Have I got an inspirational interview for you today!!! Dustin Harder is the host and creator of the web series,The Vegan Roadie. Living la vida vegan since 2009, a graduate of New York City’s The Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts. He was a recipe tester in the kitchen of Food Networks Cupcake Wars
winner, restaurateur (by Chloe) and cookbook author Chloe Coscarelli. He has spent time preparing meals at Kitchen Therapy, New York’s premiere vegan delivery food service. Most recently Dustin provided the menu for the NYC screening of the Discovery Channel documentary Racing Extinction. When not in the kitchen Dustin works with renowned Broadway and Television animal trainer and rescue advocate, William Berloni. Dustin believes that plants not only make the world a more beautiful place, but a tastier one as well!
You can follow his adventures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
Check out recipes, blog, tour schedule and more at:
1. How long have you been a vegan?
2. What inspired you to become a vegan?
It started as health and as I started to do more research and make discoveries, it became much more than that. I wouldn’t say the inspiration changes but it is certainly something that evolves constantly.
3. What was your biggest challenge in becoming a vegan?
The community, my first encounter with veganism was with people who were very strong headed and sort of mean. That turned me away at first, but the more I focused on the lifestyle and reaching out to people that ENJOYED being vegan and focused on the GOOD veganism does and not just the bad in the world, I was able to ease myself in a little more and have since discovered a community that is full of compassion, positivity and love.
Also the food and cooking, finding things I enjoyed to eat! Once I embraced that challenge it became extremely exciting and fascinating, and I haven’t looked back.
4. Do you have any meat eaters at home? If yes, how do you handle meals?
My partner is not vegan. I have to be honest, I haven’t seen him eat meat in probably a year. I know he does when I’m not around but there is no meat cooked in my pots and pans and I rarely have seen him (if at all recently) bring meat into our home. He is respectful, supportive and open minded about it all. He helps me brainstorm new recipes and come up with ideas for my web series, The Vegan Roadie. In that respect I guess my answer would be we haven’t had to “handle” the meal department as it has never been in issue. He knew years ago that this was a major part of my life and he was intrigued and curious about it and continues to be. I always make sure there is something tasty and vegan to eat in the house and that we both feel satiated with the options, maybe that’s the direct answer.
5. How do you approach eating out at non vegan restaurants, parties, holidays, celebrations, etc with family and friends who are meat eaters?
When I eat out at a non vegan restaurant the meat eaters tend to get more stressed about it than me, which I always find hysterical. I actually enjoy only having a few items to choose from so I don’t have to hem and haw over a large menu and I get to enjoy the company I am with instead. If a server is confused or has to leave the table to get answers from the appropriate resource I am patient and kind with the server, I like to think of it as an opportunity to kindly educate them on what my needs are as a vegan and hope that will help them serve people more efficiently down the line, it all has to start somewhere. I also hope that if I’m kind, patient and understanding of their position they might remember that and maybe my kindness and patience will motivate some sort of curiosity in them about a plant based lifestyle, I can always hope.
In regards to celebrations with family and friends, I usually bring a sweet and savory dish with me to share. Something I KNOW is full proof. Texture and flavor is important in these circumstances, people are curious and will try it if it looks appetizing and familiar. I often will bring Chloe Coscarelli’s Cookie Dough Truffles (you can find these on her website), they go over like wild and people are stunned they are vegan. I love bringing Field Roast products to a cook out, I ask the host if I can cook them on the stove because the “grill is too full”, I DONT complain their grill is full of meat. Usually someone wants to try my Field Roast and ends up eating that instead of a hot dog. This is my form of activism in a way, I offer them an alternative.
6. Any advice for people wanting to make the transition to vegan?
Trial and error. Don’t give up because you tried a vegan cheese or a raw recipe and it was awful. Dust yourself off and try again. It can get pricey but we all know it is worth it. As it is said, people pay attention to the fuel they put in their car so it drives better, faster, and lives longer…why wouldn’t we do the same with the fuel we put in our body? Don’t get discouraged and don’t be hard on yourself, if you are two weeks into being vegan and you crash and have a slice of cheese pizza be kind to yourself and start over. It can be difficult at first, what matters is not getting discouraged and taking care of yourself in the transition. Ease into it if that is whats right for you.
7. Your go-to meal or snack:
GAH! I love everything. When I’m working out I love VEGA’s protein bars as a snack. In general I enjoy a tasty trail mix as a snack. My go to meal is vegan mac and cheese, i’m constantly working on new recipes and trying other chef’s recipe for this classic.
8. Your go-to spice:
Crushed red pepper. Boom.
9. Kitchen tool you can’t live without:
Like a small tool or appliance? Spatula, for sure. My Vitamix if we are talking the whole kitchen.
10. Favorite vegan product:
Obsessed with Field Roast, it has led the way to me having many beneficial conversations with non vegans and they always try it and love every bite.
11. Can you share one of your favorite recipes with us?
My favorite recipe is my Damn Good Caesar Salad available on my website, always a crowd pleaser at dinner parties with non vegans. I like to serve this as a starter before the mac and cheese I was saying I’m always trying to perfect!
Damn Good Caesar Salad
1 Head Romaine Lettuce, Chopped
½ Pint Cherry Tomatoes, halved
¼ Cup Water
¼ cup walnuts
1 Tablespoon Miso
1 Teaspoon Mustard
1 Clove Garlic
1 Tablespoon Lime
1 Teaspoon Soy Sauce
3 Tablespoon Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Combine all dressing ingredients in a blender until mostly smooth, some texture is OK. Toss with tomatoes and romaine, Voila!
*Optional, top with vegan croutons
Thank you so much for your time and the inspiration Dustin!!! How did you know I have been searching for a vegan caesar salad recipe?
Peas & Love,