By GREG PRATT
Feb 07 2007
Local vegan queen Sarah Kramer chats with Monday’s
resident lazy vegan
It wouldn’t be a food issue without chatting with Sarah Kramer, Victoria’s queen of healthy vegan eating. Author and co-author of three wildly successful vegan cookbooks (she’s taking a bit of a break from the cookbooks, so you have plenty of time to catch up on the recipes you haven’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 wall—don’t worry, neither of us will swat you.
Monday: What’s it like to be known for what you eat?
Sarah Kramer: I’ve been described as the Pillsbury Doughboy of veganism. When I read that I thought ‘Does that mean I’m fat?’ But all it means is people look at me and they know I’m the vegan. I end up having lots of conversations in the line-up at Thrifty’s. People are curious about what I’m buying and we end up talking about recipes.
Monday: You’re almost a celebrity. How glamorous is the day-to-day life of Sarah Kramer, for real?
SK: I’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 don’t know walk up to me on the street and tell me they love my books. Probably not a day goes by where someone doesn’t say something nice to me. So I can’t complain about that. I have received some hate mail, though.
Monday: What’s the best hate mail you’ve received?
SK: Oh, they hate me because I’m vegan, I’m a girl, they hate my eyebrows, that I’m always smiling. It’s so stupid. I usually just stick them in a file for the FBI and move on. But I figure you haven’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, everyone’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: Whatever’s on sale, as long as it’s organic.
Monday: Do you have a favourite vegan dish?
SK: I’m a really emotional eater, so it depends how I’m feeling. But I’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-mom’s birthday, and my brother flew in from Winnipeg. He’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 didn’t tell anyone what it was. All the meat eaters were saying ‘This is the best cheesecake I’ve ever had!’ Then I said, ‘Ha, it’s tofu!’
Monday: What was the last disaster of a meal you made?
SK: It’s usually baking disasters, like I’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 I’m going too far with a spice or whatever.
Monday: What’s some of your favourite music to listen to while you’re cooking?
SK: I usually listen to CBC when I’m cooking, or NPR. I’m on a Stevie Wonder kick right now. I got The Best of Stevie Wonder, so I’m dancing around to that and cooking.
Monday: I’ve been faultering as vegan. I must confess I’ve had some cheese lately, and it’s been great.
SK: Cheese is the downfall of the majority of people I know who have fallen off the vegan wagon. There’s not really good mock vegan cheese. There’s a new mock cheese out of England called Chreese. Apparently it’s amazing; I haven’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, I’ve seen enough. How are things going at Tattoo Zoo?
SK: Great. We had a really busy winter season and we’re gearing up for summer. We just had our fourth anniversary of owning it. It’s doing really well.
Monday: I saw you have vegan tattoo ink at Tattoo Zoo now?
SK: Yeah, Gerry [Kramer, Sarah’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 it’s animal, but you never really know. He’s Victoria’s only 100 percent vegan tattooist.
Monday: And you’ve got the photography, too.
SK: I’ve been doing it all my life and really love it. I put it on the backburner to do the cookbooks. Lately I’ve been concentrating on really getting back into it, building up my portfolio. I forgot how much I love taking photographs of people and capturing what’s special about them.
Monday: We don’t see a lot of people here in North America who are 80 who are vegan. It’ll be interesting to see as we get older if there’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 horse’s head as a warning sign? What if there’s a vegan mafia member? What would they use?
SK: Are you asking what’s going to happen to you now that you’ve eaten cheese? Maybe your bed will be littered with green mouldy carrot tops. You’ve been warned.