How do you become a vegan chef, Christian? # veganuary2021
Many people use January to start the new year with many good resolutions. In addition to more sport and exercise, nutrition is often on the list of desired improvements. Veganuary - the word is made up of the word vegan and the English january together - is a non-profit organization and campaign that encourages people around the world to eat purely plant-based (at least temporarily). Because we all know by now that a plant-based diet is not only one of the most effective measures to protect the environment and our climate, but can also avoid animal suffering and have a positive effect on our health.
The 31-day challenge is intended to give a first impetus to deal more closely with the topic and to inspire you to simply try out vegan nutrition yourself. Animal products are avoided throughout January.
We use the month to inform you about the topic on Instagram and to share tips & tricks with you. The good thing is: Many Wholey team members have been vegan for a long time and have already gained a lot of experience.
Like Christian! Christian Weber is a trained chef and worked for Wholey for a long time as a product developer. He has been working on the project for a few months VHY! in Stuttgart, an exciting new concept that also deals with plant-based nutrition. On his Instagram channel Christian shares his recipes and encourages them to simply eat differently;)
We asked Christian a few questions, because as a vegan chef he is practically an expert in the field.
Tell us how you came to work as a vegan cook? Were you only a cook or a vegan first?
Christian: I've been a chef for 18 years. Vegan for about 8 years. There was a transition phase in which I still cooked "everything", but lived vegan ... It also works, but is not so nice. After a certain level of experience, you no longer have to try meat and other animal products in order to prepare it. In addition to my training as a chef and more than 10 years in the Michelin-starred restaurant, I am also a further educated nutritionist and fitness trainer. For me, vegan is the essence of many reflective considerations regarding health, food waste and modern nutrition. My motto is always: technically speaking, we stopped in the future and in 1960 when it came to eating. We eat too much, too processed, too animal and too fat and I am trying to change this with modern vegetable cuisine.
How is the response to purely vegan restaurants? Is the audience mainly vegan or do many omnivore guests come by?
Christian: In vegan restaurants, it always depends on the offer. Restaurants that mainly offer fast food and those made from meat substitutes, I think the audience is mostly vegan. Since many people who do not want to leave out meat or cheese for taste reasons would not really like the vegan equivalent. Plant-based restaurants that focus on the preparation of vegetable dishes and high-quality plant-based cuisine are mega-well attended (depending on the region) and I think the balance here is whether visitors are vegan or eat everything. Most of them are curious about exciting, new dishes and not so much the thought of doing something for the welfare of the animals. Furthermore, it is very important how the quality in the restaurant is. Unfortunately, vegan restaurants are often run by newcomers and the quality of the food is less convincing.
What does your pantry look like at home? What ingredients do you always have in the house?
Christian: To be honest, I'm not a good store keeper and everything is a bit chaotic in my kitchen, but I actually always have a lot of different things there to be able to cook flexibly. Above all, dry products such as cereals, legumes and rice (white & whole grain) are always there. Fast-cooking cereals such as couscous and bulgur are a must, followed by canned chickpeas and beans. You will always find variations of pasta as well as various Asian ingredients such as miso paste, udon noodles and sushi rice with me. You can also never miss: Various nuts and dried fruits, which I use as a topping for salads, hearty dishes and my breakfast.
Fortunately, the Veganuary encourages many people to try it purely plant-based for a month. Do you have any tips or advice for beginners?
Christian: My recommendation is to go to the supermarket or organic market with an empty shopping basket and try to buy a mix of well-known (vegetables, grains, etc.) and things that you have never tried (maybe these are currently black salsify, Cooked spelled, parsnips, whole grain rice, lentil noodles etc.). You can find thousands of recipes for these ingredients on the Internet, or you can read the instructions on the packaging and start experimenting yourself.
See Veganuary as a month in which you try as much new things as possible and learn what the vegetable patch has to offer and when you feel like it, nothing speaks against topping it with plant-based cheese or trying a vegan schnitzel. And if, for once, you eat something vegan ...? Who cares ???! Nobody is perfect!
For many people, the hardest thing to do without cheese is. Do you already have experience in making cheese yourself? Any tips?
Christian: I prefer to leave the cheese making myself to the professionals and unfortunately I cannot give any tips. I also miss cheese in particular, but I have fond memories of it and there is little that could come of it. In the meantime, however, there are actually really delicious cashew camembert alternatives that I love. 1-2 alternatives to cheese slices are also great, but I don't think much of vegan mozzarella or the like - because it is very far from the original and has little to do with cheese.
Your ultimate favorite dish?
Christian: I have never had a single favorite dish. I'm a little more open 😊 But in any case, pasta is important. You don't need a good pesto or anything else. But since I have a soft spot for Japanese cuisine, miso soup, fried udon noodles and sushi are just as popular with me.
Thank you very much for your time and the interview, Christian! 🙌
For delicious, simple, vegan recipes, just follow Christian Instagram!