March 3, 2015 / 3:28 PM / 4 years ago

World Chefs: Vegan cookbook author extols dairy-free life

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Cookbook author Kristy Turner was so passionate about cheese that she worked as a professional cheese seller and server. But once she decided to go vegan, she never looked back.

Turner’s first book, “But I Could Never Go Vegan!”, includes 125 recipes and her take on dairy-free, egg-free pizza and nachos, along with the cashew-based blue cheese and macadamia mozzarella that she says fully satisfy her cheesy cravings.

“I was a huge cheese nerd. I studied cheeses, I could tell you where they were made and the animal involved, but now I don’t miss it at all,” said Turner, 34.

The Los Angeles-based cook, who has been happily vegan for more than three years, spoke to Reuters about how and why she stopped eating meat and dairy.

Q: Why did you go vegan?

A: I was a pretty big cheese nerd when somebody posted on Facebook an interview with (comedian) Ellen DeGeneres talking about veganism. ... I thought the dairy and egg industries had nothing to do with torture but I did research and realized that there was a lot of torture in that industry. ... I couldn’t justify that anymore so I went vegan.

Q: Is it difficult to cook without dairy products and meat?

A: Think about beans, rice and vegetables: Those are the basics of my diet. You can get them pretty much anywhere. There are ways to make vegan things like spaghetti, burritos or sandwiches that are just as easy to do as non-vegan.

Q: Several recipes in the book are vegan versions of non-vegan dishes. Why?

A: I find that for people new to veganism or interested in transitioning, these recipes are more appealing. It’s like, if I can have a vegan burger or nachos, maybe I can do vegan.

Q: What’s in your pantry?

A: Always beans, tofu and tempeh (a soy product) because you want your protein. I try to keep a variety of grains, like rice, quinoa and millet, and favorite vegetables, like mushrooms, spinach, kale and always avocado.

Q: What’s your advice for the home cook who wants to go vegan?

A: You don’t have to do it all at once. Start with recipes that you know as an omnivore and just try to veganize them, say by substituting sautéed mushrooms for meat on pizza, or chick peas for ground beef in sloppy joes.

Editing by Patricia Reaney and Leslie Adler

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