Other friendly, enthusiastic and inspiring vegans make me feel enthusiastic, inspired and just a little bit impressed with myself that they're on the same side as me. A friend of mine, Denis, originally told me (on our road trip from Washington DC to New York) about some footage him and his business partner, Casey had shot for two sisters who cooked amazing food and were about to launch a new website. Cut to later on in the year, I'm home in Brisbane and the lovely Jenny and Heather Goldberg have launched their Spork Online website.
What comes across with the Goldberg gals is that they are extremely passionate about food, educating others on how to have fun with food and most of all promoting the positive. The two of them bounce ideas and energy off from each other in all the videos I've seen and I'd love to be a part of one of their cooking classes in the future. Jenny and Heather have been running their Los Angeles-based, gourmet organic vegan food company, Spork Foods for four years.
They have been offering in-person cooking classes, food consultation, in-home healthy eating consultations, recipe development and catering all this time. Here's one of their videos Pantry 911 or How to Veganise your Pantry:
Jenny and Heather have now put all their energies into their online cooking classes at Spork Online. Spork Online is a membership-based website for anyone who wants to learn how to prepare fun, easy, delicious, vegan recipes – served anytime! Their classes are shot and edited in HD by professional filmmakers to create a entertaining and engaging experience. Heather took some time out of the Spork empire to answer some of my questions, so check it out:
Tell me about how you evolved from Spork Foods to Spork online
We have been teaching our classes in Los Angeles and fortunately they fill up fast! We saw that there were people flying in from Seattle and all over the country to attend our classes and it became very clear that we needed to branch out and provide this tool to anyone and everyone. We met Casey Suchan and Denis Hennelly-incredible film makers who made the film Bold Native, and they shared our vision of bringing our vegan cooking classes to the web. We worked together for over a year and a half to develop, shoot and build this website and we couldn't be more excited about it! We have members from all over the world, from Bermuda to Australia to France!
What do people get when they become a paid member of Spork online?
When you become a member of Spork Online you get tons of really fun content! You receive a full cooking class every month consisting of 4 original recipes that you can download instantly. You will also receive access to our Food911 section where you can ask us your pressing foodie questions and we will reply via e-mail or video. We also offer super fun giveaways of amazing vegan products! And each month you will get bonus video recipes. In December we're posting a ton of Holiday bonus recipes and we have a really special guest, Paul Shapiro from The Humane Society!
Why did you two first decide to become vegans?
We went vegan separately but both in college while our minds were open to new ideas and philosophies! We both majored in Environmental studies and learned all about how the degradation of the planet was fully connected to the meat and dairy industry. At that moment we decided that we needed to make a change. Over time it became very clear to us that being vegan benefited our health. In addition, we learned about the pain and suffering of animals and wanted nothing to do with it!
What are the benefits of veganism to each of you?
The benefits of being vegan are huge! We don't have the same kinds of guilt associated with eating fattening or rich foods. We love creating recipes that are decadent and delicious, but even if you create a vegan cream sauce, for example...it's usually made of cashews or soymilk rather than butter, cream and other artery-cloggers. We also love the fact that when you are vegan you are choosing to support industries that you believe in, and you can spend your money to make a statement.
What do you think is the biggest misconception of vegans?
We aren't sure about how things work in Australia, but in the states, people are SO obsessed with getting their protein. One of the biggest misconceptions about being vegan is that you won't be able to get adequate amounts of protein and this is absolutely not true! We tell people that you can get protein from beans, grains, tofu, tempeh, seitan - and also from dark leafy greens! Even your veggies do have some protein in them.
Quite a few well-known people are big fans of yours, who are your biggest idols?
We really admire Rory Freedman, the author of Skinny Bitch - a book that was disguised as a weight loss guide, but is really a book about going vegan! She is hilarious, articulate and quite persuasive!
What’s your favourite recipe that you’ve converted to a “sexier vegan counterpart”? (to quote Jenny)
One of our best converted recipes is our baked mac n' cheese with a spelt breadcrumb topping. We've served this dish to all sorts of meat eaters, and mac n' cheese connoisseurs, and they all think it's delish. The funny part is that we use items like spelt flour and brown rice pasta, but no one can tell! We're actually posting this recipe on Spork Online this month along with a bunch of other fun Southern recipes!
Other than being vegan what’s the best advice you can give to others to help look after our planet?
Whenever I purchase a gift for friends or family, I support local artists and vendors as much as possible. It's so easy to get gifts on-line, but the environmental impact of shipping and packing these items really takes a toll on the environment. So I would encourage people to shop locally!
Tell me about your attempts to Promote the Positive
In our cooking classes, we don't talk about what's wrong with meat and dairy. We talk about the incredible dishes we are making, why they are good for you, what these ingredients are doing in your body and so on. We call this "delicious persuasion." Good food is just good food, and that's what we are all about. Most of our students are omnivores, but as they leave class, feeling happy and healthy, many times they make a change. Suddenly it seems easy, delicious and totally do-able in anyone's home kitchen!
Thank you, ladies.
Heather embraced vegan cuisine while living in San Francisco ten years ago, and she hasn't looked back. Being creative is in Heather's genetic structure, as she brings her planet-friendly flair to event and party planning. In addition to Spork Foods, Heather works at an environmental nonprofit organization, where she trains and supports communities to plant and care for trees, educates the public about the environment, and works with government agencies on water issues.
Jenny believes that vegan cuisine is maturing, and she wants to teach it to walk in high-heels. She creates delicious, happy-to-be-alive dishes that are only possible with organic, high-quality ingredients. She loves the challenge of taking classic non-vegan recipes and turning them into their sexier vegan counterparts. Jenny is especially interested in healing people through her cooking. She wants people to feel invigorated when they walk away from the table. She trained at the Natural Gourmet Institute for Food and Culinary Arts in New York City, and attended UC Santa Cruz, where she earned a BA in Environmental Studies.
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