I’m excited to write about my good friend Elizabeth Castoria‘s new book HOW TO BE VEGAN. If you’re veg-curious, vegan, vegetarian, or just want to give this as a gift to your well-meaning friends who ask, “How the heck can you be vegan?”
Elizabeth details everything to help you in your vegan journey—from travel tips, manners, and what the heck to eat and wear. Her sassy tone will lure you in and keep you informed without feeling like you’re reading a textbook. There’s no shaming here! No graphic pictures of poor animals! Just funny infographics, witty text, and did I mention there are 50 recipes inside written by the vegan cookbook maven Robin Robertson? It’s basically your go-to starter kit for the amazing, wonderful, compassionate vegan lifestyle. I wish I had this book when I went vegan!
I interviewed Elizabeth about her book, and she was kind enough to offer her favorite recipe, Soyrizo Pasta—see below.
1) How did your book HOW TO BE VEGAN come together?
I was (and am) extra super stinking insanely lucky. A few years back, I had the pleasure of meeting Lia Ronnen, the associate publisher at Artisan Books. When my editor, Judy Pray, told Lia that the company should put out a book about veganism, they called me! I flipped out and jumped around a lot, then got to work.
2) What are some of your best travel tips for new vegans?
Don’t be scared! Traveling can feel a little overwhelming if you think that your vacation cuisine will consist entirely of Clif Bars and black coffee (it won’t, I promise!), so it’s best to go in with an open mind. Do your research before you go (of course, HappyCow.net is an amazing resource, and so is Google!), and find out what your destination has to offer. Our pal Carolyn Scott-Hamilton, aka The Healthy Voyager, has been all over the world and reported back on what she’s found, and she’s not the only one out there willing to share their knowledge of hidden gems!
3) When people say to you, “It must be so hard to be vegan,” what’s your response?
I think it’s like anything—if you want to do it, it’s super easy. But if you feel like you have to do it or someone is pressuring you into it, it becomes this insurmountable obstacle. One of the reasons why I love being vegan is that I actually feel like it makes my life easier. There are so many issues that we all have to interact with, questions of being the kinds of people that we want to be. It can be a little bit daunting to live a really good life (and it’s really easy to beat ourselves up for not doing “enough”). Being vegan means that even if I just sit on the couch all day, I’ve still not contributed to the biggest industrialized forms of animal suffering by not eating animal products, so I get to check a big box on my own personal Decent Human To Do list. Could I do a lot more than sit on the couch? Yes, but I have this baseline of compassion that’s really comforting. (For example, I could sit on the couch and shovel Eat Pastry cookie dough into my face like there’s no tomorrow. Just off the top of my head.)
4) What do you hope readers get from HOW TO BE VEGAN?
A deeper, clearer understanding of who they are as people, through the experience of learning whether or not they want to get a burrito. I mean, that’s like, the big question. Really, I hope they see that being vegan is easy and fun and that they feel inspired and empowered to give it a try. And also that they start hosting DIY sushi parties, because those are rad.
5) What’s your favorite recipe from the book?
It’s a tough call. My actual favorite recipe is the Soyrizo Pasta because it’s one of the fastest, easiest, and most satisfying weeknight dinners of all time. But, also, there are the Breakfast Benedict Stacks, and if I could eat everything in Benedict form, I totally would. So, definitely one of those, but also both.
For more on Elizabeth Castoria, check out her website. You can grab your copy of HOW TO BE VEGAN at your local bookstore or online here.
One 16-ounce box of farfelle, penne, or other bite-sized pasta
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
One 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
One 12-ounce package of Soyrizo
1. Cook the pasta in a pot of boiling salted water according to the package directions. Drain well and set aside.
2. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
3. Add the tomatoes and Soyrizo, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook for 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Add the cooked pasta, and toss to coat, stirring to heat through for about 2 minutes. Serve warm. Leftovers will keep, covered, up to for 5 days in the fridge.
Excerpted from How to Be Vegan by Elizabeth Castoria (Artisan Books). Copyright (c) 2014. Recipe text by Robin Robertson. Illustrations by Headcase Design.