“People think that vegan food is either expensive and time-consuming, or just straight up boring and flavourless. Both are completely untrue!”
The other week, I ordered a $30 head of cauliflower at a trendy Toronto restaurant. I thought it seemed somewhat absurd to charge that much for a meatless dish, but when I asked how it was made, I understood the valuation: the leafy vegetable spent several hours being boiled, braised, basted, roasted and then doused in various homemade sauces. This lovingly created cruciferous was more flavour than any piece of beef I’d ever been served—and it nearly convinced me that I could give up meat for good.
Before the bill was paid, I realized: I don’t have the resources or time to recreate this multi-step recipe. Trendy vegan restaurants and savvy influencer chefs can develop complex dishes that make you swear you’re biting into a burger or a nacho chip covered in cheese, but this style of cooking isn’t an option for the day-to-day eater. The only alternative vegan lifestyle, I thought, was to simply fill my diet with salad, tofu and hummus. Neither option seemed appealing.
Halifax-based YouTuber Olivia Biermann is advocating for a third possibility. Through her cooking channel, Liv B, she’s sharing recipes for people who want to make flavourful vegan food—but who don’t want to spend a ton of time or money doing it. She recreates traditional comfort foods like chocolate chip cookies and mac and cheese for over 650,000 vegan and veg-curious fans, and now, she’s sharing the wonders of plant-based cooking through her first book, Liv B’s Vegan on a Budget.
What’s your vegan story? When and why did you stop eating animal products?
Back in university, in my first year, I developed some digestive issues. I discovered I was lactose intolerant and also had a hard time with red meat, so I cut out dairy and meat. I felt a lot better, and over about 2 years I slowly transitioned to being fully vegan, cutting out chicken, eggs and fish. It was a combination of health and ethical reasons, and the more I researched, the more certain I was that being vegan was the right choice for me.
What are 10 staples on your weekly grocery list?
Bananas, spinach, red bell pepper, almond milk, vegan cheese, pasta, tomato sauce, blueberries, granola, coconut yogurt.
What’s one “fancy food item” that you think is worth the splurge?
Nutritional yeast sounds fancy but it’s actually quite easy to find. It can be on the pricier side but it is so worth it to be able to make “cheese” sauces.
What are your three favourite recipes in the cookbook?
Maple Curry penne, Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies.