Kitsch, lively and glamorous, Canadian food writer Sarah Kramer bucks all the vegan stereotypes. She tells Leonie Cooper why an animal-free diet is cool
Veganism has rarely been associated with glamour; until now. Sarah Kramer not only produces gloriously kitsch vegan cookbooks, but also runs a tattoo shop with her husband, takes photographs, and appears in the occasional zombie flick. If ever a person was needed to dispel the notion of a vegan as a pale, insipid creature, Kramer is the woman to do it.
She has been a vegetarian from birth. "My dad is a hardcore meat eater, but my mum was head of the kitchen and she was vegetarian. She passed away when I was 10, so I didn't get to have a long intellectual conversation about it, but she loved animals, and thought that eating them was wrong and passed that down to me." Kramer was raised on typical 70s veggie fare of mostly lentils and beans, although she "did a little experimenting in high school" with meat.
She fell upon veganism in her 20s, when bedridden with chronic fatigue syndrome. Her doctor encouraged her to drink homogenised milk and eat liver, but Kramer did some research at the local library. "Everything leaned towards a plant-based diet," she says. So she switched from her "lazy vegetarian diet" of pasta, pasta and more pasta, to whole grains and fresh vegetables. "Once I changed my diet, my illness took a turn and now I'm 100%."
She readily admits, though, that being a vegan can be overwhelming at times. "The list of what we can't do is quite long and I think that's why sometimes people fall off the vegan wagon." But the thought of turning to meat is anathema to Kramer: "To me it would be like drinking a glass of blood."