Ayindé Howell and Zoë Eisenberg make an exciting dynamic duo. Both are the creative minds behind The Lusty Vegan, a cookbook and relationship guide for vegans and people who love them.
Being vegan comes with dedication and being with a supportive partner is key. A lot of challenges can surface as many cultural values and social outings revolve around food that’s oftentimes not vegan.
Zoë & Ayindé offer support, advice, and delicious recipes to navigate through the world of veganism with humor and compassion.
Ayindé has over fifteen years of food experience. He opened his first café in Seattle in 1999. After five years and notable success in Seattle, he ventured to New York, becoming an executive chef, one of the youngest in Manhattan. Ayindé has since traveled the world cooking vegan meals for celebrities.
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Zoë Eisenberg enjoys writing about health, wellness, relationships, and sexuality. Her work has appeared in a variety of online and print publications, including the Huffington Post, xoJane.com, Shape.com and Thought Catalog. When not talking food and sex, Zoe works as a screenwriter and independent film producer.
Together, they chatted with the KimberlyElise.com team to discuss their lives and give us a glimpse inside their book.
What was the inspiration behind The Lusty Vegan?
Zoë: Several years ago I began a sex and dating column on Ayindé’s website, iEatGrass.com. I was newly single at the time and used the space to explore all the issues and situations I encountered as I began dating around. The column was called The Lusty Vegan, and as it garnered feedback, Ayindé and I quickly realized the topic of dating as a vegan was a hot button in the veg community. Together we brainstormed the angle and scope of the book and The Lusty Vegan was born.
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What is one of the most popular recipes from the book?
Ayindé: People really like the Stuffed French Toast and the Moroccan Tempeh.
What are some common misconceptions you feel people have about veganism?
Ayindé: That it can be boring or you are limited to a certain amount of things that you eat, when in actuality, people only eat certain things in any diet.
What are some tips you have to kick meat and dairy cravings?
Zoë: Find your favorite substitutes. When I went vegan 10 years ago, I missed ice cream, so I made my own every night using frozen bananas. I am not a fan of “fake meats,” but when you’re a new vegan, they can be a great way to transition. Figure out what you miss most and try to substitute for it. Eventually you won’t miss the non-vegan version.
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What are your favorite milk substitutes and why?
Zoë: I use organic soy milk in my coffee and tea. I find it to be the creamiest, and it doesn’t chunk up like almond or coconut milk. For baking and smoothies, any non-dairy milk is a go.
More people of diverse backgrounds are transitioning to veganism. What words of advice do you have for people of all backgrounds?
Ayindé: When you decide to do something different or step outside of your comfort zone or outside of the box that people put you in, you will always get pushback or ridicule.
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If you decide to become vegan, chances are you have a strong reason to take the first step. Just keep that vision in mind as you move forward. And understand that neither meat, nor tradition, nor fellowship that is found among people of color in their dining rituals is something you are chained to and that you cannot create anew.
People of color often found joy in the simple pleasures of life –eating being one of them. Given scraps, but we made the best of it, created the memories around those ingredients and dishes. But now we have better access and have to create new memories, new traditions, and take the simple pleasures to create a well-lived life.
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How can love, sex, and veganism intersect? How can people be more supportive of vegans in their lives and promote healthy relationships?
Zoë: A healthy love and sex life comes down to two core things: respect and communication. Once the initial excitement and attraction fades, if you don’t have a solid foundation of respect and open communication, it isn’t going to work out.
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Dating someone who is intrinsically different than you requires the same two things. You need to respect your partner’s different point of view, even if you don’t agree with it. After all, you chose to be with them, knowing they had a different way of thinking. This transcends the vegan-on-omnivore situation and moves into politics, religion, etc.
If you can respect each other and have an open dialogue about your differences, your differences may not seem so huge. One thing we stress over and over in the book is that you should never get into a relationship hoping you can change the other person. This leads to a toxic situation for everyone.
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