Q: What inspires you to keep creating these deliciously meat-free recipes?
A: My biggest inspiration is when I get emails from people who say, “I couldn’t get my kid to eat vegan until I started using your recipes” or “your book helped me make the transition to a vegan diet.” Knowing that what I’m doing is actually having an effect keeps my wheels turning.
Q: Tying into the first question, what was your inspiration to become vegan? Do you have an awesome story about it?
A: I switched to a vegan diet as an experimental kick start in hopes of losing weight. I was around 260 pounds and I felt terrible all the time. And since I was the only meat eater working for a vegan company (Vegin’ Out, L.A.’s premier vegan meal delivery service, where I’m now executive chef, www.veginout.com), I thought I’d give it a try for a month. I started to feel better and lost a few pounds, so I went another month, and another month. Ten months later, I had lost 60 pounds and felt better than I had in my entire life. But just because I had adopted a vegan diet didn’t mean I was a full-on, level 10 vegan. I had been gradually becoming conscious about the other aspects, like not buying leather belts or wool socks. And let me tell you, my silk underwear collection took a big hit in that first year. Then one day, I instinctively trapped an interloping spider with a cup and a piece of cardboard instead of stomping on it. My roommate walked into the room while I was escorting it outside and said, “Dude what are you doing?” I said, “I don’t know, but I guess I don’t kill spiders anymore either.” My perspective had shifted. In that moment, I saw a being just trying to go about its day, like we all do. I thought, “We, earthlings don’t really know what we are in the grand scheme of things...maybe we’re just a lucky spider that hasn’t gotten stepped on yet.” I finally saw what it meant to “do no harm.” And I think that was the moment when I fully defined veganism in my own head. My “spider moment.”
Q: Where did you get your sense of humour from? I was cracking up from the first to last pages.
A:Oh, thanks! Mostly from my family…a bunch of quick witted, Italian ball breakers. Always a lot of joking and laughter happening, especially when everyone gets together around the holidays. I also must give nods to my comedy gods, George Carlin, Howard Stern, and The Three Stooges. True, original, comedic geniuses, each in their distinct ways.
Q: Do you see another cookbook in the future?
A: Oh yes! I’ve got a pretty excellent and original idea for my next book. I’m hoping it all works out, because it will be a game changer. Top secret, though.
Q: If you could go back in time about 15 years (with or without a DeLorean and Michael J. Fox) and then predict where you’d be now, what would you have said?
A: Oh jeez, that would’ve been around my sophomore year in college. Let’s see…I smoked a pack of cigarettes a day, drank a dozen beers every night, and ate nothing but pizza and hallucinogenic mushrooms. Umm…probably dead, or at least being fork-lifted out of my house. Things were ugly back then. Anyway, if I could have a DeLorean, I would request the Mr. Fusion model, since it’s a more eco-friendly version of time travel than its plutonium-powered predecessor.
Q: What is your favourite meal, snack, food, or recipe? Oh, gimme your fave drink too.
A: My favorite food overall is pizza. Pizza has everything, and can be made with anything. That’s what excites me about it. There are so many possibilities. One of my other favorite things is something called Easter Pie. It’s an Italian quiche type thing with ham, sausage, egg, ricottoa, and mozzarella, baked into a pie crust. My personal crowning achievement was veganizing it. You can see the recipe here: http://youtu.be/L2R2UDG21xA
For drink? I’m a Hendrick’s gin and tonic guy. Sometimes a dirty martini. There’s a cocktail in my Happy Hour book that might take over as #1 though…It’s called The Bloody Vulcan. It’s made with juiced tomatillos, tequila, lime and agave nectar. It’s green. Like Vulcan blood.
Q: As a public vegan celebrity do you have a particular aim (“I wanna make errbody vegan!”) or are you just going with the flow (“I made this food, it was good, try the recipe, you sexy person.”)?
A: As a celebrity, my only aim is to become a bigger celebrity. I’ve been trying to get Kanye West to impregnate me for some time now, but to no avail. While I work on a new plan for that, I suppose I will try to make everybody vegan by making vegan cooking easy, accessible, and fun. I wonder if that Ray-J guy is busy these days.
Q: I think your food can be appreciated by every kind of person, especially meat-eaters. Do you have one recipe in particular that really showcases this?
A: The Lasagna Fauxlognese recipe from my first book is my go to meat-eater-pleasing recipe. You’ve got to appeal to all senses. First, it looks and smells just like lasagna. Second, they take a bite, and the textures of the cashew ricotta and the tofu fauxlognese sauce are so reminiscent of the non-vegan versions that they won’t even register a difference. Finally, their taste buds kick in, and guess what? They taste a meaty, cheesy lasagna! Partly because it actually does taste like a meaty cheesy lasagna, but also because you have attacked all of their senses. That is the key.
Q: You wake up to discover you are stranded on a desert island with no hope of escape. Pick five things you’d want there with you. Go. Oh – and this island is special because it has electrical outlets (I would take my Vita-mix for sure).
A: Oh, man, in case this is a trick question somehow planted by my wife, I’ll say: my two dogs, my wife, my unborn child, and a comfortable chair for my wife to sit on. If I’m to assume they will already be there with me, or they do not exist, I will say: an ipod loaded with my entire Pearl Jam bootleg collection and Howard Stern show archive (ipod, earbuds, and wall charger count as one thing), a ukulele, a vitamix, a lighter, and a pair of ice skates(which have proven to be very useful in such situations).
Q: Finally I give you not a question, but a choice: cats or dogs. Pressure’s on, bro.
A: Pfft. No pressure here. The choice is unequivocal: Dogs. Man’s best friend. Cats are their own best friend. Who needs that? Sorry cat people, but this pic sums it up.
You can check out Brian on facebook, twitter, youtube, and his website.
Note: I got all the photos of Brian's angelic face from the interwebs.