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The Inspired Vegan

Seasonal Ingredients, Creative Recipes, Mouthwatering Menus

By Bryant Terry
13-minute read
Audio available
The Inspired Vegan by Bryant Terry

The Inspired Vegan (2012) is a plant-based cookbook featuring original recipes as well as reimaginings of traditional soul food favorites, from johnnycakes to jambalaya. But it’s also a collage of inspiration – author Bryant Terry annotates recipes with recommendations for music, literature, and art to nourish not only readers’ appetites, but their creativity and culinary experimentalism. 

  • People looking to break out of their cooking ruts
  • Home gardeners – or people who would like to be
  • Anyone who thinks that vegan food is boring tofu and bland beans

Bryant Terry is an award-winning vegan chef and the author of several cookbooks, including 2020’s Vegetable Kingdom. He’s also a food justice activist and the founder of b-healthy!, an initiative that empowers young people to create a more just and sustainable food system. 

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The Inspired Vegan

Seasonal Ingredients, Creative Recipes, Mouthwatering Menus

By Bryant Terry
  • Read in 13 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 8 key ideas
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The Inspired Vegan by Bryant Terry
Synopsis

The Inspired Vegan (2012) is a plant-based cookbook featuring original recipes as well as reimaginings of traditional soul food favorites, from johnnycakes to jambalaya. But it’s also a collage of inspiration – author Bryant Terry annotates recipes with recommendations for music, literature, and art to nourish not only readers’ appetites, but their creativity and culinary experimentalism. 

Key idea 1 of 8

Watering the food deserts

When Bryant Terry moved from Brooklyn, New York to Oakland, California in 2007, he thought he’d died and gone to food paradise. His new apartment was steps away not only from an independently owned organic grocery store, but a weekly farmers’ market with the freshest seasonal, local produce. If he couldn’t find what he needed at either of those, there was always a 40,000 square foot Whole Foods to fall back on.

Sounds great, right? Well it is, for the people privileged enough to live there.

Directly adjacent to Oakland is the community of West Oakland. If Oakland is a food paradise, West Oakland is a food desert. It’s home to 53 liquor stores and not a single full-service grocery store. Many of West Oakland’s primarily African American residents don’t own cars, which makes it difficult for them to travel to other neighborhoods to shop for food. They tend to get their groceries at the liquor stores and convenience stores, which rarely stock fresh produce.

Food deserts are very common throughout the US. Those who live in them – predominantly African Americans and Latinos – are consistently denied the basic human right to healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable way. Unsurprisingly, these communities have higher-than-average rates of obesity and diet-related diseases. 

Terry’s mission is to create community-based solutions to the problem of food injustice. To accomplish this, he wants to make cooking – and even eating – a political act. You’ve heard the buzzwords a million times: local, sustainable, seasonal. We can talk about them for hours. But to really feel inspired to fight for food justice, sustainability has to become more than a trend. People have to feel connected to the experiences of cooking, eating, and growing food for themselves. 

By way of the sensual pleasures of the table, Terry’s goal is to shift people’s attitudes and, eventually, their politics to ensure that everyone has a place at the table – regardless of their income or address. Terry uses not just recipes for meals, but formulas for entire experiences that include film, music, and literature. This way, he communicates a holistic message, which respects history, acknowledges injustice, and inspires solidaristic action for a better future.

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