Expert Interview Series: Celine Steen of Have Cake Will Travel Discusses Her Vegan Lifestyle

Celine Steen is a cookbook author and blogger who focuses on all? things related to veganism. Tell us about Have Cake, Will Travel. When and why did you start your blog? I started the blog back in 2007, about...

Vegan lifestyleCeline Steen is a cookbook author and blogger who focuses on all? things related to veganism.

Tell us about Have Cake, Will Travel. When and why did you start your blog?

I started the blog back in 2007, about two years after opting for a vegan lifestyle. I was posting pictures and recipes on a journal-type site before, and there was a lot of interest for it since blogs were not quite as mainstream back then as they are today.

What prompted you to become vegan?

Being an on and off vegetarian for a decade before going vegan in 2005, animals have always held a special place in my heart. I cannot bear ?animals being mistreated, be it for food or otherwise. After meeting a ?friend who happened to be vegan, and?? who helped me realize that going full-on vegan was? really not that complicated, I just went for it and never looked back.

What were some of the biggest challenges to adopting this lifestyle?

I live in an area not especially known for being vegan-friendly. Finding all the ingredients I needed was? often a bit tricky. Over the years, with veganism becoming more and more mainstream, it's become? easier. ?Even large supermarkets that shan't be named now carry a fairly generous ?selection of vegan products. Ordering ingredients online is always a great option, too.

Other than that, there are no vegan restaurant options in town. This is something I truly miss, as I would love to be able to say an enthusiastic "No!" to cooking and doing dishes every now and then.

What have been the benefits of going vegan?

I've become more adventurous with ingredients and types of cuisines. I cannot believe the amount of foods and cooking techniques I've tried since going vegan that I probably would never have gone for, had I not made the switch.

Another benefit is that now I read food labels more thoroughly. Not only on the lookout for non-vegan ingredients, but also in order to keep track of the most random unhealthy items.

The most obvious? (and slightly mushy)? benefit for me is to be at peace with my decision of trying not to harm anyone in the process of feeding myself.

What do you think are the most common misconceptions people have about vegans?

That we're? stuck-up,? malnourished folks who can't possibly enjoy the bland foods we must be eating. It couldn't be further from the truth, all it takes is one look at social media (Instagram in particular) to see how stoked and slightly obsess?ed we can be ?when it comes to fantastic food.

What's your definition of a delicious vegan dish?

?Something nourishing, colorful, with lots of texture and flavor, and so irresistible that you have to make it at least once a week.?

What's your favorite vegan recipes for ...

Breakfast? ??Cinnamon Pull-Apart Brioche/

Lunch?? Teff and Pea Fritters (paired with a big salad or roasted veggies of choice)

Dinner?? Sesame Za'atar Pepper Soup

Dessert?? ?Lemon Curd Tartlets

Snack?? ?Cheesy Quackers

What advice can you offer on preparing food as part of a vegan diet??

?It really is no different from preparing any type of food. Have fun with it, be creative, and most importantly: enjoy your food! ?

What kitchen tool can't you live without?

My immersion blender. I've had a Cuisinart ever since going vegan, and there isn't a day that goes by without ?it being put to good use. From dressings, to soups, to smoothies, it's simply indispensable.