04 November 2010

Interview with This Dish Is Veg team member Amanda Rock

Have you ever wondered about the team of writers behind This Dish Is Veg? Well this is your chance to learn more about us. Occasionally we will be featuring interviews with our fabulous contributors from all different backgrounds and walks-of-life who are dedicated to bringing you the articles you see on this site each and every day.

Amanda Rock has a passion for delicious, sustainable food. Spending most of her life as a vegetarian sparked her interest in the environmental impact of food. When she's not glued to her computer, you can find her spending time with her fur-kids (two rescued cats and a rescued westie) and going on foodie adventures with her husband.

Julia: What inspired you to switch to vegan lifestyle?

Amanda: Baby cows! The moment I realized that cows don't magically produce milk, and that they needed to be forcibly inseminated (on the cringe-inducing 'rape racks') and have their babies torn from them, I decided to become vegan. The thought of a momma cow crying for her baby makes me sadder than anything else. I think if people understood that one fact about animal agriculture, they would change their minds about veganism.

Julia: Tell us about your experiences as a vegan in SLC.

Amanda: Being vegan in SLC is awesome! We have a huge selection of ethnic and vegetarian restaurants. There are some I haven't even been to yet! My favorite restaurant is the Vertical Diner. They serve traditional diner food, and everything is vegan! I truly missed diner food when I went vegan - especially breakfast. Luckily, the Vertical Diner has everything a vegan could ever want from biscuits and gravy to fried "chicken" and hashbrowns. You can even order mashed potatoes for breakfast!

Julia: How do you come up with your recipes? Which is your favorite to cook?

Amanda: I own way too many cookbooks, and when I'm not writing, I usually have my head buried in one. I read everything from Julia Child's books to Mark Bittman to Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Surprisingly, it's usually the omnivore cookbooks that are the most inspiring. Also, my grandma and grandpa owned and Italian restaurant and were always cooking and showing me how to put food together. Other than that, I just like to experiment. My favorite days are spent in the kitchen with a bottle of vegan wine!

My favorite thing to cook is macaroni and cheese. I'm constantly looking for the perfect recipe.

Julia: Why did you decide to become a writer for TDIV?

Amanda: I love to write about food and vegan stuff! The more time I spend in the vegan community, the more I love it. There are so many people out there (vegan or not) making a difference for animals and the environment. Learning and writing about them every day is so inspiring!

Julia: It can be difficult for vegans to find restaurants with meatless fare. What are some of your favorite establishments?

Amanda: If you stay away from American restaurants, you can always find something good and vegan. My favorite places are Indian and Asian. They always understand the need for dairy-free and meat-free dishes. And they always smile at you when you order the veggie stuff.

Julia: Which of your recipes would you recommend to an omnivore and why?

Amanda: First of all, don't feed omnivores meat or cheese analogs. They just don't get it. When faced with feeding omnivores, I usually make a simple pasta dish, like Aglio e Olio. It's basically half a diced onion, two cloves of garlic and some red pepper flakes, sauteed in 1/2 cup olive oil, tossed with 1 lb. of pasta and I like to add bread crumbs or panko to the top. It's a really tasty, easy dish. Most importantly, you don't miss the cheese at all. I serve it with tossed greens with some kind of vinaigrette and garlic bread made with Earth Balance, fresh parsley and garlic. You probably don't want to make this for a date, but it's perfect for Italian family gatherings. We're used to garlic breath!

Visit Amanda at her blog Amanda Eats and follow her on Twitter.

Julia is a student who has a passion for veganism, animal welfare, and religious studies.

Photo credit: Amanda