I'm married to a wonderful vegan boy. Pre-husband, I had dated out of my vegan lifestyle and it was rough. Separate kitchens perhaps? *laugh* a lot of patience. Goodness me. I have no idea! :)
Tanya: Oh boy, that's a hard one. When I lived in Japan I dated this boy who ate a ton of meat. Not just your average beef, but sick stuff like raw horse meat! When we finally broke up, I made a promise to myself never to date a meat eater again. I just can't do it. I guess my advise is to run, run far away *ha ha*, no that was a joke. I think you just have to be patient.
Which are your favorite recipes in How It All Vegan? Which do you think readers will enjoy most?
Sarah: My favorite recipe is probably the Humus (pg91). I can't get enough of it. I sometimes eat the entire recipe as a meal. It's so yummy. It's one of my favorites to take to potlucks as well. Everyone starts mmmmming and yummming. Instant gratification.
I think the recipe that would surprise everyone the most is the Tortilla Chip Soup (pg 57). When I was doing recipe testing, my Auntie Bonnie passed that recipe on to me. I left the recipe till almost last because it sounded so blah. It's so easy and simple and when ever I make it I think it's going to suck...but it constantly surprises me with how good it is. In fact I think I'm going to make it for supper tonight! YUM!
Tanya: I love the vegan pate recipe on page 98. It's so easy to make, taste delicious, and you can eat it alone, on crackers, or sandwich style. Another recipe that I enjoy making is the Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies on page 137. Again they are so easy to make, and they taste so yummy. I've fed these to the most pickiest of eaters, and they don't realized they're vegan!