Local vegan queen Sarah Kramer chats with Mondayâ€™s
resident lazy vegan
It wouldnâ€™t be a food issue without chatting with Sarah Kramer, Victoriaâ€™s queen of healthy vegan eating. Author and co-author of three wildly successful vegan cookbooks (sheâ€™s taking a bit of a break from the cookbooks, so you have plenty of time to catch up on the recipes you havenâ€™t tried yet), Kramer also co-owns a tattoo shop, has a popular website (govegan.net) and a burgeoning photography career on the side (sarahkramerphotography.com). We caught up with Kramer for a casual chat and invite you to be a fly on the wallâ€”donâ€™t worry, neither of us will swat you.
Monday: Whatâ€™s it like to be known for what you eat?
Sarah Kramer: Iâ€™ve been described as the Pillsbury Doughboy of veganism. When I read that I thought â€˜Does that mean Iâ€™m fat?â€™ But all it means is people look at me and they know Iâ€™m the vegan. I end up having lots of conversations in the line-up at Thriftyâ€™s. People are curious about what Iâ€™m buying and we end up talking about recipes.
Monday: Youâ€™re almost a celebrity. How glamorous is the day-to-day life of Sarah Kramer, for real?
SK: Iâ€™m just a regular lady who does her laundry and hauls garbage to the dump and cleans toilets and all that stuff. The little bit of celebrity I have is really nice because people I donâ€™t know walk up to me on the street and tell me they love my books. Probably not a day goes by where someone doesnâ€™t say something nice to me. So I canâ€™t complain about that. I have received some hate mail, though.
Monday: Whatâ€™s the best hate mail youâ€™ve received?
SK: Oh, they hate me because Iâ€™m vegan, Iâ€™m a girl, they hate my eyebrows, that Iâ€™m always smiling. Itâ€™s so stupid. I usually just stick them in a file for the FBI and move on. But I figure you havenâ€™t made it until you get some hate mail.
Monday: On the opposite end of the spectrum, do you have any obsessed fans?
SK: No, everyoneâ€™s been very sweet. I did have to change my phone number because I had people calling me at home. Nothing crazy, just people wanting to know what brand of tofu I like or just to talk about the books. But now you have my number . . .
Monday: So what brand of tofu do you like?
SK: Whateverâ€™s on sale, as long as itâ€™s organic.
Monday: Do you have a favourite vegan dish?
SK: Iâ€™m a really emotional eater, so it depends how Iâ€™m feeling. But Iâ€™m all about comfort foods, so usually something with potatoes does me quite good.
Monday: What was the last really good meal you made?
SK: This weekend was my step-momâ€™s birthday, and my brother flew in from Winnipeg. Heâ€™s a chef. He made the meat dishes and I made veggie dishes. I made edamame hummus and pesto pinwheels, a puff pastry with pesto rolled up inside. And a tofu cauliflower bake. For dessert, raspberry cheesecake, which was to die for. I didnâ€™t tell anyone what it was. All the meat eaters were saying â€˜This is the best cheesecake Iâ€™ve ever had!â€™ Then I said, â€˜Ha, itâ€™s tofu!â€™
Monday: What was the last disaster of a meal you made?
SK: Itâ€™s usually baking disasters, like Iâ€™m not paying attention and put in twice the amount of salt or too much baking soda. Cooking, I taste as I go along so I can tell if Iâ€™m going too far with a spice or whatever.
Monday: Whatâ€™s some of your favourite music to listen to while youâ€™re cooking?
SK: I usually listen to CBC when Iâ€™m cooking, or NPR. Iâ€™m on a Stevie Wonder kick right now. I got The Best of Stevie Wonder, so Iâ€™m dancing around to that and cooking.
Monday: Iâ€™ve been faultering as vegan. I must confess Iâ€™ve had some cheese lately, and itâ€™s been great.
SK: Cheese is the downfall of the majority of people I know who have fallen off the vegan wagon. Thereâ€™s not really good mock vegan cheese. Thereâ€™s a new mock cheese out of England called Chreese. Apparently itâ€™s amazing; I havenâ€™t tried it yet.
Monday: This is the real reason I called, I need to get my guilt off my chest.
SK: We have to put your vegan meter back to zero. What are we going to do with you? Do I need to give you literature on how gross cheese is?
Monday: No, Iâ€™ve seen enough. How are things going at Tattoo Zoo?
SK: Great. We had a really busy winter season and weâ€™re gearing up for summer. We just had our fourth anniversary of owning it. Itâ€™s doing really well.
Monday: I saw you have vegan tattoo ink at Tattoo Zoo now?
SK: Yeah, Gerry [Kramer, Sarahâ€™s husband and co-owner of Tattoo Zoo) has been working on making a quality vegan tattoo ink. Tattoo ink usually has glycerine in it. Sometimes it vegetable, sometimes itâ€™s animal, but you never really know. Heâ€™s Victoriaâ€™s only 100 percent vegan tattooist.
Monday: And youâ€™ve got the photography, too.
SK: Iâ€™ve been doing it all my life and really love it. I put it on the backburner to do the cookbooks. Lately Iâ€™ve been concentrating on really getting back into it, building up my portfolio. I f
orgot how much I love taking photographs of people and capturing whatâ€™s special about them.
Monday: We donâ€™t see a lot of people here in North America who are 80 who are vegan. Itâ€™ll be interesting to see as we get older if thereâ€™s going to be certain health problems that come up.
SK: Or on the other side, there may be a whole generation of vegans who live to be 150 years old.
Monday: Hey, you know how mafia types use the horseâ€™s head as a warning sign? What if thereâ€™s a vegan mafia member? What would they use?
SK: Are you asking whatâ€™s going to happen to you now that youâ€™ve eaten cheese? Maybe your bed will be littered with green mouldy carrot tops. Youâ€™ve been warned.