A few years back, I was a Grassroots Campaigner for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and day in and day out, I would travel across this country and meet animal activists who participated in our demonstrations and campaigns.
Although, I am no longer employed by PETA, I still keep in touch with some of the amazing people who I was lucky enough to meet in my journey. Vivi Peatman is one of them. We met during a demonstration down on Broadway that promoted a Vegan lifestyle and I was taken back by her sweet disposition yet powerful conviction. We casually kept in touch and I was elated to hear she launched a vegan bakery last year. Who says it’s no fun being a Vegan? Not, this broad.
Her incredibly delicious baked treats have converted many of my friends and guests into a different mindset of vegan dining. Are you ready to meet Vivi Peatman? Your tastebuds and soul will thank you.
You may make special request orders at veganvee.com!
SLYGAD: Share your story on what motivated you to create a new line of cruelty-free products and to expand your business?
Vivi: Growing up in Germany as the youngest of seven children, I was very fortunate to have had parents who loved animals. We were surrounded by dogs, cats, birds, horses and many others. Animals were my life, from volunteering at the local animal shelter after school, to caring for injured animals, to spending as much time as possible at the horse stables, to dreaming about becoming a veterinarian - everything that was really important to me revolved around animals.
I first made the connection between the food on my plate and the live animal on my 10th birthday while eating a chicken leg. I bit through a vein and realized that I was eating someone else's body. It did not turn me into an instant Vegetarian, but it did send me well on my way. By the time I was 16 I had stopped eating all meat except for the occasional fish and started collecting signatures for PETA in Germany.
Being a Vegetarian in Germany was fairly easy, as there were several health food stores around my city, but I could not really afford specialty products and had to start learning to cook vegetarian items for myself.
I moved to Nashville at the age of 20 and over the next several years I married, had 3 children (raised Vegetarian), went to Culinary school and worked as a personal chef.
Going Vegan 12 years ago, was not a very hard switch for me, as I never liked eggs or the taste of milk, but baking without them at that time was a challenge and took some getting used to. As I got better at it, I started baking for family and friends and donated to fundraisers/ bake sales etc.
People started asking about placing orders, so we permitted the kitchen in our office building into a commercial kitchen. While the kitchen was taking shape, I was fortunate to be able to bake out of The Wild Cow restaurant kitchen a couple nights a week and get feedback on my products through them. It took some time to get the kitchen approved and ready (including redoing plumbing, electrical, adding a wheelchair approved bathroom, ramps, etc.), but Vegan Vee officially opened in November 2011 as a special-order bakery! My husband and I are currently expanding the kitchen and are adding separate prep areas for our Gluten-Free and Raw products.
SLYGAD: What business owners or other people/brands in your industry motivate and inspire you?
Vivi: I would really like to bake/train with a woman called Kim Veganwondercake, who has a great looking cafe in Dortmund, Germany called Cakes 'n Treats. Her cakes look amazing! I would also like to meet Colleen Patrick-Gourdreau, because her book The Joy Of Vegan Baking was the first vegan baking book I bought and is still one of my favorites!
SLYGAD: What current food trends bring you glee? Make you shudder?
Vivi: Raw and Gluten-Free desserts! I really love the challenge of translating and veganizing traditional recipes and adapting those recipes to a Gluten-Free diet. I also really love raw chocolate and because it's getting more popular, the ingredients are now easier to find and (slightly) less expensive.
I was truly blissfully thinking that the world is starting to change and is moving more towards a Vegetarian/Vegan lifestyle with all these new amazing products popping up, like Gardein, Daiya etc, until we got cable for the first time two weeks ago and I started watching the Food Network! The amount of baby lamb being eaten on these shows makes me ill. Enslaving, abusing and then eating animals is horrible enough, but to take an innocent little baby away from its mom and slaughtering it so you can eat its little legs? Why and how people can do that is just beyond horrible.
Vegan & Gluten-free almond cupcakes are some of the many flavor options available here.
SLYGAD: What are some of the dining establishments and foods that are worth each and every calorie?
Vivi: Beans and Greens Buffalo style at the Wild Cow!!!! Also, vegetables and fried Tofu with peanut sauce at Siam Cuisine (hold the fish sauce)!
Vegan and Gluten-free cupcake assortment!
SLYGAD: What do you believe is the biggest misconception about being a vegan?
Vivi: The most obvious one would be that Vegans don't get enough Protein, or are all weak and skinny. Many people also think once they go Vegan they will miss out on old favorites, instead of getting excited about all the new amazing foods they will discover! Some people think if the meat they eat is expensive or has been given a fancy name it will be amazing, but it will always just be the flesh of another tortured, murdered creature. Nothing elegant about it! Vegan food is so much more elegant-with no bloody aftertaste!
SLYGAD: Share with us your favorite VeganVee recipe!
Vivi: Pains au Chocolat
1lb 2oz all purpose flour 2oz soft vegan margarine (earth balance only works for savory pastry-too salty) 9fl.oz cold water 9oz cold vegan margarine 2Tbls cider vinegar 7oz dark chocolate (about 2 bars) 3 Tbls vegan sugar melted margarine and extra sugar for brushing
- Sift the flour into a lg mixing bowl - Add soft marg. and mix it into the flour until crumbly - Pour in the vinegar, slowly add water while kneading (hands) - Knead until smooth and firm, wrap in plastic and refrigerate about 30min - Turn dough onto floured surface and knead again - Roll dough into a rectangle twice the size of the margarine and place marg. on half of the dough, fold other side evenly over marg. Press lightly - Roll out thinly. Fold both ends to meet in the center, then fold in two, forming four layers. Refrigerate if needed for a few minutes. - Repeat last step 7 times (dust with flour when needed) - From the rectangle cut 10 strips of dough - Place 2 squares of choc. along each small strip of dough - Roll in both ends of each strip until they meet in the center, turn over so flat side is on top - Transfer to baking sheet (parchment paper) and brush with melted marg. and sprinkle with sugar - Let sit in warm place for about 15min while preheating the oven to 400* - Bake for about 20min
So, who’s going to make a batch of vegan goodies today? Feel free to drop off a care package to your favorite blogger… just sayin’!
Do comment below any of your favorite vegan baked goods recipes.
See you next Sustainable Sunday!
Photo Credit: Cameron Powell