Vegan Life talks to chef Estee Raviv about her cookbook ‘Oy Yey Vegan’ and her thought on the future of vegan food
Tell us about your own vegan journey
About five years ago, I began having some issues with my digestive system. After researching and investigating, I tried experimenting with removing certain things from my diet to see what effect it would have on my overall well-being. When I removed dairy from my diet, I could not believe the miraculous difference it made on how I felt both physically and in all other areas of my health. It improved my energy level, skin, mood, and positive attitude, in addition to fixing all the digestive problems I had prior.
I guess when we are younger, our bodies can get away with things and when we get older, not so much. I was never a meat lover, so removing that was easy. For once in my life I felt like my body was working as it should.
Has your religion influenced your book?
I wouldn’t say that my religion necessarily influenced my book, but my culture and traditions definitely did. I enjoy recreating food that I grew up on, but with a vegan twist. My mother was born in Romania and my father in Poland; I grew up in Israel, so my exposure to these different cultures, foods and traditions inspired many of the recipes found in my book.
Growing up in a Jewish home means that we celebrate many holidays and each holiday has its own symbolic food. I recreated some of the traditional Jewish dishes such as “Vegan Paté” or “Vegan Matzo Ball Soup.”
Why did you decide to create Oy Vey Vegan?
I decided to write Oy Vey Vegan because I felt so good and happy that I was able to solve my own health issues with a change in my diet, so I wanted to share it with the world. I wanted to spread the message about the health benefits of a plant based diet.
It worked wonders for me, and I want to inspire as many people to try and do the same. I’m sure that there are so many people out there that have similar health problems, but don’t realize that by doing something as simple as changing their diet, they can change their lives. My motto is that it’s never too late to change your lifestyle — food is medicine.
How did you learn to cook great vegan food?
I consider myself an artist in my soul. I loved to cook before I went vegan and the kitchen was always an outlet for my creativity, with the added value of teaching my kids about healthy ingredients, exposing them to diverse foods and experimenting with different recipes.
I am always curious about creating and trying new ingredients and am very passionate about good, healthy food, so my transition to veganism went hand-in-hand with my innate creativity and curiosity to try new things. My family served as tastetesters, but not every recipe was a smashing success. Trial-and-error led me to perfect each recipe, and I learned what worked and what didn’t.
How would you describe your own signature style? I would describe it as clean, diverse, creative, gourmet, delicious food.
What is your signature dish?
That’s a hard one… I have so many great signature dishes, but if I had to pick one it would probably be my stuffed peppers.
What do you think is the future of vegan food? I think vegan food is the future of every society willing to explore the realms of a healthier diet. I can see veganism spreading everywhere in the world and making a great change in the quality of people’s lives.