For the past year, I have not eaten meat, fish, poultry, fried foods or any number of things considered by most to be yummy and crave quenching. My name is Allen, and I am a vegan member of the Engine 2 tribe. We vegans are an odd lot, not that we can be grouped together along a common denominator like redheads or left-handed pitchers. One thing vegans do share is an ongoing quest for new recipes, flavor combinations and all matters of food that will satisfy our evolving taste buds. Folks like me, who consider eating to be an act of healing and positive nourishment, look to upstarts like the Bay Area’s Laura Miller, host of Tastemade’s “Raw. Vegan. Not Gross” for inspiration and practical ideas.
Miller is a veteran of the vegan scene, starting Sidesaddle Kitchen and selling her homemade desserts for a year and a half at ForageSF’s Underground Market (which was shut down by the health department). Taking her skills as a vegan cook, along with $10,000 of Kickstarter money, Miller began production of her show in 2011; she grew it to its current popularity, noted by hundreds of thousands of views per episode (the one on making vegan truffles is near the top). Now, as part of the Tastemade umbrella of food programs distributed through YouTube, Miller’s series takes a direct, uncluttered approach to vegan cooking. The webisodes avoid (for the most part) creation of “mock” versions of everyday dishes, such as lasagna in which soy or some variant (tempeh) takes the place of a key ingredient such as meat or cheese. Instead, Miller focuses on using fresh ingredients and flavorful herbs and spices to create appetizers, main dishes, desserts and even breakfast smoothies. She explains the specific health benefit of the recipes, all the while positively engaging with her audiences, not proselytizing about the evils of the common American diet. Miller exudes experience and knowledge in her webisodes by showing, rather than telling, how to assemble the varied vegan foodstuffs. The fact that she is quite easy on the eyes doesn’t hurt.
As part of my new eating regimen, I spend more time than most normal people scouring the web for interesting vegan video tidbits to supplement a diet of bean burgers, spiralized squash and muffins made from garbanzo flour. What makes “Raw. Vegan. Not Gross” stand out from the pack of poorly produced wannabes with a lot of garbled misinformation is its simple, clear approach to specialized cooking. If I have one nit, I could do without the background music which is better suited for a less interesting food show.