Interview with Ann Gentry, author of Vegan Family Meals
PBR: Preparing good daily vegan meals is time consuming. How does a working vegan can manage
Gentry: As a busy working mother, I too am juggling the same day-to-day challenges as everyone
else. In my book, Vegan Family Meals I talk about while it’s nice to have the American-style four or
five dishes at every meal, it’s not necessary. Balance your nutrition intake across the week, and don’t
get hung up on making every meal a feast. Instead, focus on preparing recipes that will keep your
cooking simple and your time in the kitchen enjoyable.
PBE: How do vegans get sufficient proteins strictly from legumes, nuts and seeds? And how do they
know if they get totally balanced proteins?
Gentry: There is sufficient protein in plants. If you are eating them, you’ll have no worries. If
you’ve noticed, many of the health problems we face in this country are from consuming too much
protein, especially animal protein NOT for the lack of. Eat a balance diet consisting of whole grains,
vegetables, fruits and plant proteins. Plant proteins include beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, and seitan
but the many sources of soy foods such as edamame, tempeh, miso and tofu.
PBR: Vegan diet is expensive. Isn’t this diet restricted to people who are financially comfortable?
Gentry: Quite the contrary, most staples of a vegan diet are inexpensive. In fact, most of the world’s
people eat a mostly vegetarian diet made up of inexpensive commodities such as beans, rice and
corn. You’ll find plant proteins are cheaper than the equivalent amount of animal protein. Grains,
beans, legumes, vegetables and fruit can be found at any grocery store across the country.
PBR: What do you do when a few of your dinner guests are strict meat-and-potato people?
Gentry: I tease them by saying, “one vegan meal won’t hurt you.” In all seriousness, I think a great
place to start is to simply come from love, the love of wanting to share with others the food you’ve
prepared. I’ll serve the meal and I don’t talk about what it doesn’t have in it. At my table there is
nothing missing, it’s about people coming together and enjoying eating together and not getting hung
up in their different food styles. I don’t make a big deal out of it. Instead, I highlight how delicious and
enjoyable what I have prepared and people respond positively.
PBR: Do you use MSG to enhance flavors, derived from kelp, a natural plant-based product?
Gentry: I don’t need to add MSG as a “flavor enhancer”. I use seasonings such as herbs and spices,
sea salt, tamari (good quality soy sauce), miso, mirin, various vinegars, to name a few and other
condiments to highlight my recipes.
PBR: Pastry chefs swear that without butter they cannot produce truly good pastries. How do your
pastries compare using vegan butter?
Gentry: In my restaurants, Real Food Daily our dessert sales surpass other casual full service
restaurants as most everyone orders a dessert. One can make a fluffy delicious well-textured cake
or pie or any kind of pastry without eggs and butter. I won’t give my secrets away here, but in the
dessert chapter in Vegan Family Meals you will learn the techniques and ingredients that are used in
high end vegan baking.
PBR: Cheeses have strict and important roles in vegetarian cooking. How do vegan cheeses perform
in similar dishes?
Gentry: There are several good non-dairy cheeses on the market these days. Up until a few years
ago, it was difficult to find a non-dairy cheese that could melt well. Fortunately, some companies have
recently mastered this key attribute. I suggest to people they try them all to see which one works the
best for their cooking. I include a cashew based vegan cheese in my cookbook.
PBR: How can people living in more remote areas find such ingredients as acai berry, hemp milk,
umeboshi paste, dried arami to mention just a few of your recipe ingredients?
Gentry: Shopping for these items on-line is accessible. Otherwise, you add them to your list for when
you are shopping in your closet urban area.
PBR: Can vegans wear leather, silk or fur or use cosmetics having animal-based ingredients?
Gentry: They can, not everyone eating solely a plant-based diet is an ethical vegan.
Ann Gentry is a visionary, pioneer and food educator who continues to raise the standard of vegan cuisine. For two decades her restaurants, Real Food Daily remain the premiere gourmet organic vegan eatery in Southern California, CA. Ann is the author of Vegan Family Meals, real food for everyone and The Real Food Daily Cookbook. Ann has also appeared on a multitude of television shows, including the Today Show, the Discovery Channel and the Food Network. Currently, she can be seen on The Dish Network on the Veria channel hosting her own cooking show, Naturally Delicious. Ann is the executive chef to Vegetarian Times magazine, where she contributes recipes and articles about healthy eating and lifestyle and her recipes have been published in The Los Angeles Times, Veg News, Junior: The World’s Finest Parenting Magazine as well as other national magazines and food industry trade publications.
Ann blogs about everything green: from her culinary travels to her life as a supermom @ www.realfood.com.