“Vegetarianism Is Here To Stay” : An Interview With Anna Thomas
Delicious India had the good fortune to communicate with Anna Thomas – author of the very famous book – The Vegetarian Epicure. Anna has written three bestselling books on vegetarian cooking. Her first book The Vegetarian Epicure (1970) is recognized as the book that brought vegetarian cooking into the realm of gourmet eating.
Anna is a sweet and friendly person and she answered all the questions very thoroughly. Here is the chat we had with Anna
Flavor-. How did you get interested in vegetarian food and cooking ?
Anna – I began to cook when I went away to University. I was a penniless student, like most of my friends, and could not afford to eat out in restaurants, but I wanted to eat well, so I began to cook, and more or less taught myself with the help of some wonderful cookbooks and a few Gourmet magazines. I found, over a period of time, that I was cooking more and more purely vegetarian food. This happened gradually. It was an evolution, rather than an abrupt decision. The more I cooked in this way, the better I liked it, and I just evolved my own style. Out of this came The Vegetarian Epicure, my first book, which was published while I was still a graduate student at UCLA.
Flavor – Do you think vegetarianism is a passing fad or is it here to gain more strength ?
Anna – It’s here to stay, folks. When I first became a vegetarian, we were still considered cranks. Today, nearly every restaurant has some kind of vegetarian choice on its menu, and I read recently that fifty percent of American teenagers, at some point, identify themselves as vegetarians. That’s amazing- even if they’re only vegetarians for a week! In other words, to be vegetarian now no longer means that you are out of the mainstream.
Flavor – Do you think it is easy to adopt vegetarianism as a way of life or does one require a lot of changes in life style ?
Anna – That would depend on what your current lifestyle is. If you eat steak and burgers every day, you’d have to make some pretty big changes. However, I like to suggest to people that they don’t try to change everything at once. Start by having one delicious vegetarian meal. Next week, have another.Then, try two in one week! Look at some recipes and menus. Try some things that sound good to you. Go bit by bit, and see what you like. After a while, try a week where you have only one meal with meat…
Flavor- Is being a vegan exactly same as being a vegetarian ? A lot of people seem to have misconception in this area.
Anna -Vegans do not eat dairy products or eggs – in other words, nothing that is animal-derived in any way. Many vegetarians, however, are lacto-ovo vegetarians, meaning they do eat dairy products and eggs.
Flavor- Some people seem to think that vegetarian food means breads, boiled veggies and spices. What would you like to tell them ?
Anna – Get my books. Start with the latest one, The New Vegetarian Epicure. That book is set up in menus, from very simple family meals, to large, elaborate parties and celebrations. Each menu is followed by the recipes for that meal. The menus are arranged loosely by season, so you can turn to the right area for the time of year, and get some ideas. It’s a great book for browsing, and you will see a great deal more than breads, and no boiled veggies at all.
Flavor- Are your kids vegetarian too? If so , was it difficult to make them vegetarian? Please share some thoughts / tips on raising vegetarian kids in this time of burgers and pepperonis
Anna – My children are not vegetarians, although they eat many meatless meals, since that is the way I like to cook. However, I do not prevent them from eating meat when they are in restaurants, or at someone’s house, or even at home when they make themselves a sandwich. I believe that forcing issues about food almost always has a very bad result, ultimately. Everyone will make their own choice about these things. But I do make sure to always offer them many good things to eat, food that is both healthful and delicious, and they certainly know that they can eat very well without meat – and often do.
Flavor- What do you think about Indian Food ?
Anna – I love Indian food. Bring it on! I go to Indian restaurants in London frequently, and look forward to visiting India someday. I wish we had an Indian restaurant here in Ojai.
Flavor- What is your favorite meal / dish ?
Anna – How could I choose a favorite meal? I like so many things – and my favorite at any moment is what I am in the mood for at that moment. Today at lunch I ate a fresh corn soup, and a wonderful pasta with roasted tomatoes, kalamata olives, feta cheese, and oregano. For dessert I had fresh cherries and apricots. It was great! But at another time of year I might want mushroom risotto, or a pilaf with roasted winter squash, or tamales with a really hot chili sauce… It all depends on the weather, the circumstance, and how I happen to feel. But that’s the great thing about food – there are so many different, delicious things to enjoy.
Flavor-. Tell us about any of your upcoming project, can we expect another sequel to the original after The New Vegetarian Epicure (1996) ?
Anna – I love cooking, enjoying food with my friends and family,experimenting with new ideas, and writing about food – so there is certainly another book about food somewhere in my future. I can’t say any more than that about it right now, because I am not far enough along in the process to be more specific. However, I write a monthly letter which I publish on my Website, along with a new recipe or two, and I would love to have everyone come and visit. You can also take a look at the letters from previous months, which cover a variety of topics. And feel free to drop me a line and say hi!
Flavor – Lastly, Anna , our readers will love to get some recipes from you. Would you like to share some ?
Anna – I would be more than happy to share some new recipes with you – simply go to vegetarianepicure.com, my Website, and check out the new recipe for the month. You can also see the recipes that have been published there for the last several months. These are recipes that are not in any of my books.
Flavor – Thank you Anna for taking time out to be with us . We wish you the very best for your next project.
Note From Flavor – Anna Thomas is not only the auther of three bestselling books on vegetarian cooking, she is also a critically acclaimed film producer and a writer.