Isa Chandra Moskowitz is the most popular and highest selling vegan cookbook author in the world. She became vegan when she was in high school, briefly went back to vegetarianism, and then returned to veganism in her 20s.
She connected with the punk community in the late 80s, and began volunteering with "Food Not Bombs", a grassroots movement dedicated to providing free vegetarian food to the hungry and to protesting poverty and war. For several years, Isa hosted a public access kitchen show in Brooklyn called the Post Punk Kitchen that combined cooking with her punk roots.
Isa Chandra Moskowitz now lives in Portland, Oregon, where she has a large kitchen to test her ever-expanding repertoire of recipes. She loves gardening, bird watching, and biking in the gorgeous Pacific Northwest.
Isa's approach to food is that it should be fun to prepare and beautiful to look at, without having to use mock meats and heeses. She is gifted at pairing foods together to create new and exciting flavors, and combines that talent with a welcoming tone to make her cookbooks accessible to everyone.
Vegan with a Vengeance was Isa's first book, and it showcases easy and fun meatless recipes. It quickly became an iconic book in the vegan community and has been updated and reprinted multiple times.
Veganomicon was written to serve as a vegan "Joy of Cooking," and it delivers. Co-written with Terry Hope Romero, Veganomicon showcases vegetables and teaches how to cook them without turning them to mush. The recipes are full of complexity without being complex, and the instruction is witty and fun to read.
Isa and Terry have co-authored several vegan dessert recipe books together, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, with amazing, fluffy cupcake recipes, Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, which features 75 different vegan cookie recipes, including some remakes on grocery store favorites, and Vegan Pie in the Sky has 75 different vegan pies, tarts, and cobblers.
If you start using all those vegan dessert recipes cookbooks and it starts to show in your waist, you can just pick up a copy of Appetite for Reduction: 125 Fast and Filling Low-Fat Vegan Recipes and learn about vegan weight loss.
One of my favorite vegan cookbooks by Isa Chandra Moskowitz is her Vegan Brunch, which features some incredible breakfast/lunch recipes that you probably though you'd have to live without, like omelettes, tofu benedict, and a killer avocado potato salad, to mention just a few.
1. Most non-meat-eaters develop a quick answer to the most typical questions we get from meat-eaters. What's your go-to response when people ask why you are a vegan? If you are asked to elaborate, what else do you say?
I don't think I say the same thing every time, but the short answer is that I love animals. The longer answer is that we have no need to take their lives. Wouldn't we freak out if someone tried to kill our dog or cat? That is the bottom line. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with that sentiment, so I will bring up the environmental and health benefits, too.
2. How did working with Food Not Bombs change your life, and are you still active with volunteer and charity organizations?
I don't know how it changed my life any more than I know how anything ever changes our lives. It was a great experience and taught me the importance of food and community. Recently I formed apronactivists.com with my friend Michelle. We do four course vegan dinners to raise money for animal organizations. "Four courses for causes".
3. If you had one chance to sway non-believers with a delicious vegan meal, what would you serve?
I don't know, it would depend on the season and who the people were and all that. But I often say, when in doubt - pesto! Everyone loves pesto.
4. Many people aspire to have the same level of success that you've had in the vegan world. Who do you look up to?
I'm assuming you mean in the vegan cooking world. Well, my first vegan cookbook was Tofu Cookery by Louise Hagler. I don't know much about her other than that she brought my whole family together with her cookbook and made it possible for all of us to go vegetarian in 1989. There weren't many vegan cookbooks back then so hers was extremely helpful and have a special place in my heart. I suppose that means I look up to her!
5. What made you decide to move to Portland, and is the move permanent? How have your culinary horizons expanded since moving to "vegan mecca"?
I moved because I had friends here and needed a change. I needed more space, less stress and a change of pace. I love how bike friendly it is and how great the public transportation is. Of course, it's also beautiful and surrounded by nature. Not to mention awesome affordable thrift stores. I don't know if the move is permanent but I will definitely be here for awhile. The biggest change in my cooking is that I have so much more space in my kitchen, not to mention a dishwasher. That really gets me to cook a lot more often.
6. Can you tell us more about your Vegan Brunch book?
Well, brunch has always been my favorite thing to eat. I like to think of it as more of an event than a meal. The recipes are designed for crowds, usually pretty easy and always filling and satisfying.
Isa Chandra Moskowitz Interview date: 12/21/08
Thank you Isa Chandra Moskowitz!!