I would never have imagined that well-known vegan chefs would be gracing the “pages” of my blog when I started Cowgirls & Collard Greens just over a year ago. Today I feel very lucky to share this space with Jason Wyrick, vegan chef, author and co-founder of The Vegan Taste. Many of you will be familiar with his latest book, Vegan Tacos: Authentic & Inspired Recipes for Mexico’s Favorite Street Food as it just recently hit bookstore shelves.
I’m completely head over heels for this book because Mexican food is one of my all time favorite cuisines, and also because it focuses on tacos from every walk of life– guacamole tacos, purple potato tacos, tacos with seitan, tacos with grilled veggies and everything in between. Vegan Tacos even includes a history of the taco, how to properly fill & make taco shells and there are even some bonus recipes for guacamole, beverages, taco sides and more. I encourage you to check out this book filled with incredible photos and delicious vegan food ASAP, but in the interim, please join me in giving a big cowgirl welcome to Chef Jason Wyrick. Take it away Jason!
Tacos Are the Perfect Vegan Food Ambassadors
One of the reasons I became a vegan chef, and made a name for myself doing it, is because I set out to show that vegan food doesn’t have to be the insipid, lackluster affair that it is sometimes perceived to be. Fortunately, that perception is changing and it’s a different vegan world now than it was ten years ago. But, where many people may have heard that vegan cuisine can be delicious, a good number of them are still a bit trepidatious about trying it. Enter the taco!
Tacos make great vegan food ambassadors for a few reasons. And before I get started, I’m going to generalize a bit in this article because I’ll be talking about non-vegans as a group. However, I’ve taught thousands of hours of cooking classes and demos over the years. While there are plenty of exceptions, this has been my overall experience showcasing vegan cuisine to non-vegans.
First, and most importantly, a good taco is loaded with bold flavors. That lets the taco compete, flavor-wise, with what many people are used to getting with meat-based meals. Bold flavors show people that they can have the same level of flavor impact (dare I say, even more of one!) with vegan cuisine than with non-vegan cuisine and that’s key to getting people on board with going vegan.
Second, tacos are fun! There’s something about that juicy, hand-held bite that makes tacos a treat to eat. I see far more people smiling and laughing when they’re eating tacos than I see when people are eating burgers or hot dogs. Tacos are complex, they pop with flavor, and you can down a taco in a few bites. Even when they’re messy, that only serves to make people laugh and smile even more while they’re eating them. Lots of people have heard or seen the horrors of factory farming. Those videos and messages are important, but if you want to make vegan cuisine a positive experience, make it enjoyable! If you can put a smile on someone’s face, you’re that much closer to showing them that eating vegan is a fun experience, and that’s the key to showing someone that a vegan lifestyle is a sustainable one.
Third, tacos are eminently satisfying. After three street-food sized tacos, I am full (although I’ll probably eat another one.) I encounter quite a few people that wonder if they will be hungry if they go vegan. Tacos emphatically say, “No!” I like serving tacos that have beans or seitan to non-vegans because it also addresses the protein question.
Finally, there are plenty of bold, satisfying tacos that are easy to make and that’s important for you if you want to reach a lot of people. Whether you’re doing a cooking demo, showcasing your wonderful vegan creations at a festival, or just serving family and friends, you can find a taco to make that is low-stress and quick to put together, making it easier for you to reach more people and put an infectious smile on your own face.
Jason Wyrick is an executive chef, cooking teacher, caterer, a former diabetic, and founder of the world’s first vegan food magazine, The Vegan Culinary Experience. His September cookbook Vegan Tacos is a masterpiece of research and an outstanding addition to the vegan bookshelf. He has co-authored the New York Times best-selling book 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart with Neal Barnard, MD, and has taught alongside many medical and dietary professionals. Jason was the first vegan culinary instructor in the world-famous Le Cordon Bleu program through the Scottsdale Culinary Institute, and has catered for major corporations. Jason has taught hundreds of vegan cooking classes around the world, and his work has been featured in the New York Times, Vegetarian Times, and on both local and national television. His website is: www.thevegantaste.com.
All photos were submitted and used by permission via Vegan Heritage Press @2014 by Jason Wyrick.