We chatted with social media star The Buddhist Chef about vegan living and cruelty-free cooking.
You’re becoming quite famous on social media among vegans and even nonvegans for your appealing cruelty-free recipes! What made you decide to go vegan?
I had been working in a restaurant for many years when I got this gig: a banquet. The mayor was there and everything. There were around 300 people, and the location was a funeral home—I remember that. We were serving rack of lamb. I was in charge of cooking the meat. That’s when I realized that there was something wrong with the way we live as a society. I just felt so bad realizing how many animals were slaughtered for this. And people were barely touching the food—not only did the animals die but they died for nothing.
Can you tell us why it has become so important for you to promote vegan recipes and vegan food in general? What does it mean to you?
My opinion is that you become vegan for the animals—maybe you’ve seen a documentary or a video on YouTube—but to persevere on this path, it’s important that your food tastes good. It’s a challenge for people to convince their family to follow the same path sometimes. But if you get people by the taste buds, it’s easier. I want to make vegan cooking simple, fun, and delicious.
We’re glad to see that you’re making many Asian-style recipes. Why are you creating vegan Asian recipes in particular?
I’ve traveled a lot across Southeast Asia, and I fell in love with the food. I even took cooking classes there a few years back. I like the balance between salty, spicy, sweet, and sour. I apply French cooking techniques to Asian ingredients, like baking a butternut squash curry, for example.
If you could give three tips to someone who’s interested in going vegan, what would they be?
Learn how to cook. Start where you are. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
What is the one cooking ingredient that you couldn’t live without?
Tofu! It’s so versatile—you can do anything with tofu.
Last question: If you were stranded on a deserted island and could eat only one kind of food, what would it be?
Asian food, for sure. 😉
Check out our How to Go Vegan page for more vegan recipes and tips!