Sam Murphy talks to Vegan Life Magazine about the gradual changes she made to become vegan and enjoy cooking an array of plant-based meals.
I discovered veganism and the world of plant-based eating around four years ago. I went vegetarian pretty much overnight and then it took me a little while to wean myself off dairy products completely but I haven’t looked back since. With the removal of meat and dairy from my diet, I began the quest in my kitchen to replicate my favourite meals in a way that was not only for the most part healthy, but also simple and enjoyable.
My passion for food stems from my childhood; I spent a lot of time in kitchen with my mum cooking just about anything and everything. Although by the time I turned vegan I considered myself to be an okay cook, learning how to create vegan dishes was a challenge. It involved a lot of trial and error and learning from others. I had the basic cooking skills but creating delicious vegan alternatives to my favourite dishes required a lot of experimenting. I had to learn how to use new ingredients, ingredients that I wasn’t familiar with prior to my transition. I did a lot of research and spent a lot of time in the kitchen testing recipes and asking my friends and family for their opinions.
Even to this day, having created a cookbook, I’m still always learning. I have lots of confidence in the kitchen which I put down to spending a lot of time cooking with my mum, but there are still things that I don’t know. I encourage everyone to get in the kitchen, no matter how much you think you may suck – and get cooking.
My food – and the recipes in this book – is a very direct reflection of my journey, my creativity and my beliefs. It’s the closest part of me that I can share with you. I truly believe that food should and can simply be enjoyed, minus the cruelty. I wanted to put recipes that I enjoyed eating, my friends enjoyed eating and dishes I enjoyed as a child onto paper for other people to create and ultimately enjoy. I hope that with my book, I am providing people with the inspiration to create and the tools to explore their own cooking quest with courage.
As far as I am concerned the recipes in this book are achievable for everyone. There are of course some that people will be able to create in minutes and others that may take a while longer, but they can all be created by people with a whole range of cooking abilities. My tips are to keep it simple, don’t try and create the difficult recipes first. Begin with the basics and work your way up to the showstoppers.
I only wish that more people in the world could realise how easy it is to make delicious, vegan food –and that you can, I repeat, you can enjoy all of your favourite classics including meaty, cheesy and greasy flavours, and textures all the way up to the sweet decadence of something like cheesecake – minus the cruelty and numerous unhealthy side effects.
When it comes to my signature style, I would describe my cooking as rustic. I don’t like following the status quo and I like to do things very quickly, nobody wants to spend ages in the kitchen. I’d say I’m a very casual cook/chef. The best way for me to cook is to just open my cupboards, see what ingredients I have, and see what I can do with it. Everything I create is spontaneous, in the moment cooking.
There are a whole heap of dishes in the book that my family and friends have raved about including the raspberry and white chocolate slice and the turmeric baked beans with potato hash. However, in my opinion, signature dish status belongs to the ultimate black bean nachos. They consist of lashings of delicious young green shredded jackfruit and homemade cheese sauce on top of crunchy tortilla chips; they are indulgent yet simple to create. The cheese sauce is the real winner in this recipe; you wouldn’t believe it is suitable for vegans.
Looking to the future I’d love to write another book. In Melbourne, Australia, I currently run a vegan dessert business where I make a lot of raw vegan cake and cheesecakes. It would be great to eventually offer training courses and workshops showing people how to make their own vegan sweet treats. It’s fine being able to tell someone how to make something like with a cookbook but it’s a whole different thing being able to demonstrate to them. I’d love to pass on what I have learnt to other people.