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Dublin: 1°C Friday 22 January 2021

'My idea of vegan food before was just loads of pulses': Food writer Holly White shares 5 things she's learned

Holly’s new book Vegan-ish is packed with vibrant plant-based recipes.

Image: Gill Books

A BEHIND-THE-SCENES video by food blogger Holly White gives only a small glimpse into how much time and work goes into producing her new cooking and recipe book Vegan-ish, which hit the bookshelves last Friday.

As she mentions in the video, Holly took advantage of the few snow days the the early stages of this year to finish writing the book and to submit a first draft.

But truly, Holly’s journey to publishing Vegan-ish started a few years ago when she began her own food blog. The broadcaster and actress has had a long-time interest in vegan food, first toying with the idea of veganism during her college days. In fact, as well as being a collection of recipes, this book is almost a memoir of Holly’s food journey. 

“When I got Netflix, I started watching a huge amount of food documentaries… Cowspiracy was fascinating, Forks Over Knives was amazing and also Earthlings,” Holly says of her rising interest in the topic. 

Cover - Salad option Source: Gill Books

Holly says the decision was an easy one in the end – but that she had plenty of questions to field from friends and family.

There was definitely a transition period. I always say to people at cooking demonstrations to give any big change like going vegan six months first before saying to anyone. That way you can be sure it is a commitment you want to make before you get all the questions from people.

We chatted to Holly to ask her for five gems of advice that she would pass on from her experience…

1. Vegan food isn’t all casseroles and pulses

“My choice to become vegan happened in tandem with the rise of bloggers like Deliciously Ella, who I adore. My idea of vegan food before was dull, loads of pulses and casseroles and it wasn’t exciting or intriguing at all. Suddenly I was bookmarking all of these bright, vibrant, gorgeous recipes online.”

2. Lean in to social media 

“Nowadays, everyone has an influence and a platform. I was so inspired by how much of an influence social media was behind repealing the eighth amendment, platforms like Twitter really came alive.

I think whatever it is you care about, we live in a day and age where there are so many different forms of media to get your voice out there and I think it’s really important to use that voice. If you don’t someone else will do that for you. So, have a voice and use it for positive change in whatever way, shape or form.

3. Try again, fail again, fail better

“My career has never stopped changing. I graduated from my course in Fashion Journalism during the recession, which meant there was no budget for in-house writers at that time.

Over the years I have done lots of different things: at one point I thought I would go back to college and also I worked in retail for a time and when I started in broadcasting I was working in fashion and now I find myself in food. I think the only thing that is guaranteed in life is that things are going to evolve and change and what I feel is that it is really important to realise that we live in a world that is ever changing.

4. Find someone who’s better than you at something – and learn from them

“I think upskilling is so important, especially working as a freelancer. Bloggers have to create their own content and I am not a photographer, but if I am working with brands I have to be able to develop creative content and I don’t use any stock photography.

Equally with video editing, I didn’t know how to do it, but we are living in an age where we all have access to learn how to do these kind of things and we all have to be open to upskilling. I realised that if I’m putting stuff out there, I have to go to people who are better than me and learn more. I want to always do that, to always learn something new and it’s good for you brain too.

Raspberry & lemon layer cheesecake Source: GIll Books

5. You can’t do everything yourself (especially not your tax returns)

“The recipes within the book are my own, of course, but when it came down to producing them, it was great to be working with other people. I had an idea of how I wanted the book to look, but we needed the expertise to of a stylist to perfect the recipes.

For things like tax and insurance and accounts, I am always fanatical that if you don’t know something then delegate it. Anything legal, financial or tax related, just leave it to the professionals. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Vegan-ish: A Gentle Introduction To A Plant-Based Diet by Holly White is published by Gill Books, priced €22.99.

More: ‘If I opened this restaurant in Japan, it wouldn’t be unique’: Cork chef Takashi Miyazaki shares 5 things he’s learned>

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Dee Laffan

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