When vegan cookbook author and chef Terry Hope Romero was a teenager, she never imagined she’d whip up a career consisting of two pounds refreshing vegan recipes, ¼ cup dairy-free blogging, a teaspoon of live cooking demonstrations and a dash of her very own Latina zest.
“When I was younger no one dreamed of becoming a vegan cookbook author, now they do,” said Romero, a three-time consecutive winner of the Veggie Award for Favorite Cookbook Author.
“When I was 16, I was kind of a weird kid that was interested in eating healthier,” said the self-proclaimed nerd and comic book lover.
“I loved cooking and started experimenting in the kitchen and learning more and more about food, the environment and animal welfare.”
While, she may not have imagined it or even dreamed of it, Romero has cooked up quite the resume. Her work has made her a pioneer in the emerging vegan Latino market.
She has co-authored four vegan cookbooks and penned a couple of her own. Most notably, “Vegan Eats World” (2012) and “Viva Vegan!” (2010).
“Viva Vegan!” offers 200 recipes for Latin food lovers. It’s basically vegan meals with a Hispanic twist. “When I became vegetarian my parents were not into it,” said Romero, whose parents are Venezuelan. “They felt the way most parents of Latina vegans feel, thinking that I was going to get sick or even die. It comes from a loving place of course,” she said.
“A train of thought that it’s our heritage to eat all of this meat and it’s not true.”
Romero: Slowly, Latinos will understand veganism
Romero believes that little by little the “cultural soul” of Hispanics will begin to change and that sooner or later they will realize that veganism doesn’t have to be something strange that doesn’t belong to the culture.
“Vegans still make up only a tiny percentage of the U.S. population, but it’s growing and growing,” she said. “People are gaining interest in vegan food, non-vegans too. People are interested in the health benefits and in how eating vegan food makes them feel.”
In turn Romero credits this interest with the improving taste and quality of vegan cuisine. Along with an increase in general interest in vegan foods, products and in the lifestyle itself, comes an expansion in the variety of goods available.
“It isn’t just sprouts and brown rice. The food is getting better and better,”Romero said. “There’s even vegan ice cream and marshmallows now.”
And thanks to Romero there are also recipes for olive oil tamales, classic roasted tomatillo salsa and flan.
“The appeal is growing for Latinos. You can be vegan and still eat the foods you like and that you grew up eating,” she said.
While Romero is not fully bilingual, she would love her cookbooks to be translated and published in Spanish. She’s currently working on a book about salads, as complete meals and wrapping up “Vegan Mash Up,” a public access television cooking show.
“Vegan Mash Up” features several co-hosts and guests and is now heading into its second season. “If you watch, you’ll see that we really teach you how to cook vegan,” Romero said. “The important thing is to not be so hard on yourself.”
“Never compare your veganism to someone else’s and ignore people who criticize you for not being vegan enough. Don’t focus on slip ups and stay positive.”